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July 21st to August 2nd 1900       September 29th to October 17th 1900


The Yacht Idler

Newspaper Articles On The Sinking Of The Yacht "Idler"








Tug Starts for Scene of Wreck but
if Forced to Return.



Another Attempt to be Made Today if the Lake Subsides.





Mrs. John Corrigan, a Survivor, is Too Ill to Tell Her Story.




None of the Bodies Recovered.



Capt. Holmes Denies That He Mismanaged the Boat and Says
That It's Capsizing Could Not Have been Prevented --
Tells of His Heroic Efforts to Save Jane Corrigan --
Heavy Sea on All day Yesterday


   High white capped waves dashed and lashed over the wreck of the ill fated yacht Idler out in the lake all day yesterday, so that it was impossible to make any attempt to recover the bodies of the six victims, members of the families of Capt's. James and John Corrigan, who lost their lives by the capsizing of the vessel during the storm Saturday afternoon.

   At 3 o'clock yesterday morning the tug Ben Campbell started for the scene of the wreck with diver Walter Metcalf aboard, for the purpose of trying to recover the bodies. the tug took in tow Capt. Motley and the live saving crew, who were in the lifeboat and were prepared to assist in the search. Nearly the whole of Saturday night was spent in getting anchor lines and other things to readiness for the work.

   The Ben Campbell plowed her way through the sea until she came within two miles of the location of the wreck and then it was found that the waves were so high that it would be useless to go further. There was such a high sea on that it would have been impossible to have anchored the tug, and without being securely anchored the diver could have done no work. The tug turned around and returned to the city, reaching here at 7:30 o'clock.

   It was the intention to make another trip to the wreck to attempt to recover the bodies some time during the day, but the sea, instead of quieting down, grew heavier, if anything, during the afternoon and the plan had to be given up.

   It is the intention to go out to the wreck early this morning with the life saving crew, a tug and the diver, provided the lake has subsided sufficiently to do any work. Capt. Motley of the life saving station is of the opinion that the storm is about over and that the lake will be smooth today. According to Weather Forecaster Kenealy, however, the strong northwest wind will continue all day today, so that the searching expedition may be further delayed. Capt. Motley said last night that the heavy wind yesterday might split the sails of the Idler, but he did not think that the canvas or spars would be washed away or that the bodies would be washed out of the cabin. He thought that the vessel was so deeply embedded in the mud that it would not be moved by the wind. Capt. Motley said that several fish tugs saw the wreck of the Idler yesterday but they saw nothing floating around in the lake in that vicinity.

  The life saving officer notified Fairport to keep on the lookout for any bodies that might drift down the lake and wash ashore. Capt Morley examined the vessel and the position of the sails when he went to the wreck Saturday night.

  "I went into the rigging and found the mainsail, the staysail and jib up" said Capt. Motley. "The foresail was partly down. They were evidently trying to get that sail down when the storm came. " 

   The steamer Anne Lauru, bound from Sandusky to Cleveland, passed within three miles of the west of the Idler at 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. D. O. ______ captain of the boat, said after his arrival that a very high ????over the Idler and that he saw something floating around the wreck which looked like sails.

   A large number of people visited the docks near the mouth of the river yesterday to try to secure some new information regarding the wreck and to learn whether any of the bodies had been recovered. Sailors sat along the wharves and discussed the details of the catastrophe, and the general opinion seemed to be that the Idler was handled in a reckless manner and that her sails should have been furled before the storm struck her.

    According to the reports the fishing tugs Smith and Helena passed the Idler just before the storm and the captains of the latter tug expressed great surprise that the Idler was not getting ready for the storm by taking down her sails.

   S. Lyons, a lake captain, said that the crew had nearly an hour to lower the canvas before the storm came, but that they evidently were unable to handle it after the wind and rain came.

   C. H. Holmes, captain of the Idler, lay in bed all day yesterday under the care of a physician at the Bethel hotel. Capt. Holmes was partially paralyzed as a result of what he had gone through, and was unable to stand up. He said that his affliction was caused more by grief than by the injury he had sustained while in the lake by taking in a quantity of water.

   Capt. Holmes talked freely about the wreck and appeared to be deeply affected by the catastrophe. He appeared to be particularly grieved over the death of Jane Corrigan, eldest daughter of Mr. James Corrigan, and when he told of his unsuccessful efforts to save her his eyes filled with tears and his voice choked.

