The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily Palladium (Oswego, NY), Monday, April 6, 1874

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A Narrow Escape.
The Schooner E.W. Rathbun found at Anchor near Nine Mile Point, Mexico Bay.

Saturday was a wintry day, indeed. The wind, from the northwest, accompanied by snow, blew strong, at times almost a gale, lashing Lake Ontario into a fury, and huge waves dashed upon the ice bound coast with a threatening roar, which caused seamen who were in port to return thanks that they were not on a lee shore.

The thermometer indicated 20 degrees above zero, and the few vessels that came into port showed plainly the ice coating that the weather was anything but tropical on the lake. It was feared that some vessels would become disabled and driven ashore, and several men, who are troubled with second sight, reported that they had seen disabled vessels passing down the lake. The stories not being well authenticated, but little attention was paid to them, and up to half past eight o'clock Saturday night it was thought that all vessels bound for this port were safely in harbor.

On the arrival of the evening train on the Rome road, passengers reported that there was a vessel in distress below Nine Mile Point, and unless assistance was speedily rendered, it was feared the chains by which she was riding might part, and if driven ashore the crew must perish, as the ice banks were high and bold in the locality.

Harbormaster Robertson was notified, and after consulting with Captain James Pappa, of the tug Morey, who volunteered to go with his tug, the life boat was launched, and with Captain Rob Colwell, of the schooner Caroline Marsh. and his seamen to man the life boat, the expedition started about twelve o'clock midnight. The wind had lulled a trifle, bu the sky was threatening and the waves were mountainous when the tug started, but the brave men who had battled with storms before were not to be deterred.

Arriving at Nine Mile Point about two o'clock in the morning the vessel was discovered at anchor with the waves dashing over her. the life boat, with its crew, was dropped alongside of the schooner, when it was found to be the E.W. Rathbun, Captain Robert Coote, with wheat from Toronto for Irwin and Sloan. With the assistance of the crew the anchors were hove home, and the tug with the vessel in tow started for this port, arriving at 7 o'clock yesterday morning.

Captain Coote informs us that when he sighted land Saturday afternoon about one o'clock he was nearly abreast of this port. Shortly after hauling his vessel up to head for Oswego, the shackle of the foresheet deck block and foresheet band on the boom broke, and the freed sail striking the fore rigging with violence parted one of the shrouds, broke the jaws of the boom and the sail became unmanageable While trying to get the foresail down, which was found impossible on account of the icy condition of the halliards, the shackle of the main sheet block broke and away went the mainsail.

In such a hopeless condition nothing was left for him to do but to put his vessel before the wind and seek shelter down the lake, which he did. He arrived off Nine Mile Point about three o'clock in the afternoon, and finding that the vessel was pointing directly for the land, chopped the ring stoppers and shank painters of both anchors and let them go by the run.

After paying out about 60 fathoms of chain, the anchors held and the vessel was brought head to wind. The seas were dashing over her, forming ice very rapidly, and the sailors wanted to try their fortunes in the yawl, but were dissuaded by the captain, who preferred to remain by the vessel. Captain Coote suffered considerably from cold, and froze one of his toes so that the nail dropped off.

The schooner was found to be leaking when she arrived in port, and protest was noted by the captain. The gentlemen of the rescuing expedition are entitled to credit for their zeal and courage in going to sea on such a boisterous night and bringing the Rathbun safely into port.

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Monday, April 6, 1874
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Richard Palmer
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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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Daily Palladium (Oswego, NY), Monday, April 6, 1874