FARRELL J. CROWLEY, MARINE CITY, MICHIGAN, SAYS;
I am now and was on November 9th, and 10th, 1913 master of the Steamer Richard Trimble. I was on board and in charge of the Trimble on the above dates while she was lying behind the breakwater at Cleveland harbor. I left the dock on the National Tube Company at Lorain, Ohio, between 3 and 4 A.M. November 9th. There was practically no wind at that time. As I proceeded down the river, however, the wind began to increase from about north and by the time I got down abreast of the ship yards it was blowing so hard that I told my mate to get the lines ready, we would tie up and not go outside. My plan was to tie up below the Highway Bridge, but upon arriving at that point I found the only available space occupied by other vessels, at least to such an extent that I decided not to tie up there.
After leaving Lorain it started snowing. Upon arrival off Cleveland, I had some difficulty in locating the Harbor on account of the thick snow storm and spent perhaps an hour and a half to two hours in trying to find the harbor entrance. I finally located the harbor and came in through the breakwater at about 10:30 A.M. I hauled to the eastward and went down behind the east arm of the breakwater knowing that I was supposed to put my vessel in winter quarters at that place. I had already ordered a tug by telephone from Lorain, but she was not on the scene upon my arrival; she did, however, come out later and took my head tow line when I was about half way down from the Harbor entrance to where the fleet of barges was tied up. The tug had instructions to land my vessel alongside of the Barge Roebling, which was anchored just to the westward of the main fleet of barges. The Roebling was moored with her bow to the westward having out both her head anchors and two stern anchors; she was moored practically parallel with the breakwater. The wind was blowing so hard and the undertow behind the breakwater at this time was such that it was causing the Roebling to roll considerably. I, therefore, did not consider it safe to land my vessel alongside of her. The tug attempted to swing the Trimble alongside of the Roebling, but I went ahead on my engine and shoved out clear and then told the master of the tug that I did not think it safe to land alongside the barge and I wanted to go under the breakwater and anchor. He then pulled my bow under the breakwater and cast off my line. I let go one of my anchors, then sheered my vessel off to one side and let go of the other, forming a bridle with her anchors. She was given about forty-five (45) fathoms of chain on each anchor and remained in this position throughout the day. I had an anchor watch kept with instructions to the man on duty to report immediately if the Trimble started to drag, instructing them how to tell just when she started to drag.
Somewhere about 1:00 A.M. on November 10th, I was awakened by an unusually heavy wind squall striking the vessel. Just at this time the wheelsman on watch ran down and informed me that the Trimble was dragging. I immediately told him to instruct the mate to pay out more chain on each anchor. After I was awakened and before the mate started to pay out the chain, I felt the Trimble striking something and at first through that it was the bottom. I then went to the windlass room and told the mate how much chain to give the vessel and to be sure, and keep an equal strain on each anchor as he paid out. My instructions were to give the vessel fifteen (15) fathoms more chain on each anchor. I then went aft to ascertain if possible what my vessel was striking. I found that she had come in contact with one of the Pittsburgh Barges which had broken away from the fleet. This barge was swinging to an anchor right astern of the Trimble. Shortly after I got back on the stern, the Trimble swung clear of the barge and hung on in that position for the remainder of the night without coming in contact with the barge again. At day light I found that my vessel had dragged somewhere about three-quarters of a mile toward the shore. She was inside but still somewhat to the westward of the position of the original fleet of barges. The stern of my vessel at day light on the morning of the 10th was in my opinion between 275 and 300 feet from the beach. I then blew for a tug and when she came I had her assist my vessel close to the breakwater again and there let go my anchors.
At the time my vessel came to anchor behind the breakwater on November 9th, she was practically full of water and was drawing, I should judge, about 10 feet forward and about 18'6" aft. When I came to anchor on Sunday forenoon, I was, as indicated above, outside of the Roebling and the other fleet of barges, close to the breakwater. I was to the westward of the main fleet and was eastward of the Roebling about half way between the two. My vessel was only about a length from the breakwater at the outset, that is, when I let go my anchors.January 28th, 1914
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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.