The Sheila Patricia Story (Bud Davidge) video
#919: YouTube video by GrandBankerinNS
℗2010 ~ Used with permission ~

My name is Sandy Hayward,
I come from Bay du Nord,
I swear I've been a fisherman
since the day that I was born;
From a dory to a dragger,
to me it mattered none,
My comrades all were sailing men,
and the ocean was my home.

Now, the Lord He's been my Captain,
that much I know for sure,
In proof of which I'm sitting here
and now I'm eighty-four;
But the time that I won't soon forget
was in April, fifty-eight,
And if the good Lord wasn't on my side,
I wouldn't be here today.

My story now I'll tell to you,
as I recall the same,
On a dragger out of Mulgrave,
I'll ne'er forget her name;
She was the Sheila Patricia,
Lylie Helier in command,
Three of our crew were Scotia boys
and the rest from Newfoundland.

We were sailing to the fishing grounds
on a foggy, rolling sea,
'Round eleven o'clock, with all things well,
I was catching a little sleep,
When all at once the shout went up,
"Our vessel's all ablaze!"
And it soon began to look as if
that death would be our fate.

The galley stove exploded,
that's what caused the raging hell,
And our attempts to stop the blaze
were all to no avail;
And so the Sheila, rudderless,
with throttle open wide,
In helpless circles, all afire,
the ocean did inscribe.

The Captain's courage gave some hope
in the throes of our distress,
He faced the flaming wheelhouse
to send out SOS.;
But then he made a grave mistake,
convinced 'twas best to leave,
With six men more went overboard
when they cut their lifeboat free.

Oh, how we worked to save our friends,
but little could we do,
We threw them everything we had
that they might cling onto;
To try to save the lifeboat crew
when shipmate Maxwell Dodge,
Faced the fire to steer, but from cold
and fear the three died in the fog.

For seventeen exhausting hours
we stared that devil down,
Till everything on deck was burned,
but still we laboured on;
The Fairbanks stopped, but still
the blaze it's fury did ensue,
Fully bent on wiping out
the Sheila and her crew.

Now, no one knows Almighty God
and what He has in mind,
Why for us on Sheila's bow
He lengthened out our time;
Perhaps it was the spirit of
our old friend Billy Dodge,
Now seventy years and a life at sea,
but he never was lost for long.

After seven more hours, all burnt
and bruised, and neither food nor drink,
I could plainly see this was our end,
what else was there to think?
But then about five-thirty,
out of the mist and fog,
Came the trawler the Zebrula,
like an angel sent from God.

So now, my friends, I told my tale,
and I'm happy to relay,
I never thought I'd see this day
back in April, fifty-eight;
I thank the Lord for what He did,
though sad it makes me, too,
For the good ship Sheila Patricia
and all of her gallant crew.

####.... Bud Davidge ....####
Recorded by Bud Davidge (Black And White, 2009, trk#3. Distributed by Tidespoint, St John's, NL).

Comments by Bud Davidge excerpted from the Coaster News, Harbour Breton, NL, Jan 12, 2010: (Sandy Hayward was a crewmember on the dragger Sheila Patricia in April, 1958, when the galley stove exploded resulting in terrible fire.)
I first heard the story about the dragger from Sandy Hayward years ago in Pool's Cove. I had planned to write a song about the disaster, but I forgot about it as time went on. However, several years later a story by Roger Hunt on the disaster was carried in the Coaster. Roger's story sparked my interest again, and I went about writing the song. The song is about the disaster on the dragger when the Captain and six of the crew decided to leave the burning ship that was still steaming as the engine could not be shut down and no one could reach the engine room. In addition, no one could get into the wheelhouse so the ship was going around in circles. In the end, the crew who left the dragger died due mainly to exposure while the Zebrula later rescued the crew who stayed on.

See more songs by Bud Davidge.

See more songs about NL shipwrecks.

Mulgrave - town on the Strait of Canso in Guysborough County, NS, Canada; immediately across from the town of Port Hawkesbury. As of 2006 the population was 879.
Fairbanks - reliable and efficent Fairbanks-Morse commercial marine power and propulsion systems known around the world for reliable and efficient service.

Excerpted from The Daily News, St John's, NL, May 3, 1958: Tragic Story Of Trawler Mulgrave, NS (CP)

Of the 13 men who sailed on the fishing boat Sheila Patricia, three died in the trawler's lifeboat trying to reach safety. Four, including the captain, died when the lifeboat tipped in launching. Six were rescued after 17 perilous hours on the burning ship. First Mate Maxwell Dodge identified three bodies of his shipmates who died in the drifting lifeboat brought here by the trawler Acadia Fisher, sister ship of the Sheila Patricia: Citales and James Dominaux of Fortune Bay, NL, and Walter House of Mulgrave, NS. Captain Uriah Hillier and Chief Engineer John MacDonald, both of Mulgrave, along with Second Engineer George Barnes of Fortune, NL, and Walter Tarrant of Burin, NL, were thrown into the water when the lifeboat tipped. The first mate and fisherman Leo Tarrant cut the lifeboat free, got into the smoke-filled wheelhouse and steered the burning Sheila around the drifting boat for 45 minutes but saw no sign of the men in the water. Then they headed the trawler toward land. Before dawn the next morning those on the ship were rescued by another vessel. A salvage tug towed the still smouldering trawler to Halifax on Friday. The fire had burned through most of the steel-hulled ship, including the wheelhouse and engine room. Her owners, Acadia Fisheries Limited, said she was worth $200,000. Thirty-five ships and seven RCAF planes had searched the sea off the southern end of Canso Strait, first for the burning trawler and then for the missing lifeboat. RCMP called off the hunt for the missing bodies Friday. William House's funeral will be held Friday in Mulgrave. The bodies of the Dominaux men will be sent home to Fortune, NL.


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