The Cornell passed up at the Soo without cargo at 2:30 P.M. Friday, November 7th. Storm warnings were for south-west winds. When she rounded Whitefish at 6:30 P.M. the wind was light south east and the sky over-cast. About midnight the 7th, a heavy north-west sea was encountered with a light wind from the south east. Until about 2:00 A.M. she continued heading into it, the sea running so high that her wheel was frequently out of water. There was still no change in the wind which was south east. At 2:00 A.M. the wind suddenly shifted to the north, blowing a gale accompanied by blinding snow. The log then showed that she was about 89 miles above Whitefish on the Manitou course. At this time, the mate who was in charge, though the captain was in the pilot house was taken suddenly ill. The captain therefore turned her before it while the mate was taken down by the second mate and the wheelsman to his room. At this time the boat was covered with ice. After getting the mate to his room an attempt was made to bring her up head to the wind. The fatherest [sic] she would go was east, one half north, which left her in the trough of the sea. We held her wheel hard to starboard from this time until about 3:30 Saturday afternoon, and worked our engine wide open but could not get her out of the sea. She therefore through all this time was lying in the trough of the sea and rolling heavily, but not taking a great deal of water on deck. She was rolling so hard and moving broadside so fast that it was impossible to take any soundings with the machine, and the sounding machine was also frozen up solid. Sometime during the forenoon I had realized that she was rapidly approaching the beach. I got an anchor out with 50 fathoms of chain. At 3:30 in the afternoon we saw the trees on the shore. Then we got out the other anchor with 90 fathoms of chain and were able, by working our engine full speed, to get her head to it, but not until she had blown far enough ashore for soundings with the hand lead to show only 8 fathoms. This was at 4:00 P.M. Before coming to anchor, several attempts had been made by throwing oil over in buckets full and also by letting it come through the hawse pipes to smooth the water enough to let her get head into it without success. All the time she lay at anchor oil was run through the hawse pipes but with very little effect on the sea. She hung on there until 2:20 Sunday afternoon and throughout this period her engine was worked full speed ahead. She pounded very hard at times. I estimate she was drawing 7 feet forward and about 15'6" aft. We had about 8 or 10 feet of water in the fore-peak, and her tanks all full and also water in the cargo hold from about No. 4 hatch aft. During this period it was possible to get men aft and get a supply of cold food for those who were forward. I estimate we were about a mile or a mile and a half off the Beach, and probably about five miles from the Deer Park Life Saving Station.
At 2:30 Sunday afternoon the wind moderated a little. We hove up both anchors and left the Beach steering north by east. While lying at anchor the cats-paw and the chock on the port side were carried away, and the chain was held with the compressor. While heaving the anchor the wildcat was broken. At 10:00 P.M. Sunday, encountered another gale. The wind at that time was blowing north by east and I estimate we were east and somewhat south of Caribou, and at 10:30 the wind blew us off into the trough again. We then let go an anchor with 80 fathoms of chain and checked her to slow speed and headed her before the wind. I let her go before it working her wheel just enough to keep her from going off into the trough of the sea until 6:00 o'clock Monday morning, when a sea came over her aft. All the overhang of her after cabin was broken off, all the doors and windows smashed, and both dining rooms, galley and all the rooms aft flooded except that occupied by the chief engineer. The dining-room furniture was smashed to kindling wood. We then gave her more speed ahead, endeavoring to bring her into it, but could not get her any farther around than east one half north, which was practically in the trough of the sea. Oil was run through the scuppers and through the hawse pipes and was also thrown over in pails. The sea was running higher than it had Saturday night. At no time did she take much solid water. A heavy snow was still falling, and at 3:00 P.M. Monday we caught a glimpse of the beach to the south. We then gave her the full 90 fathoms with the one anchor but could not bring her head to it. The other anchor was then put out with all the chain and it held long enough to get her head to it and then the wildcat let go and we lost the anchor and full length of chain. We had previously unshackled the two lengths of chain for fear we could not get the port anchor up on account of the condition of the windlass. With the chain unshackled we could let the port one go quickly in case we started for the beach. We were then able to hold her head to it with the one anchor by working our engine full speed ahead. Sounding with the hand lead showed 10 fathoms of water and I estimate we were between two and three miles off the beach, between Two Hearted River and Crisp Point. She pound hard at times and it was only by turning the wheel from hard over to hard over that it was possible to keep her from going into the trough. Between 5:00 and 6:00 Monday P.M. the wind having moderated we hove up anchor and she went off into the trough of the sea and started for the beach. It was then necessary to get the anchor over again with all the chain to bring her head to it, and we were able to keep her lying there with our engine working full speed until 10:30 Monday night. We hove up again and succeeded in getting away from the beach. After going for about 15 miles into the lake we turned for Whitefish and passed there 1:20 Tuesday morning. The wind then blew from the north west strong with snow squalls. We arrived at the Soo at 7:00 Tuesday morning.
Return to the Maritime History of the Great Lakes Home Port
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.