The schr. NEGUANEE, which left this port with 1,086 tons of coal for Chicago, encountered some very rough weather. The sea ran so high that the stmb. HENRY CHISHOLM had to release her, and she came to anchor off Fairport last Saturday. Monday morning there was 4 ft. of water in her hold, and the crew were taken off by the lifesaving crew. The tugs FOREST CITY and BRADY were sent from Cleveland to her assistance, and on arriving found 7 ft. of water in her. On removing the ice from the wench it was found that the centerboard chain was broken. Pumps were brought on board, and she was towed to Cleveland and allowed to sink in about 15 ft. of water. The NEGUANEE is owned by Capt. Alva Bradley, and valued at about $25,000 or $30,000 and rates A2. She is not insured. Capt. Holmes says some word of commendation is due to the Fairport Life Saving crew as they worked very hard. The crew on the vessel also did the same.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
November 26, 1880 3-6
Riding out a November gale on Lake Erie in the schooner NEGAUNEE, anchored off Fairport, Ohio, was bad enough, but Captain J.A. Holmes was jolted at about 8 p.m. when his crew discovered three feet of water in the hold.
The pumps were started. An hour later, when the water level raised to four feet, Holmes was sure that his ship was sinking. The NEGAUNEE was loaded with over 1,000 tons of coal, bound from Buffalo to Chicago in tow of the steam barge HENRY CHISHOLM when the two vessels got caught in the storm on Nov. 21, 1880.
The seas got so high that the CHISHOLM's engines couldn't fight the storm and pull the NEGAUNEE at the same time. The schooner was cut loose to battle the wind and waves on its own. The water was shallow enough that Captain Holmes chose to drop anchor and let the ship's bow turn into the wind. After that, it should have been a matter of waiting until the storm was over.
Should have been, but for a broken centerboard chain. While the sailors gripped the railings on the deck of the rolling, tossing, ice laden ship, the chain snapped and the centerboard dropped free. This produced an open hole in the bottom of the boat. An open spigot of water poured into the rolling boat. The sailors couldn't work the hand-operated bilge pump fast enough to keep ahead of the torrent.
Holmes sent a small boat ashore to get help. The Freeport life savers came but even with the additional manpower; the water gained. Word was sent to Cleveland, and the tugs GEORGE N. BRADY and FOREST CITY steamed to the rescue.
The BRADY was the first to arrive alongside the stricken ship. By then the NEGAUNEE was half sunk with seven feet of water in the hold. Sailors were not only pumping, but they were tossing the cargo of coal overboard to lighten the stricken vessel.
The BRADY brought additional pumps and manpower, and then took the NEGUANEE in tow. By about 5 p.m. the FOREST CITY arrived and also put a tow line on. It was a race against time.
The NEGAUNEE made it. After arriving in Cleveland harbor about 11 p.m., the exhausted sailors stopped pumping. Within minutes the ship settled to the bottom, where it rested until workers raised it and brought it into dry dock for repair.
After lying sunk for a few days, the boat was extensively damaged. The cabin room doors were warped. The davits were bent and the life boat had floated away. The schooner was repaired to sail again. It remained on the lakes another 26 years, not meeting its end until stranding in a gale at Lake Erie's Cedar Point in 1906.
The schooner NEGAUNEE barely survived a storm on Lake Erie in 1880 with the help of two tug boats. In 1906 the NEGAUNEE faced another storm but didn't survive. (Article by James Donahue, weekly series run in paper.)
Port Huron Daily Tribune
October 2, 1995