The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 6 Dec 1897

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She Pounded All Day on Charity Shoals.


A Tug Tried To Get Near the Steamer.

The closing of navigation each season has its records of shipwrecks, disastrous and otherwise. So long as ships plough the waters deep these records will be augmented and the sailor experience inconceivable hardships. Turbulent seas and treacherous rocks are dangerous combatants, and often the most accomplished mariner and the staunchest craft fall by their stubborn warfare. Lake Ontario probably is responsible for less fatalities than others of the great chain, but one spot at her foot has been the scene of more than one stranding. The Charity shoals - which truly belie their name - have suddenly checked the progress of steamers, with considerable damage. The last boat to meet with an accident on those rocks is the S.S. Rosedale, which grounded on Saturday.

The steamer Rosedale was on her way to Prescott from Fort William with 65,000 bushels of wheat. The passage down the lake was made without any unusual event, and her course was set for the American channel of the St. Lawrence. The night was coming on when the steamer neared the entrance, and dark and hazy were the passing and approaching hours, although the crew were happy in the anticipation of spending the night on the calm waters of the river. But suddenly there came a dull crash, a little grinding, and the ponderous boat stopped her progress to pound on the rocks of the East Charity shoals, which lie about fifteen miles south east of this port. Every possible effort was put forth in the attempt to release her from her stranded position, but she was on hard and fast. The sea increasing placed the steamer in a perilous situation, and to save her from pounding to pieces, the order was given to scuttle her. This allowed her to settle more comfortably on the rocks and rest easier. In that position, with waves washing over her from stem to stern, she remained all night, the crew making the best of their hazardous and uncomfortable quarters.

Word of the disaster reached the city about eight o'clock that evening, when the wind had increased to a gale and a tremendous sea was running. Captain John Gaskin and members of the Donnelly wrecking and salvage company left with the tug Walker at daylight yesterday morning. The sea by that time rolled mountains high, almost engulfing the sturdy little tug. When Nine Mile Point was reached the waves washed over the Walker in volumes, requiring everything to be closed down. She pitched and tossed, and many times threatened to dive underneath approaching rollers to escape the turbulence of the waters. She steamed on with noteworthy speed, and bore down on the stranded boat.

The disabled boat could be seen apparently resting easily, but waves were washing her from stern to bow, and spray breaking in thick columns overhead. The Walker was unable to approach even within hailing distance, but those on board could see part of the Rosedale's crew huddled near the pilot house. Steam was blowing from the pipes showing that the fires had not been put out. The tug, unable to reach the steamer, attempted to turn and run back to the harbor. In that the small craft failed, almost being hurled over on the crest of the billows. The captain was obliged to head his course down the American channel, and rounding the foot of Wolfe Island, came up the middle channel, reaching here about two o'clock.

Soon after the tug Walker arrived back, Capt. S. Crangle, Toronto, part owner of the Rosedale, reached the city. He questioned the captain of the tug as to the position of the Rosedale and the condition of the crew. He was disappointed to learn that the steamer could not be reached. His first thoughts were for the sailors, whom, he said, must be rescued at all hazards. Capt. Crangle requested that a tug, lighter and barge be placed in readiness for the earliest start. No attempt, however, was repeated yesterday, as the sea lessened very little, although the gale moderated, and the wind hauled around from the south-west to north-west. The wrecking company provisioned the schooner Grantham and decided to wait until daylight this morning.

Capt. Ewart, in command of the Rosedale, reached the city last night about 8 o'clock by the steamship Algonquin. He stated that the Rosedale was making an easy run down the lake, when about noon on Saturday she ran aground on a mud bank, an extension of the Charity Shoals. His course brought him about one and a half miles clear of the Charity buoy, and on a coarse followed for years. The Rosedale freed herself from the bank, but the sea was too heavy to back the steamer against, and in going forward she grounded again running half her length over the shoal. On Saturday the sea did not affect her much, but in yesterday's gale she strained herself badly, causing her to make water freely. The midship compartment filled and this allowed the steamer to settle and rest easily with plenty of water forward and aft. The steamer Algonquin bound for Toronto from Prescott, sighted the stranded boat yesterday, and was signalled by Capt. Ewart. She approached as close as possible, and Capt. Ewart and three men, launching a yawl boat, made their way to her. The Algonquin headed her course for Kingston and landed her passengers.

