Lighthouse Story

“Schooner Regina”

On Tuesday September 6, 1881, loaded with a thousand barrels of salt the schooner Regina under the command of Captain Amos Tripp, of Collingwood, departed Goderich. On Saturday, September 10th, at 8:00 am, Regina “was sailing with a fair wind, and on a direct course for Cove Island”.

Early that evening, Regina rounded Cape Hurd off the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula and encountered a sudden and violent squall with winds out of the south-west. Strains on Regina’s hull opened up numerous seams in her planking and almost at once Regina was in trouble. Labouring heavily and with water leaking into the hold being quickly soaked up by the cargo of salt, Regina “immediately sank stem first . . . in about seven fathoms of water” off Gat Point, at the western tip of Cove Island.
As details about the storm came in, it became obvious that much of what the crew had said about the disaster did not match the facts.

Days later, a clock was picked up lying on the shore of Cove Island by fishermen in the area. Identified as belonging to Regina, the clock had stopped at 1:00 a.m. “When it was freed from the water that was inside, the clock started going, which shows that it was at that hour [1:00 a.m.] the schooner went down.” This suggested Regina stayed afloat for another two hours after the first mate and crew said the schooner had foundered and they abandoned ship in a panic leaving Captain Tripp aboard to save himself.

Many harsh comments were made in local newspapers about the cowardly behavior of Regina’s crew during the disaster. The Wiarton Echo and the Owen Sound Advertiser both stated: “The circumstances connected with the drowning of Capt. Tripp certainly are of a very mysterious character, and an investigation should be demanded.”

George Currie the lightkeeper at Cove Island wrote in his personal log on September 10th “blowing a gale from the west, 10 pm.”

On September 12th he recorded:

“First heard to day noon of the schooner Regina being wrecked about 2 miles south west of this island in the Gale of Saturday night the 10th her top masts are to be seen above water. The crew are supposed to be all drowned – only one drowned Captain.”

For a time, slim hope was held that Amos Tripp, the only missing member of the crew, managed to survive. Based on statements of fishermen who were in the vicinity at the time of the sinking, and saw the vessel, “think the bare possibility that the Captain may have got to one of the islands.” A careful though unsuccessful search for the missing captain was conducted. It was not until September 16th, that the body of Captain Amos Tripp was discovered on the west shore of the island by George Currie.

On September 25th in his personal diary Currie wrote:

“went to west side of island to-day, found the body of Captain Tripp who was drowned on the 10th inst. – sewed him up in Canvas and buried him, the topmasts are still to be seen above the water. . .”

Two weeks after the remains of Captain Tripp were discovered, George Currie returned the body to his family aboard the steamer Jane Miller for internment.

Whatever transpired the night of September 10th 1881, and the exact resting place of the schooner Regina remains a mystery.

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