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Out of the Fog   By:

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A Story of the Sea


Introduction By Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell


Since I am permitted to consider myself in some way responsible for this narrative's being put on record, it is with the very heartiest good will that I accept the publishers' kind invitation to write a brief foreword to it.

I have, during twenty years, been working against a problem that I recognized called for all yes, and more, than I had to give it. For I have been endeavoring, through my own imperfect attainments, to translate into undeniable language on the Labrador Coast, the message of God's personal fatherhood over and love for the humblest of His creatures. During these years, often of overwork, I have considered it worth while to lay aside time and energy and strength to improve the charting and pilot directions of our devious and sometimes dangerous waterways.

How much more gladly shall I naturally avail myself of any chance by which to contribute to the knowledge of that seemingly ever evasive pathway leading to that which to me is the supreme motive power of human life faith in the divine Redeemer and Master. The best helps to reach the haven we are in search of, over the unblazed trails of Labrador, are ever the tracks of those who have found the way before us. Just such to me is this simple and delightful story of Mr. Ober's. It has my most hearty prayers for its unprecedented circulation.




The lure of the sea prevailed, and at nineteen I shipped for a four months' fishing trip on the Newfoundland Banks. These banks are not the kind that slope toward some gentle stream where the weary fisherman can rest between bites, protected from the sun by the shade of an overhanging tree; they are thirty to forty fathoms beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, a thousand miles out from the Massachusetts coast.

The life that had long appealed to my imagination now came in with a shock and a realism that was in part a disillusionment and in part an intense satisfaction of some of my primal instincts and cravings. Old salts are more picturesque and companionable spinning yarns about the stove in a shoemaker's shop than they are when one is obliged to live, eat and sleep with them for four months in the crowded forecastle of a fishing schooner. An ocean storm is a sublime spectacle, witnessed from a position of safety on the land; but a storm on the ocean, experienced in its very vortex from the deck of a tiny fishing boat, is thrilling beyond description. "Ships that pass in the night" make interesting reading; but if they pass near you, in a foggy night, on the Banks, they are better than the muezzin of the Moslem in reminding a man that it is time to pray. I recall with vividness the scene on such a night, and still feel the compelling power of the panic in the voice of the mild mannered old sea dog on anchor watch, as he yelled down the companionway, "All hands on deck." In six seconds we were all there; and there was the great hulk of a two thousand ton ship looming up out of the night. She had evidently sighted our little craft just in time to change her course, and was passing us with not more than a hundred and fifty feet to spare. I can see them tonight, as they vanished into the fog three men and a big Newfoundland dog, looking over the rail and down on us who, a moment before, were about to die.

Storm, fog, icebergs, cold, exposure, the alert and strenuous life, with his own life the forfeit of failure, are a part of the normal experience of a deep sea fisherman. Two members of our crew were father and son, Uncle Ike Patch and his son, Frank. The old man had been a fisherman in his youth, but had been on shore for thirty years. When we were making up our crew, Frank caught the fishing fever and wanted to go, and his father decided to go along with him. They were out in their dory, one foggy day, and when the boats came back to the vessel from hauling their trawls, Uncle Ike and Frank were missing... Continue reading book >>

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