Michigan Man Says Launching of Boats Was
a Terrible Error.|
The account of the wreck as given by E.L. Ferris, a
Travis City, Mich., man, is about as comprehensive as any.
"When the 'Clallam' began drifting." said the Michigan man, "and we discovered that she was helpless in the storm, but few realized the true situation. We were so near to land that those not conversant with seamanship failed to realize that there was much danger. It was then that the lifeboats containing the women and children were launched.
"I should say that these boats were sent fully twelve hours before the 'Clallam' went under. It was a terrible error, the sending of them away, but no one really be blamed. At the time it seemed to be the best course. There is no doubt in my mind, but that all the boats went down within hailing distance of the ship. They could not have lived long in that awful storm.
"It is impossible to describe the period after the launching of the boats. We simply waited for the inevitable. The suspense was terrible, and I have no doubt that many hoped that it would end as soon as possible.
"Then the tug came and endeavored to tow us. She had scarcely got the 'Clallam' well started, however, when we careened. It was then that the officers of the tug showed what they were made of. They immediately launched boats and at a fearful risk brought us off. It was an experience that one wants to have but once in a lifetime."
Mr. Ferris said that so far as he could see the officers of the 'Clallam' did their full duty, or what they deemed to be their duty, by all the passengers. The sending away of the small boats was an awful error of judgment, he said, but at that time this course seemed best. As far as anyone knew, when the lifeboats were unslung and the women put aboard of them, it appeared but a few minutes before the 'Clallam' would go to the bottom. Under these circumstances, no other action could have been taken by the officers.