In January 1883, Howard Blackburn
was trawling in a two-man dory with Tom Welch when a winter storm
separated them from their mother ship, the Grace L. Fears. Blackburn
froze his hands to the oars, rowing north for five days and 60 miles.
Blackburn landed on Newfoundland’s shore with his crewmates body. A
family found Blackburn and during the long winter nursed him back to
health. In Gloucester he had been given up for lost, but when Blackburn
returned—without most of his toes and fingers—he was a hero. He ran a
saloon for much of his life, but also made tremendous solo voyages:
rowing along the coast of Florida and sailing twice across the Atlantic:
to England in 1899, and three years later in a recordsetting 39 days to
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