Rescue involving the crew of the ‘Duchess’
Transcription of a letter of 1868 from the Tiree factor John Geekie about a rescue involving the crew of the ‘Duchess’.
Courtesy of His Grace the Duke of Argyll
In a letter of 1868 to the 8th Duke of Argyll, his factor John Geekie commended eight Tiree men who had rescued three fishermen from drowning in Balephuil Bay during a gale. Two of the men were crew of the ‘Duchess’, built by the Duke in 1860 and let out to local men.
In May 1861 the factor had reported that ‘the crew of the Duchess fishing boat had a very good fishing…once they took courage and went out where the Tyree boats were fishing outside the light house’, the implication being that the crew were unnecessarily timid.
Their reluctance is easily explained by their lack of familiarity handling a vessel nearly twice the length of the average Tiree fishing boat and also by the dangers of fishing five or more miles from shore in a small sailing boat in the days before reliable weather forecasting and global positioning.