Mr. Rupert Sargent, formerly of the class of '84, was drowned during the month of August while yachting with three other gentlemen, one of whom was an older brother. The Yacht Mystery sailed from New Haven bound for Nantucket but was swamped near the reef known as the Hen and Chickens. All the passengers were lost. The Mystery was last seen by the sloop, Amelia Powell, as she was passing between Gooseberry neck and the Hen and Chickens on the morning of August 12. The following account of the probable manner of her loss is by one of the gentlemen who engaged in the search for the bodies.
"The Mystery is rather heavily sparred for a vessel of her size. She was carrying considerable ballast. The sea was running high and the wind was freshening; she began to ship water and fill her cockpit, and before one sea could be bailed out she shipped another. The boys realizing their danger probably attempted to reach shore. At this point she shipped more water than she could carry and she settled to the bottom of the ocean, stern foremost, carrying her small boat down with her. This was S.40 a. m. Sunday, August 12th. Hasty preparation had been made for such an emergency and some of the life preservers had been secured. I think that Mr. Hawkins was drowned at once and died without struggle. Probably the same is true of Mr. Bartlett. Leicester Sargent was undoubtedly at the wheel and was heartily dressed on account of the weather and in the confusion had no time to prepare himself for the sudden dropping of the boat and was carried down with her. Rupert Sargent had secured a life preserver, which he hastily adjusted to himself, but being dressed and finding the life preserver almost worthless from its flimsy character, it was difficult for him to make much headway. He was not over three-quarters of a mile from the main land, and if he determined to swim to the shore the wind and tide were against him; so he was obliged to abandon the attempt and strike out for the rocks known as the Hen and Chickens reef although they were in a very poor place for refuge and people acquainted with the rocks say it is impossible that a man should climb on the rocks and remain there. He did reach them. He succeeded in getting on to one of the smaller rocks and looked about for assistance.
Between 10 and 11 o'clock the schooner Alice M. Ridgeway, Captain Snow, from New Bedford, passed between the rock on which he was standing and Gooseberry neck. She was at the nearest point, from a quarter to half a mile away from him. Rupert made all the signals of distress that he could in his exhausted condition and Captain Snow saw them. But the Ridgeway had a deck load of empty barrels which the captain says would have been jeopardized if he attempted to lay to and lower a boat. And he passed on without any attempt to render assistance. Within a mile and a half of the rock upon which Rupert stood is a light ship attached to which is a life boat with a life saving crew If Captain Snow had stopped his boat and run up his flag, union down, the life boat would have proceeded to the spot at once; or if he had sailed by the light ship and shouted a warning, Rupert would have been promptly rescued. But the Ridgeway proceeded to Newport and left Rupert on the rocks. At high water the rocks are entirely submerged and in a high wind it is impossible for anyone to live upon them. Finding that he had a fight for life before him, Rupert saved his pocket knife and threw away all his clothing but his drawers and undershirt. His drawers he tore into strips about an inch and a half wide, and cutting new holes through the cork sections of the life preserver he bound them securely together with the strings made from the drawers. The desperation with which he did this work and the careful manner in which he prepared everything was made painfully apparent by the condition of the life preserver when found upon the body. It took me nearly half an hour to untie all his bands and detach the life preserver so that I could see whether he had secured any writing or valuables, under the canvas or any part of it. He could not have been longer upon the rock than it would take him to do this work, because he could not maintain his position for any length of time and also because he must have been seen by others as the place is much traveled."