Outer Banks Shipwrecks: The Tale of the Storm-Tossed Ario Pardee, And How a Day-long Trip Turned into a 152-Hour Odyssey
A great many folks, past and present, celebrate year’s end around the holidays with the feasts of Thanksgiving and the joy of giving at Christmas. Then, it is topped off with the late-night parties of New Year’s Eve. The crew of the schooner Ario Pardee certainly must have anticipated this joyous time when they set sail in mid-December of 1884. It would instead be their worst nightmare.
It would be extremely difficult to top the amazingly painful story of “Dunbar Davis’s Longest Day.” In that tale, beginning on Tuesday, August 29, 1893, fifty-year-old Keeper Dunbar Davis of the Oak Island Station, N.C., spent 55 consecutive hours without sleep, food or water while responding to five different wrecks, one after the other, and mostly on his own.
However, almost unbelievably, the 198-ton, three-masted schooner Ario Pardee would endure an incredible 152 hours in five consecutive storms before finally becoming a total loss at the Wash Woods Life-Saving Service Station on the northern Outer Banks near the Virginia border. This would be nine years before Dunbar Davis’s soggy saga at Oak Island, at the extreme opposite end of coastal N.C.
The five men aboard the Ario Pardee – Ship Master Henry A. Smith and crewmen John W. Comer, Ole Jensen, John Force and Thomas B. Allen – not only outdid Dunbar Davis’s marathon, but exceeded it by a factor of ten!