Two Months at Sea in the South Atlantic
On Sunday 5th May 1901, Frederick Newman and his nine-year-old son set off from Teal Inlet for Stanley in a boat the farmer had built himself in his spare time.
The Newman family were moving to Stanley and their furniture and goods were being shipped from the settlement by the cutter "Shamrock". However, Fred wanted to sail the 35-40 miles in his home-made boat
The first part of the trip went well, but on the night of 6th May a fierce gale blew the boat far off from Cape Pembroke. Some of Newman's gear was also blown away and he was unable to hoist his sails.
Fortunately, Fred was carrying some supplies with him - he had a small amount of cooked mutton, a young pig cut up in salt, and a whole dead sheep. Best of all, the family had recently dug their garden, so he was was also carrying a large quantity of swede turnips and raw potatoes.
The Newmans' water lasted them for only 21 days and it was the turnips and potatoes that saved the lives of Fred and his son - the moisture from the turnips "was sufficient to alleviate their pangs of thirst, whilst the tubers themselves gave them enough nourishment for subsistence." [Falkland Islands Weekly News]
For 62 days the little boat sailed about the ocean. Twice the Newmans sighted a vessel but were too far away to be seen.
At first, Fred's only thought was of making it back to the Falklands, but his attempts were in vain and he ended up too far south. The wind then blew the little boat north and, realising this from the heightened temperature, he decided to make for South America and sailed west for five days. Again, fortune was not with the pair... They sighted land and, when the wind died away, tried to row to it, but the currents and tide kept them out until, once again, the wind blew them back out to sea.
The Newman's luck finally began to change when a "great fall of rain" gave them a good supply of water. For six more days Fred continued to try and sail west then, on July 6th and within sight of the coast, a steamer appeared.
Fred hauled up a piece of black cloth as a signal of distress, and holding his little boy in his arms, he did his best to attract the attention of the ship.
The ship turned out to be an Argentine transport called “Guardia Nacional”, bound for Buenos Aires.
The story caused great excitement and the Newmans became minor celebrities, with "their photographs taken and shown on the cinematograph in the places of amusement."
$146.50 were collected for them and young Master Newman was taken to meet the President (Roca) who also gave him five dollars.
Father and son eventually returned to the Falklands on 10th August, on board the Pacific Company’s Royal Mail Steamer “Orellana”.
Family and friends had reportedly almost given up hope of ever seeing Fred and his son again and assumed that they had been lost in the gale.
Fred Newman’s boat had to be abandoned in Buenos Aires as it was too expensive to ship it back to the Islands. Its dimensions were reported to be just 26ft 7“ long by 8ft 2” broad and 3ft 6” deep.
The picture shows Fred Newman and his son after their rescue, in Buenos Aires.