Month: April 2018

BW Folger

David Tait, the father of John Tait, opened his own shipyard on Amherst Island and his first vessel (the schooner Caroline) is registered as being built in 1847, though many believe it was built earlier. David Tait was a shipbuilder of good repute,


The Caroline was wrecked or burnt (info not clear) and was purchased by W. Powers and in Kingston and rebuilt as the Schooner B.W. FOLGER.  The BW Folger was nothing special and sailed up and down Lake Ontario for almost 25 years, During that time she ran aground twice, Sept 1871 and again she sprung a leak and sunk in Bay of Quinte, July 1874. Then in 1880 she ran aground yet again after Wm. Dandy from Kingston purchaced her for the Coal trade and rebuilt over that winter.  in 1893 she got caught in a gale and lost her topsail and repaired yet again over the winter.

The schooner B. W. FOLGER, Capt. Bates, was burned to the water’s edge this morning at Fish Point, Amherst Island. The fire originated in the forecastle about 6 o’clock. She was loaded with lumber for Oswego, consigned to the Standard Oil Company, and left Kingston several days ago. The vessel is said to be insured for $900. The crew is safe. The FOLGER had been windbound in the cove for a day and a half.

Diving the BW Folger is difficult and not sure if permitted due to it being within the active Ferry Route and 67ish feet deep  in the North Channel off Kerr Point. (Fish). and being burnt to less then 6 feet of relief.

No Comments

Categories: Underwater Adventure

Wolfe Islander II

Ship Type: Converted Car Ferry
Lifespan: Built 1947, Scuttled 1985
Length: 200ft
Depths: 80ft
Location: Wolfe Island, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
GPS N44.13.5580 W76.24.9860

Everybody who dove the Wolfe loves it for various reasons, I used to dive the Wolfe every year on my BIrthday but never planned.  The story of the Wolfe Islander 2 (redux) starts in the 1940’s when the Ferry was condemed and 2 WW2 Landing Barges were put into use as the Wolfe Islander 1 and Wolfe Islander 2. So at the same time the war in the Pacific ends and the plan for 35 transport ships was shelved.  3 Ships were built in Collingwood for the Allied effort and one in process. (hull 132, Ottawa Mayhill; hull 133, Ottawa Mayrock; hull 134, Ottawa Maytor, hull 135, Ottawa Maybrook). So through political wrangling the Wolfe Island Reeve, Kingston Mayor and an ex mayor worked thier magic and the Wolfe Islander was “born” Work started in modifing the former war asset coastal frieghter began.

In the fall of ’46 sea trails were completed and the name changed to Wolfe Islander and finally 6 November they headed to Kingston with crew of Wolfe Islanders? from the Ferry industry, The trip took 11 days and at one time a deck hand was left behind, grab a cab and met them at the next stop and some bad weather as well but they pulled up the the Clarance Street Dock and a Celebration followed with dignataries. The next day Capt Bates started the new ferry and went to Marysville and repeated the same. The Wife of the Reeve was choosen to christian her and the 6th time was the charm.

She contunied in this capacity for decades and was a common sight on the water through sun, sleet, rain and snow.  Good days bad days and even a disappearing act due to weather.  In the winter tugs helped tow and break ice and then it was time to retire.  After some discussion she was donated to the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes for a B&B then the Canadian Government gifted the Alexander Henry as well,

So local divers took up the cause, cleaned stripped and prepared her for sinking but not without “concerns”  One being an elderly lady on the Island whom did not want to see divers pee off boats. Finally she was sunk intentionally on September 21, 1985, as an artificial reef in 80 ft (24.6m) of water A Wolfe Islander-Diverguide- OD is also available.

