The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), July 22, 1874

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p.2 The Foam - Bodies Discovered - We learn by a telegram from Toronto that the bodies of Mr. Charles Anderson, Mr. R.C. Henderson, Mr. Vernon and Mr. Murray, lost in connection with the disaster of the Foam have been recovered.

Mr. Fisher's steam yacht made a successful trial trip this afternoon. She looks beautiful on the water, and by her appearance will make a very fast sailer.

To the Editor of the Daily News

Dear Sir; - In your paper of last evening, under the heading of Marine Intelligence, I observe the following: "Holcomb & Stewart's wharf - The schr. Jennie Matthews is being discharged of 24,105 bushels corn, the largest load ever discharged at Kingston."

Acting upon the principle of giving credit where it is due, I would state that although the schooner Matthews had on board a large cargo, yet it is not the largest which ever discharged here, as the following will show: The schr. Brooklyn, owned by Folger Bros., of this city, received on board in Chicago, on the 3rd of October, 1868, 24,937 10.56 bushels white corn and delivered same here on the 22nd of the same month. This cargo is somewhat larger than that of the Matthews, but probably not the largest which has yet arrived here, although not published in a public journal. Aquarius.


Niagara, July 21st - The bodies of two of the victims of the Foam disaster were found this morning on the American shore about four miles from this place. One was dressed, the other had nothing on but a shirt. Both are dark complexioned. The coroner has been notified, and an inquest will be held immediately.

Later it was reported that other bodies were recovered, but no reliable details were given. Several of the friends of the deceased young men went over to Niagara during the course of the day for the purpose of identifying the bodies at the inquest. The bodies already recovered are those of C.V.W. Vernon, Charles Edward Anderson, J.H. Murray, and R.C. Henderson. Considerable difficulty was experienced in the identification of the bodies, owing to the extent to which decomposition had set in.

At the Coroner's inquest a verdict of accidental drowning was returned. It having been reported in the city that the bodies would be conveyed here last evening, by the City of Toronto, a large crowd had collected on the Yonge Street Wharf, awaiting the arrival of that steamer from Niagara. She reached her moorings about 9:30 p.m., and it then became known that the bodies, instead of being brought to Toronto, were to be interred together in a suitable burying ground at Niagara. It is quite probable that all the other bodies will be recovered.

As some misapprehension seems to prevail in reference to the yacht Foam, it may be well to state that her set of sails had been cut down by some seventy yards, and the ballast in her, instead of being four tons, was only some ton and a half - lbs. 2,500. The ballast is now lying at the Yacht Club, and none of it has been lost, as was at first supposed.

The bodies of those that have been recovered will be interred today. A great many friends belonging to the deceased young men are going over to pay their last tribute of respect to those whose friendship they valued so highly and whose death they regret so deeply. [Leader]

For Rochester - The str. Norseman will, until further notice, leave Swift's wharf for Rochester every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 4:30 a.m., calling at Colborne, Cobourg, and Port Hope. For further information apply at the office of the undersigned.

Kingston, July 22nd, 1874 C.F. Gildersleeve

Marine Intelligence

Holcomb & Stewart's wharf - prop. Calabria, from Consecon, 6,000 bush. peas.

James Swift & Co.'s wharf - str. Kincardine from Oswego; Corinthian from Hamilton; props. East from Darlington; L.W. Standly from Montreal; Celtic from Montreal; steam-barge Nile from Rideau Canal; str. Passport from Montreal.

Montreal Transportation Co. - The tug Active left with barges Kinghorn, 19,000 bushels wheat; Corncrib, 10,500 bush. corn and 7,000 bush. wheat; and Toledo, 21,500 bush. wheat.

St. Lawrence & Chicago Forwarding Co. - prop. Dromedary, from Toledo, 14,121 bush. corn.

Destruction Of A Lighthouse - The lighthouse on Peter Rock, or Gull Island, near Port Hope, Lake Ontario, has been destroyed by fire. A temporary light will be exhibited until a new lighthouse is erected.

Deserted at Sea - Thursday morning as the tug Douglass was passing the lightship on Bar Point with two vessels in tow, the captain was hailed from the lightship and heard the triangle as though there was someone frantically beating it. Upon reaching it the captain in charge of the lightship was seen hammering the triangle with an axe, and by his side stood his wife, both being dressed in their waterproof clothing. The captain shouted: "My wife is sick and we are starving; take us off? and the captain of the Douglass proceeded to comply with the request. It seems that on Wednesday, July 8th, an old man, who was hired to assist in tending the lighthouse was sent to Malden with a small boat and money to purchase supplies and that instead of performing the mission he invested in whiskey and enjoyed himself by getting drunk and fishing. During all this time - a week - the man and wife on the lightship were forced to economize the use of fuel, lights and food, and had no small boat to get ashore in. They could not remove the light ship, and there they were forced to stay until taken off by the Douglass. A raft had been constructed on which they intended to reach land. The Douglass brought its passengers to Malden. [Oswego Times]

No More Overloading - The latest is a set of rates prescribed by the underwriters at their meeting a week ago regarding the loading of insured vessels. The rule, like almost every edict of the underwriters, comes much short of giving universal satisfaction. It is not flexible enough, seems to be the most plausible complaint, because all vessels are not built after one style. Some craft would load down to the deck, while others would be barely ballasted, according to the requirements. The following are the rules for propellers, sailing vessels and barges:

Ten feet draft must have 12 inches side out below plank-sheer in lowest place.

