The very first person I interviewed for this project was Colin Waye who is not a songwriter himself, but who let me know about a song about the loss of the fishing schooner, the Mina Swim, in 1917. Most of the crew of the Mina Swim were relatives of Mr. Waye’s. The story of the Mina Swim and the lyrics of the song can be found online at a memorial website. But for the sake of convenience, I can provide a quick summary of the story of the Mina Swim.
The 82ft 60 ton fishing vessel, owned by LeFeuvre Brothers, carried 10 dories and sailed from Bull’s Cove, on the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland, with a crew of about twenty-three (reports vary in the number of crew) on February 17, 1917. The ship was never seen again. No debris was ever found, nor any bodies. A significant storm occurred that same night the Mina Swim set sail, although the schooner had weathered such storms before and the captain (Colin Waye’s grandfather), John Jarvis, was experienced. Did it go down in the storm? Or did a German U-boat torpedo the schooner? German submarines were known to lurk around the Burin’s shores and they were at their height in early 1917. German bombs officially sank at least a dozen fishing schooners in the area. Or perhaps the Mina Swim struck a floating mine, although Robert Parsons, a Newfoundland shipping historian, does not believe this likely as the Mina Swim’s fishing route was not a frequented sea lane and was therefore of little interest to the Germans.
I debated whether to include the story of the Mina Swim on this website since it’s possible that it was sunk as an act of war. We have deliberately excluded songs of intentional death, including songs of war and murder. But since we cannot confirm that the Mina Swim was indeed torpedoed or bombed, I have decided to add it to the site.
Tags: 1917 Mina Swim