Dropping down the line and reaching the bow davit, it is only another dozen feet to the open door of the wheelhouse. Just abaft the wheelhouse is a set of steel stairs that lead to benches lining the curved bulkhead and large square windows provide exit points with large doorways also convenient. The depth is 60 feet (18.5m) and the air pocket above divers’ heads is exhaust from previous diver visits and is not for breathing

Exiting the salon on the port side, divers follow the stairs to the main deck where vehicles were parked and recently a motorcycle was placed to demonstrate past cargo

A nearby doorway leads into the depths of the engine room and only the diver with experience, skills and training should proceed here. Through catwalks and piping, one may proceed to the engine mounts at 75 feet (23m) depth and you encounter the “elevator” shaft leading to the top deck. Near the port rail you will find the portholes (of which several were liberated by some divers that need them more than others) with logos and names of support organizations. Just around the corner is the ship’s name and registry port.

If you need help getting to see the MV Wolfe Islander let me know.

No Comments

Categories: Underwater Adventure

Comet (1848 – 1861)

Ship Type: Twin Paddle Wheeler
Lifespan: Built 1848 Sunk 1861
Length: Length 174 ft (53.5m)
Depths: to 80 ft (24.6m)
Location: 2 miles off Simcoe Island, Lake Ontario, Canada
GPS N44.08.319 W76.35.042

The Comet, a 337-ton sidewheel steamer, was built in 1848 at Portsmouth, Ontario, by shipbuilder George N. Ault. She is 174 ft (53.5m) in length and has a beam of 24 ft (7.4m). She was unique as she was powered by two “walking beam” type steam engines with a 51-inch piston. She was a passenger steamer much used by travellers, but after a few short trips she struck a shoal in the St. Lawrence river and sank. She was raised, repaired and put back into service. In 1849, a burst steam pipe seriously injured three Irish firemen, two of them fatally. Then, in 1851, after being damaged by a boiler explosion during her departure from Oswego, New York, she was rebuilt and renamed the “Mayflower”.

One gusty spring evening in May 1861, on her first voyage of the season, the steamer left Kingston for the last time. Strong winds were out of the southwest as she cleared Nine Mile Point off the westerly end of Simcoe Island. The Comet altered course toward Timber Island under Captain Francis Paterson to give wide berth to three sailing ships on the horizon. An hour later, the Comet and the schooner “Exchange” collided when the Exchange attempted to run for safe harbor from the storm. Both ships attempted to stay close to help out the other but the wind took the schooner out of hailing distance. The Comet kept its steam engines running and, in an attempt to make shore, managed to travel to within 2 miles (3.2km) of Simcoe Island before the captain had crew and passengers abandon ship in lifeboats. Two crewmen were lost trying to bail out the large yawl which the Comet towed astern. The survivors were set safely ashore on Simcoe Island, while the Comet sank about 1.5 miles (2.4km) off the Island in about 90 ft (28m) of water.

Divers Jim McCready and Dr. Robert McCaldon rediscovered the Comet, noted for her bad luck, on September 7, 1967. The two were hobby divers who had been looking for this particular wreck for the previous 10 years. Many artifacts were salvaged, including a brass door latch, a brass wine barrel spigot, silver spatulas, English ironstone pitchers, wash basins, cups, saucers, bowls and hand-blown glass goblets, some of which are in the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes. There was some discussion of raising the Comet but this never came to pass. Recently there is concern that Paddlewheels are going to fall over. Pictured above is just how much the paddlewheel is leaning.  If you can see it let me know. 😀 Diver Guide for Comet

The Comet lies in 90 ft (28m) of water, with her paddlewheels still upright, though much of the top decking has collapsed. For those trained and experienced, penetration below deck is possible at the stern for a view of the boilers and the engines. Good buoyancy is important as silt can be stirred very quickly making it difficult for the next diver to see. There are also some plates and cups left on the decking, completing the underwater museum.

The Comet is a spectacular example of ships of her time and is a special favorite of divers who visit her. Of consideration to the recreational diver is time because of her depth. There is little current on her, and visibility is usually 20 to 50 ft (6-16m), with upwards of 80 ft (25m) in the spring and fall. Here’s a Night Dive on the Comet and  if you like the night dive this ones for you.

