The two masted wooden hull schoonerOttawa
was the first wire rigged schooner on the Great Lakes, rather than hemp rope. She was built in 1874 at Grand Haven, Michigan by Duncan Robertson for William R. Loutit also from Grand Haven. The Ottawa
was named after the county where she was constructed and owned. Her offical registry number was 19408 and she was rated B1 in 1881.
She spent her life carrying lumber on both shores of Lake Michigan. The Ottawa
had survived a fire in 1884 when the crew drilled holes in the hull below the water line to send her to the bottom to put out the fire. Meanwhile, much of the pine lumber cargo was saved by throwing it overboard. Three days later, the Ottawa
was pumped out and raised. She was then repaired and put back into service.
1874 and again 1876: Repaired.
1880-1881: New decks.
1900: New timbers aft with a new deck and beams.
Last Document of Enrollment #4: Surrendered: Milwaukee: April 19, 1911: "Vessel Lost".
Early am on Thursday, April 13, 1911, a storm coming out of the southeast caught the two masted schooner Ottawa
. She was just off Algoma, bound for Chicago with a full load of lumber from Manistique, Michigan. The increasing wind and seas, along with a heavy fog, resulted in the captain deciding to bring the vessel about and head back to the shelter of Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. After coming about, the captain, thinking he was well off the land, steered too close in and the Ottawa
, with the wind blowing against her, fetched up on the rocky reef off Stony Point, six miles north of Algoma.
The crew remained on board the vessel for several hours, hoping that she would soon float free or that the wind shift or die down. The high winds continued and the crew, afraid that the ship would start to break up, decided to try to make the beach which could now be seen through the lifting fog. While they were lowering a small gasoline powered yawl the seas caught it and drove it against the side of the Ottawa
with such force that a hole was stove in the bow of the yawl. The men patched the hole with a quilt and a piece of board. As soon as this was done they placed their belongings in the small craft and started for the beach about three quarters of a mile away. They had covered about half the distance when the patch gave way and the yawl sank, leaving the five exhausted men helpless in the cold water. They tried to swim the rest of the way but the cold, exhausted men sank beneath the waters of Lake Michigan. On the shore, spectators watched with horrified eyes but were unable to provide assistance.
The life-saving crew at the canal station was notified and immediately went to the scene of the disaster. They were able to find three of the bodies that afternoon and recovered the other two the next day.
At the time of loss the vessel was valued at $2,000 and the cargo $3,000. Since the Ottawa
was not insured, the owners Roper Lumber Company and Captain Weborg, decided to pump out the hull. She was too badly damaged to raise so they stripped her. Captain Isabel was hired to salvage any remaining lumber and dynamited holes in the deck to accomplish this.
The wreck of the Ottawa
sets in only twenty feet of water. Ice and the waves have pounded the remains, little is left but the bilge, hull framing and some decking.