Maritime History of the Great Lakes
'None Have a Sea Like Huron': Schooner Days MCXCI (1191)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 30 Oct 1954
Full Text
'None Have a Sea Like Huron'
Schooner Days MCXCI (1191)

by C. H. J. Snider

Manitoulin-Toronto, 1868 - No. 15

SO William Cooper Campbell recorded in the 40-foot schooner Ripple's logbook in 1868, and so those who have sailed all the Great Lakes will agree. The heaviest storm tragedies in our century occurred on Lake Huron in the great gale of Nov. 9, 1913, though Huron is navigable for the smallest craft, and the annual Mackinac racers have sailed the length of the lake, from Sarnia to the Straits, in less than 24 hours.

We left the Ripple homeward bound but sheltering in the Duck Islands south of Manitoulin, stormstayed for days at the north end of Lake Huron. Capt. Campbell's log continues where we left off:

Aug. 29, Saturday

Weather fine

Wind N.W.

Distance to noon, 40 miles.

"Our hopes have proved correct. At 4 a.m. the report of the wind was not favorable, but as the sun rose it hauled more to the westward and at 7 a.m. we have up the anchor, hoisted our canvas, and stood away round the north end of the Outer Duck to clear the shoals.

Then hurrah for a fair wind! We ease our sheets and stand our course S.E. by S. for Kincardine. The sea was tremendous, rolling up heavily from S.S.W. so that we jerk in the trough with the wind from the N.W. gradually rolling up very ugly cross sea. This has been a very hard, rough day, pitch and toss all da, long, heavily and rolling as if everything about to be jerked to pieces. Certainly none of the lakes have a sea like Lake Huron! It is more like that of the Atlantic, a long heavy swell that would seem to threaten to bury us as we rolled in the trough. The poor steward was quite used up, declining altogether making an appearance on deck, and vainly searching for an easy berth below. His melancholy appearance as he was pitched solidly off the seat on to the floor, cushions and all, did not prevent his companions from indulging in hearty laughs at his expense. Appetites seem to increase rather than decrease with the heavy weather, but everyone is beginning to get very tired of fish. We have had them all ways, fried, boiled, served hot and cold until we have had enough. The fishermen at the Ducks were very glad to give us eight fine fish for a small piece of pork, so that whether we like it or not, fish is our staple.

Towards afternoon we began to sight land. Enormous clouds of smoke showed where the fires in the woods were committing their ravages, but it was not until late at night that we sighted Chantry Island Light, and soon after Point Clark. The wind which had been blowing fresh all day died away and left us almost becalmed, rolling about in the sea so that instead of getting to Kincardine as we had fondly hoped, about 10 p.m. we were still 20 miles away at that time.

August 30, Sunday

Weather fair

Wind N.E.

Distance to noon 114 Miles

As the watch turned out at 4 a.m., we were rolling slowly along towards Kincardine, distant 2 miles, there being almost a dead calm. About five the captain and Aleck Lee took the skiff and rowed into the harbor to make inquiries about the poor old dinghy. But Sunday morning at five who would be up? No one but a poor, miserable land surveyor of Toronto, who had been on a spree for some time here. After much walking and knocking they found the house where Mr. Morrison, a friend of the captain's, lived.

After more, hunting they found him and learned that the dinghy had been cast on shore, but had got broken to pieces to such an extent that she was worth nothing.

From Kincardine we shaped our course for the St. Clair river past Point Clark and Goderich. The wind was very light at starting, freshened somewhat and by night we were able to cast anchor about 2 miles from the mouth of the river.

On both sides of the lake huge fires were raging, Kincardine, itself, having been on fire at both ends of the town last Friday and the volume of smoke at the mouth of the river was so dense that we did not dare to run it at night. Setting our anchorwatch we turned in and slept the sleep of tired men. We did not omit to hold our service duly at 11 a.m., remembering that Sunday is the same at sea as on land.

That is how men felt in 1868.They may feel the same now. But their ways of remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy seem to have changed in 86 years.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
30 Oct 1954
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.4898806776476 Longitude: -81.4031073968506
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.18339 Longitude: -81.63307
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 45.6452598756036 Longitude: -82.9236181164551
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.073333 Longitude: -81.758333
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.0029240442368 Longitude: -82.4196909399414
Richard Palmer
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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'None Have a Sea Like Huron': Schooner Days MCXCI (1191)