No Comments

Categories: Underwater Adventure

Damn We Found a Wreck.

Storytime in Kingston,  Back late 90’s (I think) Adam, Pat and Carey headed out to help POW raise moorings, the First stop was to be the KPH (Waterlily). So after arriving to the waypoint, Adam started circling to find the “sweet spot” to drop the shot line. When the Bottomsounder showed a elevation on the bottom he instructs them to drop the shot line.  So Pat and Carey entered the water and down the line they go, a few minutes later they Surface and say That’s not the KPH?  So looks like we found an unindentified and unknown wreck and named it the PCB Pat and Carey Barge until indentification.

So when they return to shore and annouce the find. Within days of it’s discovery rumours circulated about the find were met with “Yeah we’ve been diving that for years.” It turns out POW members tested Sidescan a few years before and located the barge as well(as well as Ken Fuller, Wayne Gay and Myself the year before), but decided it was not an attraction worth even mentioning.  They even actually thought on raising it and moving to Terry’s Tug which would have been FUN. So a year or two later as technology improved and as diving advanced in the region, it was decided to run a line from the PCB to shore.  So GLUE took up the task and they accomplished the task, and it’s still in use a decade later.  There at one time was a sail on wreck as well but has sinced moved on, PCB can be done from shore as a Scooter run (perfered), It’s a long boring swim with nothing to see.  As well easily accessable from the KPH.(at one time three wrecks were connected by line, Varuna, KPH and PC Barge) but someone decided that was not for all and removed the line.

I had an article mentioning the harbourmaster was trying to relocate it at one time for building a houseboat, so if anyone has any pics, input or suggestions send away.  Next time the Mooring of the Lusitinia 😀

No Comments

Categories: Underwater Adventure

George T Davie

Ship Type: Composite Barge
Lifespan: Built 1898, Sunk 1945
Length: 177 ft (54.5m)
Depths: 75- 100ft (23-30m)
Location: Off Simcoe Island, Kingston, Ontario
GPS N44 06 79 W76 34 78

Need help getting out to the Davie?

The George T. Davie was a steamer owned by the Montreal Transportation Co.  She was built in Levis, Quebec by the George T.Davie shipbuilding yards in 1898.  This composite barge (wood and steel) was 177 ft in length, and sailed the Great Lakes carrying various cargos until April 18, 1945, when she sank for the second and last time.

The George T. Davie sank in June 12, 1911 near Alexandria Bay in the St. Lawrence River while carrying a cargo of grain.  The Calvin Co. of Garden Island tried unsuccessfully to raise her after several attempts.  Her stern lay on a ledge of rock and the bow in 65 ft of water.  

At this point Captain Gus Hinkley accepted the contract to raise the Davie; new to the salvaging business he was out to make a name for himself.   He immediately brought tree vessels and 16 men to the job.  He dry-docked two of the vessels, the barge Jessie and schooner Bertie Caulkins in Kingston in order to have holes bored through the sterns. These holes fomed eight 10- inch wells and through these were dropped two- inch iron chains, capable of lifting 50 tons.  

With this system Hinckley was prepared to raise 1,000 tons, and used divers to pass the chains under the wreck.  After securing the hatches, pipes were attached and pumps drained the hull of water. During the raising process she rolled briefly to one side and for a short time it looked as if the effort was for naught. With a little ingenuity and praise of his crew Hinckley made the adjustments to the chains and successfully raised the Davie.  Hinkley made a tidy sum for his salvaging efforts and the raising of the George T.Davie was one of many that brought him wide acclaim as an expert salvager. 

The George T. Davie sank while being towed from Oswego, New York, to Kingston by the tug the Salvage Prince.  She capsized and as the story goes one crewmember had to scurry up the keel to be rescued.  She sank in 75 to 100 ft, 3 miles off Pidgeon Island, in Lake Ontario, Can.

