Collision Between The Steamers Empress and Passport
A collision attended with no fatal result, but with material damage, occurred on Thursday morning between two steamers of the Through Line, the Empress and the Passport. The Passport was on her way up the lake, having left Kingston at one o'clock in the morning, being thus delayed beyond her usual hour of departure by heavy weather; and the Empress was coming down the lake on her regular trip, and was making for this port. The accident occurred at about three o'clock in the morning, when just off the False Ducks lighthouse. The Passport had her larboard wheel completely crushed in and destroyed, the paddleshaft sprung somewhat, and she was completely disabled. The Empress had her bow stove in, and sprung a leak forward, which however could be kept under by the pumps. After the accident the Empress made for the shore and checked the leakage forward by wrapping sails, etc., round the stem. The Passport was left to shift for herself until assistance was rendered by the schooner Maze (sic - Maize ), whose captain witnessed the accident and bore down to the scene of the collision. The steamer Huron subsequently came up and towed the Passport back to Kingston, where she arrived about nine o'clock. The Empress after making the temporary repairs on Duck Island shore was able to reach Kingston without further assistance. Both these steamers were heavily laden with passengers, and it is a providential escape that the collision was not attended with more serious results. The Passport had on board about 600 souls, many of the passengers being German emigrants en route for the west. The Empress had about 80 people on board. Nobody was injured.
There are two explanations of the manner in which the accident occurred, each by the officers of the different steamers, and each tending to extenuate their respective vessels from blame. Captain Harbottle, of the Passport, was at his post in the morning, and saw the Empress at a distance of ten miles off. The Passport whistled three times; but he heard no return whistle, probably because the wind, which was adverse, prevented him; though he is of opinion that there was no officer on the deck of the Empress to attend to the vessel except the wheelsman. Both vessels at this time were in parallel lines, the Passport bearing towards the Ducks, and the Empress bearing towards Nine Mile Point. Captain Harbottle, in consequence of a difficulty previously experienced by the steamer Champion in passing the Empress, deemed it prudent to port the helm and give a wider berth to the Empress. The affair of the Champion is assigned as the sole reason for the Passport changing her course. The captain states that after altering his course he found that the Empress had also changed her course and was bearing down upon the Passport. He ordered the helm to be a second time put aport, but soon found that a collision was inevitable, and in order to receive the shock upon the most favorable part of the ship, he stopped the engine, but just before the collision ordered her to be moved ahead, and so received the blow upon the larboard paddle near the centre, the Empress striking stem on nearly at right angles with the Passport. The force of the collision was much softened to both vessels by the Empress striking successively upon the guards and breaking through the frame work of the wheel. To this circumstance may be attributed the safety of both vessels. The Empress rounded by the stern of the Passport, and just touched the shore to secure her from the danger that was apprehended, and after securing her bow proceeded to Kingston.
The mate of the Empress, who was on duty, states that he was at his post on deck and saw the lights of the Passport. He maintains that his own vessel was on her proper course, and that if the Passport had kept on her original course, which he claims was to the southward of the Empress, the Empress would have passed her on the larboard hand. The mate claims that the Passport, when it was too late, changed her course to port, in order to pass on the right side, and thus brought about the collision.
The captain of the schooner Maze (sic) corroborates the statement of Captain Harbottle in reference to the course of the Empress; he forms his opinion by the changed position of the lights of the Empress.
The passengers of the Passport were forwarded by the Champion last evening, and those of the Empress had their money returned and went forward by rail. The Passport will probably be laid up for some three or four weeks, though the extent of her injury has not been fully ascertained. The Empress has received worse injury above water than below, and consequently her detention will be short.
The cause of the collision will be a matter of investigation by the Through Line Company, and the blame will be laid where it properly belongs, and all necessary steps will be taken to insure the safety of the travelling public.
p.3 Imports - 23.
Wanted - Vessels for 100 Cargoes Lumber, from the Port of Toronto to Oswego, by the subscriber, and for which the highest rates of freight will be paid from the Northern R.R. Wharf, and will pay not less than $1.50 per thousand feet for 2,000,000 feet.
Toronto, July 25th, 1862 F.P.G. Taylor, Shipper.