We passed up at Port Huron at 7:00 o’clock Sunday morning, November 9th, bound for Escanaba with a load of coal. We were drawing about 17’ 5” at both ends. North west storm warnings were up when we went up and the wind was blowing hard from the north west at the time. I figured that if it got so bad that it was inadvisable to try to stay out in it, we could readily get into shelter at Sand Beach. We made good weather past Sanilac and we passed the Regina at Sanilac, she being a little to the westward of us. After getting by Sanilac the wind died out for about five minutes and then blew a gale from the north north east, making a tremendous sea. Right after passing Sanilac it began to rain and I figured that as long as the north west storm warnings were up the wind would go around again to north west which would make it easy to get into Sand Beach. The wind held however from the north north east and the rain continued so it became a question whether we could pick up the Sand Beach light. We picked up the light about noon and in running under the breakwater rolled so hard that both bilges touched slightly but not enough to start any leaks. The government tug assisted us in tying up to the breakwater which we did with a great deal of difficulty, as the seas were washing over it. We had three lines out forward on her starboard side, a 10 inch and a wire line abreast and 5 lines aft. We lay about five feet off the breakwater. After getting tied up we got to work getting her big anchor free and tackle ready to drop it over. While doing this and at about 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon, our aft lines parted and shortly after the breast lines let go, then our timberhead forward alongside the windlass broke. This necessitated letting go of the mushroom anchor. We were then about 50 feet off the breakwater. We were still working to get our big anchor ready to drop, and it was ready when the last line we had on the breakwater parted. After getting it into the water with all the chain out we had, and about half the chain on the mushroom anchor, she drifted about 800 feet before the engineer got his engine warmed up sufficiently to turn her over fast enough to hold her. Then we hove up both anchors and ran up close to the breakwater and dropped them again. We succeeded in holding her by working our engine from half to full speed. We continued this way until Monday noon. Heavy seas were coming over the breakwater. Where we lay there was very little sea but a heavy current and very high wind.
At 11:00 o’clock Monday night I thought it safe to proceed and in attempting to heave up our anchors I found that the two chains were wrapped around one another and it took until 2:00 o’clock Tuesday afternoon to get them free and the anchors stowed away, and this was only accomplished with the aid of the Government Tug and all the men on her, they helping us for about two hours. While lying alongside the breakwater we had several windows broken and some glass and frame starboard side of the skylight over the engine room. Several sections of the breakwater were forced out of alignment and several others had the tops taken off of them. It blew so hard and the snow was so thick that we couldn’t see the light on the breakwater or hear the fog whistle from 4:30Sunday afternoon until breakfast time Monday morning.Captain F. W. Light
November 25th, 1913
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.