The Matoa passed up Port Huron at 12:30 Sunday morning, November 9th, and on leaving the river the wind was moderate from the west. We steered north one quarter west. Passed Harbor Beach 5:30 A.M. The wind at that time was north north-west blowing fresh. I estimate we got about as far as Sturgeon Point and were well out in the lake. At 6:20 of the 9th, when probably about off Sturgeon Point, encountered very heavy seas, which stove in the port side of the forward end of the after cabin, flooding the mess room, kitchen and letting a quantity of water into the engine room, and also carrying away three hatch strong-backs. It was snowing hard and continued to snow without interruption until after she struck. At this point it became necessary to turn around and run before the wind. A half a barrel of oil was distributed over each the port and starboard bows with pails. She came around in about four minutes and did not make any water while she was doing it. I estimate that the thermometer was about 15 or 20 degrees above zero and freezing hard and making ice all over. We steered south by east, engine turning up 26 turns per minute. While on this course, and about 10:00 P.M. she cracked a spar deck plate just forward of the boiler house on the starboard side, the crack extending the full width of the plate. At midnight the after cabin was broken in by over-taking seas, the force of the water making a bulge of about 3 feet in the bulkhead separating the engine room from the dining room at about the level of the dining room floor, and leaving this bulkhead only as a protection between the engine room and the sea.
At 12:30 she stranded and ran about 1000 feet before she stopped. She was heading south by west one half west. Had about 18 feet of water under her stern and 14 feet under her bow, and about one mile off the beach. At this time the after cabin boiler house, life boats, funnels, etc., were a mass of ice. She swung two points to the west after she struck. When she did strike, all the crew which were aft got forward and with the aid of oil heaters all hands kept fairly comfortable until daylight. Soon after daylight the sea moderated sufficiently to permit some of the crew to go aft and get a small coal stove which they set up in the windlass room and during the balance of the time we were on the boat this gave us sufficient heat to keep quite comfortable. On Tuesday morning the 11th, at 9:00 o’clock the life saving crew from Point Aux Barque same alongside with their surf boat and offered to take us off, but I though we would be more comfortable and just as safe as on shore, and therefore kept all hands aboard the ship. The sea had now gone down sufficiently to permit reaching the galley where it was possible to do enough cooking to keep everybody supplied with food. The Wrecking Tug Favorite came alongside Wednesday morning at 7:00 o’clock, and the Favorite stayed by endeavoring to release the Matoa until Friday morning when the sea drove her away, and at that time the crew went off on the Favorite and by her were landed at Harbor Beach from which point they went home.
Friday night in company with Captain Smith I returned on the Tug Hackett to the Matoa and stayed there until 3:00 o’clock Saturday morning, and got a pump which belonged to the Favorite and brought it back to Harbor Beach and left it on the dock there. We then returned to Cleveland.
It is my opinion that the condition of the after cabin was such that had we been in deeper water my boat would not have stayed afloat much more than half an hour later than she struck as her engine room would certainly have filled up from water coming through the after partition.Cleveland, Ohio
November 17th, 1913.
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This set of letters is from copies in the collection of the Saginaw River Marine Historical Society, Bay City, Michigan and was made available by Dave Swayze.