The Davie was rediscovered by Rick Neilson in 1983 and moored in 2000 after Harold Vandenburg found her.  This wreck is a divers dream; she is in pristine condition and features a ship wheel at the helm.  The mooring line is placed about 20 ft off the wreck; divers first see the boilers and a winch.  Her decks sit in 75 ft and working ones way from the stern, checking out the holds on your way to the wheelhouse one of the best tours to cover the wreck.  Highlights on the wreck are a dory still intact, crane complete with shovelhead, ships wheel and the wheelhouse.

This is a dive that is best done at least twice as there is much to see. Limiting factors are depth, so monitoring time and air closely are a must.  Good buoyancy is also essential as there is a light dusting of silt on the wreck and the bottom is of a silt composition.

story by Tom Wilson  The strongest impression when first seeing this wreck is its impressive size: I mean, it’s a 177-foot barge that screams out DIVE ME. The George T. Davie started out in Levis, PQ’s George T. Davie shipbuilding yards in 1898, and sailed the St Lawrence and Lake Ontario until its untimely demise on April 18, 1945. While being towed from Oswego, New York, to Kingston, Ontario, by the tug “Salvage Prince,” she capsized and, as the story goes, the one crew member had to scurry up its keel to be rescued. She sat all alone on the bottom until discovered in 1983 by Rick Neilson and finally, in 2000, was moored for all to enjoy.

Coming down the line to about 15 ft (3m) off the bow, the first things you encounter are the boilers and winch. The best way, so far, to dive her is go to your left and around the bow, to the stern on the topside (75ft [23m]). Check out the holds on the way to the wheelhouse, where you can poke your head in and take a peek inside. Coming around the stern, you’ll see the wheel and rudder. Now for the fun stuff, once you have hit the bottom side of the lake. The top half of the wheelhouse is just off the wreck. Then the crane comes in view, complete with shovel head. Between the crane and the wreck is a dory with the mast still inside. On the way back to the wreck, there’s a coal shovel and rigging wire. Then you’re back on the line. There’s lots to see and play with – well worth a second dive.

No Comments

Categories: Underwater Adventure

WE Forgot to Save the Kinghorn

Built by the J.B. Auger & Co. from parts made in Scotland, and launched in 1871 at Montreal, the Kinghorn was named after the manager of the Montreal Transportation Company, located in Kingston, Ontario, since it was built from his design, this barge had an iron frame and wooden planking, the first of its type on the river. The Kinghorn had a capacity of about 20,000 bushels of grain. April 27, 1897, the tug Hiram A Walker under Captain Boyd had seven barges under tow in the American channel near Thousand Island Park. She was caught in a storm losing barges on the south shore and 2 barges at Johnston’s light opposite the park. With four barges left the Walker headed for Grenadier Island where the Captain of the Kinghorn reported his craft leaking badly. The Walker headed for Rockport with the injured barge however lost her 1/2 mile from Rockport in 90 ft. of water, where she was discovered in 1996 by Ronald MacDonald. This wreck has sometimes been confused with the fishing tug Edith Sewell, and the “Rockport wreck.” Located directly in front of the Customs Office at Rockport, this vessel sits in 90 ft. of water in the middle of the small boat shipping channel. This wreck presents an excellent technical dive training opportunity with everything from current to finding bottles. Starting one’s dive from the shore, it takes about 12 minutes to reach the wreck, and you still get approximately 20 minutes to play before reaching deco. If you take the full 20 minutes and swim right back to dock, deco drills can be preformed at 20′ and 15′ stops. This is a local favorite dive.

The Kinghorn was a 130′ barge that was carrying wheat in the 1890s she was a steel hulled with wood planking and is situated just a couple hundred yards from the dock in Rockport, this wreck was refound in 1995 and is the source of much debate, some no longer believe it is really the Kinghorn and thoughts weigh that her true identity is the “Edith Surwell“. Well, at least it was until someone suggested the Surwell (or Cirtwell) was a fishing tug that has yet to be found, and that this particular wreck is the Sophia (which actually lies not far away). Who’s to say until a positive piece of her identifies this shipwreck!


