The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily Times (Oswego, NY), Monday, November 26, 1894

Full Text
The Schooner Baltic.
Driven on the Rocks Just East of the Life Saving Station.
She Had a Cargo of 18,000 Bushels of Barley - The Captain, His Wife and Three Sons Composed the Crew and Were All Saved by the Life Saving Crew—Thee Vessel Uninsured and Is a Total Loss.
The old time canal schooners have outlived their usefulness and one by one they are being stranded upon the shores of the Great Lakes. This class of vessels,when they were built twenty or twenty-five years ago, were considered safe craft. Then they were only loaded to ten feet. But times have changed. To oompete with the railroads it is necessary to carry large cargoes, so as to clear expenses for the owners, and to do this the vessels are loaded to twelve feet six inches and even thirteen feet. A vessel of this class loaded to that depth is little better than a coffin. But the captains take desperate chances and for the purpose of making quick time venture out in dangerous storms.

Saturday evening saw another one of these vessels driven upon the beach. All on board were saved from a watery grave by the excellent work of Captain Anderson and the life saving crew.

About three o'clock Saturday morning the schooner Baltic, Captain Beard, with his wife as cook, and a crew consisting of his three sons. John, Benjamin and Richard, sailed out of the Bay of Quinte with a load of 12,600 bushels of barley consigned to Downey, Irwin & Co., of this city, from J . Richardson & Son of Kingston, and a passenger named Thomas Slater bound for this place. Although a good stiff wind was blowing no real difficulty or unpleasantness was felt until standing off Mexico Bay.

The velocity of the wind increased as the day advanced. The vessel stood in and out off the bay for some time and at last Captain Beard determined to reach here if he possibly could. Changing the course of his vessel he stood up the lake four or five miles out. With the darkness came rain and snow and when opposite this port he was unable to see the lights of the city and not feeling secure of his position stood on up the lake for six or seven miles.

The storm lifted for a moment and over the stern on the port side the captain saw the Oswego lights. Shifting his course he stood down tho lake for the harbor. The wind had Increased until it attained what the sailors term a lively gale. When directly off the port the vessel was headed directly in for the harbor.

The tug Ferris which was on duty saw her lights and lay too to wait for her. As she came past the beacon light the tug tried to get a line out but failed. The vessel was carrying three jibs, a reefed foresail, and a reefed mainsail. The sea inside was running very high and just as the beacon was reached the boat gave a lurch and dove head first into a mountainous wave which washed the decks from stem to stern. The sudden dive threw the boat's head around into the wind and the waves commenced to wash the ill-fated vessel toward the treacherous rock under the fort bank.

The Ferris steamed up as if determined to get a line aboard and try to save the vessel, but the high seas prevented her approaching close enough. The wind seemed to gain in violence and each huge wave would strike the vessel and wash completely over her.

It was impossible for the captain or crew to try to do anything, and standing aft of the cabin they saw their boat wash toward the rocks. When the crew of the Ferris saw that they could not rescue the boat, the tug gave five blasts of its whistle, the signal to the life saving crew, and steamed up the river, whistling violently.

The lookout on top of the station saw the lights of the boat when she was two miles out and called Captain Anderson's attention to them. The efforts of the tug to capture the doomed craft were also witnessed and when Captain Anderson saw that there was no help for the vessel he called the crew and running out the beach apparatus prepared to get a line aboard. The beach gun was unlashed and placed near the edge of the water while the lines and other paraphernalia was put in readiness.

On came the doomed craft, helpless in the vortex whose mountainous waves washed completely over her. When she reached a point about four hundred feet from the shore she was seen to come to a halt and a grinding sound reached the ears of the life savers. She had struck and as soon as Captain Anderson saw this he pulled the lanyard to the gun and the large projectile to which was attached a long line started on its journey toward the boat.

The first shot was not a complete success as the line fell over the horn of the boat.

