Captain Ricketts was chief officer of the “Athens” when, in the Great Gale of May 1865 she parted her anchor hawsers. In his attempt to clear the bay, Captain Smith and his entire crew were lost on Green Point. However Mr. Ricketts along with a couple of other of the crew, were saved by a curious turn of events.
Before the “Athens” herself was in trouble, the chief officer saw one of the anchor hawser lighters in trouble and the three man crew in danger of drowning. He asked Captain Smith’s permission to take one of the “Athens” boats, this being granted he called for volunteers.
They were successful in their rescue, but realised that in the mean time the weather had worsened, and it would not be possible to regain the “Athens”, but they found shelter on another Union company ship. So it was that the four men of the “Athens” crew watched their ship sail on her forlorn hope of saving herself.
I have found surprisingly little about Mr. Ricketts heroism, the tragedy that befell the “Athens” probably eclipsed the story, however it would appear the Union Line rewarded him by promoting him master. But curiously he did not stay with the company, although he was known, in his later years, to speak about his time as master on the South African mail service.
Mr. Ricketts came originaly from Bristol, where he retired to and died.