We left Sault Ste. Marie November 7th at 5:00 P.M. enroute to Marquette. At 3:00 A.M., November 8th, when about two miles west of Point Sable, which was passed at 1:50 A.M. on November 8th, we encountered a heavy north wind and at four o'clock it started to snow. In the meantime the seas had become very high, so much so that we had to haul her head to, steering due north.
We continued to head north until about 9:00 o'clock. At this time the seas had become so big that the ship started to throw her wheel out, losing her headway and going so slow that it was impossible to hold her head to[.] At times the seas would strike her and throw her off five or six points. We would then have to put the wheel hard-a-starboard and let her go around in order to gain headway, and [b]ring her up head on again. We had to turn around twelve different times.
We continued in this manner, trying to hold her head to, until about 5:30 in the evening, November 8th, when the snow cleared up some and we saw the land about a mile and a half to leeward. At this time the Engineer had taken our cuts off and was using all the power possible to hold her head to.
It seemed then as though the wind lulled a little for a short time so that we were able to gain a little headway, gaining off shore probably about a mile an hour. About 10:00 o'clock the same evening it seemed to die away and we were able to get off about fifteen miles by 6:00 o'clock in the morning of November 9th.
About 6:00 o'clock on the evening of the 8th a Deckhand in going from the Mess Room to the Deckhands' room, was caught by a heavy sea which came over her port quarter, carrying him aft about twenty or thirty feet, his knee striking a bulwark brace, breaking his knee cap.
I might state that the Engineer stood by the engine throttling the boat for twenty-four hours on account of her engines racing when her wheel was thrown out of the water. He had to use all power possible, even to taking the cuts off, in order to keep headway so we would not go ashore.
After we arrived in Grand Island Harbor we were desirous of going ashore for a doctor for the injured Deckhand, but the wind was blowing so hard that if we had gone ashore, which we could have done with our life boat, owing to the force of the wind we would never have been able to get back with the doctor, so the man did not receive any medical attendance until we arrived at Marquette Tuesday morning, the 11th. We on the boat had bandaged up his leg and had given him something to stop the pain.
During the gale one fortunate thing for us was that our steering gear, engines and ship's equipment all remained in perfect condition. The telemotor worked well, and under the conditions I think was more efficient than transmitting cables. There is no lost motion in the use of the telemotor while a transmitting wire would by reason of the springing not do so well.
While we were out in the storm we had a difficult time getting anything to eat as it was rather hazardous to go from forward to aft, the deck being icy, and the spray flying all about. Part of the crew did not eat anything for twenty-four hours.
While laying at anchor in Grand Island Harbor the wind increased so at about 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon on Sunday, November 9th, that we started to drag our anchor. We worked up into position again and let go both anchors, which held fast until the wind abated, when we hove up at 6:00 o'clock on the morning of the 11th and continued on to Marquette, where we arrived at 12:00 o'clock noon. We had to have the broken hatch sections replaced with forty-one new ones, making us ready for sea again.
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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.