| Yorkshire's heroes of the sea|
Polish hero of North Sea disaster
The date was October 18, 1961. Not untypically for that time of year the Yorkshire coast was being battered by gales.
Off Flamborough Head the Hull trawler Arctic Viking, heading home from the fishing grounds, found herself battling against north easterly winds which began to whip up the waves around her. But morale was high, they voyage to northern Norway had been a good one - she had 1,500 kits of fish on board.
Owned by the Boyd Line, of Hull, the trawler, which was built in 1937 as the Arctic Pioneer by Cochranes of Selby, was a well maintained, reliable vessel.
But she could not cope with what was to come.
The winds began to create a co-incidence of wave formations, said later to be "of unpredictable and unascertainable proportions" which swamped the vessel causing water to gush so far forward id ran under the whaleback
overwhelmed Arctic Viking with merciless efficiency.
She took a heavy roll to port which filled that side of the trawler with water creating a 20 degree list. The skipper eased the speed, took corrective helm action and managed to clear the water. Then disaster struck.
A heavy sea rolled over the port quarter filling the port side and quarterdeck. Arctic Viking heeled heavily over, then turned over and floated bottom upwards.
But help was at hand.
And it came from Skipper Ryszard Sleska and the Polish lugger Derkacz which found the Hull trawler and managed to take 14 men to safety.
Five men, though, never returned home.
Fourteen hours after the incident the survivors were back in Hull with their families.
T hat night in Hull the audience at the Continental on Anlaby Road stood and cheered as Capt Sleska went on stage for a very special appearance.
Smart in grey suit and a bright blue shirt he smiled in embarrassment as compere Leslie Adams told him: "We are proud and honoured to have you with us,"
And the audience added their thanks, too - by breaking into chorus after chorus of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."
Written by The Editor - 12/05/2001 18:24:12
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