During the era of sail boats there was considerable danger. The coasts were littered with wrecks as wind and waves drove helpless crews ashore. With the invention of the steam engine boats were a lot safer. But even they could be prone to danger. One such case happened in 1927 with the motor fishing boat 'Fife's Own'. The three crew members were Frank Colley(skipper), William Colley(his brother), and Thomas Mainprize. The 'Fife's Own' was known as a scotch keel motor boat. Its much stouter and broader than a motor coble but not quite the size of a drifter.
They went out on Friday morning at about 7 o'clock. They should have returned by 6pm that night at the latest. A gale was rapidly developing. All three of the crew were married men and fears for their safety grew. The lifeboat stood by ready to launch and anxious relatives and friends watched from the Marine Drive for the safe return.
It was surmised that the boat had passed Robin Hoods bay at about 5.30 on Friday evening. It was hoped that they had found comparative shelter under the cliffs there. The seas were not so bad near to shore. The gale was in full flow out at sea. A steam trawler anchored near the coast on Saturday morning. But no sign was to be seen of the missing boat. It was thought it had been swept out to sea.
In reality the 'Fife's Own' had had cast its nets on friday morning when the engine gave out. It was not until the storm abated on Saturday morning that they managed to restart it. Under sail they reached Robin Hoods Bay at about half past four. The wind was ahead and freshening and things got so bad that they had to drop a 'Drog' anchor over the stern to keep the head of the craft to the sea and wind. As the gale developed the 'Fife's Own' became unmanageable and the crew were helpless to prevent it drifting. It was carried a distance of about 50 miles into the rough sea in the darkness. Many seas were shipped and one particularly big sea smashed the rudder and a cable holding the sea anchor. An ordinary anchor was put out but was dragged.
The fishermen,however, succeeded in improvising an oar and fish basket to function as a rudder and hoisted a small mizzen sail which was also used to give direction to the boat. At half past eleven on Saturday morning the engine was coaxed into life and with the sea still rough but moderating a course was set for Scarborough, which the three weary men reached some ten hours later.
The men had no food for 24 hours and were in an exhausted state, but William Colley, who had been unwell before they set out, and whose feet had swelled badly in his sea boots, was the only one to need assistance when they stepped ashore. On Sunday they were reported to be well but rested the greater part of the day.
On Monday the three men were still suffering from the effects of exposure. William Colley, who had had to receive medical attention, and Thomas Mainprize were both in bed, and Frank Colley had been advised to return home and rest.