Captain A. C. Moser of the Stephenson further reports that when he went up by the Soo the storm warnings were for brisk to high south west winds on the east end of Lake Superior and brisk to high north west winds on the west end of Lake Superior. He can make no suggestions which he believes will increase the safety at sea in such a boat as the Stephenson except that he considers the side tank method of construction preferable because it will allow the putting of a boat deeper in the water when running without cargo. It is his opinion that the Stephenson has plenty of power and that her hatch covers are well secured and amply strong. In his opinion, on account of lack of sea room in which to run before severe gales, we will always have disasters on the lakes and he attributes his own ability to keep out of trouble at this particular time to the fact that he was far enough east of Keweenaw Point to permit his boat to lie in the trough of the sea and drift with the wind.Cleveland, Ohio,
November 17th, 1913.
PITTSBURGH STEAMSHIP COMPANYVessel Geo. Stephenson.
Lake Superior Bound Up
November 11th, 1913
Mr. A. F. Harvey,
Asst. Gen., Mgr.,
Pittsburgh Steamship Co.
I have to report that on November 7th, 3:32 P.M. we passed Whitefish Point upbound, light. Wind south east fresh. At 10:30 P.M. the wind shifted N.W. At 10:55 we were in a big sea and blizzard, the wind blowing a gale from the north-west. We were then about 35 miles east south east of Manitou Island. We had all tanks full before and we put as much water in cargo hold as we dared, but by midnight we fell in the trough of the sea with the wheel hard aport. I backed for three minutes and she backed in the wind, but the engine raced too much, and I had to stop backing. I then put the wheel astarboard and let her go east for an hour, but I knew that we were drifting south as much as we were going east, but I wanted to gain time to approach Keweenaw Point in daylight. I headed west again, figuring that by losing the sea I could tell when we got near the shore. At daylight we tried to take a sounding but I could see I would lose the men overboard and had to let it go. At 8:00 A.M. we lost some of the sea and she started to answer the helm. I then headed in the wind and we got a sounding of 42 fathoms, clay. I knew we were somewhere in Keweenaw Bay. I steered N.W. and kept on sounding and by 10:00 A.M. we were in smooth water and got a 12 fathom sounding, when we let go anchors. At 5:00 P.M. it stopped snowing and I saw we were about 1 mile S. W. of Keweenaw Point. On the morning of the 9th at daylight I saw a steamer ashore at the N.E. Point of Manitou Island. She seemed abandoned. There were no lights on her and no smoke coming from her stack. At 7:00 A.M. we saw a signal of distress go up on her foremast. Her decks were out of water but big seas breaking over her. We hoisted our flag in answer. We hove up and went to Mendota, where I sent the mate ashore to find a telephone and notify the life savers. By hiring a motor boat from a fisherman to take him across Lake LaBelle, and horse and sleigh from there to Delaware, the message was sent to the Eagle Harbor Life Saving Station. It blew hard and snowed the following night. I felt ashore with the boat with orders to get definite news and if the men had not been rescued, to call up Portage Lake Ship Canal Life Saving Station. He learned the Eagle Harbor crew had made two attempts to get there, but had to return. He called up the Portage Station and learned they had not been notified, but they would start by loading their boat on a flat car to take her to Lake LaBell and from there go to the wreck. At 2:00 P.M. he called up again and learned that the Portage crew had started at 1:30 P.M. of the 10th. We had a fierce blizzard all day yesterday until 5:00 P.M. when it stopped snowing and the wind went down. I hove up at 9:20 P.M., came through Gull Rock Passage at 11:00 P.M. It was moonlight and I saw the steamer lying there with her decks above water and her cabins on her. I don't know what boat it was.
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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.