Throwback Thursday

January 27, 1914, at midnight, the City of Boston steamer George A. Hibbard struck Schooner Olive F. Hutchins broadside and punched a sizable hole just aft of the foremast on her port side.

The Cape Porpoise vessel had been returning to Boston Harbor from a four-day fishing trip off Jefferies Ledge with 25,000 lbs. of fish in her hold. They were just off Castle Island when Capt. Merton Hutchins saw that the Hibbard was coming right for them. He screamed an alarm down the cabin companionway to rouse the sleeping crew. By the time his men stumbled on deck barefoot, half-naked, and in a state of confusion on that frigid January night, the water was at deck level.

Capt. Merton P. Hutchins, the wheelman Willis Hutchins, the watch, Martin Patterson, Charles Perry, Thomas Swain, and Arthur Goodwin managed to leap onto the steamer’s deck while the vessels were entangled but, the rest of the crewmen had to jump in the dories and cut them loose. All 17 men aboard survived.

It quickly became apparent that the Olive F. Hutchins was blocking the channel and she would have to be floated. Looking at the condition of the 10-year-old schooner in the postcard its hard to imagine she had any future at all but Merton Hutchins later recalled that it took about a month to raise and repair the Olive F. Hutchins. The cost of the repairs and an engine upgrade were covered by insurance and by the $10,000 the City of Boston paid Merton for the fact that the George A. Hibbard had been crewed that night by unpaid inmates of the city infirmary on Long Island.

Once the Sch Olive F, Hutchins was ship shape she was rechristened “The Waltham” in honor of Mrs. Hutchins’ birthplace. Capt. Merton Hutchins sailed her until 1927 when he finally sold her to Capt. John McKenzie for southern mackerel fishery.

The crew of the Olive F. Hutchins in the early 1900s. Captain Merton Hutchins front & center.
Schooner Olive F. Hutchins

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