The Inquest
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THE INQUEST
from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 20 Jan 1904, pg.1

Further Evidence Tendered Before Coroner Hart on the Disaster

Samuel E. Bolton, a passenger, who lost his wife in the disaster, gave evidence yesterday morning to the coroner's inquest being held by Dr. Hart. He said the weather became rough quickly after leaving Port Townsend. The first thing he knew of the danger was when he noticed excitement amongst the crew, he said a man, whom he took to be the chief engineer, hurried to the top deck. He saw land to the right then, which he was told was Trial Island. Then the call came for the life-preservers. He got some. He heard a call for all hands to go on deck, and then heard a man whom he took to be the captain, order the boats lowered. There was a rush to the boats. He heard members of the crew shouting that these boats were for the women and children. He tried to get his wife into the first boat. He could not, but got her into the second. He saw men piling into the third boat and got in himself. He sat in the bow. As the boat was being lowered he heard someone say, "Look at the first boat, its turned over already." He heard someone else say, "I guess we ought to go to the rescue of those people." Then he felt himself in the water. All the passengers were spilled out. The boat had, he learned afterwards, been caught in the fall. He caught a wire rope hanging from the steamer. A man caught him by the feet and climbed up, catching the rope by which he held. They moved up to the window. When he got on deck he was told that the second boat had capsized. He then saw two boats some distance from the steamer, one 200 to 500 yards from the steamer. They appeared to be all right with the oars working. He heard some say they should not have been launched. None were forced to go in them. He went below to assist in shifting the cargo and then bailed. The captain prevented passengers from going to the hurricane deck. When the 'Sea Lion' came all were clinging to the bow, and the captain asked them not to shout, but to leave the shouting to the officers. The passengers did shout. Those on the 'Sea Lion' shouted, and asked if they could lower the lifeboats. Those on the 'Clallam' replied that they had not got any. When the 'Sea Lion' came the steamer was sinking. He went to the deck of the steamer and when it broke he clung to a mast and was picked up from the water. There were no women and children on board after the boats were lowered. When he got into the third boat he did not know the others had gone over. He had hopes until the following day, for the second boat, in which his wife had went.

To Mr. Lugrin - He saw two boats get from 200 to 500 yards from the steamer, going head on to the sea. It did not occur to him that these might be the boats which swamped. His impression was that they were all right. He thought that the steamer was not more than two or three miles from Trial Island when the engines stopped. He did not see much of the captain. The only time he saw him was when he came down as they were bailing, and then he ordered all up before the steamer turned over. The lowering of the boats created much excitement. He could not say if anyone was in charge of the work of putting passengers into the boats, nor could he remember any men in places to handle oars. He told of a woman who clung to his hand as she sat on the thwart, and a man in the boat tore her away. It was five minutes after 3 o'clock when the call was given for the life-preservers. It was fifteen or twenty minutes after when the boats were lowered. The sea did not appear calmer when the tug 'Holyoke' came. It seemed worse. The sea had gone down when we were saved.

To Mr. McPhillips - He was a passenger in the third boat. He did not get away. He did not know who was in command of the launching of the boat. The boat was level with the saloon deck when he embarked. It was lowered evenly to near the water, and he could not remember how it tipped. It had been unhooked from the tackle. The first thing he knew was when he was in the water. He was sitting in the bow watching the other boats and looking around he saw others spilled in the water. Immediately after he felt himself in the sea. The weather had got bad quickly after leaving Port Townsend, and people were sea sick. He could not remember anything about the equipment of the boat. He did not remember any women being in that boat. When he saw people upset from the first boat he heard men in his boat say, "I guess we ought to go and save those people." The boats were lowered quickly. The second was down before the first boat was capsized. Those in the third boat did not know if the boats had turned over when they got into that boat. If the people in the second and third boats had known those boats had gone over, he thought they would not have embarked in the subsequent boats. When he climbed back on board he saw the boats heading to the sea from 200 to 500 yards from the vessel seemingly riding all right with the oars going. This was fifteen minutes after he climbed on board again. His wife was in the second boat. He thought his wife was all right. In spite of what people said about the boats capsizing he had seen nothing to show that the boats had met with mishap, and had hopes that this wife would be all right. He felt so until Monday. When he was in the third boat, someone said, "Look, that first boat's upset already." He looked and saw people from that boat in the water. He thought the second was all right then. He saw his wife sitting in the second boat as it made across the stern. When he saw it in the distance he was not sure it was the second boat, but thought so. At that time the crew were urging him to go and help to shift cargo. He did so.

