The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), 20 Oct, 1877

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THE LOSS OF THE MADEIRA. - Capt. Wm. Mack, of the lost schooner Madeira, is out with a letter in which he bitterly complains of the delay or cowardice of the Buffalo tug men not coming to his relief when telegraphed for. He wants to know if a competent tug is owned in Buffalo. The statement of the experience of himself and crew during the terrible storm reads more like romance than fact, namely:

"It is well known what Sunday night, Oct. 7, was on Lake Erie. At 1 o'clock that night we were abreast of Conneaut, in twelve fathoms of water, with double-reefed mainsail, double-reefed foresail, and staysail and jib on, steering east, trying to hold that depth of water along down, when a terrible squall struck us from the south and buried us up. All thought it was "good-by, John." She straightened up however, and we found that she was listed a foot. Took in foresail and jib and held her close to untill daylight, when we saw both shores. She was drifting fast to the north shore and I saw that I must start her shied to get past Long Point. Pulled up the foresail, gave her a little sheet, and headed east-southeast. But she wouldn't live in the sea. She filled up five times. The last time I thought she was gone. Some of the crew started for the rigging. Had to settle the foresail down to keep her from foundering. I never saw such a sea for 20 years as I then saw. Our steering gear was jumping very hard, and it soon all broke in pieces. I got the wheel chains to tackle, but one of them broke, and we were helpless. Blue seas would roll clean over us. Everything was swept overboard. The boat was thrown clean over the davits and came down all broke. On striking five fathoms we let go the big anchor and all the chain. It was a long one. We were then three miles off the beach. The seas never stopped at all but came over the knightheads and broke over the cabin. I never gave a canaler credit for living through such a time. We held on all night. Dragged about half a mile the shore people said. At daylight Tuesday morning we hoisted a signal up. No oars, and only a broken boat to get to shore with. Three of us started. Nailed up the boat some and nailed canvas around her. Two boats started out to us, but could not get out. Lowered our boat to the water. Two of us got in, and kept her before the sea with a piece of broken oar that was lashed in the fore-rail. Struck the surf, and the boat filled, and we struck out for land. I struck for Port Rowan just in sight. Got a punt and crossed the bay and telegraphed to Buffalo, as already stated. When I got the tug I intended to steer with chain over the quarter. No tug came, and we went on shore at Wednesday evening at 7 P.M. Had to get the woman cook on my back over the booms to the jib and tied her there. Some of the crew went into the cross-trees. We lost all our clothes. In the morning the vessel was rails under. Two of us attempted to get a line to shore, but we had to let the line go and look out for ourselves. At 10 o'clock, with the assistance of Captain O'Donnell, of the St. Lawrence, and his mate, got the rest of the crew off the boom, and we staid on the sand all night."

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The MADEIRA was out of Oswego, built there in 1871 by Geo. Goble, and was 137 feet keel and 322 gt. She was US#90321. The tug OSWEGO finally came from Detroit to rescue her, but it was too late and she went to pieces in place. She had been carrying grain from Milwaukee.      
Date of Original:
20 Oct, 1877
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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 Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), 20 Oct, 1877