Nova Scotia Archives

Halifax and Its People / 1749-1999

"Qr Mast Speakman, SS. Atlantic ", ca. 1873

When theAtlantic began to capsize, Quartermaster John Speakman of the vessel’s crew succeeded in taking the signal halyards to a rock looming up in front of the vessel. Third Officer Cornelius Brady followed, and together they hauled the forward fore-trysail vang [a heavier rope] from the ship to the rock. Approximately 250 men used this tenuous link, plus three other ropes, to make the 40-yard perilous journey from the vessel to the rock. Later, Speakman swam from the rock to nearby Mosher’s Island with another rope. Although there was now a link from the vessel to the shore, most were too exhausted to make the journey, and only fifty men completed the second stage of the passage to dry land and survival.

Photographer: Notman Studio

Date: ca. 1873

Reference: Notman Studio Nova Scotia Archives  no. 90095

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