Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pilot Boat Tunnell and 1889 Great Coastal Storm

SEPTEMBER 1889 GREAT COASTAL STORM
AND
THE PILOT BOAT TUNNELL

Lewes, Delaware September 14, 1889

During the past few days since the Great September East Coast Storm, excitement in Lewes has it's citizens busy doing what needs to be done to assist those that are in need of assistance and many gathering around the Virden House in downtown listening to stories and the news going the rounds.

One of those stories is of the Pilot Boat Tunnel, under the charge of Pilot John M. Barnes, which has been listed as missing. All of the prayers and hopes of the pilots dear ones involved were answered this morning as the sun, which has been shut out so long by the storm clouds rose in all it's glory over the sand dune which is occupied by the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, here comes the missing Tunnell, full speed under full sail, into the harbor.

The account of the perilous cruise was offered by Pilot Barnes. “ We took the gale in it's full force at 8 in the morning, Tuesday, ten miles off the Capes, and made doubled reefed sails all around. Then the gale winds increased to a hurricane. The main sail was blown from it's ropes as we headed out to sea some twenty miles before the winds. Eventually they got the storm-try sail on her with great difficulty , and hove to, laying easy but working off shore. The gale winds increased until Wednesday about ten in night.

During the height of the gale, the oil bags were brought out on deck and gave some relief to the cross wind and heavy seas. Wednesday night, after the wind veered to north and lulled a little, the double reefed foresail was lofted and we headed for shore. From two hundred and fifty miles off land we made slow headway toward the capes until Thursday morning when more sail was made and we made one hundred and two miles. Thursday evening was when we sighted hog Island and the Tunnell arrived at the Breakwater this morning at three o'clock.

Tuesday during the winds she skipped a heavy sea, upsetting the cook stove and utensils , etc. Pilot Barnes, one of the Tunnell owners, gave credit to the sea going qualities of the boat, and said if it were not for these they would have been lost. As he was also out during the 1888 March blizzard he felt the late storm was more severe.

A young friend of Barnes, Harry Hickman, who was on board, has abandoned his desire to make a voyage across the Atlantic when his school days are over, feeling sure that Lewes Creek will be as far as he cares to navigate.


Source: The Monday, September 16th 1889 issue of Wilkes Barre Record newspaper of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Newspapers.com

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