The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
George C. Finney (Schooner), U10545, waterspout damage, 1 Oct 1889

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      Frightful Experience of the Schooner FINNEY Off Port Colborne Yesterday.
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      Tossed About Like a Cork and Completely Wrecked Above Decks.
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With her topmast gone, mainmast broken off and nearly all her canvas carried away, the two-masted schooner GEORGE C. FINNEY presented a sorry spectacle off Port Colborne yesterday noon. The crew had a frightful experience, and what they tell of it would lay the foundation for a story equal to one of Clark Russel's most sensational sea tales.
The vessel encountered a waterspout. Capt. Reardon, who owns the boat, says it swept upon them with frightful force, making the craft dance about like a cockle shell. The crew held on to whatever they could, momentarily expecting to go to the bottom. While the rigging came crashing down all about them. The vessel was struck aft and hurled upon her bows, then settled back on her stern and it seemed that she would never right again.
One of the spars was driven deep down into her hold, containing 20,000 bushels of wheat from Toledo to this port. The wind was blowing nearly 40 miles an hour and added to the danger of the situation.
But though the vessel was a complete wreck above decks, she was a staunch little craft and rode out the storm. She was picked up by the propeller PARNELL and towed into port.
The crew of the FINNEY report that the waterspout which struck them was the fifth encountered. The other four were avoided. Capt. Welcome of the PRATT says he saw three.
When the PARNELL picked up the FINNEY the waves were breaking over the latter vessel and the PARNELL was badly shaken up.
"She'd have gone down," said Capt. Griffin of the PARNELL, " if we hadn't got there in time."
      Capt. Reardon has been unlucky with the FINNEY. He bought her last year and was wrecked early this season, when he had no insurance. He has $5,000 insurance now. The cargo is insured for $3,500.
      Waterspouts at this end of the lake are becoming numerous. It will be remembered that several were seen about six weeks ago, though no vessels were caught then.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Wednesday, October 2, 1889
      . . . . .

      The Wrecked FINNEY'S Cargo Safe.
The schooner G. C. FINNEY, wrecked in a waterspout on Tuesday, was unloaded at the Erie Elevator this morning. She carried 19,800 bushels of grain. Only 457 bushels was damaged, but the vessel is nearly ruined. The storm on the lake subsided yesterday and the fleet sailed.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Thursday, October 3, 1889

GEORGE C. FINNEY, schooner. Official U. S. Number 10545, of 300.66 gross tons, 285.63 net tons. Built at Oswego in 1866. Home port, Buffalo. 136.7 x 26 x 10.8
      List of Merchant Vessels of U. S. A., 1891

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: waterspout damage
Lives: nil
Freight: wheat
Remarks: Repaired ?
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.90012 Longitude: -79.23288
William R. McNeil
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George C. Finney (Schooner), U10545, waterspout damage, 1 Oct 1889