The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
George E. Irving (Schooner), U10208, gale damage, 9 Nov 1901

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      Fred and Olan Cook of Schooner GEORGE IRVING of Saturdays Gale
Detroit, Mich., Nov. 10. -- The crew of the Detroit and Cleveland Line steamer CITY OF MACKINAC was able to save the crew of the schooner GEORGE IRVING this morning. The men are Fred Cook and Olan Cook, brothers, and they live in West Bay City. They constituted the entire crew of the IRVING, which waterlogged on Saginaw Bay in a heavy gale of last night. The IRVING was loaded with cedar from Alpena to Marine City. Capt. Fred Cook who was master of the little craft, underestimated the force of the northwest gale and attempted to cross Saginaw Bay last night. The schooner sprang a leak and soon filled. The brothers were driven to seek refuge on the top of the cabin, and the seas constantly swept over them. They had managed to throw some of the cargo overboard and secured blankets to cover themselves with. These were water soaked and the freezing winds cut through their drenched clothing and they were soon numb.
      About 5:30 o'clock this morning the vessel was sighted by Capt. Slyfield of the MACKINAC when fourteen miles northwest of Point Aux Barques. The passenger steamer was brought alongside, and with difficulty the men were taken on board, as they were exhausted and hardly able to help themselves. They were landed at Harbor Beach, and the schooner left to drift about the bay. The hull constitutes a dangerous derelict, but it is thought it will be blown ashore in a day or two. The IRVING was built in 1865 and was owned by John Blair of Bay City. The tonnage measurement was only seventy-three gross tons.
      Milwaukee Sentinel ???
      November 10, 1901

Schooner GEORGE IRVING. Of 73 tons, waterlogged in Lake Huron, November 10, 1901 Loss $700.
      Casualty List for 1901
      Marine Record, December 26, 1901

Schooner GEORGE E. IRVING. U. S. No. 10208. Of 73.00 tons gross; 69.44 tons net. Built Detroit, Mich., 1865. Home port, Detroit, Mich. 77.7 x 20.0 x 5.9
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1891

Brother's Fred and Olan Cook thought they were lying down to die the morning they wrapped themselves in a wet blanket and went to sleep on the frosted cabin roof of their waterlogged boat. The brothers were sailing the schooner GEORGE IRVING on it late season trip from Alpena to Detroit when a storm caught the vessel in mid-lake, off Saginaw Bay and left it half sunk and adrift.
The Cooks knew it was a foolhardy thing to do when they set sail. Their four-member crew had jumped ship at Alpena so the brothers tried to bring the 72-fool-long vessel across the lake on their own. It was a mistake. When caught in a severe northeasterly gale the night of Nov. 9, 1901, the brothers could not handle the ship. It sprung a leak, waterlogged, and became unmanageable.
The storm abated by the next morning but by then the brothers were exhausted from their battle. They were wet, chilled, and feeling quite helpless as they sat on the cabin roof, hoping for rescue.
They said they launched all their flares when they saw the light, of passing boats during the night, but could not get a vessel to stop. They were so numb from the cold that they were in a stupor when the steamer CITY OF MACKINAC came by. The steamer's mate Jack Lightbody, said he was standing watch just as dawn was breaking. He said he noticed the schooner drifting with sails set, but obviously waterlogged.
Lightbody said he first blew the ship's whistle looking for it sign of life on the drifting wreck. When he detected no movement, he said he was about to order the steamer to continue on its course. Then Lightbody saw something that made him change his mind.
It might only have been the blanket, fluttering in the wind, but Lightbody thought he saw movement. He sent a yawl, and the sailors returned with the Cook brothers, who by then, were more dead than alive.
The 36-year-old ship was afloat, but it was declared a wreck after a tug brought it into port a few days later.
      Port Huron Daily Tribune
      Article by James Donahue

Media Type:
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Reason: gale damage
Lives: nil
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.75002 Longitude: -83.66664
William R. McNeil
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George E. Irving (Schooner), U10208, gale damage, 9 Nov 1901