   "I would just as soon have been drowned myself as had that girl drowned," exclaimed Holmes, with sadness in his voice. "She and I were great friends and, in fact, I was just like one of the family."

   Capt. Holmes appeared much hurt because of the criticism that has been made of his management of the boat.

   "We would have been capsized if there had been no canvas up," said the captain. "I did the safest thing in leaving the mainsail up. When the vessel keeled over we were trying to bring her head to the wind. The helm was pretty much out of the water and wouldn't turn and I went to the wheel. It was not an ordinary squall, but in the nature of a cyclone, and the Idler could not have stood it if her masts had been bare. The wind struck the starboard quarter and then shifted to the port quarter.

  "When the boat first careened I was sitting alongside of Jane Corrigan giving directions to the sailors. She got frightened and I tried to pacify her, but I think she fainted for a time. Alaf Neilson and  I pulled her up on the side of the boat after the boat went over the second time. The stern began to sink and we climbed towards the bow, but the water came up faster than we climbed. We got up to the rigging and intended to climb that. A big sea came and washed the three of us out towards the forecastle.

   "We all went under the water, Jane Corrigan had her left arm around my neck and I had one arm around her, and with the other hand I had hold of her hair. The suction of the sinking boat dragged us down. I dept hold of her hair with one hand and struggled with the other. I started to swim and took about two dozen strokes and came up under a fender. I tried to hold the girl up  and told her to put her arms over the fender. She did so, but two or three heavy seas came and knocked us both off.

   "I grabbed her again, but didn't have strength to hold her. She slipped from me, I don't know just how, and a moment later they dragged me over the rail of the tug that rescued me. I was about gone then and when they got me on the boat I became unconscious.

  "Mrs. James Corrigan and Mrs. Riley and her baby were in the cabin when the boat went over. Before the storm came I told the mate and steward to close the deadlights, and the mate told me today that he did close them. He said that he might have left the one in the pantry open. This was on the upper side of the boat when it tipped over, and its being open would have made no difference. Mrs. John Corrigan told me, however, when we were coming in on the rescuing tug, that the mate had opened one or two deadlights to get air.

  "I started down to the cabin during the second squall to warn Mrs. James Corrigan and Mrs. Reiley and just then the crew screamed that the boat was sinking. I yelled to the ladies to come on deck, but got no response. The mate told me afterwards that he and the steward had put life preservers on the two women.   







Mrs. John Corrigan Has the Wreck of the Idler
in Her Mind Almost Constantly


   Mrs. John Corrigan of 71 Cutler street, the wife of Capt. John Corrigan and the only woman saved from the yacht Idler, which capsized in the lake Saturday, is still in a serious condition, due more to the nervous shock than to the effect of the exposure and water. She was a little better yesterday.

   Her physician gave orders that she should under no condition be allowed to talk of the disaster, even to members of her family or her husband. Several times yesterday Mrs. Corrigan wanted to talk to her husband about her experience, but the latter would not allow her to go far. At these times Mrs. Corrigan became so nervous and affected that it was easily to be seen that the result would have been a serious relapse.

   Mrs. Corrigan yesterday inquired several times whether the bodies has yet been recovered, and it was evident to her family that the terrible scene was almost constantly in her mind. The scene will stay with her all her life without any doubt.

   Mrs. Corrigan's thoughts remained collected all the time she was in the water, and it is probable that she knew more of what was happening than anybody else that passed through the awful accident.







   Regarding the yacht Idler, the Chicago Chronicle said in Its Sunday Issue:

         "Among local yachtsmen and lake marine circles generally the fate of the Idler was the disaster to the  women and children aboard her rickety timbers called forth numerous expressions of regret, coupled with considerable criticism for the poor judgment of the navigators who had failed to perceive that the old yacht had become unseaworthy.

    "In Chicago for some years the craft had been considered a derelict -' a sort of aristocrat among bumboats' - as one river man declared last evening. Because of her association with yachting events of Chicago and all over the great lakes during the many years she was owned by Chicagoans she had become one of the best known sailing craft on fresh water.

