Sunday, May 8, 2011


Arbutus, January 1, 1899.

The "385-ton Canadian brigantine Arbutus… disappeared January 1, 1899, on a voyage between Jamaica and New York." (Quasar, p. 56.)

Practically no details are given. Where was she on January 1? Did she depart that day? Was she seen in mid-voyage by another ship?

Thus, we do not know if she was in the vicinity of one of the vicious winter storms that swept the Eastern Seaboard that year.

"NEW ROCHELLE, NY, Jan. 1. — During the storm this morning the fourmasted schooner Gypsum Emperor, Capt. Morrison, from Bangor, Me., for Jersey City, went ashore on the rocks near Gutt Rock, off Rye Beach…" ("Schooner Ashore, but Floats Off," The New York Times, January 2, 1899.)

"BOSTON, Jan. 2. — The heavy northeast snow storm of yesterday, which prevailed throughout New England…" ("Cold Weather in New England," The New York Times, January 3, 1899.)

If a ship, a small sailing ship in particular, is lost in the path of a storm, the onus is on the sensationalists to show that she is not a storm victim. Occam's razor.

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