When the 'Holyoke' came the passengers did not meet to decide on any concerted action to have the captain put them on the tug, as far as he knew. He was continuing bailing. The steamer was almost gone when the 'Sea Lion' came up from astern. The survivors were all clinging to the bow then.

E.E. Blackwood, local agent of the Alaska Steamship Company, and also of the Puget Sound Steamship Company, owners of the lost 'Clallam', said the steamer had been operated between Victoria and Seattle since July 4th last. He received no unusual advices regarding the sailing of the steamer on the Sch. It had been customary for some time for him to go to the top of the Driard to see if the steamer was coming. She could be seen for an hour before she got in from there. On the day in question he anticipated a storm, having noticed the fall of the barometer. It was remarked in the office that the steamer would have a rough trip. He sent his clerk to the top of the Driard at 2:30 p.m., as people were asking regarding what time the steamer would be in, She usually arrived at 3:30 p.m. When he looked she was not in sight. At 3:40 p.m. he went himself to the top of the Driard, and saw the 'Clallam' in her usual course, and about half an hour's run from Victoria. She did not appear to be moving. The storm was bad then. He noticed the sun shining through the clouds and saw her windows flashing, which indicated that she was rolling. He was going to telephone to his clerk to come and he would go to Clover Point. He looked at his watch and saw it was 3:45. He ran to the nearest hack stand and asked to be driven quickly to Clover Point. He had made up his mind if the steamer was not moving when he arrived he thought of sending a tug, which, if not needed, could be sent back. A heavy squall came up the straits, and he sheltered for a moment. With glasses borrowed from Mr. H.G. Henley, he made out the steamer rolling heavily. He made up his mind then to send assistance. Some of those standing by said they did not think it necessary. He drove to the Colonial hotel to telephone for a steamer. He left the hack stand at 3:50. He arrived at Clover Point at 4:05. Before the squall passed it was 4:15. He reached the Colonial hotel to telephone at 4:20 p.m. His first effort was to get the tug 'Lorne'. He telephoned to the agents and learned that the 'Lorne' was at Cape Flattery. He telephoned J.J. Greer, who operates the 'Albion', and was told she was at Port Townsend. He then tried to get the 'Sadie', but she was at Ladysmith. Then he tried to get a steamer from the C.P.R. He was told by Mr. Vincent that no steamer had steam up and it would take four to five hours before a steamer could be got out. He then telephoned to his clerk to see Capt. Gaudin about the 'Quadra'. He was told that the B.C. Marine Railway Co. wanted to speak to him. He spoke to Mr. Bullen, who said he had been told the 'Clallam' was adrift in the Straits and wanted assistance. That was what he wanted and he arranged with Mr. Bullen to send the 'Maude'. This was at 4:30 and he felt pleased that the assistance was secured and went to Clover Point again. There was no dickering about the price of the 'Maude's' assistance. Mr. H.F. Bullen had said the 'Maude' worked under Lloyds' rules, and the price of salvage would be settled by arbitration. Witness said he would not discuss the price then. Replying to a juryman, he said he could not say whether the 'Maude' would have been compelled to go to the 'Clallam' in view of the arrangement of her owners with Lloyds' if the steamer had been insured by that company.

It was about dark when he returned to Clover Point. He made out the 'Clallam'. She was drifting with her jib up. He waited for some time for the 'Maude' to come out from Esquimalt. Ultimately, when he felt nothing more could be done there, he went to the office. When he reached the office he was greatly surprised to find that the 'Maude' was unable to weather the storm, and nothing had been done. It was 5:20 when he returned to the office. It was afterward explained to him that the 'Maude' did not have her ballast tanks in and could not weather the gale. This floored him, as nothing had been accomplished. He was racking his mind, working under pressure and following out suggestions. He acted on one to intercept the 'Charmer' at Sidney, and was told that the 'Charmer' had passed fifteen minutes before. He then arranged with Capt. Sears, of the 'Iroquois', to go out. He said he would be ready in five minutes. He had wired to the Seattle manager that the 'Maude' could not go, and the next boat available would be the 'Charmer' on her arrival from Vancouver. The manager replied, "Sending tugs from Port Townsend." Then shortly afterward the Port Townsend agent telephoned - he having heard of the trouble through the head office of the Puget Sound Tugboat Company - asking if a tug was to be sent from Port Townsend. Witness replied that he had suggested to the manager the advisability of sending a tug from Port Townsend.

