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Final Voyage


At dusk on Sept. 26, 1888, the Fleetwing
departed Menominee, Mich., with a load of lumber, bound for Chicago. Heading up Green Bay toward the Death's Door Passage, the schooner sailed into a building northwest gale.

Map of Door County and Death's Door The Door County Peninsula and Death's Door. 

(View larger image)

As the looming bluffs of the Door Peninsula came into view, the ship changed course for Lake Michigan, with all canvas flying. Captain Andrew McGraw looked for Table Bluff, a familiar landmark just before the passage. In the darkness and poor visibility, Captain Andrew McGraw reportedly mistook another bluff to the south for Table Bluff and the lights of the settlement of Garrett Bay for those of the Death's Door passage.

Thinking he was entering the passage, Captain McGraw sailed instead into Garret Bay. At 11:00 p.m. the Fleetwing struck the rocky beach of the bay with a grinding crash that apparently sheared off a mast.

The accounts of the wreck are conflicting. The newspapers indicate that the error was not noticed until she hit the beach, while a secondary source claims that frantic last-minute efforts were made to alter her course after the error was realized.

In either case, the Fleetwing's days on the Great Lakes were over. The crew swam, waded, or rowed ashore uninjured and found themselves at the home of prominent land owners in the area.

a continued


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