The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 15 Nov 1910

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The steamer Wahcondah passed down on Monday night.

The sloop Ariadne is at Richardson's elevator with grain from bay ports.

The steamer Plummer passed, on her way west with freight, on Monday night.

The steambarge Navajo is at Richardson's elevator, loading grain for Quebec.

The steambarge Mary Louise cleared for Rideau canal ports, with a general cargo.

Barge Hiawatha cleared from the Kingston dry dock last night, after being caulked.

The tug Edmond and barge Columbia arrived from Bedford Mills, with wood, for R. Crawford.

The schooner Ford River arrived from Charlotte with coal for the Montreal Transportation company.

The steamer Sowards has been laid up for the season. Capt. Max Shaw made 64 trips to Oswego during the season.

Several new men were taken on at the Kingston Shipbuilding company's yard, this morning, to rush the work on the new boat.

Swift's wharf: steamer Dundurn down this morning; steamer Plummer passed up last night; steamer Aletha down and up today.

The steamer Belleville has not arrived at the dry dock yet, but it is expected that she will arrive in the course of the afternoon. She is not able to make very much headway.

Marine men say that there has been a great deal of rough weather on the lake during the past few days, and that it has been a great drawback to the work. Some of the vessels have been detained on their trips many hours. A large number of boats are being laid up for the season.

M.T. Co.'s elevator: tug Emerson from Montreal, two light barges, cleared for Montreal with three grain barges; steamer Rosemount, from Fort William, transhipped 68,000 bushels of wheat into barges, cleared for Ashtabula to load coal for Montreal; the steamer Glenmount arrived from Fort William, and discharged 75,000 bushels of wheat; tug Mary from Montreal, three light barges; steamer Acadian loaded with 77,000 bushels of wheat from Fort William, is due to arrive today.



The Little Room From Which Freighters Are Guided.

[Weekly Star]

Up in that roof-top cupboard they call the Wheel House on a big freighter, the lake spreads out below you like a vast level flour. A bridge spans the width of the boat at the bow quarter, and standing at one end and looking down at the water is like peering over a parapet from the roof of a three-story building. You would not like to think of diving so far and less still would you care to fall. There would ensue quite a splash and quite a shock when you struck that flat, cold surface from such a height, says S.H. Howard, in the Toronto Weekly Star. Lofty though this captain's bridge seems, dizzily high and supremely commanding, there are times on the lakes when the spray from the bow mounts to this deck, and these windows, and coats the woodwork with twelve inches of ice. Those are the autumn occasions when - to quote one old hairy veteran in the service - "your whiskers freeze to your chest."

From this lofty glass-walled box we look over the lake plain as from a watch tower, and ordinary waves are reduced to wrinkles. It is a birds-eye view, this from the wheelman's windows, a panorama of lake floor and sky roof, distant wooded hills, and blue grey islands at the outermost edge of the circle where the level floor meets the great blue dome. The bow of the vessel breaks into the picture in front and the long ornamental bowsprit points the course like a finger - into the distance straight ahead.

In this little cabin of the Wheel all is comfortable and snug. The wind which pours in skyful volume to meet the boat, has been shut out of here by closing the windward windows. The others remain open and maintain a vigorous ventilation of verile, vitalized Lake Superior air. A leather-cushioned bench spans the little glass-eyed cubbyhole along its only solid wall at the back, and sitting here with your feet up and your shoulders against the end, you have a commanding view of the course, and of the wheelsman maintaining it. He, constant, faithful man, perches on a stool or stands, when stool-weary, his eye focused far ahead, but squinting ever at the compass. That restless instrument wavers between sou'-west 20 west and sou'-west 22 west, but always a twist of the wheel brings it faltering to where it belongs, namely at sou'-west 21. There it floats in its dish of diluted alcohol trembling for a while until of a sudden when it swings away half a point, and the wheel has to chase it for a few spokes and bring it back. And thus for hours he "takes his trick," relieved by the mate at mealtime or by the other wheelsman at night.

The captain comes in out of the wind occasionally, takes a look at the compass and gazes through his glasses over the lake; or the mate will blow in to borrow a chew of tobacco or issue orders for a new course.

"Put her sou'-west a half west, Jim." he suggests.

"Sou'-west a half west." sings Jim in a kind of solemn chanted response. He puts the wheel over and the compass swings accordingly. The mate walks out on the bridge to observe the angle of the wake and its general appearance and characteristics. By the wake he determines how much leeway she's making, how obedient his helm and his helmsman are, and other things.

"Is she there?" queries the mate.

"Yes, sir." replies the wheelsman.

"Well, hold her there until five-fifteen." says the mate. His bulky form empties the pilot house, and Jim turns to note the new course on his slate, and the time o' day by his clock on the nail. Then he springs to the wheel again and puts the bow back where it belongs, and where by no combination of circumstances does it ever seem willing to remain without his constant guiding and repressing hand.

"Talking about sea captains," says Jim, "I've seen 'em let me wobble two whole points off me course, and them never say a word. I've tried 'em just for fun. We've had sea captains up here on the lakes - have some now - but their deep sea trainin' don' help 'em any - not up here. It's no good."

Jim spat emphatically at this point, keeping one eye on the shifting compass face the while.

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Date of Publication:
15 Nov 1910
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 15 Nov 1910