Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks - Explore Shipwrecks - Sevona
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Capt. McDonald steered the ship through blinding rain, fog, mist, and rough seas and slowed the engines to half speed around 5:45 a.m., when he realized his vessel was nearing the Apostle Islands. About 15 minutes later, still running blind, the Sevona ran hard aground on Sand Island Shoals . The damage included a gaping hole in the bow and a split in the center of the hull.

Passenger Kate Spencer described the events in the Ashland Daily Press:

I cannot think or talk of the wreck without shudder following shudder. At about 6:00 came the terrible crash which broke the vessel in two. We got into the lifeboats at that time, but the captain and the other men could not come aft owing to the break. He hailed us through the megaphone "Hang on as long as you can." We did so but the sea was pounding us so hard that Chief Engineer Phillipi finally directed us out of the small boat and into the large vessel again, all congregating into the dining room which was still intact. The big boat was pounding and tossing. Now a piece of the deck would go and then a portion of the dining room. During all this time the men could not get to us.

They blew the ship's whistle and launched signal rockets, but there was no life-saving station or vessel nearby to help. The captain and six men were stranded on the forward part of the ship with no lifeboats, so they began building a raft from wooden hatch covers and doors. By 11 a.m. the aft section was breaking up, so the crew launched the two aft lifeboats. One carried 11 of the crew members, while the other carried six. Spencer continues her account.

Everything seemed to be breaking up at once, and by order of the Chief Engineer we took to the small boat again. One by one we piled into the boat leaving six men behind us. I never heard such a heart rending cry as came from those six. "For God's sake, don't leave us!" they cried. So two of our men got out and helped the six pull the port boat over to the starboard side and launch it. Then we both set out. It was a terrible fight to keep the small boat afloat!

 

 

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