The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Capt. Pat. Kane
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 16 Oct 1898

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Capt. Pat. Kane, who went down with the schooner Churchill Friday night, was one of the best known vessel masters living at this port. About 45 years of age, tall and powerful, he was probably as well equipped with nerve as any man on the lakes. He had sailed for J. & T. Hurley, Whitaker & Sons, the Detroit & Belle Isle Ferry Co. and others here, and all speak in high terms of his ability as a sailor. He had one failing - a love for whiskey. Three years ago he separated from his wife, and the latter has since been obliged to support herself and children scrubbing out offices and doing other menial labor, pending divorce proceedings.

Though he has figured in a number of exciting adventures, his feat of steering the canal schooner Mont Blanc into Buffalo between the Buffalo piers before a terrific southwester five years ago, with every man of his crew lashed to the rigging, is probably the most wonderful of all. The schooner had wheat from Detroit and was leaking rapidly, and nearly decks-to when she reached the harbor. Her crew could not live on the decks, the seas sweeping over them every minute. Kane hung on to the wheel with a death grip, and nerved by the desperate nature of the situation, for to attempt to take to the yawl would have been madness, and assisted by his great skill in handling vessels, he put her through and just reached the inside of the harbor before she went to the bottom in shallow water. She was under nearly bare poles, as her sails had been carried away. No sooner had she reached port than Kane went on a spree that lasted several days.

The steamer Majestic lies at the lighthouse pier a badly battered vessel as the result of the storm. A survey of the loss is being made. It will amount to a large sum. Seldom has a boat come so near destruction and escaped.

For hours solid water filled her decks as the seas swept over the struggling craft. Two hatch covers were carried away by the rush of water. Still, the crew held out bravely, and heroically rescued the men from the sinking Churchill.

The Majestic was commanded by Capt. Murray McIntosh, of this city. He is about 36 years of age, and had commanded the James Fisk, Jr., and the J. V. Moran, of the old Ward line. Telephone advices from Chicago yesterday say that he handled his vessel in wonderful style: that finding it impossible to make any shore point in the face of the terrible gale, he ran for Chicago harbor, hoping to save the schooner. Finally, when indications came that this course might involve the foundering of the steamer as well as her consort, he let go the Churchill and after that made six circles in the lake to pick up the members of the crew who had jumped overboard with life-preservers and pieces of wood. Captain Kane and the sailor went down before he could reach them.

The strength of the storm is shown by the fact that the Churchill was only eight years old, strongly built by Craig of Toledo, and rated A1, star - the highest given any wooden vessel - and was valued at $40,000.

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Date of Publication:
16 Oct 1898
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 42.36336 Longitude: -87.82368
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pd [more details]
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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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Capt. Pat. Kane