Richard Metz was a Great Lakes captain for 20 years. He experienced wild weather, close calls, near misses, and events that can only be described as “unimaginable.” He has incredible sea stories to tell, and now they are yours to enjoy. Take an entertaining look at life aboard a variety of Great Lakes ships. Read 26 compelling tales of a Great Lakes crewmate and captain, including stories about the Gales of November, the night of the Edmund Fitzgerald’s sinking, and more. Plus, you’ll be fascinated by the details and full-color photographs of the ships themselves. If you’re a history buff, a Great Lakes enthusiast, a ship watcher, or a fan of a good yarn, Sea Stories is for you!
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|Publisher:||Adventure Publications, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||8.40(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
With very little encouragement, Capt. Metz decided to try for a job working on the Great Lakes ships. He started working on the boats in 1964 as a deckhand. He knew right away that life aboard a laker was what he wanted to do all the rest of his life. He worked his way through the ranks to become a Great Lakes Sea Captain in 1980.
Captain Metz enjoyed every minute of his career and continues to enjoy remembering and writing about his life on the lakes, even today. In 2003, Capt. Metz wrote his first book, Sea Stories. That book talked about his experiences in a clear and conversational manner offering his fascinating insight into the world of Great Lakes shipping. Capt. Metz’s second book, Life Aboard a Laker from 1964 to 1999, followed in this same vein, detailing the start of his career through his different positions on lakers, his studies, and what his choice of career meant to him. This book expands on Capt. Metz’s previous work, and includes additional stories, full-color photos, and a question-and-answer session with Capt. Metz.
Read an Excerpt
Are You Trying to Kill Us?
In the fall of 1968, I was a wheelsman on the steamer John Dykstra for the Ford Motor Company. Our captain was an old saltwater sailor and was used to heavy seas.
When we departed the Soo Locks for Superior, Wisconsin, we were in ballast (empty except for the ballast tanks), which meant the ship would roll more if there was heavy weather. I noticed that the US Coast Guard was displaying two red pennants from their station: gale warnings were expected on Lake Superior.
As we steamed toward Whitefish Point, I saw many ships going to anchor behind the point to wait out the approaching storm. I wondered what our captain was going to do. Would he decide to anchor like the other ships, or continue out into the gale?
Well, the captain sat in the front window and never said a word about the anchored ships, the gale warnings, or what his intention was. One by one, we steamed past the ships at anchor, and I soon guessed what we were going to do. I wanted to see what he had to say, so I threw a comment his way. “Cap,” I said, “it looks like a little city over there with all the lights from the ships that are at anchor.”
“Yes, lots of lights over there,” was his reply. We rounded the point and set our course across the lake.
When we came to our course, which would take us across the middle of the big lake, I put the steering gear on automatic. The mate took over from the Old Man. The captain turned to me and said, “Richard, we are going to make Christians out of these sailors tonight.”
I gulped, “Yes, sir.”
I finished my watch that night, and before I climbed into my bunk, I secured everything in my room. I knew we would be in for a wild ride the next day.
In the Teeth of the Storm
When I awoke and went aft for lunch, the wind had whipped up a good sea from the northeast, and the ship was rolling. The cook had all the tablecloths wetted down so that the dishes would not slide off the table.
I went to the pilothouse for my watch and found the Old Man there on the bridge with the mate. I relieved the wheel, took the steering off automatic, and put it on hand steering.
We were rolling so badly that the automatic pilot would not hold the course.
Soon we found ourselves right in the middle of a Nor’easter. I tried to keep the ship on course, but because of rolling from side to side, I had a hard time keeping her steady.
My legs were spread as far apart as they would go. I had to hang on to the wheel in order to stay at my station.
The Old Man kept yelling, “Keep her on course!”
“This is crazy,” I thought. “We should be at anchor with the other ships behind the point.”
I could not keep her on course. The seas were rolling right over the deck. I told the Old Man this. He never said a word.
Finally, the third mate could stand it no longer. He yelled to the Old Man, “What’s the matter with you? Are you nuts? Are you trying to kill all of us?”
I was stunned. No one ever talked to a captain like that. But I was happy that the mate had yelled at him. The captain came over to me, and in a very quiet, calm voice said, “Richard, put her head into the sea.”
After we put her head into the wind and sea, the captain checked her speed down because when the propeller came out of the water the whole ship would shake.
The captain went down to his quarters, and the mate went about his duties.
Nothing else was ever said about the incident.
Table of ContentsShip Stories
Across the Border
Are You Trying to Kill Us?
Beating the Storm
Becoming a Willowglen
A Captain Remembers
I’ll Never Forget the Woodrush
The Keweenaw Waterway
Make Love to That North Shore
Me? A Tugboat Captain?
A Short Toot
Steering by the Stars
Time to Let Go the Anchor
Wrong Side of the Buoy
Wreck Diving Stories
Diving Famous Wrecks
Swim for the Light