The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Helvetia (Schooner), U95213, Squall damage, 15 Apr 1878

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The tug CRUSADER passed down at 4 o'clock this afternoon with the schooner HELVETIA in tow with her three topmasts gone, her foresail and other canvas was carried away and her foreboom broken. The weather has been remarkably squally for a week back and vessels in the Straits have suffered more or less damage to canvas and spars. The HELVETIA will be towed to Detroit for repairs.
      Cleveland Herald
      Monday, April 15, 1878
      . . . . .

Here's an interesting account of the domino effect of the breaking of a piece of gear in wrecking the sails of this big schooner. The HELVETIA of Buffalo was a 793gt three-master, built in Tonawanda, NY, in 1873, and was US#95213. In 1898 she was chartered for ocean service and, as far as I can tell, never returned to the lakes.
She was rerigged as a barge in 1919 and was abandoned in 1922.

DISASTERS. - The big schooner HELVETIA, owned by the Winslows, arrived here about 10 o'clock Sunday night, in tow of the tug Crusader, in rather a deplorable condition. Capt. Mack makes substantially the following statement: About 9 o'clock last Wednesday morning, when off Big Point Sauble, lake Michigan, the wind blowing a perfect gale and the vessel bowling along at good speed, the castings governing the steering apparatus suddenly gave way, allowing the vessel to veer around and become unmanageable. At the same moment the wind caught the square sail in a way to produce a strain up in the yard which broke it in two, near
the fastenings. Simultaneously with the fall of the yard, down came the fore topmast, broken short off a few feet above the cross-tree. The fall of the fore topmast occasioned the breaking off of several feet from the top of the main topmast. In coming down either the topmast or yard went through the sails, causing some damage to them.
The wind split the mizzen sail so as to render it useless. It was with greatest difficulty that the vessel was saved. As it was, the men, including the captain, were almost overcome with fatigue and their hands look as though they had been through a saw mill. After much trouble the vessel succeeded in rigging tackles from each stern quarter, and connecting them with the rudder. In this way she managed to get to Cheboygan, when the Crusader took hold of her and brought her here. She was at the Detroit Dry-dock yesterday making such repairs as will enable her to proceed on her journey to Buffalo, for which port she has 54,000 bushels of wheat, loaded at Chicago. As her hatches were well battered down (sic), it is thought her cargo was not damaged. She lost all her provisions, coal, etc. and her deckhouse was badly stove. The propeller Starucca, of the Union line, furnished her with supplies sufficient to last her here. An inspection of the broken casting disclosed the fact that there were two large flaws, which, evidently, had been there a long time. The broken spar also showed signs of having been split, and on the surface, where it snapped, was like pine. This is Capt. Mack's first season and trip in the Helvetia.
      Detroit Post and Tribune
      Tuesday, April 16, 1878

      Schooner HELVETIA. U. S. No. 95213. Of 793.13 tons gross; 753.30 tons net. Built Tonawanda, N.Y., 1873. Home port, Buffalo, N.Y.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1884

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: Squall damage
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 45.19721 Longitude: -87.37511
William R. McNeil
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Helvetia (Schooner), U95213, Squall damage, 15 Apr 1878