A SWIM FOR LIFE.
OVERBOARD IN MID-OCEAN, SEAMAN’S REMARKABLE ESCAPE.
Southern papers give additional particulars of the exciting incident during the mail steamer Aorangi’s run from ‘Frisco to Wellington — briefly referred to in a telegram published on Saturday — when a seaman who had fallen overboard was rescued after a three hours’ search. It appears that the man in question, Bert Funnell, while stooping to lift the cover off one of the lifeboats in order to rig new falls, overbalanced and fell clear of the vessel into the water. The Aorangi was then under full steam and Funnell, clad in two pairs of trousers, shirt, coat and boots was rapidly astern. It was then about 2.30 in the afternoon.
Immediately on coming to the surface, he set about to divest himself of all his clothing. The weather was warm, and though he was stripped he did not feel cold. The young seaman happened to be a good swimmer, so with a stout heart he struck out in the direction of the steamer. There was a moderate swell, and when he rose on the lift of the seas, Funnell could see the Aorangi circling round, but he found that she did not come back along her course far enough for anyone to see him. When the alarm was given by the boatswain, who saw Funnell fall, the helm had been put hard to starboard. Captain Stevens took charge of the vessel and rang the engines to “slow,” at the same time sending the second and third officers respectively up the fore and main mast with binoculars.
SHARKS AND SEA FOWL.
In addition to the risk of attack by sharks, Funnel found another danger in sea-fowl which hovered around his head. He shouted to keep them off, and they did not” attack him. When the Aorangi circled the second time without anyone on board seeing him, he felt that very little hope remained, but he bravely swam on.
Thus one hour passed and then another, the Aorangi steaming slowly round and Funnell struggling on for life. At last at about 4.50, a seaman who was up the foremast, sighted the missing man, still swimming gamely. No. 4 lifeboat was lowered, in charge of Mr H. Claydon, second officer, who was also accompanied by the ship’s surgeon. Funnell swam desperately towards the boat and was rescued after being for three hours in the water — a most remarkable experience. When Funnell reached the ship’s deck the passengers and crew gave him a cheer, and an enthusiastic passenger kissed him. A subscription list circulated amongst the passengers resulted in the sum of £5 being collected, which was handed to Funnell with congratulations on his wonderful escape from death. Although not actually sick after his experience, Funnell felt much fatigued, and was given two days’ spell. Funnell’s home is in Stanmore, Sydney, and he says that he will have a holiday on arrival there.
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