The Aberdeen steam trawler Mary Wetherly went ashore at Downies in November of this year. She was making for Aberdeen with her catch when she went on the rocks immediately below the village.
The first alarm was sounded at 4am and the villagers soon become aware that something was amiss on the rocks immediately below their village. Practically the whole population converged at the edge of the cliff top above the shore, and despite the darkness which was accompanied by an early morning mist they were vaguely able to make out the shape of a ship in the gloom immediately below them.
Several of the local fishermen descended the only path that led from the cliff down into the small creek that for many years had acted as their harbour. A stiff breeze was blowing, and the wrecked vessel could be seen swaying in the grip of the swell and breakers immediately to the entrance of the small gully. A message was then despatched to Muchalls Life Saving Brigade that there was a vessel in trouble.
Recognising that the lifeboat would take some time to arrive a local fisherman, George Wood, launched a small yawl into the harbour with a crew of two or three others and set out towards the stricken vessel. On arrival alongside it was discovered that the crew of the Mary Wetherly were taking things calmly and there was no sign of any panic or distress. A rope was taken ashore and the vessel was moored as comfortably as possible to lessen any further damage.
The Lifeboat Brigade arrived as daybreak neared and communication was set up between the stricken vessel and the rescuers. Two men asked to come ashore so that they could get a message sent to the vessel owners about the mishap and they were taken ashore by breeches buoy without any incident.
The vessel was driven further into the creek with the incoming tide and although it changed position from lying parallel to the coast to being broadside on to the elements it was noted that she had incurred very little in the way of damage, the most noticeable being a few battered plates on one side.
Later that same evening, with the assistance of the Aberdeen salvage boat, Ocean Bride, the stranded trawler was refloated at high water and was towed from Downies all the way to Aberdeen Fish Market, where I imagine they sold their 70 boxes of fish, which had remained onboard throughout the entire episode. This was one of the luckier escapes along our coast although there is no doubting that it could have had an entirely different outcome if the wind had been blowing a little stronger. Such is the fine line between life and death on our seas.