He went to meet the 'Charmer' on her arrival to see if he could get Capt. Troup to send the 'Charmer' and to ask if the 'Charmer' had seen her. She had not. The 'Charmer' had a rough trip; broken some windows and flooded her mail room. The general opinion was then that the 'Clallam' had got under the lee of some island and was safe. Telegrams came before the 'Charmer' arrived announcing that tugs had started from Port Townsend.

What Capt. Troup had said in regard to the 'Charmer' was that if he thought he could do any good he would gladly go, but he did not think he could be of any assistance. Witness had told him that he did not wish to spare assistance. Like everybody else, Captain Troup did not realize the seriousness of the situation. No one did. The 'Charmer' came in about 7:30 p.m. If the 'Charmer' had gone she could not have picked up the 'Clallam' as soon as the 'Holyoke' did. Witness had exhausted his resources, but was anxious and went to the beach. He stayed there until 1 a.m. next morning. The government steamer 'Quadra' was out of commission. She had no steam up. Unfortunately he did not telephone to the Admiral. It did not occur to him. It was an unfortunate omission. He had been afterward told that the 'Grafton' could have got out at 8 or 9 o'clock.

Juryman Marcon said he had been told by an officer of H.M.S. 'Grafton' that she could have gone out, and if she had done nothing else could have formed a wind break to allow the tugs taking off the passengers.

Witness, continuing, said he would have done anything he could, but like everyone else, he did not realize the seriousness of the situation. He had not told Mr. Bullen that no other boat could have gone out. He regretted that it had not occurred to him to notify the navy. He had followed out any suggestion made. It was not suggested to notify the navy. He had telephoned to Capt. Gaudin late in the day and the marine agent had said the 'Princess' might go out, but the agent did not think she could do any good.

If the 'Clallam' had been displaying distress signals, which should have impressed on his mind as well as others, the results would have been different. He did all he possibly could. He worked diligently, as fast as he could, following up every channel that suggested itself to secure assistance.

The 'Clallam' was inspected by Capt. Thomson at Seattle, and Capt. Collister in Victoria, on the morning of July 4th. He did not know what appliances there were on board for distress signals. He thought those things were required by law and he took it for granted the steamer had them. He was not aware that a new rudder awaited her at Seattle. He knew a new rudder had been put on her six weeks before.

