The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Ferris (Tug), aground, 30 Nov 1886

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The COMANCHE Ashore - At Pillar Point, Near Sackets Harbor
Ill luck seems to have followed the schooner COMANCHE of this port for several years. She has been sunk in the Welland canal and after she had been repaired a long litigation between her owners, Messrs. Quonce and Becker, and the insurance companies, followed. A few nights since while bound to Ogdensburg from the Welland canal with a load of wheat she was struck by a squall and lost both her masts, jibboom and rigging and was otherwise badly damaged. She finally managed to reach this port, and remained till about 11 a.m. on Saturday last when she left for Ogdensburg in tow of the tug FERRIS, Captain Charles Ferris.
Early yesterday morning a telegraph was received here from Sackets harbor stating that the tug and vessel were ashore at Pillar Point, a short distance from that village. Later it was learned that the tug had been worked off and had gone to Sackets. The vessel was reported full of water and it was also said that she had been abandoned.
The COMANCHE was built at this city in 1867 by James Navagh and registered 306 tons burden; she was rated A 2 + and valued at $6,000, and insured for that amount.
A special from Sackets Harbor to this paper says that the captain of the tug FERRIS says he cannot give any description of the COMANCHE. His tug is disabled and he has not heard from the vessel since leaving her somewhere on the shore in a snow storm. Capt. Peter Cronley will arrive in Oswego this evening and give full particulars as far as he knows.
A man named Tucker, living at Point Peninsula was drowned yesterday while assisting the crew of the COMANCHE to leave the schooner. Capt. William Becker, who sailed the COMANCHE and was part owner, resided in Pulaski. he was regarded as a competent navigator. His friends sympathize with him in his misfortune.
Mr. Albert Quonce, one of the owners of the COMANCHE, went to Sackets Harbor this afternoon. It is said that, the schooner's freight list was secured.
      Oswego Palladium
      Mon., November 29, 1886

      The Wreck of the COMANCHE - An Account of the Disaster by One of the Sailors
      The Wreck a Complete One This Time
Robert Cooney, one of the crew of the COMANCHE, now on the beach at Point Peninsula, arrived home this morning accompanied by two others of the crew. He says that they went through Stony Island Passage and after getting through, finding that the sea was getting up and the wind rising, the captain concluded to make for Sackets Harbor.
It was rather thick and snow was beginning to fall and they were deceived by a light upon the shore. The first hint they had of danger was when the tug Ferris struck. The schooner went on immediately after and struck the first reef and worked over it and struck the second and went up high and dry. The pumps were set going but the schooner was leaking badly and they could make little impression in it. In the morning it was up to the forecastle floor and it was of no use to try and keep her free. In the morning the farmers along the shore began to work with a will but there was no large boat near them and they had to send a wagon seven miles to get one. In the meanwhile Fred Tucker, the young farmer who was afterward drowned, came aboard in a skiff and stayed with them until a large boat came and did not leave until the captain did, who stuck to the schooner to the last. The first of the crew who got ashore wanted to take the boat and go out for the balance of their shipmates but the people would not permit it, and hurried them off to a house nearby to be taken care of. The last of the crew, with Captain Becker and Fred Tucker started for the shore and had made about half the distance when the boat capsized. They clung to it as well as they could but the sea kept the boat rolling and they lost their hold repeatedly.
Captain Becker and another man were trying to keep Tucker up but he was apparently helpless and in spite of their efforts they could not keep his head above water. Another boat was pushed out and the men struggling in the water were saved, with the exception of Tucker, who was drowned. Captain Becker was nearly unconscious and it was some time before he recovered after the usual means had been employed to restore him. He still remains in the house of a nephew who lives not far from the scene of the wreck.
It is remarkable that the wreck occurred almost in sight of the place where Captain Becker has lived for many years. During Sunday morning the sea was very heavy and was making a clean breach over the schooner and she was breaking up and it was the general opinion that she could not be saved. Captain Becker who was very much exhausted, did not come back. Capt. Cronley, who went down to look the wreck over, returned with the rest. The tug FERRIS is still at Sackets Harbor. But for the accident to her wheel, she might have been able to do something but as it was, she was helpless.
The crew are under the deepest obligations to the residents along the shore who worked hard to save their lives.
      Oswego Times Express
      Tues., November 30, 1886

      In Storm And Darkness - How the Tug FERRIS Got Ashore and Her Remarkable Escape
      A Thrilling Experience.
Captain Peter Cronley, who had been engaged to pilot the tug FERRIS from Cape Vincent to Ogdensburg, returned to the city last night and gave the following account of the wreck of the Comanche and the adventure of the FERRIS: "After getting well out into the lake we found a very heavy sea and a thick snow storm set in. We headed the tug for Stony passage and just as we arrived there the storm let up a little, enabling us to pass through safely.
"It then began to snow thicker than ever, and it was impossible to see anything. We struck about eight o'clock, and the way the tug got off the beach was the most remarkable thing I ever saw. The schooner struck bottom first. In a moment after, we struck on the north side of Point Peninsula. Captain Ferris threw his wheel over quickly thus throwing the tug against the beach broadside.
      "I cut the tow line and for a few moments there was a lively time. The seas broke over the tug and into the engine room, but the engines were kept working. We bounded along over the rocks and the last time we struck, the last bucket was broken off the wheel. The tug took a sheer out into the seas and the wind caught her in such a manner that she slipped around the point just on the edge of the rocks. We passed close to the schooner and the crew hallooed to be taken off. But we could do nothing because our wheel was gone. The seas were rolling completely over the vessel at this time. The wind carried us along in the direction of Sackets harbor. A little piece of the wheel was left on one side and by keeping the machinery working we managed to get into Sackets. We were more than three hours in making the distance - nine miles. The tug is very badly shaken up."
Captain Cronley speaks in the highest terms of Captain Ferris and the manner in which he handled the tug. he says when the tug first struck all the lights went out and the darkness was impenetrable. While the tow was making for Stony Passage in the afternoon Captain Cronley says the seas were so big that at times the vessel could not be seen from the tug.
      Oswego Palladium
      Tues., November 30, 1886

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Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Remarks: Got off
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 44.0195 Longitude: -76.21743
William R. McNeil
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Ferris (Tug), aground, 30 Nov 1886