Maritime History of the Great Lakes
"Held Up on Way Home": Schooner Days MCXC (1190)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 23 Oct 1954
Full Text
"Held Up on Way Home"
Schooner Days MCXC (1190)

by C. H. J. Snider

Manitoulin-Toronto, 1868 - No. 14

WHEN the 40-ft. schooner yacht Ripple, RCYC, was at Bruce Mines, Algoma, in 1868 she was more than 600 miles from home, with nothing but the wind filling her four sails to bring her back. Auxiliary power was forty years in the future. She would have done better to work back down the North Channel, up which she had come, for she would have smooth water, but outside of Manitoulin in Lake Huron was the shorter way, and that is what she tried. It proved the longer way home. Capt. Cooper Campbell's logbook from Bruce Mines homeward-bound reads:

August 25, Tuesday

Weather fine

Wind S.W.

Distance till evening, 55 Miles.

Four a.m. "All hands on deck to make sail!" Sail is accordingly made and off we go with the wind right in our teeth for 12 miles. After passing Sulphur Island we ease sheets and sail for Missassaugua Strait, reaching there at 4.30 p.m. Heavy banks of clouds rising to the eastward admonished us not to run out into the lake for the night, and we accordingly stood into a pretty little cove, which we dignified with the name of Ripple Harbour, on the northeast corner of Cockburn Island, Here our sportsmen landed, but met with no success.

A fine salmon trout caught on the way up furnished us with an excellent tea. All snug and comfortable in our harbour we turn in, and listen with composure, to the wind and waves outside of us. As usual, however, we have an anchor watch, useful if for nothing else to call all hands by daylight to start again.


August 26, Wednesday

Weather dull.

Wind N.E.

Distance 32 Miles.

Off again at daylight with the fair wind through the Straits, and soon we rise and fall on the long heaving swell of Lake Huron. The wind with our usual fortune, hauls ahead and we can just make the Grand Duck. Fresher and fresher it blows, and we speed along, dashing the foam away and racing off at nine or 10 knots an hour. We soon come in sight of the supposed harbor of the Ducks (Ducks Island, by the way, in Lake Huron, south of the Manitoulin) and Capt. Waggoner takes his post at the foretop.

The sea is now running high and the sky, which was cloudy at sunrise, is now black and dull, threatening a thunderstorm, and the wind is east, dead in our teeth for Michael Bay, where we had fondly hoped to anchor tonight. Alas, alas, it is 45 miles off, and we couldn't hope to do half that by daylight, with such an angry sea.

The bay we headed for was one mass of rocks, but by twisting and turning, we managed to get inside safely, and to cast anchor in smooth water, though on a rocky bottom. However, as sailors say, 'any harbor in a storm,' and we were thankful to be where we were, for the wind still freshened, and as it whistled through the rigging we comforted ourselves with the assurance that although we could not make any heading, we were at ease and comfortable.

The sportsmen again visited the shore in vain, but returned with wonderful tales of fox, wolf, bear and deer tracks seen on all sides. All day long the fierce wind blew and sadly we found ourselves obliged to stay here for the night.

August 27, Thursday

Weather wild

Wind east

Distance 10 miles.

"How is the wind now?" has been the question fifty times today.

"Still the same, blowing as hard as ever. Farewell Michael's Bay, farewell trout, we won't try now to get there. But this wind is foul in any case, so now our best plan, bad as it is, is to stay where we are.


Nothing to do but watch the weather. The sportsmen, however still follow the scent in vain, and Capt. Waggoner makes a complete survey of the island, returning with glowing accounts of ducks and pigeons. On the Outer Duck, another island to the east of Great Duck, some fishermen had their shanties and seeing the Captain thought him a shipwrecked mariner and put off in a boat to rescue him.

With better luck today the sportsmen brought in a couple of ducks and a plover, others having been lost for want of a boat or a dog. The fishermen kindly sailed around and piloted us into proper anchorage between the two islands. On the way round we caught a trout, and what with it and the ducks, breakfast for the morning promises well.

August 28, Friday

Weather dull and showery

Wind E.

Wind east again, clouds dark and threatening. Will this weather never stop? Are we to stay here forever? Even the fishermen have not been able to visit their nets, and we have not been able to get any fresh fish from them.

We are all heartily sick of the wind and the weather, but as now, towards evening, the rain has come and gone and the clouds are breaking we hope for fair weather tomorrow, then ho! for home. We have been trying our hand at sport again, rowing in our skiff and a flat-bottomed punt borrowed from the fishermen, through a heavy sea about a mile and a half and coming out all right, in spite of breakers and whitecaps. Our punt and little skiff broke adrift from the Ripple during the heavy blow today, necessitating a dangerous row after them by Waggoner and Blair, which they accomplished safely with no other damage done than a spray wetting. The steward reports provisions beginning to fail. We must get home soon.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, see what it will bring. Hope on, hope on, is still our motto, and in that trust we turn in tonight.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
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Date of Publication
23 Oct 1954
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Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.30006 Longitude: -83.79992
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.665555 Longitude: -82.953333
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.590277 Longitude: -82.109166
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.930833 Longitude: -83.237222
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.643055 Longitude: -82.919722
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.1473952874997 Longitude: -83.6074631005859
Richard Palmer
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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"Held Up on Way Home": Schooner Days MCXC (1190)