Snippet from the 2002 Exhibition of Nostalgia

Magnificent Seamanship

During wild weather off Yarmouth, the Peterhead drifter North Briton accomplished a splendid and heroic piece of work in rescuing the crew the crew of the Buckie drifter Prestige, which sank off Smith`s Knoll after springing a sudden leak. 

The Prestige was owned by her skipper, Mr Alexander Stewart, and his Father who lived at Buckpool. Her mate was Mr James Sutherland , Buckie , to which the rest of the crew belong.

The Prestige left Yarmouth on Wednesday morning at 4 o`clock, and proceeded with the rest of the fleet to the fishing grounds. She went just outside Smith`s Knoll and took a berth about one mile to the East of the knoll Light- vessel, where she shot her nets.

She lay at her nets all day on Wednesday, and at ten o`clock at night the crew were called on deck in readiness to haul their nets, as there seemed some danger of their drifting of the tide onto Knoll Light - vessel and fouling gear and destroying it - a not uncommon experience at the fishing . It was then that the engineer made the startling discovery that the ship was making water very rapidly aft. He rushed to inform the Skipper, who was then on deck. All hands were ordered to the pumps, and of course, the steam pumps were set in motion at once.

For some time it appeared that the crew were holding their own with the inrush, but even by baling as fast as possible with buckets, it became evident that nothing could save the drifter.

Down Stern First.
She was then cut off from her nets, flares were sent up to attract the attention of the neighbouring vessels, and a course was set for the nearest one , which turned out to be the North Briton from Peterhead.
When the Prestige got thus far she was sinking by the stern. In spite of the raging seas and the strong northerly gale, the skillful handling of the boats by their skippers allowed the crew of the Prestige to make the jump from their boat to the other one in safety, not one being in any way injured.

Skippers Great Seamanship.
The crew of the Prestige have lost all their stores and gear, which was on board the boat at the time, and practically all their personal belongings.

The skipper and mate, when interviewed, said they had saved nothing except what they stood in and the rest of the crew were in a similar predicament.The night was one of the worst of the season, a strong gale from the north causing heavy seas. The crews of both vessels paid tribute to the skippers for the excellent handling of their boats in such weather, and under so trying circumstances.

The North Briton managed to haul 58 nets which the Prestige had shot, and from which 38 crans of herring were got.

As expected the nets were somewhat damaged.
The crew were put up at the Sailor`s Home in Yarmouth after they had reported the loss of their vessel to the Moray Firth Fish Selling Company, which had been handling the buisness of the Prestige.

The Prestige was a wooden ship built in 1907.( Buchan Observer October 1929 )


Heroic Skipper Honoured

At a special meeting of Peterhead Town Council, held yesterday afternoon , Provost Milne performed an interesting ceremony when he handed over to a popular Peterhead skipper a beautiful silver cup in recognition of an act of gallantry performed in the end of October, and fully recorded in our columns at the time. The recipient was Mr Alexander Ritchie, Skipper of the North Briton, and the inscription on the cup was as follows:-
" Presented by the Board of Trade to Alexander Ritchie skipper of the steam drifter, North Briton of Peterhead, in acknowledgement of the able seamanship displayed by him in rescuing the crew of the steam drifter, Prestige, of Buckie, which was in distress in the North Sea on the 30th October, 1929."
Provost Milne, in handing over the cup, said it would be valued not only by Mr Ritchie but by his successors for generations. Without doubt, Mr Ritchie performed a very courageous act and one that deserved the fullest recognition, because if he had left the Prestige to it`s fate everyone on board might have perished. " I hope Mr Ritchie," the Provost continued, "that this will stimulate you to do a similar kind action wherever opportunity occurs. I know if your Father had been alive he would have been very proud this day to see you geting this. I know you will keep it and that it will be handed down from your children to your children`s children. I have very great pleasure in handing it over to you".

With characteristic modesty Mr Ritchie was to overcome to make a reply, but on his behalf Mr Cardno, H.M. Customs, thanked the Provost on behalf of the gallant skipper.
Thereafter all the members of the council shook hands with Mr Ritchie before he left the Council Chamber.