The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Monday, November 15, 1880

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Such Particulars as Can be Gathered About Her ­ The Sandy Creek Life Crew Charged With Neglect.

The crew of the schr. Cortez, ashore near Big Sandy life station, arrived here Saturday night, except the captain. They are exceeding reticent as to what occurred, all agreeing that they don't want to make any statements, inasmuch as the captain is the person to do that. From conversations with them we gather that the jibs and staysail were carried away when off here, and the captain did not think it best to attempt to make this harbor. The loss of the head sails rendered her unmanageable and she was headed for the beach, the idea being then to run her on where she would be liable to sustain the least damage and from whence the crew could most easily get ashore. She ran within a half mile of Texas life station, the intention being to beach her there, one of the crew says. But the captain changed his mind and concluded to put her on to Big Sandy beach, which he did about three miles north of the life station. She struck about a quarter of a mile from land and the sea began to knock her to pieces. The crew where gallantly rescued by a volunteer crew of the inhabitants along the beach. They lost all their dunnage and also the vessel's books and papers. Thomas Highland, one of the crew, who went through Syracuse Saturday night on the way to his home in Buffalo, told a Syracuse Herald reporter the following highly mixed story:

"The schooner," he said, "experienced rough weather off Port Dalhousie and Charlotte, and though the Cortez was damaged somewhat, she kept on toward Oswego, but when opposite that port the storm became so heavy she dared not attempt to put in. The captain did the next best thing and made for Henderson Bay, forty miles distant. Toward ten o'clock they had arrived off Henderson Bay, but the storm was such that they dared not venture in. They tried to beat about the bay for a while, hoping for an abatement of the storm, but no signs of calmer weather could be discerned, and with the vessel gradually drifting toward the beach the anchors were cast; but they were dragged in the sandy bottom, and the vessel was stripped of her sails and main rigging. She gradually drifted broad side shoreward. Early on Friday afternoon, she struck the beach and swung round at the mercy of the waves and finally settled in the sandy bottom about three quarters of a mile from the shore. The captain and crew had previously got the cook wrapped up in two blankets and a couple of pairs of sailor's pants, and fastened her on the rigging. When the vessel struck the captain and crew also got into what was left of the rigging, where they clung until rescued, for hours afterward, by Mr. Geo. Wood and brother, who put out in an old fishing boat and took off the entire crew. There is a life-boat station within three-quarters of a mile from where the Cortez stranded, but Highland asserts that he was creditably informed that the life-boat me refused to go out to their rescue, alleging that the storm was too rough and that they instead remained in their boat house playing cards."

The Cortez struck about 4 P. M., and the crew got off about dark. The crew say they passed near the Sandy Creek life saving station, and it must have been evident to the lookout that they were going ashore. Yet nio effort was made to save them, although there was considerable excitement on shore, and many farmers ran along the beach, following them down in order to assist in getting them off, and as soon as she struck put out in a risky old seine and took them off. It required courage to launch such a boat in the tremendous surf beating in on that beach.

Mr. Cummings received a dispatch yesterday to the effect that the vessel would probably go to pieces.

-- Since the above was written, we have talked with one of the crew, who says they could not make this harbor, because when they hauled up the vessel she was loaded so deep that she filled with water and one of the jibs was whipped out. The captain then thought the best thing to do was to make for Henderson harbor which he attempted to reach, but with the result stated above. He says Capt. Farrell was nearly drowned in trying to save the vessel's books and papers. When the crew left she had settled into the sand and her cabin, rail and light work were gone. Captain Williams yesterday telegraphed Mollison & Dowdie "vessel settled in the sand; rail is breaking up; vessel and cargo total loss."

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Monday, November 15, 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), Monday, November 15, 1880