Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Umatilla's Men Were Cool --- September 3, 2017

The drawing is from the 11-November-1896 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. 

Umatilla was a coastwise liner that hauled many passengers to the Yukon Gold Rush. 

She Returns After Her Wreck Near Port Townsend.
Captain Hunter Pays a Glowing Tribute to the Bravery of His Men.

The Pacific Coast Steamship Company's steamer Umatilla got in from Puget Sound yesterday with a cargo of wheat. After discharging she will go to the Union Iron Works, where she will be docked for repairs. To look at the vessel as she steamed up to her dock no one would ever think that for weeks she had lain on the beach with the water up to her main deck.

Over a month ago the Umatilla left here for Victoria, B. C. On arriving at that point a pilot took charge for the voyage around the Sound and ran her on the rocks near Port Townsend in a dense fog. A big hole was torn in the vessel's bottom and she began to fill. Captain Hunter then headed the vessel for the beach and got her into shallow water before she went down. Captain Hunter and Chief Engineer Lacey are both almost worn out with the work of attending to the raising of the steamer and both are proud of the fact that she is once more in San Francisco.

"I cannot say too much for my crew," said Captain Hunter. "Every man stuck to his post, and firemen kept steam up while working up to their knees in water. There was no panic among the passengers, but none of them would go below until Chief Steward Curtis got the galley fire going at 4 a. m. and made coffee and toast. When everything was ready the gong was rung, and the boys rounded all the cabin passengers into the dining-room for a snack. That put heart into all of them, and they became more cheerful. They had hardly finished eating before the water began entering the dining-room, but the passengers did not know it. Next Mr. Curtis saw that the steerage passengers were taken care of, and then ordered breakfast to be got ready.

"By this time the water was a foot deep in the galley, but the cook and his assistants stuck to their work, knowing that the vessel could sink very little lower, and by 7 A.M. a fine meal was prepared. Then the cabin passengers were marshaled into the steerage and served with as good a meal as they would have received at sea, only the surroundings were not as pleasant. After the cabin passengers had finished the tables were cleared and then reset for the steerage passengers. I tell you a good meal puts heart into a man or a woman, and to hear those passengers laughing and joking after the tables were cleared you would never think we had all had a narrow escape from going down in deep water. All's well that ends well, however, and Curtis deserves all the credit for the inspiration that made him get that coffee and toast ready at 4 o'clock in the morning."

After the water had been pumped out of the Umatilla the tugs Magic, Tyee and Tacoma took hold of the big steamer and towed her to Port Townsend. The accompanying sketch is taken from a snap shot made by an amateur photographer while the tugs and their tow were making for the Pacific Coast Steamship Company's landing at Port Townsend. After some temporary repairs the vessel was put on the drydock and big timbers were placed over the hole and bolted to the hull. Everything was made perfectly water-tight, and then the Umatilla went to Tacoma to load wheat. It will be several months before she will again be ready for service.

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