The Dive Today –  Need Help to See what’s left of the Kinghorn

This Video was taken 9 years later, note the huge difference we made.

Sitting upright in 88′ this is an aging steel hull with no superstructure. It has several openings on the upper deck (one reportedly from an anchor dropped a little too close to the target) so there is a good deal of light penetration into the hold which can be explored easily provided you have good fining technique (if you don’t you will be in the middle of a silt storm and other divers may finally have a use for the dive knives they have been carrying around for years). The upper deck is collapsing at a steady rate, and any penetration should be done with great caution if at all. Close to the down-line is a “Canadian” toilet, still in relatively good shape
(this item which was clearly not original, has since been removed). Plates and cups are scattered around the upper deck and inside the hold on the stove, many having reportedly been “returned” (read: planted) here (so if you take one thinking you have a genuine artifact, you are most likely sadly mistaken but other divers will take the opportunity to laugh at you, and then turn you over to the local constabularies since removing items from Ontario wrecks is illegal). Don’t miss the ship’s wheel lying on its side on top of the stern, then you can find the windlass, bilge pump, stove and rudder assembly which make for a decent amount to see. The wheel is now devoid of all its wood, but a sizeable portion of the steering gear is still attached and reaches nearly to the bottom of the hull. A small stove what was once on the deck, then in the hold, now appears to be missing entirely.  Back to the mooring line and you will see 2 plaques one for the Kinghorn and one for Doug.

The Blanche

Need Help getting to the Blanche

On 26 May 1888, BLANCHE (2-mast wooden schooner, 95 foot, 92 gross tons, built in 1874, at Mill Point, Ontario) was carrying coal with a crew of five on Lake Ontario. She was lost in a squall somewhere between Oswego, New York and Brighton, Ontario.


Not 100 percent proven but local researchers have tentatively named the picton two mastered schooner at N 43’48.303 W 77’03.334 this. 

BLANCHE, Schooner 14 years of age, 92 tons reg. Bound from Brighton to Oswego, disappeared Lake Ontario 1890. Home port, Napanee. 

      Dept. of Marine & Fisheries 

      Statement of Wreck & Casualty, 1890 

      . . . . . 

      BLANCHE, Schooner owned by A. Campbell and belonging to the port of Port Colborne. Became a total loss May 26, 1888. Value of loss $3,500. Tonnage 210 (including cargo) 

      Casualty List for 1888 

      Marine Record 

      January 3, 1889 

      . . . . . 

Fate of the Schooner Blanche

in Lake Ontario


[from “The Picton Times” November 10 1932]



It is going on forty-five years since the Blanche of Colborne, vanished with all hands.  Yet still Cat Hollow men stare hard towards the Scotch Bonnet of moonlight nights, to catch, if may be, the gleam of her bone-white hull under the proud arching of her silver-sable sails.


The Bonnet is a little block of an island outside of Nicholson’s off the Prince Edward County shore.  It flashes nightly across the water to the tall lighthouse at Presqu’Ile, where the bay runs up to Brighton and swings east to the Murray Canal, replacing the old Carrying Place, which once afforded access to the Bay of Quinte.  Colborne and Cat Hollow are to the west of the little peninsula which gives Presqu’Ile its name. A famous corner for wrecks, since the government schooner Speedy’s finding of the Devil’s Hitchingpost there in 1804.  The Belle Sheridan’s was another famous wreck near by, eighty years afterwards.  Among them all, the Blanche’s will be remembered long, both from the mystery of it and from the completeness of the tragedy it involved.


It was fitting out time, in the spring of 1888, and Captain John Henderson, of the schooner Blanche of Colborne, was outward bound from his winter home in Cat Hollow.  Colborne lies inland from Lake Ontario, a little town of importance, named after the lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, whose name was later tagged on to Gravelly Bay on Lake Erie;  making it Port Colborne, to some confusion with the Ontario place.  From Colborne a road winds down to Cat Hollow, the settlement by the shore, which has since become the village of Lakeport.  Officially vessels from this vicinity hailed from the Port of Cramahe, but Cramahe or Cramha was only the Highland name for the township.  Harbor there was none.  Once they had to scuttle the Katie Eccles where she lay loading at the pier there, to save her from pounding to pieces in a westerly.  Schooners did a brisk trade in grain and lumber from the two wharves and storehouses at Cat Hollow, but they wintered in Cobourg or Brighton, sheltered in the Bay of Presqu’Ile.


