Within half an hour from the time the leak was discovered the fires were out, leaving the vessel without power. The water poured into the bunkers with a rush and washed the coal into the bilges, rendering the pumps helpless.
The 'Clallam' had powerful pumps, and working, shipping men say, they would through out water faster than it could run in through the deadlight holes. It is known that the greatest leak came from the after part of the steamer, and it was confined there, for a time, at least, by her compartment bulkheads. When the end came the steamer rolled over to port, sinking stern first.
Capt. Roberts' management of the 'Clallam' after he found her leaking off Protection island is freely discussed, and adverse criticism is becoming general in all the cities of the Sound. No one attempts to explain or excuse the failure to put back to Port Townsend when the vessel first began taking water a few miles off Point Wilson; the fact reported from Victoria, that no signals of distress were displayed when the 'Clallam' was seen off the entrance to Victoria harbor; the apparent lack of judgment in putting off the lifeboats laden with women and children on the stormy sea fully ten hours before the steamer went down or the failure to immediately transfer the remaining passengers to the tug 'Holyoke' as soon as she approached the 'Clallam' several hours later.
Capt. Hall, of the 'Holyoke' was not even apprised by Capt. Roberts of the condition of the 'Clallam', and his first knowledge that she was in imminent peril came when Capt. Roberts, just before his vessel took her final plunge, signaled the 'Holyoke' to cut the towline and stand by to pick up the unfortunates about to be hurled upon the face of the deep.
Some steamboat men are disposed to withhold criticism of the captain pending the enquiry, but others speak of his errors of judgment with critical terms.
"We can all see the mistakes now - that is, what we think were mistakes of judgment," one Captain of many years experience as a commander observed yesterday. "As a matter of precaution and along conservative lines of action, it seems to me that Capt. Roberts, when the 'Holyoke' found him, should have first called the tug alongside and put his passengers aboard. Enough lives would have been endangered with the crew. It was thought that there was sufficient danger several hours previous to warrant sending off the women and children in the lifeboats. Why, then, should not the remaining 'Clallam' passenger have been placed on the 'Holyoke'? Capt. Hall would have taken them cheerfully had he been requested to do so. Then, too, Capt. Hall says he was not informed that the vessel was in danger of sinking. He was surprised to find that he had been towing a vessel on the very verge of foundering."
"Those things have occurred to me, though I do not mean to harshly criticize Capt. Roberts, for under the same conditions I might have done as he did.
"Certainly the loss of the 'Clallam' furnishes lessons for seafaring men. They will think over the terrible disaster and the circumstances surrounding it a long time."