Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks - Explore Shipwrecks - Fleetwing
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Due to the gale-force winds at the time of the wreck, nothing could be done that night. The next day, the Fleetwing was found to be badly damaged. Her stern had settled, and she had nine feet of water in her 11-foot hold . Wrecking tugs were called, but it took four days for word to get out from the remote settlement and for an expedition to Garrett Bay to be assembled.

It was hoped the schooner could be repaired, pumped out, and pulled off the beach with a tug, but there was no such luck. Another gale sprung up shortly after the pumps had been installed, and the tug fled from the storm to Eagle Harbor. The force of the gale broke the Fleetwing in two and ground her hull upon the rocks. By the time the tug returned, the schooner had been battered to pieces and was a total loss.

Article (small size) on loss of Fleetwing

Article from the Door County Advocate, October 6, 1888, describing the wreck of the Fleetwing. 

(View larger image)


The vessel was stripped and a large portion of her cargo was salvaged and returned to Menominee. The ship was abandoned by its underwriters. Its deckhouse later drifted ashore and children living nearby used it as a playhouse.

There is some speculation that the Fleetwing was a casualty of insurance fraud, mostly fueled by Captain McGraw's previous association with similar events.

The evidence is insufficient to determine whether Captain McGraw was a scoundrel or simply the victim of bad luck. However, a third, more provocative, explanation for the wreck remains: The Fleetwing was supposed to have carried a female cook, and the practice seems to have been on the rise, despite widespread superstition among sailors about women on ships. It was speculated that the distraction of a woman in the galley may have occupied the attention of the Fleetwing 's officers while the ship approached Death's Door. 

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