The Wreck Of The Christabel (Lehr and Best)

Come all you men of Bonavis',
Come list to what I say,
And I will tell you what occurred
Upon the Sabbath Day.

It was on the seventh of June
In eighteen eighty five,
The wind came to the N N East
And the sea began to rise.

A schooner called the Christabel
And she was good as new,
Was anchored in the harbour
Where other vessels do.

With nine so good a seamen
As ever drunk a glass,
The captain, mate, and boatswain
And six before the mast.

It was early Sunday morning
This gale came on to blow;
No pen I'm sure can well describe
What they did undergo.

The vessel she began to roll
And her anchors they did fail;
The Christabel was driving
All in that dreadful gale.

To the rocks and breakers right astern
She drifted more and more;
The captain thought he would be lost
Upon that rugged shore.

They cut away the spars
To try and save their lives;
And every man was on their best
With hatchets and with knives.

But their anchors they got hold again
And kept her there once more;
For death must have been their portion
If they drifted on that shore.

All through a long and dreary night
Their anchors they did hold;
And don't you think those anchors
Was worth their weight in gold.

Young Dorothy jumped in the boat
To try what he could do;
A heavy sea did strike the boat
And broke the rope in two.

He drifted all along the shore
All in an open boat;
It is hard to tell how that poor man
Did keep so long afloat.

He wove his hands to his comrades
On board of the Christabel;
Where that poor fellow is lying now
It is hard for man to tell.

Dorothy was a smart young man
The crew did like him well;
The captain said he was as good
As ever furled a sail.

It was on Monday morning
The wind began to slack;
Two boats rowed out of the harbour
And took them from the wreck.

They were manned by hardy fishermen
Well used to our shore;
And they did do their very best
And what they could do more.

They took off those noble seamen
And rowed away again;
And soon was in the harbour
From off that stormy main.

When they rowed in the harbour
And drew quite near the shore;
There was a crowd of people waiting
One hundred souls or more.

And now the storm is over
The sea is calm once more;
The like I never wish to see
Upon our ruggèd shore.

####.... Author unknown. Original Newfoundland song (see note below) ....####
Genevieve Lehr noted that she had found this song in an old diary at Bonavista and had copied the words exactly as they were written for publication as #22 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.37-39, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003). Lehr also noted that the Christabel was wrecked on the shores of Bonavista in June of 1885.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

The Northern Shipwrecks Database shows a "stranded fin anchor" as the cause of the wreck.

From The Town Of Bonavista - the highest point of land in Bonavista is White Rock. Visitors can drive up to the rock and be rewarded by a magnificent view of Bonavista, the nearby town of Spillars Cove and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a great place for photographers to take scenic pictures of the surrounding country. In earlier days, permanent settlers (planters) would climb to the top in hope of seeing supply ships or sighting the French who were known to attack the rich fishing town. Erected on White Rock is a monument commemorating the men who rescued Norwegian sailors from the Christable on June 7, 1885, the day a raging storm, lasting two days, caused the Christable to drift towards Canaille Shore. Fourteen Bonavista men risked their lives to rescue the crew of the near destructed ship. At the Ryan premises is a cabinet made from the mast of the Christable. Names of the rescuers on the monument still remain:

The Wreck Of Barque Christable
Bonavista, June 7, 1885, Newfoundland

T Wells - R Pardey
T Sellers - J Tempel
T Burge - E Tempel
F Powell - D Tempel
F Burge - H Pardey
R Groves - P Fennel
R H Groves - G Ryan


C B Burge - Fred Burge
Dr Wilson Powell

See more NL shipwreck songs.


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