During the winter of 1871, Nantucket Sound experienced once of the worst freeze-ups in history; the ice was so thick that it was incredibly challenging and nearly impossible to cut through. At this time there was no paid lifesaving service on the island. Rather, volunteer surfmen with the Massachusetts Humane Society risked life and limb to aid mariners and passengers in distress on the shoals around Nantucket.
On the evening of February 3, 1871, the schooner, Mary Anna, with a cargo of coal destined for Maine, was anchored off the coast of Chatham when a cold, strong gale caused her to break from her mooring and begin to drift. There were five crew members on board. The ice on the boat and in the Sound affected their ability to maneuver and control the boat, and thus, on the morning of February 4, the Mary Anna struck a shoal and began to freeze in place. Ice slowly began to surround the hull and the crew fled to the rigging in fear that the vessel would be torn apart.
Snow, Edward R. "Storms and Shipwrecks of New England," Boston Printing Co. 1943 p. 228-229
Soverino, Michelle & Jackson, Olivia "The Remarkable Rescue of the Crew Aboard the Shipwreck Mary Anna" Egan Maritime Institute. 2019
Music and Narration: Performed, Produced and Edited by Evan Schwanfelder.
Special Thanks to Katie Schwanfelder for all your help and for joining the discussion.