The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Tues., Nov. 30, 1886

Full Text
In Storm And Darkness
How the Tug Ferris Got Ashore and Her Remarkable Escape - A Thrilling Experience.

Captain Peter Cronley, who had been engaged to pilot the tug Ferris from Cape Vincent to Ogdensburg, returned to the city last night and gave the following account of the wreck of the Comanche and the adventure of the Ferris: "After getting well out into the lake we found a very heavy sea and a thick snow storm set in. We headed the tug for Stony passage and just as we arrived there the storm let up a little, enabling us to pass through safely.

"It then began to snow thicker than ever, and it was impossible to see anything. We struck about eight o'clock, and the way the tug got off the beach was the most remarkable thing i ever saw. The schooner struck bottom first. In a moment after, we struck on the north side of Point Peninsula. Captain Ferris threw his wheel over quickly thus throwing the tug against the beach broadside.

"I cut the tow line and for a few moments there was a lively time. The seas broke over the tug and into the engine room, but the engines were kept working. We bounded along over the rocks and the last time we struck, the last bucket was broken off the wheel. The tug took a sheer out into the seas and the wind caught her in such a manner that she slipped around the point just on the edge of the rocks. We passed close to the schooner and the crew hallooed to be taken off. But we could do nothing because our wheel was gone. The seas were rolling completely over the vessel at this time. The wind carried us along in the direction of Sackets harbor. A little piece of the wheel was left on one side and by keeping the machinery working we managed to get into Sackets. We were more than three hours in making the distance - nine miles. The tug is very badly shaken up."

Captain Cronley speaks in the highest terms of Captain Ferris and the manner in which he handled the tug. he says when the tug first struck all the lights went out and the darkness was impenetrable. While the tow was making for Stony Passage in the afternoon Captain Cronley says the seas were so big that at times the vessel could not be seen from the tug.


Aboard the Comanche

The crew of the schooner Comanche arrived here from Sackets Harbor this morning. To a reporter of The Palladium second mate Robert Cooney of Port Dalhousie made the following statement: "We left here at exactly 12 o'clock noon on Saturday for Ogdensburg in tow of the tug Ferris. The day was pleasant and there was not much sea off here. When we reached the lower end of the lake we found a heavy dead sea running and the tug took the Stony Island passage to avoid the heavy sea.

"All the afternoon the clouds being threateningly over head and it looked like snow. We had got opposite Stony island when a storm broke upon us, and in a minute we were enveloped in a thick snow storm. At times it was impossible to see the tug which kept constantly tooting her whistle. About 7 p.m. the tug struck on the north side of Point Peninsula about nine miles from Sackets Harbor, where we were going for shelter.

"The tug in her endeavor to work herself off broke the buckets off her wheel, but succeeded in getting into deep water. In the mean time the Comanche swung around and went on the beach good and hard about eight o'clock. We remained on board all night, but with the first streak of dawn we were discovered by the farmers on shore and although half a mile away we could see them getting ready to launch a boat in the heavy swell. The first man to reach us was a young man named David Tucker - whose parents reside in Sandy Creek.

"He remained aboard all day and in the afternoon was among the last to leave the vessel. In the boat with him were Captain Becker, William Graves and a young man named Spencer. On their way ashore the small fish boat which they were in turned over and they were thrown into the icy waters. They endeavored to climb up on to the bottom of the boat, but they would no sooner secure a good hold than a breaker would wash under them and lift them clear off the cockle shell upon which they were floating.

"Captain Becker got his hand in young Taylor's collar and tried hard to keep his head above water, but it was no use, and a big wave broke the hold and young Tucker sank beneath the waves. The other boats which put out from shore when the last boat capsized reached Captain Becker and Graves just in time. The former was carried ashore unconscious, but was speedily revived by the kin hearted fisherman and farmers who did everything in their power for us."

Mate Mooney says the Comanche when they left yesterday morning was fast going to pieces and he thinks 'ere this is a total loss. He speaks in the highest terms of Captain Becker and the kind-hearted farmers on shore who took the nearly perished sailors to their homes and cared for them tenderly. The sailors saved all their clothing.

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Tues., Nov. 30, 1886
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Richard Palmer
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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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Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Tues., Nov. 30, 1886