Capt. Ewart has sailed these waters for nearly forty years, and is familiar with almost every point in the lake, even though some shoals do not appear on the charts. Charity shoals, which lie about five miles south of Pigeon Island, do not appear on the latest arranged chart, but are well known by experienced lake captains. They are marked by a buoy on the southern point of their dangerous section. It will be remembered the steamer Monteagle ran ashore on the same reef last year with considerable damage. The bank on which the Rosedale rests is an extension of the Charities, and does not appear on any charts. Usually there is plenty of water over it, and at present it is presumed to be covered by fifteen feet.

The Rosedale has a cargo of 65,000 bushels of wheat; of this amount it is thought 35,000 bushels will be damaged. Both steamer and cargo are covered by insurance to about two-thirds of their value. The boat is valued at $75,000.

About midnight last night the wind veered around to the northeast, and by daylight this morning everything pointed favorably to a successful landing at the scene of the disaster. The tug Walker with the schooner Grantham, and tug Jessie Hall with an M.T. company's barge were ready to leave at six o'clock, but Capt. Crangle thought a start had better be delayed until daylight. So shortly before seven o'clock the tugs steamed away. The northeast wind of last night would assist in calming the seas, but the captain was not confident of the sea being down sufficient for an approach to the steamer, so an elevator was not taken. When the tugs reached outside it was seen that the lake was comparatively calm, and the Jessie Hall returned to take out an elevator. The work of lightering the steamer was prosecuted to-day, and investigation made as to the extent of her injuries. In the direction of the wind to-day, the wreckers will not be inconvenienced by much of a sea, and the probabilities are that the Rosedale will be floated before the morning if her damages are not too extensive. Although she is a staunch boat, steel clad, her position in yesterday's gale was sufficient to strain her seriously, if not break her back. It is reported that her bow and stern have settled, causing a raise amidships. This makes the third similar accident for the Rosedale. Last spring she ran aground just above Prescott, on the American side, and was delayed here several days for repairs to her engine.

A mariner points out that if Capt. Ewart, after the steamer grounded, had sent a couple of men in a boat to the head of Wolfe Island, which is not more than three or four miles from the Charity shoals, they could have hired a farmer to drive them to the ferry landing, and from there relief could be obtained at once. In such cases quick action is necessary, and had this been taken the chances are that the steamer would have been floated off before darkness settled down. As it was, word was received here late in the afternoon, and action was not taken on the message until the following morning. Meanwhile a gale sprung up and wrecked the stranded steamer. The deck of the Rosedale is bulged up amidships, showing that her back is pretty well broken.

The Donnelly wrecking and salvage company took out about $20,000 worth of wrecking plant, including the schooner Grantham, upon which there is not a cent's worth of insurance.

The Rosedale was built at Sunderland in 1888, and came across to Canadian waters by her own steam. She was lengthened in 1891. According to Lloyd's steamship statistics she is valued at $110,000 for insurance purposes. This accident will prove the most serious mishap in her experience. To-day she is a pretty sick boat. Her upper decks are sprung, as well as her main decks and sides. If she is not able to float herself, it is a question whether she will reach harbor this fall. Capt. McLeod, Buffalo, representing the companies interested in the insurance on her hull, arrived here at noon to-day and was taken to the scene on the New Island Wanderer. The hull insurance on the Rosedale aggregates about $100,000, placed with Smith, Davis & Co.; C.A. Macdonald & Co., Western insurance company and the British American insurance company. The insurance on cargo is with a New York company and amounts to $60,000. The Western insurance company has also $3,000 on the freight list. Ald. J. Stewart was requested to engage the government dry dock to-day for the reception of the Rosedale if she is successfully cleared.


Carried the Largest Cargo.

A Kingston Built Boat Made A Record In Her Day.

When the propeller China was built by Capt. Frank Patterson in the sixties, she carried the largest cargo - 22,000 bushels at ten feet draught - of any craft sailing through the Welland Canal. The steamer was designed by Capt. W. Power, and built in the Kingston ship yard. She only lived six months, when she was destroyed by fire, but during that time she cleared for her owner $12,000 above all expenses. Capt. Boyd, of the tug James A. Walker, was mate of the China, and had charge of her the trip on which she was lost. The China was a pretty boat, and attained great speed for a craft of her build. Fire destroyed her one night on the lake between Nine-Mile Point and the Ducks. She sank near Hickory Island with 300 tons of pig iron and two hundred crates of German lamp chimneys.