   She was deemed a fast boat - a crack racer - In the days when the big two-stickers were the pride of eastern yachting people. She once had the honor of defending the America cup, and for more than a score of years she has cut a conspicuous figure on the vast inland sea known as the chain of lakes. As late as 1895 she took part in some races on the lake courses hereabouts, but was not very successful. On more than one occasion she was becalmed at the start, slothful zephyrs not being at all to her liking. Indeed they used to say of her that she needed rough water and a stiff breeze to make her a thing of life. Others have held that she was too large for racing on the lakes, her lines being of the large or schooner yacht type, and her hulk too unwieldy. Still she was a graceful and beautiful sailing craft and on occasions could show her heels to more modern yachts in a surprising way. Something of this was shown in the Columbia Yacht club races of 1895, when, as the flagship of Commodore W. D. Boyce, she easily out sailed several of the leaders in the racing fleet.

   "In 1896 W. D. Boyce was elected commodore of he Columbia Yacht club, and he chartered the Idler for the season for his flagship. That Fourth of July the Idler was entered at a race at Milwaukee with the steel schooner Priscilla of Cleveland. The agreement was that the racing sails would be barred. The Idler had a growth of sea grass and sailed like a lumber schooner, so the Priscilla, with a cloud of balloon sails set, had no trouble in winning.

   "The timbers and planking of the old ship were getting very mellow by this time, and two years later a party of Chicagoans chartered her for a cruise. They encountered squally weather during the first night out, and by morning the main mast was rolled out by the pitching of the boat. The captain headed for Chicago again, and the party who chartered the boat hustled ashore to sail no more. Last summer the Idler was in service again being used as a cruiser by the naval militia. They put the boat into the dock, took out the centerboard, plugged up the space where it operated, and adopted other precautionary measures to do away with so much heart breaking work on the pumps.

   "There is not a yachtsman in Chicago who believed the Idler was safe when she left Chicago. Many years of neglect when lying at the dock all summer had worked ravages with timbers and planking, and about all that was left of he old craft was her history"

   Several members of the Cleveland Yacht club were discussing the wreck of the Idler last evening and they were all of the opinion that the capsizing of the vessel was entirely due to mismanagement. They also declared that the boat was perfectly seaworthy.

   It was declared that the captain had a crew of nine men, which was a sufficient number, in fact, larger than is carried by some bigger vessels.

   The Idler, although an old boat, was thoroughly rebuilt last winter, and was entirely seaworthy. Capt. James Corrigan spent a large amount of money in rebuilding her.

   She was able to withstand any gale, it is declared.





Tug Kennedy and Life Saving Crew Had a Perilous
Trip to the Scene of the Disaster


   The tug William Kennedy and the life saving crew had a perilous trip to the wreck of the Idler where they went last night to put up lights as a warning to sailors.

  The Kennedy left at 6 o'clock with the life saving crew in their lifeboats in tow. When the two boats passed the breakwater they found a very heavy sea with the wind blowing nearly from the northwest. The gale increased during the trip and the lifeboat appeared in great danger at times of being crushed. When in the trough of the sea surrounded by high waves it entirely disappeared from the men of the crew on the deck of the tug.

   When the wreck was reached the lifeboat was cut lose from the tug and they proceeded to place danger lights. The task was a very dangerous one but the seamen were undaunted and although their little craft was in constant danger of being swamped by the waves the crew succeeded in placing the signals.

   The Idler was found in about the same position that it was when seen Saturday night but the main sail was gone, having been torn from the bolt rope. The crew could not see whether the other sails had been torn away.

   After the lifesaving crew had finished its work the two boats returned, The trip was necessarily slow on account of the lifeboat being in tow and the boats didn't get back till 10:30 o'clock last night, having been gone four and one-half hours.






To be conducted Here If the bodies Are Found In Cuyahoga County.


   Although as yet none of the bodies of the victims of the schooner Idler have been recovered it is very probable that as soon as the first is recovered Coroner Simon will begin his inquest.

   In the case of the victims of the Margaret Olwill, some of which were brought to this city, the inquest was conducted here, although the wreck occurred off the coast at Lorain. If the bodies of those who lost their lives on the idler are brought to this city Coroner Simon will conduct the Inquest.

   Deputy coroner West said last evening that his opinion was that although the disaster occurred on the territory of the United States he thought that if the bodies were recovered inside the limits of this county and brought here it would be necessary for the coroner to view them before they could be buried, and to hold an inquest.


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Newspaper Articles On The Sinking Of The Yacht "Idler"


July 8th   July 9th   July 10th   July 11th   July 12th   July 13th   July 16th   July 17th   July 19th   July 20th  

July 21st to August 2nd 1900       September 29th to October 17th 1900

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