The author has rediscovered the story of a shipwreck and the betrayal of passengers by a cowardly captain. The story is told clearly, bringing to life the events. There is also a modest plate section with a valuable collection of photographs, drawings and map. Most Recommended.
NAME: The Lost Story of the William & Mary, The Cowardice of Captain Stinson
AUTHOR: Gill Hoffs
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Sailing ships, passenger ships, trans-Atlantic crossings, storm, ship wreck, cowardice, emigration, Bahamian Waters, murder, grounding, reef
DESCRIPTION: The author has rediscovered the story of a shipwreck and the betrayal of passengers by a cowardly captain. The story is told clearly, bringing to life the events. There is also a modest plate section with a valuable collection of photographs, drawings and map.Most Recommended.
The author recounts a tale from 1852 that was by no means unusual for the times. It is a story of emigration that rarely features. Today, we may look back at the waves of emigrants, from Great Britain, the Netherlands, across Europe to Russia and South to the Mediterranean, who poured across the oceans to populate the young countries of the Americas and Australasia. What we see most often is accounts of why they risked much to emigrate, or what they did when they arrived in their new countries. Missing is the all important story of the hardship of the sea journeys and their exploitation.
At the mid point of the 19th Century, passenger ships were still powered by wind and sail. Many of the ships that carried emigrants were smaller, older and often poorly maintained and crewed. In some, conditions were not that far removed from the slave ships. The emigrants were frequently charged for a premium service and offered poor accommodation and food. Shipwreck was not that uncommon. Overloaded and poorly maintained vessels had little margin against storm and poor crewing exposed them to grounding and knock downs. Ship owners were generally unconcerned because they managed to insure vessels and stood reduced risk, often making profit from over-insuring a worn out vessel. As most ship wrecks did not leave survivors, the fate of many vessels remains unknown.
The author has provided a terrific yarn that reads like an adventure story and holds the readers attention but that does not disguise the serious and thorough research that has uncovered a long forgotten maritime tragedy.
There are really three stories in one and, at the time, the events generated two very different accounts.
The first story is part of the fabric of the book in painting a picture of the joys and sorrows of the emigrants, the high risks they faced in fleeing poverty or pogram, the hopes they held for a better future for themselves and their children. The second story is the one told by a cowardly and incompetent captain who not only grounded his vessel, rather than beaching her at less risk, but deserted his passengers and killed to make his escape. In his version of events, it was a tragic accident and passengers were lost to the sea and the sharks. However, there were survivors who would counter his claims and lay out for all to see the murderous cruelty of the American captain.