Captain Henderson’s bag and his seaboots and oilskins had gone on before, and he was striding uphill through the thawing slush to meet the Brighton stage.  This would carry him to where the Blanche lay, shimmering in her new white paint, at her winter quarters in Presqu’Ile Bay, eight miles away.


At the hill crest, Captain Henderson turned.  He untied a parcel he had held tightly in his young brown fist.  A pair of heavy woollen socks sprang from the released covering.  They were gay and hand-knitted;  sailors’ socks, the kind that keep sea boots from “drawing the feet.”  He whirled them high above his head.


“Good-bye, mother, good-bye!” he called, in a voice of spring gladness matching the cheery chirrup of the roadside robins.


At a door down in the Hollow a grey haired woman waved a freshly ironed apron of pink and white checks.  Tears brimmed her eyes.  Captain Henderson could not see them.  But he could see, or believed he saw, the glad smile behind them.  A sailor’s eyes are keen.  A lover’s eyes see farther.  Johnnie Henderson was a good sailor and a loving son.


Then he went over the hilltop and out of his mother’s sight, and out of the ken of the small boy who passed him, whistling.  It is from him comes this tale, forty-four years afterwards.  He is Harold Batty, and he helps get out the Port Hope Guide.  The facts are his.  Whose the telling does not matter.


Two months later, Captain Tom Matthews was swinging down the lake in the old black-and-green schooner then in her prime.  Older Toronto folk may remember her when she used to bring stone for the cribs of the Eastern Gap, in the 90’s, when Captain “Mack” Shaw had her.  Younger Toronto folk may remember her putting in here in distress one August day in 1906, when she was on her very last legs.  Her sheer was humped then, and her mastheads sprung and she had a permanent reef in her much patched mainsail.  She had been to Charlotte with a load of cedar posts, and ran for shelter here in the light half of a summer gale, with eighteen inches of water in her hold and her crew in despair.  She was owned then in South Bay, and after she limped away for home with moderating weather no one on the waterfront here knew what became of her.


In 1888, however, the Fleetwing was still a good vessel, and her master was proud of her.  Captain Matthews was Harold Batty’s uncle.  Mrs. Matthews, Harold Batty’s aunt, was the cook of the Fleetwing.  Captain Matthews had with him as mate, James Henderson of Cat Hollow, a brother of Captain John, of the Blanche.  Jim Henderson later became Captain of the steamer Macassa and carried thousands of Toronto and Hamilton passengers between those two ports.  Poor Jimmy is no more now, and his well-known command went to the bottom of Georgian Bay two or three years ago under the name of Manasoo.


At midnight on May 27th, Captain Matthews was called to relieve the mate, it being the custom in lake schooners for the captain to stand watch at night.  In salt water ships, the second mate does this work for the Old Man, and the latter only turns out when he feels like it – which is pretty often.


Captain Matthews glanced at the barometer and it seemed to him the glass had dropped materially since he had gone below.  He emerged to find a perfect moonlight night with a fine steady breeze blowing and the schooner gushing along quietly in smooth water.  The Scotch Bonnet was winking away in the moonlight bearing north-north-west, about five miles distant.


“I haven’t been drinking, Jimmy, but my eyes must be playing tricks on me,” said Captain Matthews to his mate, as the latter prepared to go below.  “I thought the glass was away down, but I come up to as fine a night as man ever set eyes on.  Wait a minute till I have another look at her.”


He popped into the cabin.  The glass was assuredly “down.”  The mercury had sunk even while he was talking.


