The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Monday, Nov. 15, 1886

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From Out Of The Storm
The Herbert Dudley on the Lake Saturday - The Baltic's Narrow Escape - What Vessel Captains Say

Canadian vessel captains have long had a reputation for daring unsurpassed by any other class of vesselmen on the lakes. It would seem almost incredible that there could be found a man reckless enough to venture outside in such a storm of wind and snow as that which swept over old Ontario Saturday. But such, however, was the case.

The schooner Herbert Dudley, Captain Joe Parsons, with a cargo of barley, consigned to Gaylord, Downey & Co. of this city, lay safely moored at dock in Kingston harbor Saturday morning. The wind was blowing from the nor'east, and a blinding snow storm was raging when Captain Parsons ordered the crew up from around the forecastle fire to make sail and start for Oswego.

The departure was witnessed by anxious friends, but Captain Parsons is an old and experienced sailor and he had unbounded confidence in his ability to get through all right. It was 11 o'clock A.M. when the vessel left the dock and the stiff nor'east soon had her outside of Nine Mile Point. There was not much sea on the north shore, but the snow was falling fast. The schooner was headed south by half south and was making good weather until the "Ducks" had been passed and where, to put it in the captain's own words, "we found a good bit of a sea tumbling."

The course was not altered and all the afternoon the schooner forged along with all headsail, a fore sail and a reefed mainsail set, and both anchors ready to be dropped at a moment's notice. About six o'clock Captain Parsons concluded they must be pretty near the harbor but he was unable to see land or the light which was burning brightly in the lighthouse.

About 6:30 the captain who had been on deck all day "picked up" the light on the port bow about five miles away. The order was given to "jibe her" and at seven o'clock the Dudley sailed up the river to the astonishment of the tug men, who were comfortably lying inside of the east breakwater, never dreaming that a vessel had been outside in the snow storm looking for a harbor. She was picked up and towed to the North Western elevator where her cargo of barley was unloaded perfectly dry. It's only about three or four years ago the Dudley made two trips across the lake after navigation at this port had closed and the lights in the lighthouse discontinued.

About ten o'clock Saturday night the wind, which all day had blown from the northeast, hauled around to to the northwest and howled with merciless fury down the lake. The sea was very heavy, but the snow had stopped falling. About four o'clock yesterday morning the lights of a small schooner were spied coming down the lake and headed for the harbor. She was riding the waves like a duck and was soon at the mouth of the harbor. She proved to be the little schooner Parthenon - not much larger than the yacht Rhoda - with a load of barley and was towed to the Columbia elevator, where a Palladium reporter boarded her and had a talk with Captain "Jim" Cunningham.

He said they left Colburn at 5 P.M. Saturday and the run down was without incident - although the sea was very heavy. They had seen nothing of the fleet that left here Friday night, but he had heard that the schooner Jessie McDonald went ashore seven miles west of Colburn.

During the day the trestle and banks on the lake front were crowded with sightseers watching the heavy sea which came tumbling over the breakwater and through the "gap." Three barges lay moored alongside the breakwater, on the inside, and the spray had washed their decks clear of snow and ice which had formed there during the night.

About two o'clock two schooners were sighted coming down the lake and their approach to the harbor was watched with interest. At times their hulls would be buried out of sight only to be lifted the next moment on the crest of an on coming wave and again plunged down until it would seem as if they could rise no more. They proved to be the schooners Baltic and Maria Annette. The former's mainsail was split in two and the latter's was not set. They entered the jaws of the piers side by side, but it was soon apparent that the Baltic was in trouble.

She had just got her nose inside of the pier she broached to and sagged up against the breakwater. Her head gear was snapped off but a line from the tug Redford was quickly made fast and what threatened to have been a serious accident was avoided. She was towed up the river where it was learned that her steering gear had given out just as she entered the pier. Had it occurred a minute sooner she would have been dashed to pieces against the east breakwater.

In company with the Maria Annette she had left South Bay Point at 6 A.M. Shortly afterwards a heavy sea struck the boat which was suspended from the davits and knocked it up on the rail, pulling out one of the davits and dropping it into the lake, where it towed for about ten miles. Twice it was carried by the waves up against the stern of the vessel and stove in a plank through which considerable water was shipped. The rope finally parted and the boat was lost about ten miles off this port. The mainsail was split in two when about fifteen miles up the lake and the squaresail was set. The captain said he never in his experience had seen such a heavy sea on the lake.

The Maria Annette also sustained considerable damage. A heavy sea which came over the stern and washed the man away from the wheel, tore the scuttle off the cabin; filling it with water. The wheelsman was only saved from being washed overboard by catching hold of one of the iron bars on the cabin window. About ten miles above here the fore sheet parted and the fore boom swung around, struck the starboard rigging and snapped in two.

The B.W. Folger, Capt. Dandy, with 8,000 bushels of barley, which left Consecon Friday afternoon, arrived shortly after the Baltic. he said that after getting well out in the lake he was caught in the snow storm Friday night and ran back, reaching Presque Isle at 10 o'clock Saturday morning covered with snow and ice and remaining there until 7 A.M. yesterday when he started for here. He says that in his experience of twenty-eight years he never remembers a sea as heavy as that which was running yesterday. He reached here without breaking a rope.

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Monday, Nov. 15, 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), Monday, Nov. 15, 1886