Bessie E – A true miracle they are all alive


videos from April 4, 2014, showing the Bessie E breaking ice to leave Mamainse Harbour, there are 12 videos in the series

  “Just lost the Bessie E at the light at Mamainse Hbr. Boys all got off and walked into the packing house. A true miracle they are all alive.” That was the post Tuesday night at 10:46 p.m. by Jim MacDonald (Mamainse Harbour Authority).

map from Google
map from Google
Shortly after the Bessie E left the dock, there was a fuel problem (she was still in the harbour). The Captain and owner, Jake Bjornaa was advised to sit tight and wait it out, and that gave the crew the opportunity to continue to diagnose and get the engine running again. Unfortunately, time nor weather was on their side. The wind changed, forcing ice to flow into the harbour, and the waves began to grow.   Jim explained, “They had a fuel problem, just got it fixed and started in the harbour, stern touched bottom swung her around, the ice and waves pounded her on the rocks, Boys just got off one at time and they watched the ice and waves roll her right upside down, the engine was still running when she went down, I just can’t imagine or believe they are all safe. God was in Mamainse this evening.”  
mamainse harbour
photo (taken Sunday, February 14, 2016) courtesy of Ellen van Laar, of Arts & Adventure at Old Mamainse Harbour
  There is already conversations about whether or not the Bessie E can be salvaged. She was built by Stephen Powell at Dunnville in 1957 for the Hooper Fishery on Pelee Island, and later owned by the Tiessen Fishery at Kingsville. Now she rests upside down with about a foot of her hull above the water. Unfortunately some say that is is unlikely that the Bessie E can be salvaged ‘it’s on a ledge on the outside of the light, upside down. Next gale and she will break up and go deep. Almost the same spot as to where his dad lost the Lenore.”, said Robert Marienne Greene LaBlance on Facebook.   The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, following the capsizing and sinking of the fishing vessel Bessie. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.  

The Bessie E was one of seven commercial fishing tugs that berth in Mamainse Harbour, which is the only harbour between Sault Ste. Marie and Michipicoten Harbour. Mamainse Harbour was home in 1975 to the “fishing tug James D. commanded by Capt. James ‘Jim’ MacDonald, who battled 30 foot waves to search for any survivors of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Instead, she recovered debris, life vests rings and the badly damaged lifeboats on November 11, 1975.” – Fans of “Know Your Ships”


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