At 10:30 a.m., with the John Fielden wrecked and the Robert and Mary Ellis still in the boathouse unable to be launched, Captain Milburn decided to call for assistance.
He telegraphed to Middlesbrough for the South Gare Lifeboat to be sent. This was the nearest motor lifeboat, but it was based at the mouth of the Tees, twenty miles to the North. Four hours sailing time, even in good weather. West Hartlepool and Scarborough were also notified of the position in case they could be of any service.
South Gare replied that conditions in their area were as bad as at Whitby but they would make the attempt as soon as weather and tide allowed.
It was not possible for the oared lifeboat at West Hartlepool to be of any assistance.
Scarborough’s was also a rowing boat, but the harbour there was more sheltered. There was also a powerful steam trawler, ‘Morning Star’, available which could tow the lifeboat the fifteen miles up the coast. The tide would not permit a start to be made until 2 p.m.
At best it would not be until late afternoon before either lifeboat could reach Whitby.
Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981