The Ballad Of The Freda M (Abel C Wornell)

The hurricane had swept the shores
of Newfoundland all day,
With gusts a hundred miles or more
smack out of Fortune Bay;
It threatened everything afloat
from Labrador to Maine,
And many small ill-fated boats
were never seen again.

The banker Freda M that day,
with closely battened hatch,
Was homeward bound for Grand Bank town
to land her precious catch;
With riding sail and jumbo set
she raced before the gale,
While furious waves which followed her
ran level with her rail.

The wind chopped swiftly to the South
and viciously did blow,
Her riding sail was torn to shreds,
and broadside she did go;
Her engine couldn't bring her to,
and so the plunging banker,
With treacherous reefs two leagues away,
was forced to ride at anchor.

Ah, 'twas a fearful, anxious time
for the skipper and his crew,
It seemed each crashing wall of sea
would split their craft in two;
And as the Freda wildly tossed,
they made a fervent plea,
That the Lord would calm the tempest
as He did on Galilee.

(But prayers aren't always answered,
and when a seaman prays,
He must remember that the Lord
has most mysterious ways.)
Despite their prayers, the hurricane
continued through the night,
Abating not till next day's sun
had gained the zenith's height.

When scudding dawn-clouds rifted
to show the damage done,
They found two dories battered,
deck-engine was gone;
But with her engine working
and her anchor holding fast,
The Freda stoutly rode the seas
until the danger passed.

They tried to get her anchor
at noon-day, but in vain,
It's flukes became imbedded
by the cable's mighty strain;
'Twas several hours later
when they swung its twisted shank
Across her heaving bulwarks,
and headed for Grand Bank.

So, here's to Captain Evans
who safely brought her through!
And here's to all her sharemen -
a most courageous crew!
May the best of luck go with them
and bring them bumper trips,
And men like Archie Evans
be skippers of their ships!

####.... Abel Charles Wornell of English Harbour West © All rights reserved ....####
Abel C (Abe) Wornell [1914-2004] was a businessman, politican, writer and outdoor sports enthusiast, the son of Magistrate Edmund John and Jessie (Lush) Wornell of Greenspond, Bonavista Bay. He held managerial positions with a number of Newfoundland companies, starting his career with James Baird Limited and culminating with his own business, Wornell Agencies. He was a Mason, former Lion, member of the Methodist College Literary Institute, the Rod and Gun Club and a long time member of George Street United Church Choir. In 1966, he was elected Member of the Newfoundland House of Assembly for the district of Hermitage during the last five years of the Joseph Smallwood premiership, and an active participant in the 1969 Liberal Party Leadership Convention. He was also an avid sports fisherman and small game hunter, as well as a published local writer and poet. Wornell wrote the above ballad after the Freda M weathered the hurricane of September 3rd, 1948.

The variant above was printed on p.112 of the Atlantic Guardian, volume 06, number 03 (March 1949), and published by Atlantic Guardian Associates, Montreal, Quebec, Ewart Young, editor [1913-1968].

The Freda M, number 153345 registered in the port of St John's, NL, was a sailing vessel built in Shelburne, Nova Scotia in 1929. In 1938, her registry was changed because she was altered to an auxiliary motor screw vessel. On October 7, 1961, she collided with the Merchant Royal off Cape Dauphin, Nova Scotia (46 34 N, 60 48 W) and was a total loss.

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Banker - ¹ vessel engaged in cod-fishing on the Newfoundland offshore grounds, especially the Grand Banks; - ² fisherman engaged in the offshore or 'bank' fishery; - ³ owner or operator of an offshore fishing vessel.

From terrax.org:
Riding Sail - also: stability sail or steadying sail; any small sail set to help the boat maintain its direction without necessarily moving, as when at anchor or in heavy weather.

From Schooner Vocabulary:
Jumbo - larger of the headsails (any sail forward of the foremast).


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