The stricken vessel, Charles C. Dame, was just 8 miles away, rapidly breaking apart on Frying Pan Shoals. But the unremitting waves and wind from the south slowed the Cape Fear lifesavers’ progress to less than one mile per hour.
For more than eight hours, the intrepid men of Cape Fear station suffered a “toilsome and dangerous struggle against adverse and violent seas” in order to reach the shipwreck. As they got closer, keeper John L. Watts could see the vessel had once been a three-masted schooner, but was no more. Only the lower portion of the foremast remained standing. The ship’s back was broken and the decks washed away.