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Rescue of Crew of the Norval by Portland Fishermen in Lyme Bay


On Sunday, 30 Dec 1860, the schooner Norval, bound from Harfleur, Normandy, to Plymouth, in ballast, was wrecked on the Chesil beach, near Portland.

She was seen about noon in the West Bay in an unmanageable condition, with a gale from the south-west blowing on shore and it was soon seen that nothing could prevent her from going ashore.

Volunteers manned one of the fishing boats usually kept on this coast, known as a Lerret, and, after some difficulty, succeeded on launching it. A few moments sufficed to get the boat outside the broken water and the vessel was soon reached and the crew taken off by rope from the bowsprit.

They now headed for shore and on reaching the buoy, to which a line from the shore had been attached on going to sea, the boat was made fast until the men on the beach could see from the state of the sea the right time to pull them ashore. Once the signal was given a line of men ran up the beach with the rope bringing the boat safely ashore in no time.

The names of the crew were : William Flann, Joseph White, David King, John FIann, John White, George Stone, Jonathan Gibbs, and Henry Mitchell.

The Norval came ashore soon after the rescue of the crew, and became a total wreck.

Having watched the launch and recovery of a Lerret on a breezy day, and noted the timing necessary to make the operation successful, to do so in a gale must have been some achievement.

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