The schooner Levin J. Marvel, 125’5” x 23’5” x 7’5”, was designed by J. M. C. Moore in 1889 and built in Bethel, Delaware in 1891. On 12 August 1955, she capsized in Herring Bay (Chesapeake) near the town of North Beach, Maryland while seeking shelter from Hurricane Connie. The crew was unable to send an SOS, and heavy seas swept away her only boat before survivors could abandon ship. As a result, 14 passengers drowned; 9 passengers and all 4 crew rescued. The Marvel was licensed as a freight vessel and had never been certified for passenger service. A Coast Guard investigation, trying to make an object lesson to persuade congress to legislate an inspection regime for passenger vessels, found that the vessel lacked adequate lifesaving apparatus, had disregarded weather forecasts, and suffered from severe wood deterioration and rot.
The mention of Gus Ryder (smimming coach) and Marilyn Bell refers to the latter's record swim across Lake Ontario the previous year.