Captain Roberts' Story Of Wreck
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CAPTAIN ROBERTS' STORY OF WRECK
from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 10 Jan 1904, pg.3

Rescued Passengers of Clallam Express Heartfelt Admiration of Master's Gallent Fight
Against Impossible Odds and Cool Bravery of First Officer


Seattle, Jan. 9. - Capt. Roberts, whose long fight to save his boat, passengers and crew has been lauded by the survivors as a most remarkable battle against impossible odds, was almost unnerved by his long struggle. In the office of the Puget Sound Navigation Company, he told briefly the story of the fight against the storm. He said: "We left Port Townsend just after 12 o'clock Friday and entered the straits to face a heavy southwest snow and rain storm. As we were crossing the straits the wind and sea increased, and as the pitching of the vessel became more noticeable. I got up and went into the pilot house where I remained until the 'Clallam' was abandoned.

"About 3 o'clock, Mr. Delauney, the chief engineer, came to me and reported that the steamer was making water. One of the deadlights on the lee or starboard side had been broken under water. Mr. Delauney and the first officer took blankets and plugged up the deadlight, but the water still kept gaining on us. I tried to get off before the wind so as to raise the broken deadlight out of the water, but it was impossible to make the 'Clallam' come around.

"After we had been running the ship for an hour and the water still continued to gain so that it put out the fires, it was decided to put the lifeboats in the water. We were then about two and a half miles off Destruction island lighthouse, and I thought if there was any chance of the boats getting ashore it would be during the day time when the shore could be seen. It seemed to be but a short distance to safety and the chance, I knew, would be the best the lifeboats would have to get the passengers ashore.

"Capt. Lawrence of Victoria went off in the first boat with the women and children. She rounded the bow safely and I did not see the boat again, but I was told later that it had capsized and all were drowned. The second boat got clear and was about 600 feet to the windward side of the ship went a wave breaking over the boat washed several men out. Later on I made out the boat still afloat, but could not see whether any survivors were still in it. The third boat was being lowered when the fall got foul and the men in it were capsized.

"The other boats were on the weather side of the ship and it was impossible to launch one of them. Moreover, after the disaster that had overcome the other boats it was considered better not to risk the loss of any more boats but to keep them for future emergencies.

"The 'Holyoke' spoke us between 9 and 9:30 o'clock Friday night. Shortly after 10 o'clock they got a line aboard us. I asked Capt. Hall to tow us to the nearest port, which was Victoria, but as it would have been to fight against the gale, Capt. Hall decided that it would be better to put about for Port Townsend.

"We were picked up midway between Smith and San Juan islands. At one o'clock Saturday morning the 'Sea Lion' came up. We had been towed to a point about midway between Smith island and Dungeness lighthouse. The vessel was gradually sinking and I signaled Capt. Manter to bring the 'Sea Lion' to our assistance. I sent him to tell Capt. Hall of the 'Holyoke' that he would have to cast us loose and called to the men to come on deck.

"The 'Clallam' was settling fast and about the time the 'Sea Lion' got back to the steamer she went over on her beam ends and began to disappear and break up. Previous to this I had requested the passengers and crew to go out forward and as she went over they got out over the tail and on to her side. A raft had been gotten adrift by the second officer and we went over the side and got aboard it. About this time a wave washed me off the 'Clallam' and I was pulled out of the water by the first officer and another man.

"Nearly all those aboard the 'Clallam' at the time she went to pieces were saved. The men either reached the raft or a boat, or were picked up in the water by the two tugs. The 'Holyoke' and 'Sea Lion' remained in the vicinity of the 'Clallam' until daylight to assist and rescue any that might have been overlooked, but no more persons were found. At daylight the two tugs started for Port Townsend."

First Officer Doheny went over the story of the wreck in detail, telling the story as did Capt. Roberts, giving perhaps more details. It was owing largely to the coolness on Mr. Doheny that so many of the passengers and crew were saved. He was the last man to leave the 'Clallam' and had prior to that secured the life raft that saved so many lives. He saved Capt. Roberts from drowning and all the passengers and crew speak highly of his performance of duty.
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