Monday, May 12, 2008

Wreck of the Czarina




SW WIND 10 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 11 SECONDS...SUBSIDING TO 6 FT AT 10 SECONDS.

Oregon shipwrecks are the stuff of legend and lore...
Sad and tragic stories of lives lost and cargo destroyed...
Through the years countless coast cruising vessels have perished...
Many in the Coos Bay region since settlement in the 1850s...
One of the more catastrophic losses was the steamship Czarina...
She wrecked January 12, 1910 near the North Spit of the Bay...
A 216' steamer outbound from Coos to San Francisco Bay...
Bearing a load of cement, coal, & 40,000' of lumber on her deck...
The 23-man crew and single passenger...
Hailed from ports in Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Norway
Germany, Portugal, Spain, Argentina and the United States...
The January 21, 1910 edition of The Coos Bay Times...
Announced the disastrous news of the Czarina wreck...
Subheadlines from the tragic story read:
"Last of Six Men Lost in Breakers Last Thursday"...
"Some Drop From Mast and Others Jump in Futile Effort to Reach Shore"...
"Second Body Unidentified"...
Built in Sunderland, England in 1883 as the steamship G.W. Jones...
She was valued at $100,000; with a cargo estimated at $20,000...
The afternoon of January 12 she steamed over the bar...
On what was to be her final voyage...
The day was partly cloudy...
With an east wind blowing...
And seas, as typical, were turbulent...
As she faltered on the bar...
A succession of huge waves hammered her...
First carrying the ship to the South Spit...
Where she blew a distress signal...
Then the waves drove her north...
Into the watery teeth of the breakers...
As five feet of water flooded the engine room..
The coal fires were quickly extinguised...
And the powerless ship was at the mercy of the waves...
The Captain ordered anchors dropped...
And the ship settled broadside, parallel to the distant beach...
The Czarina was stuck 1,860' from shore...
As her lifeboats were smashed to pieces and washed away...
All attempts to launch a surfboat were unsuccessful...
And efforts to shoot a lifeline also failed...
The ship's lost cargo of lumber floated in the surf...
And increasingly heavy seas prevented rescue efforts...
By Captain W.A. Magee of the harbor tug Astoria...
And by the steamer Nann Smith herself heavily loaded with lumber...
The crew, meanwhile, sought refuge in the rigging and wires...
All throughout the long and cold night...
Bystanders on the beach lit fires to offer encouragement...
To the doomed crew members clinging to the rigging...
As the rigging gave way, and the ship foundered...
Slowly, one by one, the exhausted men dropped to their deaths...
Buffeted by strong winds and fierce waves...
Some fell into the chilly Pacific Ocean...
Some to the ship's deck, only to be washed overboard...
The next day, only the mast and men holding it were left...
Of 24 men aboard, only one survivor...
The 1st assistant engineer who had clung to a timber...
As he neared shore a surfman dragged him to safety...
Few of the crew were wearing life preservers...
An inspector from the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service...
Later accused the Keeper of the Life Saving Station...
Of failure to fulfill his duties and "professional unfitness"...
The Czarina, insured for $70,000, was a total loss...
More horrific was the enormous toll of lives...
In what was described as "an appalling marine casualty."

4 comments:

tres_arboles said...

An intense story, yet only one of hundreds our coasts share.

david

rj said...

Best waves in Coos Bay for at least a century. Look at that left.

Anonymous said...

if only they hadn't dropped anchor they would have been beached.

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