The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Sat., Nov. 20, 1880

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An Authority Who Wants all the Canal Vessels Beached.

Inter-Ocean: - if the masters of canal vessels had good courage and common sense they would beach their vessels instead of foundering outside, or foundering to their anchors near the beach, and sacrificing the lives of all on board. "Grit" and "pluck" are good things to have "in the family," but when a vessel must go down or be wrecked good judgment should be brought to play, and the location of the disaster, when possible, should be where the crew could escape.

As a prominent insurance man, himself an old navigator, said yesterday: "D--n the vessel and cargo under such circumstances. Let them beach her and save their lives! One life is worth more than any vessel and cargo dare be!" The great trouble is that masters are afraid they will be charged with cowardice if they do not "hang out" till the last minute; and considering the mothers, wives and families at home, this very fear of being called cowards is the greatest possible cowardice that can be.

If these "plucky" but fool-hardy masters knew how loose and reckless insurance agents are about taking risks (so long as they get their commission) they (the masters) would not take the personal risks that are taken, and would not "hang on" so long as they do - perhaps they would not hang on at all when they could do the other thing.

The owners of vessels never have treated masters' widows very well, and probably never will, and in cases of emergency masters should think of their families and the families of the crew, and not of the owners at all. the life-saving crews about the lakes do all within human power to save life, but masters must do something themselves.

There is a great deal of nonsense in all this. The Inter-Ocean has been enlisted in a general crusade against the canal vessels and canal seamanship in general. So far as we have observed, seamanship in big vessels and small vessels don't differ much. It is the instinct of the master to stick to his vessel, and even if the saving of his own life were his uppermost thought, when caught by the storm it is seldom that he is in a situation to "beach her," and if he is the operation is about as dangerous as any that can be undertaken. The slur on owners is entirely unworthy of a respectable paper. In this part of the world the Inter-Ocean's remarks do not apply in any general sense. neglect of sailors' families is the exception, not the rule.

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Sat., Nov. 20, 1880
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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), Sat., Nov. 20, 1880