The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Floretta (Schooner), U9688, struck on breakwater, 1 Dec 1882

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      Another Collision and Disaster.
      Before daylight Saturday morning a disaster occurred off Chicago by which fifteen lives and a fine vessel were imperiled. It was another collision with the new exterior breakwater, and as caused by one of the lights on the dangerous structure being out.
      At about 6 o'clock Saturday morning, before daylight and during the north-east snow storm, the schooner FLORETTA, Captain Murphy, came sailing along bound for Chicago. The light on the outer end of the new breakwater was out [so the Captain and crew allege], and, mistaking the light in the center of the breakwater for the one on the end, the vessel went crashing on and over the cribs on the outer end. The superstructure being washed off for some distance, and there being fourteen feet of water over the cribs at this point, the vessel rode right over. The anchor was dropped just before the FLOETTA struck. The crunching of the timbers of the cribs under the vessel's keel created a panic among the crew and one and all -- eight men all told -- clambered on the nearest crib of the completed portion of the breakwater. he anchor held the vessel but she swung around about three lengths out of reach, and the crew found themselves on the breakwater
with every freezing sea washing over them. They sheltered themselves as best they could on the lee side of a little tool house. An hour later the tug CARPENTER, captain George McDonald, of the Vessel Owners' Towing Line, going out in search of a tow, heard cries and immediately went to the rescue. Captain McDonald succeeded in getting Captain Murphy and his crew all aboard the CARPENTER, and at his suggestion, they proceeded to the Life-saving Station, where the poor fellows could get warmed and secure the assistance of the Life-savers and their surfboat to put the FLORETTA men aboard their own vessel. This was done, and the surfboat, containing the FLORETTA men and the life crew, headed by Captain St. Peter -- fifteen in all -- was soon maneuvering about the FLORETTA. Repeated attempts were made to board her, but all to no avail. At this juncture the tug HACKLEY appeared on the scene, and, while her intentions were the best, her movements came very
comprising the surfboat's crew. The Captain of the HACKLEY seemed to think the surfboat's crew wanted to be picked up, and he accordingly winded about the little craft several times with a ling hanging over the bluff of the tug's bow. The people in the surfboat begged him to keep away and not drown them, but he continued to wind about them and the HACKLEY struck the surfboat twice and narrowly escaped sinking her. Captain McDonald, of the CARPENTER, begged and threatened the HACKLEY to keep away, but it was not until someone in the surfboat
and threatened to shoot that he desisted.
      It being found impossible to get aboard the FLORETTA from the surfboat, her crew pulled back to the life-station. The FLORETTA crew again warmed up, and were given dry clothing by Captain St. Peter. Captain McDonald then volunteered to attempt to put Captain Murphy and his sailors aboard from the CARPENTER. Once more the sailors and the fife-savers were taken aboard the CARPENTER, and she proceeded to the FLORETTA. The tug Maneuvered a short time, and finally ran up along the lee side, close up. She was only there an instant, but the men quickly clambered aboard, and after that the rescue of the vessel was 'no trick at all." A lull in the storm had admitted of the movement of the CARPENTER, which put the men on her decks again. The anchor was got up, a line was passed to the CARPENTER, and the FLORETTA was soon at her wharf in the harbor.
      The CARPENTER is damaged some. The greatest credit is due Captain McDonald.
      The extent of the damage to the FLORETTA, is not fully known, but it is serious. Captain St. Peter and his men did good service, and it is fully appreciated.
      J.W. Hall Great lakes Marine Scrapbook, No. 2, December, 1882

Schooner FLORETTA. U. S. No. 9688. Of 295.99 tons gross; 281.20 tons net. Built Detroit, Mich., 1868. Home port, Chicago, Ill. 134.0 x 26.0 x 11.0.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885

Media Type:
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Reason: struck on breakwater
Lives: nil
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 41.85003 Longitude: -87.65005
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Floretta (Schooner), U9688, struck on breakwater, 1 Dec 1882