The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), July 30, 1903

Full Text
Wants Cargo or a Dock Before She'll Move Boat
Louise Talbot is the Whole Works on the Sunshine

"Find me a dock or a cargo and I'll get out of your way in a hurry"

Louise Talbot, captain, mate, engineer, pilot, cook, deckhand, stewardess, crew, in fact about everything but owner of the schooner Sunshine ,* paused long enough in her work of applying a coat of pale blue paint to the cabin roof of the weatherbeaten old craft, which lay at the waterworks dock, yesterday afternoon, to hand down out the above ultimatum to Capt. Bullock, of the schooner Selkirk , coal laden, which was lying nearby, waiting for an opportunity to get into the canal which leads to the pumping station, and whose progress was blocked by the Sunshine .

That ultimatum, furnished by a lone woman, marked the culmination of a day's warfare that was as unique as it was exasperating to the captain of the Selkirk , and when darkness fell the plucky little woman was still in possession of the channel, the craft guarding it still being tied securely to the dock, while the captain of the other vessel paced up and down and swore in several languages.

An interesting character is Louise Talbot, sailor of many years' experience, who is equally at home in the galley or at the wheel, who can splice a rope as deftly as she can fry fish, and whose accomplishments in the nautical line are limited only by the opportunities which the weatherbeaten old schooner furnish her. She was busily engaged in painting the roof of the cabin yesterday afternoon, but dropped brush and bucket long enough to tell her troubles.

Some weeks ago the Sunshine , which is at present under a cloud, and whose brightest days were passed many years ago, brought a cargo of coal to the pumping station.. After that there was "nothing doing," no cargo being available, and the boat, in order to save expense, was anchored at the water works dock, on the west side, and directly in the channel leading to the canal. The Selkirk , hailing from Lorain, came along in a few days with a cargo of coal, and the Sunshine was moved long enough to let her get in and unload. Again was this performance repeated. Gradually the crew of the Sunshine dwindled away until when Captain Bullock again arrived with the Selkirk from Sandusky yesterday morning, he found the woman is sole possession, and the boat back in the channel.

In vain did he appeal to Supt. Starkey, to Chief Engineer Gould, and to everyone else within reach, but whose combined persuasive powers proved ineffectual. The plucky woman declared that she had hunted from one end of the town to the other in an effort to find a dock at which to tie, and as none was forthcoming there was nothing to do but stay where she was. And that appeared to be the only alternative, for the towing powers of the Selkirk were as inadequate as were the propelling powers of the Sunshine. The channel at the waterworks dock is just wide enough to allow one vessel to pass through at a time, and the Sunshine lays directly in the course which the Selkirk would have to take.

"If only I could find a dock or a cargo I'd be all right," said the Talbot woman, who in addition to her other multifarious duties, is acting as general manager for the craft. "But I've looked for both until I'm tired out. I guess the only thing to do will be to get a tug and be towed out in the stream and anchor there until something turns up."

In an effort to retain her hold on the present anchorage, the woman telephoned the corporation counsel's office yesterday afternoon, but was informed that as no rent was being paid, she had no claim on the dock. Meanwhile Capt. Bullock frets and fumes and swears vengeance, and threatens to do desperate things to the Sunshine and everyone connected with her.

Media Type:
Item Type:
*Built in 1854 by Kirby and Hoyt, East Saginaw, Michigan, as a bark, she was 160 x 30 x 12, 390 gt. She burned to a total loss a few blocks from this point in 1906.      
Date of Original:
July 30, 1903
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
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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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), July 30, 1903