Hastily loading again the gun was sighted and another line fired. This time it fell just aft ot the foremast and was secured by the men on board who hauled in the large hawser to which the smaller line was attached. The boat was lying broadside on her bow pointing toward the west. The large line was made fast around the foremast and the work of rescue commenced. The breeches buoy was sent out. The captain's wife was placed in them and pulled to the shore where she was assisted to land by Captain Anderson.

Mrs. Beard was found to be suffering from fright and exposure and could only murmur when placed on the ground "Angels of Mercy." Captain Anderson saw the condition she was in and calling upon one of the crew had her taken to the station where she was placed under the care of the station captain's wife who provided her with stimulants and dry clothes.

The work of rescue was continued. The passenger, Thomas Slater, was next hauled ashore and followed by the captain and his three sons. On the deck of the vessel was a valuable three year old colt and a spaniel dog which had to be left behind, but before leaving, the rope with which the horse was tied was severed so that he could swim ashore if the boat should break up. The captain, his crew and the passenger were all taken to the life saving station where they were furnished dry clothing and comfortable beds.

Several times during the progress of the rescue, the vessel would be lifted up and carried toward the shore, making it necessary to stop operations and take up the slack in the hawser over which the benches buoy was run. The life saving crew were assisted in their work by a number of sailors who had been attracted by the blowing of the tug's whistle, and to these men Captain Anderson wishes to return thanks.

A Times reporter visited the scene of the wreck about two o'clock Sunday morning and the scene he witnessed was weird in the extreme. He found the schooner upon the rocks within fifty feet of the shore, standing up straight and looking as if she had seen a hard time of it. Her three jibs were in ribbons as was the mainsail, while the foresail, which was new, had held out.

A tremendous sea was running and each wave broke over her side making the vessel pound heavily upon the rocks. As the reporter stood on the shore looking at the wreck his ears were greeted by the whinnying of a horse and yet it did not sound like a horse which was quartered in a warm barn, but was more pitiful and tinged with a human cry. The wail of a dog also came over the waves. It was the cries of the two dumb brutes which were left on the vessel when it was abandoned by the crew.

At nine o'clock the wind had blown itself out and the sea had run down. The vessel's crew and the life saving men went on board, being able to gain the side of the vessel from the rocks. The first thing that met their eyes was the horse, which in floundering around over the deck had become entangled in the rigging. The animal was released and by an improvised sling was hauled on shore. No trace of the dog could be found and it was thought he had been washed overboard, but a search in the cabin disabused the idea, for on the top shelf in the cupboard he was found curled up and trembling with cold and fear.

He was taken on shore and placed near the fire in the life-saving station. The high sea during the night had stove in the north side of the vessel and a majority of the things in the cabin had been washed away.

The Baltic was owned by Captain Beard and his three sons, who live at St. Catharine's, Ont., and represents all they are worth, the wreck leaving them penniless. As stated above she is of that class of boats known as canal schooners and was built in 1867 by Le Clair at Wellington Square, Ont. She was rated at $3,000, Her tonnage was 188.

Captain Beard has followed the lakes during his life time and for the past forty years has been the master of a vessel and during that time has never had an accident before. He has been the owner and master of the Baltic for eight years and was making the last trip of the season when the accident happened. There was no insurance on the vessel.

In a talk with Captain Beard he was very profuse in his praise of the efficient work performed by Captain Anderson and his crew and the kindness and many attentions he and his family have received at their hands.

The scene of the wreck was visited by hundreds of our citizens yesterday. As stated above the loss of the Baltic leaves Captain Beard penniless I and to assist him and his family to weather the coming hard winter a subscription paper will be found at Parsons' ship chandlery store at the corner of West Cayuga and Water streets by those who wish to contribute for a worthy cause.

The seas last night continued to break up the schooner and wash the barley with which she was loaded, to the shore where it is being gathered up.

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Date of Original:
Monday, November 26, 1894
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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 Times (Oswego, NY), Monday, November 26, 1894