Owen Jones, coxswain of Rhyl’s lifeboat “Gwylan y Mor”, gave a first hand account of this catastrophe to a coroner’s inquest, which was reported in the North Wales Chronicle of January 28th, 1853.
I was informed by my wife, about five o’clock, p.m., on Saturday, that a signal was put up by the telegraph, that a vessel was in distress. Went out with eight others, in the lifeboat, towards her. After we had gone about three miles, we put up the lug-sail; it blowed at the time a moderate gale. Went within about half a mile of the vessel, but before we reached, the tide had covered her; and we, therefore, could not find her. We turned back, and when we came to about a quarter of a mile of the shore, the wind blowing N.N.E., the boat lurched, and shipped a sea from the larboard side, and David George went overboard, but we got him in again. When we had got a little nearer shore, a heavy sea broke over us, and the boat made a lurch, and turned right on her face. Finding she did not right, I got on her, and pulled up two others; when, after a while, she righted, and we were again plunged into the sea. I swam towards the boat again, but found two of the crew clinging to me; I still endeavoured to swim towards the boat, when a heavy sea broke upon us, and separated the men from me. I can swim pretty well, and managed to get to the boat, and after resting a little got into her. I found Peter Edwards in, and John Williams fast to the side, holding the rope with his teeth, and I got him in. We were then three in the boat. The mast was broke. When in the boat I could see the rest of the crew about 50 yards from us, but afterwards lost sight of them. The boat was now within a few yards of the shore, in about five feet of water. I took the boat-hook and shoved her to shore; and when on shore, I could see some of the men. The men were all perfectly sober, and no blame could be attached to any. I have been much disappointed in the boat, on account of its capsizing in righting powers, the water ballast we completed. I don’t approve of her model, being too round in the bottom; it would have been not so liable to capsize if the bottom had a flatter floor.
Six of the crew of nine lost their lives: David George, John Evans, Phillip Jones, Thomas Jones, John Edwards and William Parry. They left 4 widows and 7 children.
The lifeboat in question had been designed and built by James Beeching of Great Yarmouth, who had won first prize in the “Northumberland Prize Lifeboat Competition” of 1851, with a design for a self righting lifeboat. Gwylan y Mor was slightly smaller than the prize winner, being 26ft x 6ft 6 ins and rowing 8 oars.
For more information on James Beeching and his prize winnig lifeboat follow the links:
Illustration shows James Beeching’s self righting lifeboat