An old ship-master's experience.
Captain Jacob H. Holmes, who resided on Cudworth street for several years after his retirement from active sea-faring life and died in 1898, had a memorable experience on his last voyage. He put into the harbor of Valparaiso, South America, with a cargo of nitrate, his vessel being the ship Republic, owned in Boston by Messrs. George C. and Charles Lord. (This ship was built at Newburyport, and registered 1,200 tons.) Valparaiso harbor is peculiar in that it is not safe to make fast to the stone abutments and pier, so that all vessels with cargoes are unloaded into hulks or old vessels anchored some distance out in the harbor. A northwest wind, for which this coast is famous, sprang up, and Captain Holmes' vessel, heavily loaded, was caught between two of the old hulks and his foremast and rigging, and mainmast also, were torn away, and the mizzenmast had to be cut away to save a worse disaster, The captain's wife (now living on Dudley street in this city), who was on board, was lowered over the bow into a life-boat just as this' happened and taken ashore. The ship, although ruined, did not sink, and with the damaged cargo was sold. [p. 67] Captain Holmes recovered his instruments and belongings, and with his wife came down the coast by steamship to Panama, thence across the isthmus to Colon, and then to Medford, where he lived until his decease. His genial good nature and ready wit and fund of ‘sea yarns’ were appreciated by his neighbors. Mrs. Holmes traversed the sea with her husband twelve years. The ‘old hulk’ that crashed into his vessel in Valparaiso Harbor and wrought such destruction was the ship George Peabody, built in Medford at the yard of James O. Curtis. It was somewhat singular that Captain Holmes should take up his residence in Medford within sight of the spot where the Peabody was launched.