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Boat Accident

Isle of Wight Observer November 3, 1860

An interesting time, the 1860s

An accident occurred on Friday night, about 12 o’clock, off the Esplanade, between the old and new piers, which, but for the timely assistance of Mr Lewis, coastguard, would perhaps have terminated fatally. Five sailors belonging to a Norwegian brig, lying at the Motherbank, had come on shore it appears for Bacchanalian purposes, and having more libations in honour of the god than was consistent with their understanding, mental or physical, proceeded to make for a boat they had in waiting at the George-street slipway. Of course they described some very eccentric lines in the route, and occasionally found that a horizontal position on the earth was indispensable to unmistakeably demonstrate the perturbed state of their faculties and muscular relaxation. At length, after sundry indescribable grotesque performances, embellished with hooting and swearing, they reached their boat; but the manner in which the embarkation was conducted convinced the coastguard, who witnessed it, that an accident was inevitable, so he at once jumped into another boat and determined to await the issue. His precaution was most fortunate, for they were scarcely 100 yards from the wall, when a quarrel commenced in words; but aquatic fraternities when under the influence of the “vine crowned boy” usually conducts disputes in a more forcible manner. This case was no exception, for words soon begat blows, and blows struggling, and struggling an unexpected cold bath. The boat it appears is without a keel, and in the struggle, they all falling on one side, so far heeled her as to turn three of the crew into the sea; at this juncture Coastguard Lewis pulled to the scene, and after plenty of bellowing on the part of the bathers, succeeded in getting them into his boat and landed them safely on shore. One was well nigh exhausted and was some time in coming to, and when he did all appearances of intoxication were completely worn off, the fright and cold sea bath being seemingly infallible antidotes against the inebrious potions they were suffering from. Their boat being recovered, they again embarked quiet enough and arrived without further disaster at the brig. Great praise is due to Mr Lewis for his precaution and promptness in going to their rescue, for had it not been for him a watery grave would undoubtedly have overtaken them, there being over eight feet of water where the accident happened.

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