Eleven feet draft must have 15 inches side out below plank-sheer in lowest place.

Twelve feet draft must have 18 inches side out below plank-sheer in lowest place.

Thirteen feet draft must have 21 inches side out below plank-sheer in lowest place.

Fourteen feet draft must have 24 inches side out below plank-sheer in lowest place.

Fifteen feet draft must have 27 inches side out below plank-sheer in lowest place.

Three inches additional to above draft must count as one foot. [Detroit Post]

Port Colborne, July 21st - Down: prop. Empire, Toledo, Ogdensburg, gen. cargo; schr. W.B. Phillips, Milwaukee, Oswego, wheat; A. Craig, Pigeon Bay, Kingston, timber; Erie Belle, Milwaukee, Kingston, wheat; John Webber, Chicago, Oswego, corn; prop. Maine, Detroit, Ogdensburg, gen. cargo.

Up: schr. J.R. Benson, Kingston, Ogdensburg, gen. cargo; prop. Dominion, Montreal, Ogdensburg, gen. cargo; schr. G.M. Neelon, Kingston, Toledo, light; R. Gaskin, Sault Ste. Marie, light; prop. Sovereign, Montreal, Chicago, gen. cargo; Europe, Montreal, Toledo, light; schr. Manzanilla, Kingston, Bay City, light; prop. Oswegatchie, Oswego, Chicago, gen. cargo; Scotia, Montreal, Chicago, gen. cargo; schr. M.A. Liddon (sic - Lydon ?), Cobourg, Cleveland, iron ore; Bismarck, Kingston, Duncan City, light; Gladstone, Pt. Dalhousie, Perry Sound, light; Perry White, Stonebridge, Ashtabula, light; Sweden, Kingston, Two Heart River, light; Belle, Welland, Pt. Dover, light; Tailor, Rochester, Chicago, coal; A. Muir, Kingston, Toledo, light; Sarah Jane, Pt. Dalhousie, Erie, light; Wm. Hunter, Kingston, Toledo, light; J. Maria Scott, Oswego, Chicago, coal; Canada, Kingston, Chicago, coal.

In harbour - schrs. Perry White, Wm. Hunter, Gladstone, Bismarck, J. Maria Scott, Tailor, Olive Branch of Oswego, Sarah Jane.

p.3 Sault Ste. Marie, July 20th - The steamer Francis Smith went down at 5 a.m.

July 21st - str. Manitoba down at 8 p.m.

C.I. - 20th - Prop. Argyle - Milwaukee, A. McCormick, 50 bbls. spirits; Jones & Miller, 5,509 bush. wheat.

Schr. Light Guard, Chicago, M.T. Co., 18,933 bush. ?

Schr. City of Green Bay, Chicago, Holcomb & Stewart, 23,092 bush. corn.

Schr. J.M. Foster, Chicago, M.T. Co., 21,500 bush. wheat.

Schr. Morning Light, Toledo, Holcomb & Stewart, 13,800 bush. wheat.

Schr. Victor, Toledo, M.T. Co., 6,911 bush. wheat; 10,418 bush. corn.


The melancholy and deplorable accident which befell the Foam has carried poignant sorrow to many hearts and homes, and thrown a gloom over our city seldom if ever before equalled. Last year the Sphynx capsized off Oakville, and three prominent residents of Toronto lost their lives. Following only too swiftly comes the wreck of the Foam, and seven promising young men found a watery grave upon her.

The sacrifice of ten lives within less than a year is a lamentable occurrence, and it seems as if there must be something radically wrong in either the construction or management of the yachts, to have such heart rending accidents take place.

The occasion is not one calling for any moralizing in the yachting notes, for this is the province of the Pulpit; but it seems fit and proper that some practical criticisms should appear to the end that such dire calamities may be avoided in the future. No words of warning can reach the dead; but in the living the record of the past year in our yachting circles is too mournful to let needed cautionary observations fall unheeded. In the case of the Sphynx, the attempt to sail to Hamilton in the month of September was, to say the least, a dangerous trip. She was an open boat of only 21 feet keel, and was built for sailing on the River St. Lawrence and the inland bays adjacent thereto. She carried an immense spread of canvass for her size, and was as safe and weatherly, when properly managed, as any yacht of her class ever built. Before she was brought to Toronto she had sailed many races, in fair weather and foul, and without an accident of any kind. In fact she was regarded as one of the best heavy-weather boats ever sailed on the lower end of Lake Ontario.

