The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 16, 1888

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Ottawa, Aug. 16th - The Marine Department has received a report from the captain of the life boat station at Port Rowan, giving an account of two successful efforts of the life boat crew. On July 12th the schooner John Tibbets, from Buffalo with coal, sprung a leak during a storm and was run ashore about five miles from Port Rowan. The captain and part of the crew got ashore in the yawl but two sailors were left on board. The life boat at Port Rowan was sent for and saved the men. Shortly after the schooner Bay Trader went ashore on a section of the coast where it was impossible to launch a boat as there was a cliff forty feet high under which the vessel was lying. A rope was lowered from the top of the cliff and by this means the six souls on board were hauled ashore. The female cook was rescued first. No lives were lost in either case.

Mr. Page, chief engineer of canals, says that the trouble about vessels grounding in the St. Lawrence canals is caused by vessels being overloaded and therefore drawing a greater depth than is guaranteed in the canals. When there is high water in the St. Lawrence, it does not make any difference if the vessels draw a few inches more than the regulation depth, but as the water is now low, strict orders have been issued that vessels drawing more water than the St. Lawrence canals are guaranteed to have, namely nine feet, will not be admitted to the canals.



[Oswego Palladium]

The most singular marine disaster that ever happened at this port was that which occurred yesterday afternoon when the schr. Lady MacDonald crashed into the lower bridge, cutting half way through the iron structure. The heavy back swell from the new harbour caught her just at the entrance, and it was feared that she would strike the East pier and go ashore. She pitched heavily in the back seas which struck the vessel on the quarter and forced her over to the East pier. Being light the heavy seas kept her rudder out of the water nearly half the time, and she was at the mercy of the waves, ready to sheer one way or the other. Within fifty feet of the pier a tremendous sea, rolling in from the lake, struck the Macdonald on the quarter, and in a few minutes more she was inside the pier, having just escaped striking it. The schooner had the peak of her foresail up and her trysail and jib set. She came up the river like a race yacht. Two or three men were at work trying to get the foresail down, but the peak halliards were foul in the rigging, and the sail refused to come down. The crowd on the bridge had increased, and they stood along the railing watching the approaching vessel until she was within fifty feet of the bridge, when they broke and ran in all directions. The vessel hit the bridge about 150 feet from the east end and just west of the abutment that rests on the wall dividing the canal basin and river. The jibboom struck the bridge first, crashing through heavy oak timbers as if they were lath, and breaking off short at the bowsprit. The heavy iron trusses and braces upon which the woodwork of the bridge rests were, at the place where the accident occurred, twisted into all the shape and the heavy cast iron braces snapped off like pipe stems. The vessel's bows were right in between the broken iron and timber, being tangled up with the rigging of the vessel and held fast. A gang of sailors were soon at work on the tangled rigging, and with the aid of the little tug Frost the schooner was released and towed to the Merchants' elevator.

The Lady Macdonald is owned by Capt. Hargrove, who is also sailing master. He said he left Toronto between seven and eight o'clock Saturday night, and had a pleasant run until about 1:30 o'clock Sunday morning, when she was struck by a squall while off Oak Orchard. The mizzensail was blown away and in a little while there was a big rent made in the foresail. The weather was thick and the rain came down in torrents. About daylight one of the jibs was blown to ribbons, and the men were set to work bending a new mizzen-sail, which fortunately was aboard. A reef was taken in the mainsail and thus the schooner came down the lake. "I have been sailing since I was twelve years old," said Captain Hargrove, "but I have never encountered such a gale of wind as that of Sunday night. The vessel was light and she pitched violently. Both anchors had to be lashed down to keep them from rolling in upon decks, and that is the reason we did not let them go before we struck the bridge; they were lashed down and it was impossible to get them loose."

Captain Hargrove said that if his vessel was liable for the accident the city might take her just as quickly as they pleased. He said he had worked hard since he was 12 years old, and the Macdonald represented all his savings. It is estimated that the bridge repairs will cost in the neighborhood of $1,000. The damage to the Macdonald will amount to about $300, which is covered by insurance. This morning the schooner Lady Macdonald was libelled by the city for $2,500, and the vessel is now in the hands of the sheriff.


H. Larush has purchased the sloop Idle Wild.

The schr. Julia has returned here with coal from Fairhaven.

The schr. Gearing has been released at Poplar Point and is now in South Bay. Twenty tons of land plaster were thrown overboard.

The schr. Delaware, owned by Robert Downey, Oswego, went ashore at Sandy Creek. She was loaded with coal for the Rathbun company. The crew were rescued by the life-saving staff.

The steambarge Clinton, and tow, laden with grain, have been waiting two days to get discharged. The cause of the delay is because there are no barges at hand into which to transfer the grain.

The prop. Celtic, chartered for supplying all the lighthouses above Montreal, is at Port Arthur, having finished her trip. The amount of the charter, $3,000, has been paid. The Celtic is taking on a cargo of car wheels for Hamilton.

Mr. John Page, chief engineer of canals, says there is as much water as the government undertakes to provide, but vessel owners insist on overloading. He says that vessels that ran aground in Cornwall canal recently were loaded to a depth of 9 feet 4 inches, and the water in the canal is only guaranteed to be 9 feet.

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Aug. 16, 1888
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Aug. 16, 1888