The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
A Thrilling Experience
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), 26 Nov 1886

Full Text
The Schooner Comanche Struck by a Squall and Dismasted - The Captain's Statement.

At one o'clock yesterday morning Captain John Redford of the tug Eliza Redford, sighted a schooner about four miles out in the lake burning a torch as a signal of distress. The seas were running very high but the tug was headed into the lake and after much tossing got alongside the schooner "Comanche" which had lost everything and was drifting down the last past this port.

A Palladium reported called upon Wm. Becker, captain of the "Comanche," today, and obtained the following story: "We left Port Dalhousie about 10:30 Tuesday morning for Ogdensburg. The wind was fair, blowing down the lake, and we were going along nicely. When we were abreast of Oak Orchard, Tuesday night. and well out in the lake, a perfect cyclone struck us and in an instant everything was on deck. The mainmast went off at the cross-trees and the foremast about twelve feet below the cross-trees. When the main topmast fell over it went through the decks and broke off about a foot above the decks.

The broken part of the foremast, with the topmast, went through the decks in two or three places. The wreckage was cleared away from the sides as soon as possible and the decks patched with canvass. The seas were tremendous, and it was blowing a gale from the westward. We got the schooner before the wind and put out a long hawser with a drag on the end with which the vessel's head was kept before the wind and we drifted down the lake. We lay off here about four hours with the seas making a clean breach over the vessel, and burned torches of oakum and kersoene.

About two o'clock Wednesday afternoon the small boat was carried away, but we never gave up for a moment. When the squall struck us most of the men were sanding aft the main rigging and the only wonder is that some of them were not killed. The only man injured was a sailor who was hit by the rigging and had the side of his face badly cut."

A gang of ship carpenters at work on the schooner today patching up the deck and clearing away the heavy pieces of spars which are lying on deck and as soon as the sea run s down she will be towed to Ogdensburg whither she was bound with a cargo of wheat from Chicago. The cargo is partially damaged but how badly cannot yet be learned. The foremast broke through the main hatch but it was covered by canvass and but little water was shipped.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Publication:
26 Nov 1886
Richard Palmer Collection
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.4664070514698 Longitude: -76.518874168396
Creative Commons licence:
pd [more details]
Copyright Statement:
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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A Thrilling Experience