Happy Friday everyone! We are pleased to have Cat Scout Felix here today to tell us about another seacat. And speaking of seacats, many of you know that Felix’s Mom runs the Museum of Maritime Pets , I am now a proud board member.
Hello, everyone! We are very proud that Ellen has joined the Board of the Museum of Maritime Pets. They’re getting ready to mount a travelling exhibit entitled, “Creature Comforts,” which will travel throughout the U.S. in 2016. More into soon on the website www.museumofmaritimepets.org Our mom has to confess that our Cat Scout duties sometimes conflict with her museum ones!!
Today I wanted to relay another heartwarming kitty rescue and human bravery story. This one originated in 1899 in Liverpool, England. Unfortunately, no illustrations of the humans or kitty exist, just one of the massive 3-masted commercial sailing ship Hawksdale which we are unable to reproduce here, due to technical problems with our scanner! Registered in Liverpool, Hawksdale sailed to Hamburg Germany to pick up its cargo of 500 pianos, bound for Melbourne, Australia.
One of the ship’s crew was a 17-year old apprentice named Aubrey Chaplin, who was allowed to bring his pet cat Freddy on board for company and as a pest-controller. Captain William Steele and the crew liked the kitty very much, and he was allowed the run of the ship, always bunking with his master at bedtime. Freddy was a marmalade, and you know how friendly they are!
A few days after leaving Hamburg, Hawksdale encountered gale-force winds, and she went off course, running aground between Margate and Clacton-on-Sea, on England’s East Coast on the North Sea.. The crew attempted to launch one of the ship’s three lifeboats, but it capsized and three crew members drowned. A second lifeboat broke from its fastenings and disappeared. The sails were torn to pieces, and the masts were in danger of collapsing.
The crew feared for their lives, but their distress signals were finally picked up by the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution – equivalent to our Coast Guard). The lifeboat crew approached as near as possible to the grounded ship, and after several attempts and many long arduous hours, Hawksdale‘s crew were all lifted to safety….except Aubrey, who realized at the last moment that he had forgotten his dear cat, still belowdecks.
Despite the urgings of the RNLI’s crew, Aubrey didn’t jump to safety, but he disappeared below to retrieve Freddy, who was asleep in his bunk. Aubrey put him into a nearby sack, so he could not escape, and the two jumped to safety into one of the two waiting lifeboats.
Aubrey sustained a serious injury while jumping, and in the meantime, Freddy in his sack was nearly submerged in the water that had washed into the lifeboat. His master had the presence of mind to “come to” and squeeze the water from the sack, holding it tightly for the nearly four hour (15 mile) trip back to shore at Clacton. Aubrey didn’t know at that point whether Freddy was still alive, because there was no movement in the sack!
Twenty four crew were saved from Hawksdale, and Freddy was weak, but soon resuscitated with some warm milk. He was taken in by Aubrey’s parents, never to set sail again.
Hawksdale‘s cargo was mostly salvaged by various tug and rescue boats, but the ship was a total loss. Captain Steele lost his commission, but was later allowed back into service. In the meantime, young Aubrey chose to continue his maritime career, and he was given special leave from his new ship to travel to Dublin, Ireland, where the Lord Mayor and other dignitaries presented him with a silver medal from the Dublin Home for Starving and Forsaken Cats, in recognition of his bravery saving Freddy:
“Presented to Mr. Aubrey F. Chaplin by Miss Alice M. Swifte, founder of the Dublin Home for Starving and Forsaken Cats, in remembrance of his brave conduct in saving the life of a cat, at the risk of his own, in time of shipwreck.”
The obverse of the Medal featured an engraving of a cat and his name, “Freddy.”
Thank you Felix for that amazing story.
Please stop by and visit Billy the Time Cat
His Mom tried to rescue this poor feral .