The Last Great Shipwreck
November 27th 1965
A north easterly gale was piling the sea into Robin Hood?s Bay and the waves were battering the rocky headlands at North Cheek and Ravenscar; blinding snow reduced visibility to almost zero. The crew of the motor vessel Fred Everard had been battling for hours to keep the ship on an even keel; while the wind and waves relentlessly pushed it ever nearer to the jagged rocks below the 200 metre high cliffs at Ravenscar.
The 1,542 ton Fred Everard had sailed from Lervick in Norway with a deck cargo of paper pulp. Heavy seas had soaked the cargo which had then become unstable and this resulted in the vessel listing dangerously. Frenzied attempts by the crew to stabilize the ship by throwing some of the cargo overboard were of no avail and at 2 o?clock in the morning there was a sickening grinding and shuddering as the Fred Everard ran aground.
The feelings of the crew can only be imagined as the vessel was pounded by gigantic seas below the towering cliffs on that black, stormy night in November1965.
For those in peril
The Whitby lifeboat, the Mary Ann Hepworth, had been alerted by a ?Mayday? signal and was launched at 2.20 a.m. Battling through the winter storm she reached the stricken vessel in 40 minutes and at great risk but with consummate skill her crew plucked twelve of the Fred Everard?s crew from a life raft in the lee of the wrecked ship. Returning for the master and second officer who had stayed aboard the grounded vessel, the Mary Ann Hepworth returned to Whitby leaving the Fred Everard to her fate.
The rocks remain
Stranded in such an exposed situation there was no chance of salvaging the Fred Everard and she quickly succumbed to the pounding waves. After only a few short weeks there was little to see but broken and twisted metal and quantities of paper pulp plastered amongst the boulders! In the short time before the vessel broke up the high cliffs at Ravenscar provided the ideal vantage point from which visitors could look down almost directly onto the deck of the Fred Everard. Today very little remains; at low tide a section of the forepeak is all that can be seen above the turbulent waters of the North Sea. Hopefully, the last great shipwreck on the Yorkshire coast.
Following the wreck of the Fred Everard an attempt was made to remove material for scrap. Salvage equipment was brought in by landing craft but the enterprise failed and the machinery was abandoned; parts of it can still be seen on the shore at Ravenscar.