The wind, she was blowing wicked to the world.

January 31st, 2013

Jim “Pad” Kelly was one of the few Marystown fishermen who survived the 1935 August Gale.
Kelly was a legend in the small fishing outport where my grandfather was born. Like most of the Newfoundland men who fished from small dories, Kelly often found himself separated from the schooner, blinded by curtains of relentless fog.
On two of those occasions, Kelly rowed more than a hundred miles home from the Grand Banks fishing grounds. For seven days, he pulled the oars, sustaining himself with little more than hardtack and sips of water. During one of the journeys, the winter wind blew and the cold numbed the doryman’s hands. After rowing five days, Kelly’s dorymate dropped the oars in exhaustion.
“I can’t go on,” the younger man cried.
“Well then give me yur damn mitts!” shouted Kelly, who had lost his own. “Because I’m not ready to die.”
Kelly was 17 when he and his crewmates were caught out in the 1935 August gale. He would never forget the walls of water and the shrieking wind. Kelly and many other brave Newfoundland fishermen helped me recreate the storm that stole many souls on that August evening.
Captains and crew who returned spoke of a gale fiercer than anything their eyes had ever seen. ’Tis like the divil rose up from the sea. The water, she boiled up, and crashed upon us like mountains.
The wind, she was blowing wicked to the world. ’Twas nothing to do but lash yurself to the rigging or go down below and pray. Yis, b’ys, ’twas the most vicious gale I’ve ever been through in all me years. When we got ashore, I never felt so lucky in me life. And a lot of souls, they weren’t so lucky. No, they’ll never be seen no more.

- Excerpted from Chapter 21, August Gale: A Father and Daughter’s Journey into the Storm.

Jim "Pad" Kelly

SAMMY IN THE SKY. Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Jamie Wyeth. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.