To Mr. C.H. Lugrin - He knew of no difficulty the steamer had in leaving Victoria harbor on account of her rudder. The conversation between him and Mr. Bullen, as far as he could recall, was when Mr. Bullen said the 'Maude' was ready to go out he having got a report from Port Townsend he had said the 'Maude' worked under Lloyds rules in cases of salvage, and any question of salvage would be settled by arbitration. Witness replied that he did not wish to dispute place or salvage; all he wanted was to get the boat there. He went away from the telephone satisfied that the 'Maude' had gone. He talked with Mr. Bullen next morning, and had been told that, as the ballast tanks were out, she could not go. It would have taken the 'Charmer' unto at least 8:15 to get out, and might have reached the 'Clallam' at 9:30 p.m. if she could have found the steamer readily. The captain thought he could do no good. Capt. Troup was at that time under the impression that his wife was on board the steamer. The most the 'Charmer' could have done was to have reached the 'Clallam' before the 'Holyoke' reached her. The wind was southwest that afternoon. It was driving the steamer past Trial Island, and he thought she would get into the lee of Discovery to shelter. If she had gone to the northwest she could have reached shelter. When the tug picked the 'Clallam' up he did not know of any financial or other reason why Port Townsend should have been selected instead of a nearer point on this side. He knew of no instructions of the tugboat company to take any disabled vessel to Port Townsend. He did not know if the steamer was insured, but knew from the newspapers she was not. He was a stockbroker of the Alaska Steamship Company, but not to the Puget Sound Navigation Company. The Alaska Steamship Company, as a company, owned the Puget Sound Navigation company. The Alaska Steamship Co. owned the 'Dolphin', 'Dirago' and 'Farallon'. The Puget Sound Navigation Company owned the 'Rosalie', 'Majestic', 'Alice', 'Gertrude' and other vessels. It was the custom of the Alaska Steamship Co. to carry insurance of their vessels. He did not know whether it was the custom of the Puget Sound Navigation Co. It had not occurred to him to consult the sealing schooner men to see if any schooners were ready. Some of his friends had assisted in the effort to secure assistance. He only knew of the navy as being overlooked. This was most unfortunate. He would have tried any suggestion made to secure assistance. He had seen the 'Clallam' - frame, looked at her casually and thought she was built in the usual way. He did not place much value on his opinion of her build, being not experienced in that respect. He had not seen the steamer at all until after the time the boats were launched, and under no conditions, even had her dire distress been known, nothing could have been done whatever toward saving the women and children. No matter what distress signals had been displayed, nothing could have been done to save those drowned when the boats were lowered. When the tug 'Holyoke' came, the advantage came to save the others, but he would not care to express an opinion of his view as to what had been done. When he first saw the 'Clallam' her bow was to the southwest, to the wind. When he returned, after his telephoning, she had turned right around and was driving before the wind. The air was full of rain and spray then, and it was difficult to make out the vessel. He had observed that she was not making headway against the wind, but saw she was driving toward Discovery Island, and then knew she was not anchored. He had assured two people that the steamer was staunch. That was his opinion, but his opinion in this respect did not tend to lesson his efforts. He felt that if a tug was sent it would be the best thing to do. It could be sent back if not needed. He inferred her engines had broken down. He had often been on steamers when racing caused derangement of the engines. When he spoke to Capt. Gaudin about the 'Princess', Capt. Gaudin had said she might go out, but he doubted if she could do any good. Captain Gaudin did not refuse to send her. It was after the steamer had tied up for the night. He had been as insistent as possible for the 'Charmer' to go. He told Capt. Troup he wanted to leave nothing undone. In the meantime he had sent out the 'Iroquois'.

To Mr. McPhillips - After pointing out where the steamer was, in his opinion, when he saw her from the top of the Driard hotel. He said he thought she was about three or four miles from the nearest land, to the southwest of Trial Island. She was a little off her course, heading into the wind, pointing toward Race Rocks. He had expected to intercept the 'Charmer' with the 'Iroquois'. He had not communicated with the tugboat company direct. He had telegraphed, as is the custom, to the manager. He had been advised after an interval of an hour from his telegram suggesting their despatch, that the 'Holyoke' and 'Sea Lion' had been sent. He did not know then that the 'Holyoke' had gone from Port Townsend and the 'Sea Lion' had gone from Seattle. The 'Princess' was in the harbor. She had been working with the steam up, but was tied up for the night when he spoke to Capt. Gaudin asking if it was possible to send the 'Princess', and Capt. Gaudin said she might be sent out, but doubted if she could do any good. She did not go out. The idea of her despatch had been dropped after the conversation with Capt. Gaudin. He had never been asked to supply any equipment for the steamer, and knew nothing of the equipment. He never noticed any signal flags from the steamer. The steamer had had two rudders since launched in May last. He didn't know what happened to the first rudder. He knew nothing of how the last rudder acted. He had no further explanation regarding the offer of the 'Maude', and the fact that she did not go then that her ballast tanks, not being in her, prevented her departure. There was no question of terms or price. It was barely possible that the boats, if they had gone at once when the 'Clallam' had been seen, something might have been done to pick up the passengers capsized from the boats. Some of the passengers evidently, from what had been learned, made a hard fight for life, and the life belts were good. If the boats had been sent at once there was a bare chance of some being recovered. He did not think her engines were working when he saw her from the Driard hotel. When he left Capt. Troup it had been decided not to send the 'Charmer'.

The inquest the adjourned until this morning. None of the jury having expressed a wish to examine the wreckage at Cadboro Bay. Mr. Lugrin promised to arrange with the customs officers to that effect.
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