Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Message in a Bottle

Drawing of the original Smalls Lighthouse after completion. From Trinity House


On this day, February 1st in 1777, the workmen building the Smalls Lighthouse off the coast of Wales sent an urgent message ashore via a bottle place inside a wooden cask and thrown into the sea. They were superintended by a gentleman named H. Whiteside and were mostly coal miners hired for the temporary work of building a lighthouse tower on this stretch of dangerous Pembrookshire shore at the westernmost extremity of Wales. A storm on January 23rd had left them in dire straits. Their boat had broken loose and drifted away, leaving them marooned 21-miles from the nearest land. Desperate, they wrote on the message:

Finding ourselves at the moment in the most critical and dangerous condition, we hope that Providence will guide this letter to you, and that you will come immediately to our succor. Send to seek for us before spring or we will perish, I fear; our supply of wood and water is almost exhausted, and our house is in the most sad state. We do not doubt that you would come to seek us as promptly as possible. We can be reached at high tide in about any weather. I have no need to tell you more, you will comprehend out distress, and I remain your humble servant — H. Whiteside



The bottle was picked up on a beach some days later by a fisherman and relief was sent to the workers.King Neptune's postal service saved the men!

Old and new Smalls Lighthouses from Thousands Islands Expeditions

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