The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Saginaw Courier (Saginaw, MI), October 18, 1877

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The loss of the schooner Nettie Weaver, a vessel well-known in Saginaw waters, loaded with iron ore and bound from Lake Superior to Detroit, which occurred in Lake Huron last week, has been chronicled in these columns. A correspondent at Kincardine sends further particulars of the disaster. He says:"The gale which broke over Lake Huron on Thursday afternoon was a terrific one, and has not passed off without loss of life. The schooner Nettie Weaver, laden with iron from Hause, Lake Superior, for Detroit, appears to have experienced it in full force, judging from the statement of the survivors, who arrived here in an open boat at noon Friday. The crew reefed all sail, and allowed the vessel almost to drift with the wind, although under partial control. Between three and four o'clock, and when about 50 miles from Kincardine, the vessel sprung a leak, and, as it was impossible for the crew to work the pumps, Captain Reynolds at once saw that the vessel could not long keep above water, she being heavily laden and the water gaining fast. The captain gave orders that the yawl should be launched, which was accomplished with some difficulty. A passenger named Birch, from Buffalo, declined to leave the vessel, saying he was safer on the schooner than the boat. Emery Robertson, one of the seamen, who belonged at St. Catharines, when the heard the vessel was to be deserted, went below to get some additional clothing and his valuables. Ere he had time to return the vessel foundered, and both Birch and Robertson went down with her. The schooner sank with a couple of minutes after the crew had left her, but it was of course impossible to do anything to save the two unfortunate men. In order to keep their boat steady the crew had the presence of mind to take with them a small ice box, which they tied to the stern of the frail craft, and to this precaution, in a great measure, they say they owe their lives. They were unable to take any provisions with them, and were but scantily clad, several of them not having been able to take their coats. In this manner, with the water running mountains high and the wind blowing "thunder guns," the unfortunate mariners were tossed about for eighteen long hours, in expectation every minute of being consigned to a watery grave. Time and again did the surf envelop the tiny craft, and each time it came out, righted itself in all sorts of semi-capsized positions, almost as if by a miracle. When daylight appeared, almost dead with cold and as hungry as men could possibly be, no sight of land could be seen, and the crew were inclined to think that, if the weather did not moderate, it would be impossible for them to reach the shore, and as there was but a slim chance of being picked up there was a tendency to become disheartened. Capt. Reynolds, by kind words of encouragement, nerved his men to endure the terrible cold and almost unendurable hunger. Shortly before noon it was evident that the boat was fast drifting toward the Canadian shore. The storm had meanwhile abated somewhat, although the lake was rougher than it has been for many a day past. Kincardine harbor was reached, and safely entered, although with much difficulty, and the six men, much exhausted by their exposure to the elements in their most terrific form, and taken care of by the authorities, and comfortably fed and clothed. With the true nature of the tar, the first request of one of the seamen, on reaching terra firma, was "Can you loan me a chew of tobacco?."

Media Type:
Item Type:
The boat was US#18089, 310.19 gt and was built in Toledo in 1863. She's often named in the press NETTIE or NETT WEAVER, but NETTA is her registered name.
Date of Original:
October 18, 1877
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
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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Saginaw Courier (Saginaw, MI), October 18, 1877