crossed Green Bay and successfully navigated Death's
Door, a notoriously dangerous passage at the tip
of Door County,
the Nilsson turned south and headed for Chicago,
while sailing just off the Door County Peninsula's
eastern shore. By the time she passed the Sturgeon Bay ship
canal, the weather had deteriorated into a blinding snowstorm
-force winds and high seas.
Unable to enter the
canal due to the storm, Captain Hammer decided to turn north
and run before the storm. His intention was to retrace his
course 20 miles back up the Door County coastline to the
protective shelter of Baileys Harbor.
Preparing for a desperate run to safety, Captain Hammer ordered
all sails single reefed (partially lowered to prevent storm
damage) and turned the Nilsson north.
the schooner fought her way toward relative safety, the force
of the gale and the blinding blizzard caused the Nilsson's
course to be too far to the west and dangerously close
to the east shore of Baileys Harbor. Finally discerning his
vessel's perilous position, Captain Hammer attempted to sail
eastward to avoid the Outer Reef at Baileys Harbor and gain
adequate "sea room" to maneuver.
His effort failed, however, and at 8:30 a.m. on 24 October
1884, the Christina Nilsson struck hard upon Outer
Reef and began to founder.
anchor was quickly dropped, causing the vessel's
swing around and strike hard on the reef a second time. The
Nilsson sank immediately in 15 feet of water. Due
to the relatively shallow depth, the vessel literally pounded
Without any possessions and with no assistance
from shore (the Baileys Harbor life-saving station would not
be built for another 13 years), all eight crew abandoned the
stricken vessel and made their way in the Nilsson's
-boat to a small
island where they obtained refuge. No lives were lost.