The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Wed, 31 Oct, 1906

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Adrift on a scow in the sixty-mile gale on Lake Erie, Capt. George McElroy, of Port Huron, escaped with his life and is not much worse for the experience. And the scow was No. 13 of the fleet of a contracting firm.

This is the scow reported adrift in the storm Saturday night, and thought to carry two men. It broke away from the tug Bangs off Fairport. Capt. McElroy was adrift for twenty-four hours before being rescued by a farmer's wife. He tells this unique experience as follows:

"I wasn't so much frightened," he said, "when she broke away. She's not a bad old raft at all. I knew we'd by and by get down toward Fairport, and I looked for the lifesavers there to get me off."

During the afternoon the wind blowing from the shore had carried the old man far out to sea, but hours later, when the storm shifted its course, the scow was again brought close to the land. McElroy says it was about 2,000 feet out from the breakwater when he sighted the lights of Fairport.

"I began swinging my lights," says the old sailor, "from the time I saw the city's lights until I passed beyond view. I was only about 2,000 feet out from the breakwater and could hear the sea dashing against it.. That was when I began having the creeps and to think where I was going to go if I got washed in there. Its not a bad piece of wood at all, that old scow, but I knew that me and her'd be one if she ever got into that breakwater.

"And we seemed to be going in. It may have been only the way I felt and we might not have been drifting toward it at all, but I couldn't help thinking that we were. I could see the light in the lifesaving station and I pretty near fancied I could see the lookout man himself. I swung my light for an hour and a half as I've never swung a signal before. I thought sure they must see me, but I guess they didn't.

"Every second I expected there'd be a boat put out, but I went past and never saw a soul or a thing but those lights, and my head was all awhirl and I still thought I was seeing them when there wasn't anything more than black darkness and the wind. So I gave up hoping that there'd be a boat come out, and I sat down and waited to see what 'ud happen.

When finally the scow hit the sand it took four revolutions along the beach before it was grounded for good. It was 7 o'clock then, and McElroy sat down and waited for three hours before he was seen by the farmer's good wife.

"She was an old woman," says McElroy, "but she was hefty, and maybe she couldn't pull. But she stood on top of a hill and I thought she'd yank the yawl out through the air when I threw her a rope."

McElroy was so excited in his gratitude that he couldn't remember the name of his rescuer. She took him up to the farmhouse.

"I always had a fancy for cider," adds McElroy, "and ham and country eggs taste good any time. A little sail in the open on a raft is good for the appetite. Now that it's all over I think I'd have enjoyed it if I'd been guaranteed that it would come out all right in the end."

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Wed, 31 Oct, 1906
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Dave Swayze
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Wed, 31 Oct, 1906