The last salute came in July of 1883, as she sailed painfully out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence from Montmorency, Quebec, laden with timber for Europe. Water soaked and strained, she was held in shape by chains wrapped around her hull; water sucked in through her seams and out again through her pumps that worked day and night to keep the sea at bay. But she lumbered on gallantly with little complaint, until a summer gale sprang up, creating short vicious seas that pummeled her hull, pushing and twisting it without mercy. Finally, as eventually it always has and always will, the sea won, her pumps could no longer keep up with the thrush of water and soon one of the chains let go. Within her weary bones, the MARCO POLO knew, as did her captain, that the end was near. Perhaps the only chance to save the crew was to drive for shore. To do this required all sail, but the question was, could the ship stand the added strain? There was no choice.

The Marco Polo
Cutting of the Mast

   As if she knew what was required of her and the consequences if she failed, the MARCO POLO rallied every last ounce of strength she had. With a great billowing cloud of sail towering above her deck, set square and taut before the wind, and with a bone in her teeth, she drove for shore at Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. On she flew without faltering until she could fly no more. When she hit, the crew cut away the masts and rigging to prevent her from drifting out to sea again. But she did not move.

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