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Summit Woman Survives Yacht Tragedy

dollardayThe Summit Herald of August 9, 1932 reported that James Downes, history teacher at Summit High School, spoke to the Rotary Club about current history. Part of his talk concerned the role of Hitler in German politics. It would be "no good" for world affairs if the Fascist gained complete control, but Mr. Downes felt that Hitler had reached the limit of his power, and was losing ground.

Mr. W. Chauncy Coles of Woodland Avenue received a letter from Mallorca with startling news about his daughter, Miss Mary Coles. Miss Coles, an artist with a studio in Paris, was one of four guests invited for a day's sailing on a yacht belonging to William Brewster of Boston. The others were an English girl (an art student) and two American men. Mr. Brewster sailed the boat to the far side of Pollensa Bay, where the group spent the day painting and swimming. They headed back by moonlight, but about 8:30 a sudden thunderstorm struck, and the waves capsized the boat. They had been clinging to the overturned boat for hours when a second storm struck around midnight. Brewster collapsed, apparently from a heart attack. The men held his head above water for several hours.

Later, when the storm was gone and the boat had drifted within 3/4 of a mile from land, the women decided to swim for shore. The men remained behind, being reluctant to leave until they were certain that Brewster was dead, and they lashed his body to the boat. Miss Coles made her way to a ledge at the base of a cliff; the English girl landed on a rocky shore in the pitch dark. Both were exhausted by their ordeal, but uninjured. The two men made it to shore by morning, found the English girl, and with some help from a local monastery, got Miss Coles off the cliff. The local doctor concluded that Brewster had died of drowning. The authorities concluded that everyone had done their best in the circumstances, and the heroism of the two women was much admired.

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