25 A vary rough morning. All sea sick. We stoped at Manitou Island. Cooked dinner on land & lay by the wharf untill sun set 4 oclok & started on the journey untill 12 oclock at night when a (tre-mendious storm & wind arose) which made the lake as rough as it could be by the force of wind & such a seenery as quickly followed I never before witnessed in all my travels either by sea or land on water or earth. The captain of the Chesepeak, with other officers, hands & passengers mostly expected to go to the bottom to have Judged from outward appearances. I should think here was twenty Chances of being lost to one of being saved. Yet I did not once expect during the whole seenery to be lost for I expected & felt that the Lord would Save us from a watery grave by some means.
We were about 40 miles from land at about 12 o-clock at night when I was awoke from a Sound sweet sleep in my birth by the cry of some one saying we shall all be lost. The first thought that entered my mind was I make No calculations on being lost. I however leaped out of my birth onto my feet & went on to the upper deck. I immediately saw we were in eminant danger of being wrecked. The wind blew almost a Huricane & the waves were running over her bow in a dreadful manner. The boat was rather heavy loaded.
Their was about 300 passengers on board with a large quantity of luggage & Jack Asses. Some geese & piggs were standing on the bow of the boat. Next to them was 40 cords of wood piled up. This with other loading kept the bow down in such a manner that it was judged their was 50 tons of water on her bow deck at a time. At one time the bow run under water & some thought she would never right.
One wave that broke over set the Asses afloat broke the petetion between them & the steerage cabin & washed two of the Asses down. Threw [them] into the births among men woman & Children. It killed one of the Asses in the fall. The Asses & water together drove all the steerage passengers out of their Cabin on deck.
About this time while the boat was labouring hard against wind & water she broke one of her wheel chains. I then herd the cry all is lost. But about 30 of us passengers caught hold of the two detatched ends of the chain & held them together untill they were mended with ropes.
The bote lay partly upon her side. It tore up the floor & broke down the births in the steerage state rooms oposite of us & we expected evry moment ours would share the same fate. In one instance the waves broke over the upper deck. It took four men to manage the wheel. They tried to turn the boat three times but could not untill day light when it was accomplished & returned to the manitau Island at about 3 o-clock being about 24 hours in the gale.
They again took on 40 cords of wood as they had flung 20 cords overboard in the storm to lighten the bow of the boat. Orders were given to that effect.
We remained at the Manitau Island untill next morning. I felt thankful to God to once more get my foot on land. I felt that the Lord herd our prayrs & deliverd us. Their was praying, crying, singing & swaring at the same time in the mids of the storm. It was a trying time to all.
[Source: Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies]