Reclaiming its name, the Ferret becomes part of the Adelaide Steamship company, carrying cargo and passengers on the weekly Port Adelaide – Spencer Gulf route. In 1904 just off Reef Head on the Yorke Peninsula, the Ferret encounters a stricken Norwegian barque, the Ethel, which it cannot reach but immediately reports. Help arrives quickly. A young sailor from the Ethel has drowned trying to swim a lifeline to shore but the rest survive. The Ethel breaks up during salvage attempts and lies wrecked on the beach.
Forward to 2am on Sunday 14 November 1920. The S.S. Ferret is following her normal route when she runs into sudden thick fog and heavy seas. The ship is quickly battered and holed. The crew must abandon the ship but first need to get a strong rope to the beach. Their anchor point? The wreck of the Ethel, the ship encountered 16 years previously. Is it coincidence, providence or great good fortune? Who knows? But the crew secure a lifeline, reach the shore and walk to safety. A century later, the remains of the two shipwrecks lie on the sand just metres apart.
Written by Isabel Story, Community Learning Librarian