The lighthouses on the United States coast close on Dec. 28th.

The steamer Iona, from Coteau Landing, cleared this port last evening for up the lake.

The tugs Jessie Hall and D.G. Thomson left the government dry dock yesterday.

The sloop Laura D. arrived down from the Bay of Quinte this morning with a cargo of wheat.

The S.S. Bannockburn came down the lake yesterday without any trouble. She has completed a successful season and will enter winter quarters at once.

The steamship Bannockburn arrived in port last evening with 70,000 bushels of wheat from Fort William. She was delayed in the Welland canal on account of low water.

The steamer Reliance, trading between Oswego and Deseronto, will still run, unless exceedingly cold weather sets in and the Bay of Quinte freezes so that the ram, with which the boat will be furnished, will not be able to break the thick ice.

The steamer Hero closed her season on Saturday, and after her run up the bay, returned to the city to go into winter quarters. If the bay does not freeze up in the meantime she will make a round trip on the 22nd inst. for the convenience of residents of the Bay of Quinte district.



Local Yachtsman Picked Out For Honors.

At the annual meeting of the lake yacht racing association, held at Hamilton on Saturday, the highest honor in the gift of the association was bestowed upon Capt. Frank Strange, who was elected president of the association. The balance of the officers are:

Vice president, R.A. Downey, Oswego; secretary-treasurer, Frank Grey, Toronto; council, F.H. Hower, Buffalo; O. Martin, Toronto; Edward Fearnside (Victoria), and F. Monk (Royal), Hamilton; F.E. Woodworth, Rochester; representatives to lake racing union, A.E. Jarvis, J.F. Monck and J.E. Burroughs.

The amendment to the classification rule was adopted unanimously. All boats in thirty-two foot and higher classes are subjected to a thirty-five per cent restriction, instead of thirty-three and a half per cent. The thirty-seven and twenty-two foot classes are not changed; they are subject to a twenty and twelve per cent restriction respectively. A new class is to be known as "cruising knockabouts," the maximum racing length of which will be twenty-two feet. There will be no time allowances, for which boats built after date for this class shall have an area if immersed midship section of not less than ten feet. Yachts built prior to this date, whose midship area exeeds six feet, may race in this class, but must give time allowances. Boats entered in straight twenty-two foot class cannot enter the "knockabout" class. It was decided that hereafter in the thirty-two foot and smaller classes, the boat must be sailed by a member of a yacht club in the association. Time allowance in all but first class and in case of displacement was abolished.

Kingston was chosen as the next place of meeting to be held the first Saturday in November.

The rule providing that galley fittings must be kept in their "proper place," was struck out. Yawls over twenty-seven feet will be rated for time allowance at ninety-three per cent, instead of ninety-four per cent.

The association decided to purchase a course outfit, consisting of buoys, flags, etc., at a cost of $40. This outfit will be sent from place to place where association races are held.

President Strange is one of the most enthusiastic yachtsmen on the lake, and for a number of years has been active in advancing yachting affairs locally. He is owner of the Norma, one of the fleetest of her class, and is also commodore of the Kingston yacht club.

Breaking Up Rapidly.

St. Thomas, Ont., Dec. 6th - The schooner Lulu Beatrice, of Port Burwell, Capt. Peter Haggleblein, bound from Windsor to Port Stanley, salt laden, which went ashore at the latter place yesterday morning in a heavy gale, is breaking up rapidly and will be a total loss.

Burned To The Water's Edge.

Chicago, Dec. 6th - The steamer George W. Morley, of Cleveland, valued at $35,000, was burned to the water's edge on the beach at Evanston last night. The crew of thirteen men got ashore without difficulty.

Eight-Foot Mark Visible.

Capt. McLeod, Buffalo, representing the underwriters' association of New York, arrived at Cape Vincent this morning and boarded the steamer New Island Wanderer, which transferred him to the steamer Rosedale, ashore on Charity shoals. The eight foot mark on the steamer's stern is visible, notwithstanding the fact that she was drawing fifteen feet, six inches when she struck.

General Paragraphs - The steamer New Island Wanderer has been fitted with a tow post and equipped with a hawser, to enable her to assist any boat of the White Squadron that might happen to get into trouble.

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6 Dec 1897
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 6 Dec 1897