When the hacks were gathered on Wharf street, and the hotel busses lined along the curb on Friday awaiting the coming of the 'Clallam'. Mr. E.E. Blackwood went, as he often does to the top of the Driard building to see where the steamer was. About 3:45 p.m. he saw lying slewed around to the wind rolling and wallowing in a helpless condition some four or five miles from Clover Point. It was obvious that some misfortune had overtaken her, probably her screw lost or an accident occurred to her engine room. He hurried to the beach in a hack and arrived about 4 o'clock. After watching her through strong marine glasses he realized that the vessel was unmanageable, for she was slewed around broadside to the wind, and was drifting away before the wind.
Half an hour before, or thereabouts, Mr. Herbert Taylor had noticed from his house at Battery street that the 'Clallam' had suddenly stopped steaming when on route to port. Her engines were stopped and the steamer was seen to swing around with her port side to the wind, her bow pointing toward the United States side. Helplessly she drifted out into the Straits over toward Discovery Island. He noticed that a jib had been set. The steamer was rolling and laboring heavily, swinging from beam to beam.
Mr. Blackwood, local agent of the steamer, when he saw her predicament, though he did not realize how serious was her plight, hurried with his hack to the Colonist Hotel, where the nearest telephone was located and he telephoned from there to the local office of the Puget Sound Tugboat Company, asking if they could send a tugboat to the disabled vessel. They could not, for they had no tug available, the 'Lorne' being at the Cape. Mr. Blackwood then telephoned to J.H. Greer, agent of the 'Albion', but found that vessel was at Tacoma. He telephoned to the owners of the 'Sadie', who replied that their vessel was on the West Coast. Messages to the local office of the C.P.R. Steamship Company brought replies that all their steamers in port had their fires out and engine room staffs absent, and it would take five or six hours at the least before any one of them could be made ready to put to sea.
Efforts were made to have the tug 'Princess', of the public works department, which is tender to the dredge 'Mudlark', go to the assistance, but the officers thought the gale too fierce for the 'Princess' to proceed. Applications to local agent of marine and fisheries in regard to the 'Quadra', brought the information that the government steamer, which is out of commission, could not be got ready, as her fires were not only out, but her engines were apart being repaired.
Mr. Blackwood telephoned to Messrs. Bullen at Esquimalt, who said they would send the steamer 'Maude', which is always kept with steam up under an agreement made by the B.C. Salvage Co. with Lloyds Agency, and then Mr. Blackwood came to the city. On arrival at the office on Government street, before 5 o'clock, he received a message that it had been found that the steamer 'Maude' could not proceed, as it had been found that she had not sufficient ballast on board to go out in the teeth of the gale then raging.
The long distance telephone was then brought into play, and Mr. Blackwood telephoned to Capt. A.A. Sears, of the steamer 'Iroquois', and asked him if he could proceed out to intercept the steamer 'Charmer' on her way from Vancouver and ask Capt. Troup, who was on board, if he would go out and seek for the 'Clallam'. Capt. Sears replied that the 'Charmer' had already passed fifteen minutes before. Arrangements were then made with Capt. Sears to proceed in search of the 'Clallam'.
The 'Iroquois' left at 5 o'clock, and although Capt. Sears of the 'Iroquois', did not realize the fact that his brother's life was then in the balance, for now that the full tale of disaster is told, the name of Harvey Sears is among the dead. He is a brother of Capt. Sears. The 'Iroquois' went from Sidney at 5 o'clock and searched without seeing anything of the missing vessel until 11 p.m., when she returned to Sidney.
In the meantime Mr. Blackwood had telegraphed to Capt. Horne at Seattle and arrangements were made with the Puget Sound Tugboat Company to despatch two tugs from Port Townsend. The 'Richard Holyoke' and 'Sea Lion' were sent from Port Townsend at 6 o'clock, and the former vessel found the 'Clallam' at 10 p.m., and picked her up. The 'Sea Lion' found her after midnight, arriving in time to notify the 'Richard Holyoke' of the critical condition of the vessel she was towing, all ignorant of the fact that the steamer was foundering.
When the steamer 'Charmer' arrived from Vancouver about 8 o'clock. Mr. Blackwood went to meet her to learn if she had sighted the missing vessel, but the officers of the 'Charmer' had seen no sign of the 'Clallam'. Mr. Blackwood endeavored to have Capt. Troup despatch the 'Charmer' to join in the search, but Capt. Troup, like the majority in Victoria, believed that the 'Clallam' was drifting with a broken propeller and would be picked up safely by the tugs which had gone from Port Townsend and which would reach her before the 'Charmer' could.