The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Torrent (Propeller), rescued MERRIMAC, 13 Nov 1883

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On Sunday afternoon, the wind began blowing quite strong from the west, and by 3 o'clock on Monday morning it had reached a velocity of twenty-seven miles an hour. The blow was general at all ports of the lakes, and was accompanied by very cold weather...
Sand Beach, Nov. 12. Another very heavy gale has been blowing from the northwest since last night. The steam barge ESCANABA came in today with her cargo of corn badly shifted. She lost her consort, the MERRIMAC, thirty miles above here at 9 o'clock this morning. The tug JOHN OWEN, with the lifesaving crew in tow, went to look for her this after-noon, but failed to find her. ...
      Detroit free Press
      November 13, 1883

Port Huron, Nov.12 - The steamship ESCANABA, from Chicago to Sarnia with grain, arrived here today. Capt. Owen says that he never in his life had such a time of it. His boat shifted her cargo so that his rail was almost under water. It will be remembered that the ESCANABA is a double-decker, and has about eight feet of her side out of the water. Had she been outside one hour longer, Capt. Owen thinks she would have gone to the bottom. The MERRIMAC, her consort, parted from her at 8 a.m. off the point. Her foresail and jib were gone. she drifted with the west northwest wind to the Canada shore. The tug JOHN OWEN took the MERRIMAC's hawser from the ESCANABA and went in search of her towards the Canada shore. Telegrams to all points were sent, but no information can be learned of the vessel. There is about 8,000 or 10,000 bushels of grain wet in the ESCANABA. ...Sand Beach, Nov. 13. The wind is blowing up from northwest again tonight with some snow. ...The MERRIMAC was reported this morning off Goderich flying a signal of distress. The tug JOHN OWEN has gone after her.
      Detroit Free Press, Wednesday
      November 14, 1883

Insurance Losses. ...The MERRIMAC in distress at Goderich, left Chicago last week with 40,000 bushels of corn, which wax insured in the 'Big Four.' She rates A 1, and is valued at 860,000. She is insured for 840,000, divided equally between the Boston Marine and Crosby & Dimick's companies.
Port Huron, Nov. 14. The tug MOCKING BIRD left here this morning to tow the schooner L. C. BUTTS, now four
miles from Goderich, to anchor with her canvas gone. The seas are still running high. It was first supposed that this vessel was the MERRIMAC.
      Detroit Free Press
      November 15, 1883

Sand Beach, Nov. 15. ...The OWEN has been over towards the Canadian shore looking for the MERRIMAC, but failed to find her." "Port Huron, Nov. 15. At 10 o'clock a message was received from Kincardine saying that a river tug was sighted off that port alongside of the large vessel at anchor off there. This is probably the JOHN OWEN or TORRENT looking for the MERRIMAC.
      Detroit Free Press
      November 16, 1883

Special dispatch to the Detroit Free Press. Port Huron, Nov. 16. The rescue of the barge MERRIMAC by the tug TORRENT, which arrived at 8 o'clock, is one of the best efforts of Capt. Chris Moore's life. He left here Wednesday night at 10 o'clock and found the barge fifteen miles off the Canada shore and four miles north of Kincardine. The crew of the MERRIMAC were in a most pitiable state, not having had a meal or slept any since Sunday morning. ...On Monday the vessel shifted her cargo so that her rail was under water, and again the same thing happened. Both times all hands trimmed the vessel back. Some of the men gave up, when the tug hove in sight. A hawser was passed from the tug to the vessel, and after five hours' work her cables were shipped, and they started for the west shore. When off Point au Barques the vessel again shifted her cargo. All the lights went out on both the vessel and tug. The vessel was leaking while in the seas. All hands were at the pumps for ten hours until they got under the land below Sand Beach. She arrived and will go under the elevator tomorrow. ...It is thought there is some wet grain in her. Tonight the captain gave way from exhaustion and fainted three times while coming from the vessel. He says that had the TORRENT been two hours later, she could not have found the MERRIMAC afloat. This vessel is in the worst shape of any schooner that has come into the river for years. She is a complete mass of ice and drawing sixteen feet of water. The TORRENT received bad usage. She is covered with ice and snow. Every dish, table, and chair on her is broken.
      Detroit Free Press
      Saturday, November 17, 1883

That the recent north-west gale was the worst in every respect that has visited the Great Lakes since 1867 is shown by the number of disasters which have occurred since Sunday last. A careful account shows that there were about forty-six vessels which went ashore or foundered.
      Detroit Free Press
      Tuesday, November 20, 1883

The tug TORRENT was built at Cleveland in 1869. She spent much of her early career as part of a large fleet of river tugs which towed sailing ships through the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers when sailing masters would accept the prevailing tug rates. But the river towing business waned as steam barges like MASSACHUSETTS or ESCANABA steamed the length of the lakes towing barge consorts like MERRIMAC or stripped-down schooners. Around the time of the rescue of MERRIMAC, TORRENT was occupied chiefly in towing log rafts.

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Reason: rescued MERRIMAC
Lives: nil
Remarks: Uninjured
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.84168 Longitude: -82.6416
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Torrent (Propeller), rescued MERRIMAC, 13 Nov 1883