In addition of all these disasters, we have firther intelligence of the loss of several other vessels during the storm of the 12th inst. The schooner called the KINGSTON PACKET, and the YORK PACKET (late the COMET) are driven on the beach at Niagara, and the latter very much injured, if not rendered wholly irreparable. The old schooner WELLINGTON is totally wrecked near Stoney Creek, and three American vessels are said to be ashore at the head of the lake. The schooner CATHARINE, in ballast, belonging to Mr. Lyons of Presque Isle, went on the rocks near Pultneyville, during the night of the 11th, and is a complete wreck. Our fears for the safety of the COMMODORE OWEN are unhappily realized. The schooner passed the Ducks about 7 o'clock at night, with very little canvas on, and before day light struck the ground near Oak Orchard, on the American side, about 40 miles below Niagara. The captain immediately let go his anchors, but finding his cabin fast filling with water, and seeing the futility of attempting to save the vessel, he slipped his cable and got as near the shore as possible, for the purpose of preserving the lives of the crew and passengers, as well as the cargo. The storm was so violent that no landing could be effected until Monday afternoon. The interim was spent by the people on board, thirteen in number, in a state of much anxiety and suffering. They were exposed to every surf which broke over the vessel, and one or two persons had their extremities touched by the frost. At the last accounts the crew and passengers had got safely on shore, and were employed in landing the goods, all of which are damaged, and the greater part will be totally ruined, as there is no shelter near at hand.
The captain, who is one of the most attentive and cautious on the lake, cannot account for the manner of his wreck, he was on deck the whole night, and almost continually looking at the compass, and directing the helmsman to steer the vessel towards York. He attributes the error in his course to a circumstance commonly believed by the seamen on the lakes, viz.; that a compass will not traverse when exposed to a snow storm. Whether this opinion is founded in fact, and can be maintained on philosophical grounds, we profess not to decide, but it appears to us to be more reasonable to attribute the misfortune to the faulty construction of the instrument itself rather than to any effect which the snow could have on the action of the needle.
November 21, 1820