When brought to Toronto she was sailed with inadequate ballast, with an insufficient crew, and by those who knew almost nothing of her power or weakness.

The result was that four men started with her for Hamilton, late in the afternoon of a September day, with only a few bags of ballast on board, and, using the large racing sails, it was no wonder that she capsized when struck by a sharp puff from the shore. The fault was not in the yacht - it was the bad judgement of those who sailed her, and who paid the penalty of their folly with their lives. The very day the Sphynx left the city, her builder and first owner cautioned the gentleman who was to sail her about the dangers of the cruise in the open lake with her large spread of canvass, but he laughingly retorted that "he guessed he knew how to sail a yacht." The result only too sadly proved that he was brave beyond discretion. The yacht capsized, the crew, saving one, perished, and then the cry went up she was a "skimming dish," and therefore unsafe. The yacht was a capital one for what she was intended, just as scullng shells are safe enough for still water, but both are dangerous when dangerously used.

The Foam was a well-built yacht, and one capable of safely cruising about the Lake when properly trimmed and manned. She is only four years old, and few yachts in our Bay are as well planked as she is. She, too, was built for sailing in the St. Lawrence River, and was considered very seaworthy about Kingston. The writer has seen her sail a race in a gale of wind round Four Mile Point above Kingston, with a third more canvas than she has at present, and she handled splendidly in a nasty sea.

The great mistake made after bringing her to Toronto was in trimming her. She had ballast enough on board to sink her, in the event of her filling with water, and this was a fatal error in judgement. She is very lean and low aft, and was always very "wet" ie., the seas broke over her a good deal in a breeze, but as long as she was shut up tight there was no danger in this. In her last fatal trip across to Niagara, the calamity which overtook her was one which the best of yachtsmen could not have foreseen. When raised on Saturday her condition plainly told the story of her loss to experienced yachtsmen. She was making a good course to the mouth of Niagara River, in full view of the light under single reefed mainsail and storm jib. The wind blew strong from the north-east, and this created a heavy sea where the current of the river swept into the lake. The moment the Foam struck this current, her heavy pitching into a chopping head sea carried away the outer end of her bowsprit, and this left no support fore and aft to the spar, which snapped short off about five feet from the cross-trees, under the heavy strain of the mainsail. Whoever was at the helm let go her main sheet the moment the bowsprit gave way; for the jib sheets were fast, while the other sheet rope had been loosed. As soon as her spar went by the board she doubtless fell off into the trough of the seas, and being very low in the water every wave broke clean over her. Several of those on board must have been in the cabin when the accident occurred, and the crash caused them to open the cabin doors and rush on deck. This was a fatal move, and cost the crew their lives. With the cabin doors closed, even had the cockpit been full of water it would have taken the yacht a long time to have filled enough to sink her. Her position when found, was conclusive proof that she had sunk within a few minutes after she lost her spar. Had she floated for any length of time, efforts would have been made by those on board to throw her ballast out, much of which was stored under her cockpit, and could easily have been reached; but no such attempt was made. After she was raised, in bailing the cockpit out, the scuttle cover in the bottom came up without any trouble. The lesson which her loss teaches should be heeded by our yachtsmen ie. never to ballast a yacht beyond her power of buoyancy. There are half a dozen yachts, deep draughts, along our lake which, under similar circumstances, would meet a similar fate. In fact the deeper the draught, the greater the danger of sinking, if a plank starts, or a squall throws them on their beam ends, because more ballast must be used in a deep draught yacht. The remedy for this dangerous state of things lies in using air tight tubes, sufficient to float a yacht in the event of her filling with water. The expense would be comparatively light, and tubes could be placed along the bilges of a yacht so as not to interfere in the least with her cabin accommodation, and at the same time absolutely prevent her from sinking.

The wreck of the Foam was the result of an accident which her crew doubtless never thought about, and so far as the management of the yacht was concerned, there was ample evidence when she was raised that she had been carefully sailed. Her storm-jib was set, her mainsail reefed, her mainsheet loosed, all proving that nothing necessary to insure her safety had been left undone before the fatal crash came, which left her as helpless as a log in a heavy, lumpy sea. The opening of the cabin doors, and the filling and consequent sinking of the yacht, was doubtless the result of fright on the part of some of her crew who were below; and yet had she been properly ballasted, or provided with air-tight tubes she would have floated safely ashore within a couple of hours after the accident occurred. The calamity is one which should teach yachtsmen to take advantage of every safeguard, and to so fit out their yachts as to make them safe, even though they fill with water, or become unmanageable from any cause. [Globe]

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July 22, 1874
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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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Daily News (Kingston, ON), July 22, 1874