Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Hard Luck Followed Jonah: Schooner Days MCCLXXVIII (1278)
Toronto Telegram (Toronto, ON), 14 Jul 1956
Full Text
Hard Luck Followed Jonah
Schooner Days MCCLXXVIII (1278)

by C. H. J. Snider

IN the spring of 1901 Capt. Alex Ure of Toronto went up to Detroit and bought the hull of the dismasted and dismantled schooner Reuben Doud there, for the Conger Coal Co.

He took her over to Windsor for Canadian registration, refitted her with purgatorial exertion and brought her to Toronto.

This vessel built in the bush beside the Wolf River in Wisconsin in 1873, and only extricated to sailing water by the effort of 40 oxen, had been shorn of everything above deck by a series of mishaps in the fall gales of 1900. But her white oak hull was as sound as it was the day she was launched.

On Lake Ontario she proved fast, and a grand carrier, good for 800 tons, but she was heavy on the helm. She griped, that is, climbed up to windward, the harder it blew and the faster she went.

With a nice fresh offshore breeze in smoky weather, after a couple of seasons, she committed the greatest crime in the nautical calendar-stranded on a weather shore, hard and fast aground on a smooth sandy bottom.


Getting her off was a ruinous job. When the salvage outfit towed her into Charlotte, N.Y. their bill would have bought the vessel. Worse was to come. They berthed her in the Genesee River, where a hole had been dredged to permit the steamer North King to turn. Capt. Ure turned in later that night fairly sick with a week of hard work and sleepless anxiety. He woke up with the water over his stateroom floor. She had gone to the bottom again. The river was flowing over her hatches.

Again tugs and steam pumps, and yet more bills. She came home like a drowned rat, smeared with red river mud which could not be scrubbed off.

Capt. Ure quit. Capt. John Joyce took over. Both were good men. Both were Sabbath keepers. Both had the same bad luck with the Doud.


Morning of Aug. 27, 1906, Capt. Joyce was bringing her painted spick and span into Toronto again with a full load of coal. The wind was light from the southeast, though a run of sea forecast a gale.

When the smart looking schooner hauled up to go into the Eastern Gap her keel touched on the shoal which has been meal-ticket for the dredgers ever since the Gap was cribbed.

Normally the Doud would have cleared this shoal even deep laden, but she had to settle in the trough of the sea at this particular spot. The touch as she dropped in the sea did not stop the schooner. But it jolted the rudder from the gudgeons. The Doud was again unmanageable. A tug could have towed her home in ten minutes. But no tug was there.

The schooner shuffled before the rising sea for a mile. Had she drifted further she would have been safe in deep water around Gibraltar Point, but she grounded off Centre Island, close in. Lifesavers took off Mrs. Joyce quickly for she was a sick woman, and the captain came with her, to get assistance. By afternoon the sea had made up high, the Doud’s unstowed canvas was thrashing about wildly, and she waterlogged.

The owners, fed up with salvage bills, let her lie until it was calm enough to get their coal out of her. She was full of water, and twisted somewhat and some of the new planking which had been put into her quarter had started from its fastenings. In a week or two another gale came along and strewed her all along the island shore. Her hard luck had come to a full stop. The owners must have breathed a great sigh of relief.

Snider, C. H. J.
Media Type
Item Type
Date of Publication
14 Jul 1956
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.25506 Longitude: -77.61695
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 42.33143 Longitude: -83.04575
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.63341 Longitude: -79.3496
Richard Palmer
Creative Commons licence
by [more details]
Copyright Statement
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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Hard Luck Followed Jonah: Schooner Days MCCLXXVIII (1278)