The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Chandler J. Wells (Schooner), U4274, overboard, 1 Oct 1876

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A telegram to the local papers a few days ago gave a brief account of a thrilling adventure on Lake Erie -- How the mate of the schooner CHANDLER J. WELLS (Mr. Maurice Langan) was washed overboard at one o'clock in the morning, during a frightful gale, how he was bravely rescued by the captain and two of the crew in an open boat, and how, after several' hours battling with the waves, they landed safely at Port Talbot, and were humanely cared for by Mr. Sanders, of that place. Following is the mate's narrative of the adventure.
      " I came on deck at twelve midnight. The vessel was heading up. We were then about twelve or fifteen miles below Rondeau, Canada side of Lake Erie. Captain Langan ordered me to get the anchor and chains ready for anchorage, so he could run in under Rondeau Point and come to anchor, as it was blowing a gale of wind down against us and a heavy sea running. I went forward and ranged the chains and got all ready to let go, when a sea struck me, carried me clean overboard, outside the fore rigging on the lee side. One of the sailors, Wm. McGee, who was a work helping close by, was knocked down on the deck.
      The vessel was going about ten miles an hour, passing me rapidly. When under the lee quarter my brother, the captain, threw me a wheel cover, a wooden box about 3 and a half or 3 feet square, and about 8 or 9 inches deep. He hailed me at the same time, asking me if I had hold of the box. I answered back 'Yes I have.' 'Hold on to it, 'says he, 'I will pick you up.' I Got it under my chest and it supported me pretty well, and I could keep my head towards the sea by swimming with my legs just enough to do so. Otherwise I would have been swept off by the heavy seas, for some of them did sweep over me, nearly strangling me and taxing my strength. The box, and the words of cheer my brother the captain gave, sustained me with the hope and inspired me with the feeling that I would be saved. The sky was clouded and overcast, it was raining hard, the air was cold, and it was an awful and cheerless a night as well could be. The sea washed over me like a continuous waterfall. I kept as quiet as I possibly could, reserving my energies, and was as self-possessed as one could be under such circumstances.
      It could not have been more than half an hour before I heard the cheering voice of my noble brother calling 'Maurice' I could not see the boat, but I heard his hail and I answered, 'Here; all right.' He answered again, ' Hang on; I will soon be with you.' Soon the boat could be seen by me, my brother, the captain, standing up in the bow, the two others pulling. He hailed 'Is that you Maurice ?' not seeing me. I answered, 'Yes; be careful not to hit me with the boat,' The captain soon caught me from the bow of the boat, calling the second mate to aid him. They soon landed me inside the boat and saved me from an awful death.
      We could see the vessel's red light and we pulled for hours to try and catch her, keeping our boat's head to the sea and shipping a good deal of water. We used the cap of McGee to bail it out. Soon after daylight, finding we could not catch the vessel, she being out of sight, we put the boat before the wind for the beach, where we landed at Port Talbot.
      The boat capsized in landing her on the beach, catching the second mate and McGee under her. The captain pulled them out and they got ashore in safety, badly exhausted, but all grateful to God for their deliverance.
The shipwreck mariners were taken to St. Thomas, and provided with a pass to Buffalo over the Canada Southern Railway. Their boat, manned by five of the crew, reached Buffalo harbor in safety.
      The J. W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, Oct., 1876
Schooner CHANDLER J. WELLS. U. S. No. 4274. Of 549.29 tons gross; 521.83 tons net. Built Cleveland, O., 1866. Home port, Port Huron, Mich.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1884

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Reason: overboard
Remarks: Crewman rescued
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.2975 Longitude: -81.888611
William R. McNeil
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Chandler J. Wells (Schooner), U4274, overboard, 1 Oct 1876