Steamers Could Have
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STEAMERS COULD HAVE SEEN SIGNALS
from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 24 Jan 1904, pg.6

John Davis Saw Flags of Passing Vessel Which Might Have Given Aid to Clallam

Says Women Protested Against Getting in Boats But Were Forced To Do So

John Davis, who had been a passenger on the steamer 'Clallam', gave evidence at the coroner's inquest yesterday before Dr. F.C. Hart, that many women wished to remain by the 'Clallam' and protested against being put in the boats, but were forced to go. He also told of how the captain had told the passengers who came to him when the tug 'Holyoke' came and requested to be put on board, that he would put them on the tug as soon as there was danger. He told them the steamer would live for three hours, but she only lived twenty minutes.

Davis said he had seen people getting life belts and he got one. When passing the engine room door he heard Capt. Roberts in conversation with some one. The captain said: "Can't you stop it up," and he heard the reply. "No, I can't do anything with it." The engines were stopped then, Capt. Roberts had given the purser orders to have the boats lowered and the women and children put in. Many insisted on staying with the ship, protesting against going into the boats. One lady, who was bleeding from the mouth and nose, objected strongly, and was lifted forcibly into the boats. He saw two men in the second boat. He could not saw how many there were in the first. He saw the first boat capsize and the second leave the vessel, apparently safely. He and an oiler then got into the third boat. He found it difficult to get oars. They were under the seats and passengers were in the way. As the boat reached the water the steamer rolled, tightening the tackle, which had fouled and the boat went over. The oiler grabbed a wire from the steamer and, witness, shouting for help, was told by the oiler to take his leg. He did so and was assisted to safety. He saw that the second boat was swamped when he reached the deck.

Then all were ordered below and bailing commenced. Water was then four feet from the freight deck. At 12:30 the purser ordered bailing stopped. Someone asked the captain why bailing had been stopped, and Capt. Roberts said they could continue bailing if they wished to. All returned below to re-commence, but before they did so Capt. Roberts came and ordered them on deck. Sometime afterward, after the 'Holyoke' had started to tow the steamer, they waited on the captain and asked to be put on the tug. The captain said: "There's no danger yet." The passengers insisted on being put on the tug, and the captain said, "You people go below. I'm running this part of it. When I find you people are in danger I'll signal the tug back for you." The passengers then asked if he thought the boat would reach Port Townsend, and the captain replied, "Oh yes, she's good for three hours yet." The steamer lasted only twenty minutes afterwards.

The 'Sea Lion' came as the conversation was going on, and Capt. Roberts despatched her to the 'Holyoke' to stop the towing. When the 'Sea Lion' returned the 'Clallam' was on her side and witness and others had climbed out on her side. He had been washed off and picked up unconscious. He thought it might have been possible to save some of those from the first boat lowered, and she capsized alongside the steamer. It was impossible to do anything for those lost from the second boat. He had seen a steamer pass about the time the boats were launched three or four miles distant, and she was still in sight when the boats were being lowered.

To Mr. C.H. Lugrin - At the time the passengers asked to be transferred to the tug the wind had gone down and the transfer could have been made. Capt. Roberts was on the hurricane deck when the first boat was launched, the purser was on the saloon deck. He had done nothing to save those capsized from the boat. The lady who protested against being put in the boat and was forced in was 22 or 23 years of age, tall and dressed in black. A small boy, standing beside her, crying was lifted into the boat. A stout lady had protected against going into the second boat. He was positive that a steamer passed before the boats were lowered, and had signals of distress been displayed the steamer would have seen them, as he could see her flags.

To Mr. McPhillips - It was about 12:40 when Capt. Roberts said the steamer was good for three hours. She lasted twenty minutes. Capt. Roberts had gone down and investigated things five minutes before. He heard that the water was coming in through a deadlight when bailing.

H.F. Bullen, of the B.C. Salvage Company, said he heard of the 'Clallam' being in distress, he had been informed that she had lost her propeller off Beacon Hill, and had telephoned to Mr. Blackwood to ask if assistance was wanted. Mr. Blackwood replied affirmatively and asked that the 'Maude' be sent, adding that it would not be a case of salvage. Witness replied that this would not make any difference, as the 'Maude' worked under Lloyd's rules. Mr. Blackwood then asked that the 'Maude' go out and report to Capt. Roberts. Witness then went to the 'Maude' and instructed her to proceed, taking a few extra men. The 'Maude's' master said it was impossible for her to go, as she was light forward and would not be able to withstand the sea then prevailing. He had argued with the captain of the 'Maude', who had steam-up, but the captain had persisted that it would be impossible to go out. He ordered then that a full head of steam be maintained and a telephone message sent to him at his residence if there was any indication of the wind moderating. The change in the ballasting system of the 'Maude', then under way, made her light forward. He telephoned to Mr. Blackwood and told him that the 'Maude' would be unable to go, and Mr. Blackwood had replied that he would get tugs. Working under Lloyd's rules meant that assistance would be sent to ships in distress without any bickering for price, the amount due being afterward settled. A salvage company should always have a steamer available with steam.

The 'Maude' had gone out at 9:30 as far as Trail Island, but had seen nothing. If the 'Clallam' had shown a flare the 'Maude' could have reached her between the time the 'Holyoke' started towing and she foundered. If the 'Clallam' had been displaying distress signals the 'Maude' would have been sent out in any event. He understood from Mr. Blackwood's statement that "it wouldn't be a matter of salvage," that the case was not one of urgent importance. He was aware that the 'Maude' had her ballast tanks out when he offered her services. He did not, himself, think the wind too great for her to have gone out. It would have been possible for her to out in three hours.


The chief engineer, Scott DeLaunay, arrived in the city yesterday, and will be examined on Monday.
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