Another gale occurred in April of this year that resulted in many boats running for cover and at first it was feared that three boats had been lost. These boats included the Christina and Margaret of Torry, the John Lewis of Footdee and the Ann Elisabeth of Findon.
Ultimately all three boats made it back to port, the Torry and Footdee boats managing to reach the harbour at Anstruther a couple of days after the onset of the storm and about the same time the Findon boat was spotted making distress signals within Aberdeen bay and a tug was despatched to render assistance and tow her into port.
The Ann Elisabeth had left Torry pier on a fine Wednesday afternoon with a crew of seven to do some cod fishing. By Thursday morning the fishing vessel was 62 miles out to sea and the first half of their nets had been shot a little before sunrise, during the course of the morning the remainder of their nets had been shot with the exception of one.
It was at this point that the weather closed in almost immediately and soon there was driving sleet and snow accompanied by a fierce gale coming from the northwest. So sudden was the storm that there was no time to haul the nets, in fact it wouldn’t have been possible to pull the nets at all such was the severity of the weather so all the nets that were in the water had to be abandoned. Instead all sails were hoisted and the boat was headed towards home.
As night approached the violence of the gale increased and soon the crew found that they could hardly see anything ahead of them such was the gloom and encroaching darkness. Very soon the sails were torn and it was decided to lower them and take down the mast. It was at this stage that the skipper’s son, George Leiper, aged 24 was washed overboard whilst assisting in lowering the mast. He was seen for a brief instant as he was whirled away on the crest of a huge wave but this was the last sighting of the man as he disappeared from view in the trough of the same wave. Attempts at rescue were impossible with the vessel at the mercy of the waves.
The crew knew that they would not make landfall that night so they took the sail of the foremast and made it into a drag, although this first attempt was unsuccessful with the force of one massive wave breaking the drag chain and washing the existing fishing gear overboard at the same time. Another drag was put out and was successful in keeping a hold.
During the rest of that Thursday night and the following Friday morning the storm continued to rage and the boat had to drift before the wind. On Friday afternoon the gale began to moderate and the Ann Elisabeth was turned in the direction of Aberdeen, finally crippling back into the bay there at around five o’ clock on the following Saturday morning where she was spotted and assisted back to shore.