Today marks the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the schooner, FANCY ME and the loss of the lives of so many island ancestors.
It was one of the most tragic events that occurred during the 1920s!⚓
The Fancy Me was a schooner built on Hassel Island and captained by James H. Smith with his brother, first mate, H. Wally Smith of Carrot Bay.
On July 23, 1926, the vessel was returning to the British Virgin Islands from the port of San Pedro de Macoris with about 89 passengers.
According to survivor, Harold I. Norman, after they were out of sight of land, the captain, seeing the weather coming on, thought best to turn back.
He did and got as far as the southwestern portion of Saona Island where he anchored.
Unbeknownst to him, a Category 2 hurricane, with 100 mph winds was heading directly for them!
It was the first hurricane of the 1926 season and grew to be a Category 4 when it passed the Bahamas.
By 6 o’clock that evening, the vessel’s anchor line could hold no further under the increasing winds and tossing seas. It finally broke free.
Caught in the currents, they drifted uncontrollably until the ship struck a jagged rock.
The Fancy Me’s Tragedy
She took one more sudden blow before water gushed in, flooding the hold. Everyone in the cabin below panicked and raced out onto the deck.
The vessel drifted a short distance further, before sinking near a rock known as El Caballo Blanco or the white horse.
When the unbelievable news reached Tortola, all were overcome with grief, some to the extent of fainting.
Mr. Wheatley, one of the fortunate survivors, shared his story of hearing the indescribable cries of the passengers.
The entire community was grief stricken. Of the 89 passengers on board, only 35 survived.
The story took on a more personal note when I discovered an invoice for the Fancy Me in our great grandfather’s papers.
He owned the Creque Marine Railway on Hassel Island where the vessel was launched in 1920.
On May 10, 1921, the Fancy Me was hauled out for minor repairs. There, in Herman O. Creque’s handwriting were her previously unknown dimensions. “Fancy Me, 45 feet long by 15 feet wide”.
For those interested in learning more, Dr. Janet D. Smith wrote an intriguing account in a book titled, “Such are the Hours to Find Peace, Intimate Accounts, and Reflections of the loss of the Fancy Me”.
The book is available at the Road Town Public Library or the bookstore at the Lavity Stout Community College.
It’s a story that should never be forgotten.
Follow Our Blog!
You can sign up Easily here.