Judge Blodgett yesterday rendered a decision in the somewhat ancient admiralty case of Johida W. Schooney, owner of the schooner LADY DUFFERIN, against the schooner J.D. SAWYER. This was a libel for a collision which took place on the night of Nov. 10, 1874, about 7 miles off Point au Pelee in Lake Erie. The evidence showed that about 1 o'clock in the morning of the day in question, the schooners were approaching each other, the night was bright and clear enough to see the vessels without the aid of their lights. The wind was South-Southwest. The DUFFERIN was heading West by South, close hauled. The SAWYER was sailing on parallel lines to the course of the DUFFERIN, with the wind on her quarter. The DUFFERIN under the maritime rules, was entitled to hold her course, and should have done so. When the vessels were from a quarter to half a mile apart, the SAWYER starboarded her helm, thereby necessarily crossing the DUFFERIN's bow. Had the DUFFERIN kept her course, she might have gone to windward of the SAWYER, but she ported her helm, eased off her sheets, and the consequence was, of course, that a collision became inevitable. The SAWYER struck the DUFFERIN a glancing blow on her port bow, disabling her, and rendering her so leaky as to require the assistance of extra hands and a tug to get her into the port of Detroit, where she lay for six days undergoing repairs. For the damage and delay the owners of the DUFFERIN claimed $3,000 damages.
Judge Blodgett in deciding the case, held that, under the circumstances, both vessels were in fault, he could not imagine how two vessels could have collided on a clear night without both being considerably at fault. He would, therefore, order a reference to Commissioner Proudfoot to ascertain the damages, which would be divided between the vessels.
Chicago Inter Ocean
July 23, 1878
Schooner JAMES D. SAWYER. U. S. No. 75386. Of 637.33 tons gross; 605.47 tons net. Built Tonawanda, N.Y., 1871. Home port, Cleveland, O. 183.0 x 32.0 x 13.3
Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1891