NOSTALGIA: Portsmouth skipper went down with his ship
On July 28 I published a story about the coaster St Ernest,Â lost in the English Channel in 1962, and asked if anyone knew more about it.Â I heardÂ from Jane Collins (nÃ©e CarrÃ©)Â whose father captainedÂ the vessel.
'˜O hear us when we cry to Thee/For those in peril on the sea'.
These words ended a memorial service in Portsmouth's Anglican cathedral for the crew of the St Ernest which sank without trace in the English Channel on January 19, 1962.
Many local people, friends and seamen paidÂ tribute to CaptÂ John CarrÃ©,Â of Southsea, along with his four crew who diedÂ in the disaster.
AÂ service was also held in Alderney in the Channel IslandsÂ and all minds must have gone back to theÂ night St Ernest left those islands.Â They were bound for Newhaven with a cargo of early spring flowers and vegetables. For CaptÂ CarrÃ©Â and his crew it should have been a routine 16-hourÂ trip.
But eight hours into the voyageÂ a message was sent saying they had run into bad weatherÂ '“ after that silence. Nothing was heard or seen of the coaster again. In the storm-tossed Channel, with 20ft waves and winds of 40-50mph, the 157ft coaster could do nothing and sank.
AnÂ air-sea search failed to find anything and was abandoned after crates of cauliflowers and daffodils were washed up on beaches between the Witterings and Littlehampton. A yellow life raft believed to have come from St Ernest and a lifebelt marked St Ernest came ashoreÂ at Bognor Regis.
CaptÂ CarrÃ©,Â 42, was born in Sark and lived with his wife Kathleen and 10-month-old daughter JaneÂ in Festing Grove, Southsea. He also had two sons, Michael, 19, and John, 17, from a previous marriage.
Kathleen told an Evening News reporter her husband had spent his lifeÂ at seaÂ and hadÂ sailed St Ernest back from Gibraltar the previous September after a refit. She said: '˜There are good seamen and bad and John was one of the best. John had been sailing between south coast ports and Alderney for many years and could do the trip with his hands tied behind his back.'
The other crew members were Joe Northcott, of Looe, Cornwall, Paul CarrÃ© of Guernsey, andÂ brothers Mark, 26,Â and Peter Allen, 23, both sons of the owner Nick Allen. Dorothy Clouting (nÃ©e Allen), sister of the brothers Mark and Peter and 19 at the time, gave me the names of those in the photograph. She believes Peter took the picture.
Mike Nolan, a former Old PortsmouthÂ resident and regular at the Bridge Tavern at the Camber, says he was almost in tears when he sawÂ the photo. He remembers drinking with Joe and Mark in the Bridge whenever they were inÂ Portsmouth.