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Cape Cod The Wreck of the Evgenia

Shortly before five-thirty in the wild morning of the 6th of September, 1953, the 3,500-ton Panamanian steamer Evgenia was driven ashore off Peaked Hill on the Outer Shore of Provincetown. The big, 225-foot freighter, manned by a Greek crew who, with two or three exceptions, were able to speak only Greek, wallowed helplessly in the furious surf.

The area of her grounding is known as “the graveyard of the Atlantic,” many a fine ship has laid its bones there and the plight of the Evgenia seemed a hopeless one. Every heavy sea that rolled in broke over her. Every eye that beheld her distress regarded her as utterly doomed. Even before striking, the afflicted craft had radioed that she was running aground. Her crew of seventeen men said she was being tossed around in the boiling seas like a floating bottle. She was out of control at a moment when full control was imperative.

The crew attributed her helplessness to her lack of freight and to a broken propeller. The former would have held her lower in the water and thus have lessened her drifting; the propeller, if sound, would have given her steerage way.

In the black morning hours of the gale, the Evgenia’s skipper radioed the local Coast Guard to keep in contact. His message read: “Am aground near Cape Cod lighthouse. Position unsafe. . . . Please’ keep contact with us in case of emergency.” Lifeboat stations from Race Point and Cape Cod Lighthouses were ordered to keep a sharp lookout for the ship.

Within an hour she was found and rescue operations began at once. In the dawn’s early light, thousands of sightseers were gathered on the beach to watch ship and storm, rescue and rescuers. The Coastguardsmen first tried to reach the ship by lifeboats. Heavy surf forced them to return to the shore. Then they resorted to the method used so many times in other storms — shooting a line from shore to ship, in order to haul a breeches buoy to the ship. The line was shot from a gun, and made fast to the ship. Then one by one the crew came ashore in the breeches buoy. First man off was brought to shore at eleven o’clock, nearly six hours after the ship ran aground. Each rescue took more than twenty minutes’ time.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 01/30/06
Categories: History
Keywords: maritime, shipwrecks


I was one of those standing on the shore, watching!  I must have been no more than nine years old at the time and was beginning to think that I had dreamt about this rescue until your web site confirmed my memories.  Thank you!

Posted by Alice van Buren Kelley on 05/29/09 at 12:15 AM | #

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