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2 corrections, most recently by doug.butler - Show corrections

THE LATE PILOT GERMEIN

BODY FOUND IN THE MANGROVES.

On Tuesday morning Corporal Cornell, Lance Corporal Kelly, and Foot-constables McKay and Burford started down the Port River for the purpose of scouring Lefevre's Peninsula in

search of Pilot Germein, who had been missing since July 3. The constables left the Port in the police-boat at 8 o'clock, and arrived at Snapper Point shortly after 9. On landing a search was made among the mangroves along Bog Island and Bog Creek, and after tramping in the oozy and slimy mud in the vicinity of No. 7 Beacon for three hours, the body of the late Pilot Germein was dis- covered face downwards and in a decomposed state by Corporal Cornell among the mangroves at high water mark. A glass bottle filled with sand was lashed round the deceased's neck, a heavy winch handle was tied round the waist, and a bag of stones was attached to the feet, which were bound together with a bit of lashing. There was no flesh on the skull. The hand of one arm and the fingers of the other were missing. Nothing was found on the body with the exception of a pocket-knife. The body was found nearly a mile from the river, and consequently means had to be devised to convey the remains to the boat. A section of the party returned to the boat and constructed a stretcher by lashing two of the gratings from the bottom of the boat together, and sup- porting them on a couple of oars. The re- mains were then picked up in a blanket and lifted on to the stretcher. The con- stables had to walk back again to the river, a somewhat difficult task owing to the slimy nature of the ground, into which at almost every step they sank knee-deep. At last, however, the boat was reached, and placing the body m the bows sail was set and the return journey was begun. On reaching the False Arm the wind fell away, and the remainder of the dis- tance had to be rowed. The Port was reached at 4 o'clock, and the body was imme- diately taken to the morgue. The circum- stances point to suicide, and the previous mysterious disappearances of the deceased give colour to this theory. The deceased was of very eccentric habits, and was fond of making lonely excursions in out of the way places. Some

years ago he took the cutter Albatross from Port Adelaide, and was six weeks or more cruising about the islands between the Althorpes and Port Lincoln. He was discovered by Captain   Poynter, of the Semaphore, and induced to return home. In February of 1891 the de- ceased went away from his home, leaving behind some sensational letters addressed to tho members of his family and to the President of the Marine Board, in which he stated his intention of committing suicide. Search parties were organized, and the deceased was found in Shell Creek near St. Kilda. Again in May Pilot Germein left his home, but returned again after being absent for about a fortnight. On the present occasion the deceased left home on July 3, and since that date nothing had been seen of him till his body was found. The matter was reported to the police on August 28, and since then several search parties have been out. Tues- day was the first occasion on which the water police took part in a search. The deceased gentleman was a very old colonist, having arrived in South Australia in 1836, and at the time of his death he was about sixty -seven years of age. As a boatman Pilot Germein had few equals, and his knowledge of the Port Harbour as well as the outports gained for him the reputation of being ono of the best pilots in South Australian waters. The deceased gentleman leaves a grown-up family. Onr Shipping Reporter writes: — 'Ben Germein, sen., was a very old Portonian, being one of the very earliest importations under charter with the South Australian Company. His father was an old Plymouth native, who was selected with his family to come out on the Company's account, and for a time served under the Company in all and any maritime position offering. Being from the west country the lads grew up most intrepid and fearless beachmen, and as soon as the Port waa settled when Captain Quin was a pilot the Germeins were his crew, all of whom were afterwards made pilots. Ben proved a remarkably clever pilot, and was known by the special attention he gave to knocking about vessels under canvas. Later on he wa3 chosen as master of the Government schnnnpr

Yatala, on which he distinguished himself on several occasions, and became acquainted with the smallest of small corners of our extended coastline. He was so thoroughly conversant with every place that he often had a word of ridicule for tho masters who persisted in stranding about the shoal waters of Spencer's Gulf simply because they were too indolent to use the lead. After leaving the Yatala he was chosen for the MacDonnell harbourmesterahip, and was also in charge of the lighthouse on Cape   Northumberland. There he lost somo of his fingers in rescuing Captain Sivier from the brig John Ormerod, bound hence to Mel bourne. She had capsized in a gale off the lighthouse, and when the morning dawned Ben Germein shoved out in a very indifferent boat

and rescued the survivors from the brig's bottom. Later still ho distinguished himself in the rescue from the ill-fated s.s. Admella. He was partly instrumental in saving the lives of several well-known colonists from that vessel. For this action he was decorated with the gold medal of the Royal Humane Society, a silver medal from Victoria, and a silver medal specially struck by South Australia to commemorate the courage of thoae interested. For some time he remained in charge of the lighthouse, but the love of change at length induced him to rejoin the pilot service, in which he was one of its smartest members in days of old, when the principal duties were to boxhaul sailing vessels about, and few men were ever smarter at their work than Ben Germein. When the pilot's duty degenerated from sail to steam Ben Germein lost his sympathy with the service. He used to say any dredge master or hopper skipper could navigate the river in a steamer, when it wanted a smart fellow to work up a big sailing craft. Later on the old seadog was concerned in several peculiar incidents amongst the islands. On one occasion he was for six weeks alone cruising about amongst the Sir Joseph Banks Group in a 10-ton cutter. The writer had one or two experiences with Ben Germein in really heavy weather in the Gulf, and a better or more skilful boat mate was never there. In recent years he had joined the harbour pilot service and worked away quietly, except that occa- sionally he would take a solitary trip on the briny, and always being such a good man in a boat his absence was not noticed.'

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