Three Downies brothers were lost in this accident which occurred in January 1911. I’ll let the Stonehaven Journal narrate this story from start to finish:
“A melancholy fishing accident occurred on Monday, when three brothers, named Wood, were drowned by the swamping of their yawl two miles off Downies, near Portlethen. The unfortunate men, whose loss the little community is now mourning, were unmarried fishermen, who resided with their widowed mother in Downies, and their names are James Wood (34), John Wood (30) and Andrew Wood (26).
The three brothers who were the owners of the small fishing boat Alexander and James No. 802, put to sea about 8 o’clock in the morning to prosecute the cod and haddock line fishing. The conditions were not too favourable for conducting fishing operations on a small boat, and much care had to be exercised in the handling of the craft. There was a heavy ground swell with a stiff south easterly breeze. As the forenoon advanced the conditions had not improved, and when the accident happened they were, if anything, somewhat worse than at the time the brothers set sail from home. All went well with the craft until eleven o’clock, when a heavy sea was observed to strike her on the stern. She immediately turned over on her side and sank, the occupants were never seen again.
The unfortunate fishermen, who were about two and a half miles from the shore, had just completed their fishing operations, and set sail for Downies’ Harbour when the accident happened. They were seen to haul in their lines and hoist the sail. Shortly after this, when the boat favoured with the breeze was making good progress for home, an exceptionally heavy sea struck her with great force. Several large stones for ballast purposes were in the bottom of the craft, and it is thought these had shifted to the side, thus assisting to sink the boat.
As the disaster happened about two miles and a half from land it was impossible for those on shore to do anything to rescue the men. Less than a minute elapsed between the time the boat was struck by the sea and her disappearance. Five fishing vessels belonging to Downies were out at the time engaged in the line fishing, but they were unaware of anything having happened to the Alexander and James until they returned to the village. In the circumstances it will be seen that if a boat had put out from the shore to rescue the men it could have done nothing. The three brothers were not seen in the water. It is suggested that they would have been unable to keep themselves afloat for more than a few minutes in such a sea, more especially as they were clad in full fishing attire with heavy top boots and oilskin trousers”.