The following headlines are exerpts from the Port Huron Daily Times, reporting on the whereabouts of the Schooner Neelon.
Fears are entertained for the safety of the schooner NEELON which left Chicago on the 19th ultimate.
Port Huron Daily Times
Thursday, December 2, 1886
The Schooner SYLVESTER NEELON is abandoned at Tobermory on Great Manitoulin Island. The crew were heard from on Tuesday from Owen Sound.
Port Huron Daily Times
Thursday, December 9, 1886
Again Among Friends
The Crew Of The Schr. Neelon Reach Their Homes
NOTE: The source for the following excerpt is unknown.
Henry Milligan, mate; F. Lawrence, Joseph Mandeville and Robert Crosby, seamen on the schr. Sylvester Neelon, arrived in the city this morning and were cordially greeted by their friends. Mandeville, who made his first trip as a sailor, was found at his home looking quite hearty. He said that he had a severe voyage and it was a lucky thing that he and his comrades got out of it alive. They left Chicago on the schooner on Nov. 19th, and were behind the schr. Midland Rover as far as the Straits of Mackinaw. Cheboygan was reached on Nov. 25th, the schooner being heavily freighted with ice.
After a brief delay the wind permitted the wheelsman to lay out a straight course for Cove Island, at the head of the peninsula on the west side of the Georgian Bay, but up near the Duck Islands the wind veered and in turning the vessel got in the trough of the seas and soon accumulated vast piles of ice upon her bow and rigging causing the ropes to snap like pipestems. All the halyards, blocks, etc., were carried away and the canvass reduced to a few small jibes. The foreboom, main gaff and two of the main shrouds were ripped and torn to pieces. Then the snow was blinding and the wind greatly increased in violence.
Capt. Milligan, who had been sailing for many years, was brave, but nevertheless fearful of being wrecked. He remained perfectly cool, told the men that they were in a bad position and should the worse come it was “every man for himself.” The vessel was drawing eleven feet of water, but with the accumulation of ice on the bow was down so deep that it was impossible to steer with any safety. Capt. Milligan mounted aloft and remained there one bitter night, hoping to spy land or find Cove Island light. His men were at the pumps, nine inches of water having entered the hold. In close proximity to the terrible rocks the vessel ploughed her way, but luckily avoided them, until in a lull in the storm the captain found the beacon light, the anchor was heaved overboard, and the vessel came into safe anchorage.
Every man was grateful for the kindness of providence.
Next day the wind shifted, the anchor was drawn up and a run made for Tobermory, a magnificent harbor, which was safely reached. Here the captain waited in the hope of securing favorable weather to continue his voyage to Collingwood. Joseph Mandeville fixed up a new boom and gaff and had the sails put together as well as could be. After a week’s delay the captain found the weather so severe he had to lay the craft up, and accordingly she was fastened to a ring in one of the perpendicular rocks which surround the cove. An old man and his family were placed on board as keepers, and now they are the chief people in the community.
Having decided to quit the vessel an endeavour was made to get a telegram taken to Wiarton, said to be from forty-five to sixty miles away. The captain offered some of the fishermen $25 to carry the missive informing families and friends of the safety of the crew, but no man could be induced to attempt the voyage. Then guides were asked to take the men over the trail, but none ventured. Finally Mandeville and the Milligans agreed to fit up the yawl boat and with their effects sail for Owen Sound. They were just about ready to start when the fishing tug Heather Belle ran into the cove and an arrangement was quickly made for the transport of the party to Owen Sound.
The trip was one of great severity the cold being intense, only two being permitted at a time to go into the hold to warm up. Last Tuesday Owen Sound was reached and the message that gladdened many hearts was sent to Kingston. The young men, since their arrival, are relating with great unction the story of their adventures. The hamlet of Tobermory is about a mile from where the vessel is frozen in, but so wild and rugged was the country that Capt. Milligan and two men, while going to the village for tobacco and a few necessities, got lost in the woods and only reached the boat again by retracing their steps through the deep snow. The place has eight houses and the people live chiefly on fishing [part unreadable].
They treated the men very kindly.