Olaf the Cat fell off a Ship and was Rescued, 1929

In the summer of 1929, Olaf the cat, mascot of the brand new South American freight and passenger ship, SUD AMERICANA, was swept overboard during a storm.  Captain Bjor Boettger and his Norwegian crew immediately went into action.   

 Aside from just caring for Olaf, the captain later explained to the press, there is a tradition among Norwegian sailors that if the mascot is lost at sea, the ship will be jinxed and soon suffer the same fate. 

The Lookout, the magazine of the Seaman’s Church, described what happened next:

 “Olaf’s fellow seamen manned a lifeboat in record time and pulled at the oars hard, turning the lifeboat toward that small, dark object bobbing up and down in the big waves.  Soon Olaf was lying on something solid again and two hefty Norwegian sailors, under the direction of the second mate, T. Anderson, were pumping air into his lungs and salt water out to the rhythmic up and down movement taught in first-aid manuals.”    

 When the ship steamed up to Pier 44 at the foot of Conover Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn Olaf standing in the bow, head and tail up, purring softly to himself. 


Text of the article in the August 1929 edition of  The Lookout

"It seems there is a tradition at sea that a lost mascot means a lost member of the crew shortly after. Even worse, a lost mascot on the first voyage spells constant disaster for the ship in the future.
     So Captain Boettger ordered ship put about. Olaf’s fellow seamen manned a lifeboat in record time and pulled at the oars hard, turning the lifeboat toward that small, dark object bobbing up and down in the big waves.

Soon Olaf was lying on something solid again and two hefty Norwegian sailors, under the direction of the second mate, T. Anderson, were pumping air into his lungs and salt water out to the rhythmic up and down movement taught in first-aid manuals.

The Sud Americana, sister ship of the Sud Expresso, steamed up to Pier 44 at the foot of Conover Street, Brooklyn, with Olaf standing in the bow, head and tail up, purring softly to himself. He will leave in a few days on the Sud Americana's maiden voyage to Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Buenos, Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Aires and other points south."

Street Address:

Pier 44 foot Conover [map]

Item Relations

Item: Cat Escapes Watery Grave, Not Warmly Greeted by his Kind. 1904 is related to This Item
Item: Yankee Tomcat Pirate, 1923 is related to This Item
Item: Lion Scares in Erie Basin, 1921 is related to This Item
Item: The ship chandlery cat is related to This Item

Related Tour

Subjects

Sources:

Share this Item