The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
William B. Hanna, capsized, 1 Nov 1880

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      Special Dispatch to the Post and Tribune
      Sand Beach, November 8. - Capt. Bedford furnishes the following account of the loss of his vessel.
We left Port Huron November 1, with a cargo of supplies for Prentiss bay, and had a good run up, arriving on Wednesday afternoon of the 3rd inst., the distance being 240 miles. We unloaded and took on 1,600 tamarac railroad ties for Toledo. The fact of these ties being badly water-soaked was greatly to our disadvantage through the perils of the night I am about to relate. We left the bay on Friday, the 5th, at 2 p.m. with full sail and a fair wind. At 10 p.m. we were off Presque Isle. At 6 a.m. Saturday we were off Thunder Bay island, at which hour it began to snow with the wind north to northeast. I shipped my course the same as I always have in crossing the bay; that is, south by east half east. At noon the wind increased to a gale. We took in our main sail and let her jog along under the fore sail and stay sail, having blown away the jib. At half past 3 we sighted Port Austin reef light, one mile away and snowing heavily. We then had to haul up east-southeast to clear Point aux Barques, which put us right in the trough of the sea. She labored heavily, but didn't make any water until we got past the Point, when she sprung a butt and filled so fast that the pump was of no use. At 6 p.m. she broached to and rolled over. We were then some five miles above Sand Beach* harbor. The mate was at the wheel, and one man stood by him. As they saw her going over they jumped for the windward rail, while at the same instant one man with myself were getting a stop around the main peak, and as she went over we were thrown into the water up to our waists. As quickly as possible we all climbed to the main rigging. Our feelings at this time in a raging sea, black darkness surrounding us, snow falling heavily, and great waves dashing over us every instant, can be better imagined than described. I confess, for my own part I had no hope of ever seeing home or friends again.
At 10 p.m. we drifted by the harbor of refuge, not 500 feet away. We shouted for help, saw lights moving here and there on the breakwater, carried by persons who evidently heard our cries, and we had every hope that they would come to our rescue, but as we drifted by the pier and no help came, hope died within our breasts.
Then the wind canted to northwest and our only hope was to get the anchor down to prevent drifting out into the lake. I accordingly cut away the weather lanyards and she righted. I then got the anchor down and gave her all the chain.
At this time our greatest sufferings began. The weather was freezing cold; no dry place on which to stand, no place for moving about, as a heavy sea constantly dashed over us amidships. The cabin was gone and the only spot out of water was on one side forward - a space about four feet wide by ten feet long.
My mate, Sylvester Ray, and sailors Ralph Danelyon and John Susa, all being young men, stood the perils of the night better than myself, I became paralyzed with the cold, and am satisfied I would have perished before morning had not my companions dragged me about our narrow space and thus kept me from freezing.
Finally morning broke upon us, but the snow was still falling so heavily we could not be seen from the shore. At 10 a.m., however, it began to break away, the snow ceased falling, and we found ourselves in a high sea not far from the wreck of the Sunnyside. The propeller Luella Worthington,** which was in the harbor, saw us and came at once to our rescue, and after making three attempts, succeeded in coming alongside and took us aboard. Capt. St. Clair, who heard our cries in the night as we drifted by, and who, with those cries ringing in his ears, passed a sleepless night as he informs me, came out to our rescue at the earliest moment possible, and proved himself a brave sailor and a gentleman, and if life is worth being thankful for, he will have our lasting thanks.
      Detroit Post and Tribune
      Tuesday, November 9, 1880

*Sand Beach is now Harbor Beach, Michigan
**The prop H. LUELLA WORTHINGTON (US#95603) was a brand-new freighter of 149 ft. and 375 gt. The W. R. HANNA (US#26669) was a 23-year-old two-mast scow-schooner of 103 gt and 86 ft. -- from D. Swayze

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Reason: capsized
Lives: nil
Remarks: ?
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.84168 Longitude: -82.6416
William R. McNeil
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William B. Hanna, capsized, 1 Nov 1880