Clallam Investigation
previous page     BC Lists     Clallam Index     next page
from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 13 Feb 1904, pg.3

Evidence of Chief Officer Of Ill-fated Steamer Taken Yesterday

Captain Roberts Did Not Manifest Excitement and Was Cool

The investigation into the wreck of the 'Clallam' was resumed before Coroner Hart yesterday afternoon.

D.W. Doney, on being sworn, said he was the chief officer of the 'Clallam', and held a master's certificate and had been on the sea since 1884.

Witness had been on this boat five months, and prior to the time of the accident never heard of any trouble with leaking nor with the steering gear, but there was a new rudder put in about a month before the accident. The boat always seemed to answer all right, and he never heard there was any difficulty. Went below about half-past two on the afternoon of the wreck and never went back to the wheelhouse, but was most of the time down below bailing. Everything went well till about 2 o'clock, and the engineer whistled up about ten past two that the deadlight was broken. Then both the captain and witness went into the pilot house. The captain told witness to go down and see what was the matter; went down and found the chief engineer and one of the crew were working on the deadlight. Witness assisted all he could, and when he went back on deck he found she had shifted her cargo. There was no water on the floor of the engine room at that time. While they had the deadlight closed he went on deck while they were shifting cargo. She kept making water but there was not water coming through the port. The captain then sent word down to set the sail and get around before the wind. We set the jib, but it would not answer. Shortly after the engineer came up and reported there was too much water, and it was putting the fires out. In the meantime the assistant engineer said the deadlight was opened up again. The captain then told witness to take a couple of men and close it. There were about three and a half feet of water in the engine room. While we were working in the engineer room they lowered the boats. The engine had stopped before witness went down the second time. Did not hear the order to lower the boats. One boat went around the bow and the other around the stern. No. 1 boat swamped after she got around the stern, but No. 3 got away about 500 feet before she swamped. When we started to lower No. 6 the falls got jammed and spilt some of the people out, so we did not lower very far. The captain then gave orders to lower the boats on the other side. We swung them over the side and then got orders not to lower them any further, but to wait to the last; and then got orders from the captain to bail after I had come from the engine room. Witness made up his mind that the boat could not last very long and reported same to Capt. Roberts. It was something near 4 o'clock when the boats were lowered; it only took a couple of minutes to lower them. Was rather surprised when he heard that the boats were ordered to be lowered. We were about four to five miles from Trial Island when the boats were lowered. We kept bailing from 5 o'clock.

About 9:30 p.m. the tug 'Holyoke' came along and asked the captain if he would be of any assistance, the captain replying that he wanted to be towed to Victoria. The captain of the 'Holyoke' said he would not, but he would tow him to Port Townsend. Capt. Roberts replied that what he wanted was to get to the nearest port; he also told the 'Holyoke' that the 'Clallam' was making water. The water gained steadily on the bailers all afternoon. When the 'Holyoke' came up the after part of the ship was over half full of water, but still, witness thought, she was good for at least two hours, which she was. Witness made no suggestions to the captain, who had full charge, and used his own judgment. We did not wish to use the remaining boats on account of what had happened in the afternoon. To witness' mind there was just as big a sea at 0:30 o'clock as any time during the day. The 'Holyoke' towed till 1 o'clock. About 12 o'clock the captain decided there was no use bailing any longer, and he could see she was going down. All hands were ordered up on the saloon deck, and just then the 'Sea Lion' came along. The captain told her to go and stop the 'Holyoke' towing, as the ship was sinking. The tow rope was about 600 feet in length. Witness tried to get someone to help him cut the raft adrift. So he went alone, having to crawl all the way. He cut it adrift and went into the water with it. Got about sixteen people on the raft of both passengers and crew. About an hour after we were picked up by the 'Sea Lion'. The deadlight had been sprung about a month before the accident. The port engineer had reported it, but it had never been fixed. Capt. Carter knew about it and ordered it covered with canvas, but Capt. Roberts never knew about it. The whole cargo would not amount to over two carloads, and if that all went to one side it would not list her over a foot, but with a heavy wind under the same conditions she might have a list of eighteen feet. The only distress signals she had was the ensign upside down and the house flag half-masted. After dark we hoisted the signal lights, the red one breaking; we had no rockets. Might have made a flare light if we had any oil. Had witness been a passenger he would have taken the chance and gone with the boats.

Witness saw No. 3 boat swamped; the sea seemed to came right over it and never saw the boat again. Tried to lower the other boats to pick the people up, but could not. Made no suggestions whatever to the captain, he used his own judgment. There was no time that the port hole was completely submerged until she was practically full of water. Could not tell where the water came from unless she sprung a leak. Was certain that all the water did not come through the port hole.

Witness said if the sea had not been so heavy they might have backed around. The reason she would not come around was that she had too much house for the wind. The jib even with steam was not sufficient to counteract the effect of the house.

Witness took the chart and endeavored to explain to the jury the exact position of the 'Clallam' when they first tried to bring her about. After they lowered the boats she was laying right in the trough of the sea. They set the sails to try and steady her, but the wind blew the staysail all to pieces. With a drag on board they might have got her head to the wind. The anchors were of no use unless they bottom.

Capt. Roberts never consulted witness on anything. The only thing witness did on his own responsibility was the dumping of the cargo. Witness always handled the rudder around the harbor and never had any difficulty with it.

Witness said he never refused to go up the harbor on account of the steering gear and never spoke to any one about it. The only reason he refused to handle her once was on account of the wind and he did not care to take any responsibility.

Questioned by Mr. McPhillips witness stated they were about four or five miles southwest of Trial Island. In ordinary weather it would have taken about fifty minutes to reach Victoria. Witness was quite satisfied that after he had closed the deadlight the first time that there would be no more trouble on that point.

Witness was positive that all the water did not come through the deadlight, but could not say where it did come from.

The captain was not excited, but acted as he always did and seemed to have control of the ship up to the time she went down.

John H. Hafferman described the machinery of the ill-fated steamer, saying that it was first-class in every respect.

The inquest was adjourned until Tuesday afternoon.
previous page     BC Lists     Clallam Index     next page     Top