Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Friday, February 09, 2018
Thursday, February 08, 2018
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Known as "the bell sheep's premonition" after the fact; an odd event occurred to the Clallam in Seattle as she was loading her northbound passengers and freight at Pier 1, at the foot of Yesler Way. Black Ball Line steamers often carried sheep bound for Port Townsend and Victoria along with a trained mascot or bell sheep which always led the herd aboard. On this occasion, the bell sheep that usually made the voyage absolutely refused to board the vessel and was finally left behind when the ship departed Seattle at 8:30 a.m.Last seen in distress
On the morning of Friday, January 8, 1904, Clallam left Tacoma on her regular run, in command of Capt. George Roberts, then 55 years old and a veteran of 29 years marine service. She picked up passengers and freight, first in Seattle, then Port Townsend, where she cleared customs, then at 12:15 departed Port Townsend, heading north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca bound for Victoria. Clallam should have reached Victoria at about 4:00 p.m.
The wind was rising as she left, and eventually reached speeds of up to 36 miles (58 km) an hour in the Straits and up to 60 miles (97 km) an hour further west at Tatoosh Island at the entrance to the strait. Still, Clallam nearly reached safety, as about 5:00 p.m. she was seen from the Canada coast, near Trial Island dead in the water and rolling heavily. Afterwards she was observed to be running eastwards before the wind, away from Vancouver Island towards the San Juan Islands.Search efforts mounted
The company’s agent at Victoria, Edward E. Blackwood, seeing Clallam in distress, began a frantic effort to find a tug to go out to her. All the Canadian seagoing tugs were absent from port, and the little harbor tugs refused to go out into the gale. The little Canadian steamer Iroquois was docked at Sidney, on Vancouver Island. Blackwood was able to get word to the Iroquois’ master that Clallam was missing and he agreed to take his vessel out into the storm to search for her. Waves broke clear over the bridge on Iroquois. Unable to find Clallam, Iroquois returned to port at midnight, or 11:00 p.m. (Iroquois herself was in very serious danger during the storm, and in fact was sunk herself in similar circumstances during a storm in the Gulf Islands on April 10, 1911, with 14 people drowned.) Over in Port Townsend, the dispatcher of the Puget Sound Tug Boat Company sent the tugs Sea Lion (from Seattle) and Richard Holyoke (from Port Townsend) to look for Clallam. Richard Holyoke departed Port Townsend at about 7:30 p.m. Location of Clallam would prove difficult, as contrary to law, she carried no distress signal rockets.Rising water on board
As the gale rose in the Strait, First Officer George W. Doney was in command at the pilot house, while Captain Roberts was resting in his cabin. As the ship’s rolling increased, Captain Roberts, realizing the ship was in distress, came to the pilot house. Chief Engineer Scott A. DeLaunay called up the speaking tube to report that a deadlight had been stove in and the ship was taking on water. Captain Roberts sent Doney to find out what was happening.
It turned out that the deadlight, which has been previously broken and then repaired, but not apparently very well, had been stove in by the storm waves. Engineer De Launay went to the pilot house and reported in person the situation to Captain Roberts. Roberts went down to the engine room, where he found it was waist deep in water. The engineering staff had tried to plug up the hole using blankets stuffed in and held in place with nailed down boards. These efforts had obviously failed.
Just how this appalling situation had come about was never completely cleared up. Either Clallam’s pumps were defective, clogged with coal or other debris or were operated incorrectly by chief engineer De Launay. Rather than evacuating water from the vessel, the pumps appear to have moved water into it. Back up pumps also failed. At about 3:00 p.m., the rising water quenched the vessel’s boiler fire, leaving her without power.Lowering the boats
At about 3:30 p.m., when the ship seemed as if it could not long stay afloat, Captain Roberts ordered the lifeboats lowered, and into them placed mostly women and children, but apparently no officers from the ship to command the boats, although four crewman and a passenger who was an experienced merchant officer went in the first boat. All three boats capsized or failed to properly launch, drowning all aboard them. Many of the men remaining on board watched their wives and children drown. One man was on his wedding trip. His bride drowned. Newell describes the scene:
|The second boat was said to have been launched safely and was about to pull away from the ship’s side when an fear-crazed man leaped into it from the hurricane deck shouting, ‘By God, that boat don’t go without me!’ As he landed in the heavily loaded boat his heavy boots struck the head of one of the women, crushing her skull. Then the hero’s floundering about turned the boat over and it sank. A young mother from the overturned boat floated by the steamer’s side, a baby held high out of the water by her up-stretched arms. A man went over the side on a rope and had his hands on the child when a hissing wave snatched it away.|
Other accounts state that the second boat capsized about 600 feet (180 m) from the steamer.Clallam remains afloat
Those remaining on board began bailing out the ship with buckets, and she stayed afloat until the next morning, Saturday, January 9. Meanwhile, at about 10:35 p.m. on January 8, the steam tug Richard Holyoke, under the command of Capt. Robert Hall, found her. Captain Hall got a tow line on board and took Clallam under tow. This was in between Smith Island and San Juan Island. Although Victoria was closer, the weather conditions were such that it seemed best to head for the American shore. The tug Sea Lion joined them at about 1:00 a.m. on January 9.Capsize and sinking
Clallam never got to the shore. Captain Roberts realized she was about to founder and signaled the Holyoke to cast off the towline. Holyoke misunderstood Captain Roberts’ signal to cast off the tow line, so it had to be cut lest the sinking Clallam drag Holyoke down with her. Clallam rolled over and sank quickly at about 1:15 a.m. The tugs then went to rescue the people in the water, saving most or all of the 36 who had remained aboard. Capt. Edward D. Hickman (1876–1928), then serving as mate on Richard Holyoke, dove into the icy water to rescue 15 people. He suffered from poor health as a result for a long time afterwards.Aftermath
The Tacoma Times subsequently reported that the wreck of the Clallam had been salvaged and sold at auction, with the Canadian Pacific Railway buying "the capstan and some of the more movable parts"; a pawnbroker bought much of the hull, with the intent of displaying it at exhibitions, but by June 1904 had abandoned it on a beach outside Oak Bay.