He emerged in a moment.  All hands were now on deck, standing by for the order “Go below, the port watch.”


“Get the gaff topsails and jibtop sail off her,” shouted the master to the waiting mate.  “Haul the flying jib down too, and we’ll reef the mainsail!”


“What’s wrong, captain?” asked the mate, amazed.


“Plenty,”  said Captain Matthews.  “The glass is down all right, as if the bottom had dropped out of it, and I never knew her to fool me yet.”


With a rattle of complaining blocks, hoops and downhauls the light sails were clewed up and furled, and the main sheet was hauled aft for reefing the mainsail, when a vessel hove in sight.


“It’s Johnny, in the Blanche.  He’s got a load of screenings from Oswego for Brighton,” commented Mate Henderson.


“He may make it before anything hits him,” agreed Captain Matthews,  “Two hours will about put him inside Presqu’Ile Light.  Look at him come!”


The Blanche was booming along, her sails sharp black and white in the moonlight, wing-and-wing with the breeze, a white roll of foam sparkling like diamonds before her white bows.  She had a saucy sheer, and she swam towards them like a snowy swan in a hurry.


Captain Matthews hailed, “This is a fine night, Johnny!”


“Yes,” hailed back Captain Henderson, “It’s a dandy.  We’re making hay while the moon shines.  Is everybody all right?”


He could not understand the Fleetwing shortening down in such fine weather.  His question showed it.  Capt. Matthews called something about the glass having dropped suddenly.  Captain Henderson, now almost beyond earshot, hailed back.  “Goodnight Tom!  Goodnight Jimmy!”  and vanished from sight and hearing.


Half an hour later the squall struck without notice form the northwest.  It was a gagger.  The Fleetwing was not a stiff vessel.  She was a shoal American bottom, built at Wilson, N.Y., near Niagara. In 1863, for Captain Quick, and she capsized and drowned her crew while he had her.  After that she had her masts shortened, and passed into Canadian ownership.


She rolled down under this squall till they thought they’d lose her, although she was already shortened to the reefed mainsail, foresail, and staysail.  She came through safely.  The same squall must have caught the Blanche with every stitch set, her boom guyed out to the soft southerly “feeder” that was bringing on this tiger out of the north west. It must have driven her clean under for nothing was ever seen of her or her crew after she passed the Fleetwing.


Months afterwards the lake gave up one body.  It had been battered by so many weeks of tossing that it was quite unrecognizable.  Even the clothing had been torn from it.  All except the boots and socks on the swollen feet.


They brought the pitiful pieces of knitting to a grey-haired woman in Cat Hollow.  She dried her hands on a pink-and-white checked apron before putting on her glasses.  The pink-and-white checked apron had faded with many washings since fitting out time in the spring.  So too had the grey-haired woman’s eyes, since Captain John Henderson passed over the hill.


She looked at the socks and her fingers shook as she held them.


“Yes,” said she, “it must be Johnny,  I knit them.”


One tombstone in Lakeport, gives the names of all the village sailors lost in the Blanche.  They are:


Captain John H. Henderson, William Seed, mate,  Wm. E. Haynes, before the mast, Annie Smith, cook.


The other man before the mast was William Auckland.  He came from Trenton, on the Bay of Quinte

Kingston, June 9. — The schooner BLANCHE of Oswego has not been heard from and fears are entertained that she has foundered. 

      Port Huron Daily Times 

      Saturday, June 9, 1888 


      . . . . . 

      Toronto, June 30 — A portion of a wreck, supposed to be a part of the lost schooner BLANCHE, has been picked up on the beach between Wellington and West Lake Pt. Capt. Matthews of the PARTHENON secured the portion of the wreck. The captain knew the missing BLANCHE well, having sailed her for some time. His theory of the disaster is that, with all sails set in a squall, she plunged headlong into the deep. He is of the opinion that the piece of wreckage secured is a portion of the missing BLANCHE. 

[The BLANCHE is owned by A. Campbell of Port Colborne, and loaded with coal at Oswego on Monday, May 26. She left the same evening for Brighton, Ont. and is believed to have been lost in a squall which came up that night. John Henderson of Port Colbrone was the master, with a crew composed of a mate, 2 sailors and a woman cook. – Ed. Free Press] 

      Detroit Free Press 

      July 1, 1888 

Schooner BLANCHE. Official Canada No. 71061. Of 92 tons register. Built Mill Point, Ont., 1874. Home port, Port Colborne, Ont. 82.5 x 21.0 x 7.4 Owned by A. Campbell of Port Colborne, Ont. 

      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the 

      Dominion of Canada on December 31,1886

Schooner BLANCHE, ashore near Cobourg. November 1880. Got off. 

      Toronto Globe (1880 Casualty List) 

      November 30, 1880 

      . . . . . 

      Schooner BLANCHE, of 6 years old and 92 tons reg. Port of hail, Napanee. Bound from Cobourg to Oswego, became a partial casualty in Cobourg Harbour, November 7, 1880. Damage to hull $1,500. No loss to cargo. 

      Statement of Wreck & Casualty, 1880 

      Department of Marine & Fisheries 

      Sessional Papers (No. 11) A. 1881 

Schooner BLANCHE. Official Canada No. 71061. Of 92 tons register. Built Mill Point, Ont., 1874. Home port, Port Colborne, Ont. 82.5 x 21.0 x 7.4 Owned by A. Campbell of Port Colborne, Ont. 

      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the 

      Dominion of Canada on December 31,1886 

No Comments

Categories: Underwater Adventure

George A Marsh

Ship Type: Three Masted Schooner
Lifespan: Built 1882, Sunk 1917
Length: 135ft
Depths: 80ft
Location: Amherst Island, Ontario, Canada
GPS N44.07.55 W76.36.16

Need Help to see the Marsh

This beautiful schooner was built in 1882 by Footlanders at the Muskegon, Michigan, USA, shipyard, After service under the American flag, she was purchased by J.B. Flint, of Belleville, Ontario and given Canadian registration. On a sunny and calm day, August 8, 1914, she set sail from Oswego, New York, loaded with 450 tons of coal destined for Rockwood Hospital, Kingston, Ontario. On board were 14 souls: Captain Smith, his second wife, five of their seven children; the mate William Watkins; the Captain’s brother, William Smith; Neil McLennon, a deck hand, with his wife, their eighteen-month-old baby, and a nephew

A violent storm came up and battered her loaded hull, until her seams gave way and her pumps gave out. William Smith and Neil McLennan, with babe in arms, managed to get to the ship’s yawl and make their way to Amherst Island. The baby succumbed to the cold. All told, 12 souls where lost that day to the fury of the Lake Ontario. Several dead were recovered and the rest remain buried beside the wreck

Overhead View of the Marsh, Done by TEST

The history of this wreck only adds to the beauty and mystery of the schooner as the diver makes their way down the line to the mooring block. Visibility on this wreck of 135 ft (41.5m) is often 20 to 40 ft (6-12m); more in the spring and fall. Temperatures range from low 40’s (Fahrenheit) in spring to low 60’s in the summer (5-18 Celsius).

One of the most striking features of this wreck is her ghostly shape, sitting upright as if ready to set sail. Her bow sprint remains intact, with the ropes hanging down and off the sides. Her rigging – deadeyes, belaying pins and blocks – lays about the deck. Masts are off the side and wheel and steering gear are still in place, as are the capstan and anchor winch.

This wreck remains a personal favorite of most; she is captivating in her beauty and a haunting memorial to the 12 souls lost on her. She is best enjoyed using good buoyancy skills as she has a layer of silt covering her. Penetration is minimal due to the full load of coal in her holds. There is no current on this wreck and of concern are only bottom time and air consumption because of her depth. This pearl is sure to be a lasting memory to all that enjoy her splendor. A handy Flyer for the Marsh

No Comments

Categories: Underwater Adventure