Monday, August 4, 2008

Seen Wrecked Off Cape Cod

Boston Globe Feb 3, 1947
First clue to the fate of the Boston trawler Belle and her crew of 17, last heard from on Jan. 9, was reported yesterday when the captain of another Boston fishing vessel landed and said he had seen the Belle's staved-in lifeboat 35 miles southeast of Highland Light, Cape Cod.

Captain Walter E. Beatteay of Concord, skipper of the Pan Trades Andros, reported he sighted the white double-ended lifeboat floating on her side at 8:30 Staurday night while homeward-bound from Georges Bank.

"I had come on deck and was standing outside the galley when I saw the lifeboat float by on our starboard side. We had our floodlights on and I could make out the letters on one side."

"I first thought it was a letter and two 7's. Then I realized the 7's were L's upside down. I just froze in my tracks. Then I leaped for the wheelhouse to stop us, and I don't think I touched a rung of the ladder."

Capt. Beatteay said he searched the area for two hours, but failed ot sight the boat again. He said he immediately called the Coast Guard and got a Loran fix on the spot, where the water is 105 fathoms in depth.

"It was the Belle's lifeboat, all right," he said. "She was partly staved in on one end, but with her air tanks was floating on one side with th e gunwale facing us. She was white, and her gray canvas boat cover was adrift at one end."

May Have Struck Lifeboat

Capt. Beatteay added he feared his vessel may have struck the lifeboat and further damaged it. He said members of the watch thought they felt the bow bump something. There was no evidence of men having been in the boat, he said.

A Coast Guard plane from the Quonset Naval Air Station searched the area reported by Capt. Beatteay, but was forced to return at noon because of poor visibility. Another air search will be made today.

Capt. Beatteay said he believed the lifeboat broke loose when, the steel-hulled Belle became top-heavy with ice and "tumbled over." He added it may have broken loose after the vessel sank.

"I think the Belle went down off Cashes Ledge," he said. She was driving home for the market and icing fast. We were hove to in that gale."

On Thursday Jan. 9, Capt. Peter Linehan of Houghs Neck. skipper of the Belle, radioed he was 100 miles east of Boston and headed home with 60,000 pounds of cod. Saturday, when the vessel failed to arrive, a search by sea and air was begun. Three weeks later it was abandoned without a treace of the Belle being found.

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