1. Some ownership history, submitted by TD Tozer
2. From the "New York Sun" 2.5.1940
On the Sun Deck - Salvaging of the Sailing Ship Ainsdale - Atlantic Adventure.
BY ROBERT WILDER
For sheer adventure and dogged determination in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles no story we have heard in a long time approaches the yarn of the Ainsdale and the men who sailed her into port after she had been abandoned on the high seas.
You have to go back almost twenty-three years for the tale, picking it up on a night in February 1917, when the Ainsdale, a three-masted schooner (should be barque - TPI) was slogging her way through heavy weather. Wind and rain beat upon the ship and she was making heavy going when near dawn a submarine came crashing to the surface and without warning began pouring shells into the unarmed vessel.
Helpless, the Ainsdale’s crew brought the ship about to make a lee into which the lifeboats could be launched and preparations were made to abandon the ship. These maneuvers, however, seemed to excite the suspicion of the submarine’s captain and the firing from the under sea raider was intensified. The crew of the Ainsdale put their boats over as best they could and as they pulled away in the lead-grey light the submarine was still firing. Mist and rain closed down on the scene and the little boats were scattered. Later in the day, battered and storm-tossed they were picked up by a passing ship and taken into port. That should have been the end of the Ainsdale and would have been save for a curious chain of circumstances.
The submarine commander was either frightened off or believed that the sinking of the Ainsdale was only a matter’ of minutes. Anyhow, he submerged leaving the stricken ship to wallow helplessly in the waves. The Ainsdale, however, didn’t sink. For six days she was buffeted about in storm. Water-logged and heavily laden the vessel rolled and pitched, the sea breaking over her continually. On the sixth day a tramp steamer, the Basuto, sighted her. Wise in the way the marine warfare had developed the master of the tramp approached the Ainsdale cautiously, fearing that she was a decoy and that a submarine was lurking in the vicinity. With lookouts on the alert the Basuto edged closer to the abandoned Ainsdale and scanned her for some sign of life. The chief officer asked his superior to allow him to take a boat and a few men and go over to investigate. A boat was put away into the high seas and started for the Ainsdale. It took almost an hour to make the short distance and the lifeboat was threatened with swamping every foot of the way. Working in under the ships lee the chief officer was finally able to board.
With two men he went through the ship, searching hold and cabin and finding nothing save a parrot and a monkey, mascots which the crew in their excitement forgot to take with them. The chief officer then set about making a systematic survey of the waterlogged ship and when he reappeared on deck he was convinced that with a little luck and some seamanship the craft could be salvaged.
The shells from the submarine had shattered the topside of the ship and the wheel had been shot away, the compass was also shattered. What the shells hadn’t smashed the waves, during the six days she was without a crew, had carried away. The hatch tarpaulins and covers were still in place and the Ainsdale floated, although the officer wasn’t sure just how or why. The chief officer reported the condition of the derelict to his captain and volunteered to try and get her into port. Eight men went with him. They rigged a jury wheel and the Basuto took a line and made an attempt to tow the heavy ship. The heavy seas soon convinced every one that this was impossible and finally those aboard the Ainsdale signaled that they would try and work the ship into port without assistance.
The chief officer was the only man aboard the Ainsdale who had had previous experience with a sailing vessel but by driving his little crew and exercising every trick he had learned during his years at sea he kept the vessel moving and afloat.
For ten days, battling against terrific odds the Ainsdale, crying and creaking in every joint, her rigging a crazy tangle, smalled her nose into the sea. On the eleventh day the men found that all of the stores, save a few water-soaked biscuits, had been exhausted.
Late that afternoon the weary officer encountered a British patrol boat. He discovered then that he was only a few miles out of’ his reckoning. A tug was dispatched to the Ainsdale’s assistance hut even this didn’t end the officer’s troubles. A sudden gale whipped up and the tug had to take shelter, leaving the Ainsdale to her own devices.
For another day the Ainsdale drifted about and when the weather abated the crew painfully worked the ship toward the nearest port, taking only a little assistance and that grudgingly from the docking tug which came out to meet them. The salvage job was a true epic of the sea and a feat of consummate seamanship and daring.