The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 15 Mar 1902

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Railroad Company To Control Dock at Alexandria Bay

[Thousand Island Sun, Alexandria Bay]

By the terms of a contract the New York Central railroad obtain control of Cornwall Bros' dock in this village for one year from March 1st, 1902. The conduct of the business of the dock, as far as the express, baggage, ticket selling and freight matters are concerned, will remain in the hands of the Cornwall Bros., much as it has in the past. This is a radical change, however, as it means that the railroad company will be the final deciding power as to what boats will be allowed to land at the dock.


Marine Intelligence

The steamer Pierrepont is all ready to begin her season's work; all she needs to make her complete is her usual suit of summer paint.

The steamer Rideau Prince to be placed in commission with the Rideau King and Queen, will be built in Kingston. The work will be begun next fall.

A large number of workmen are employed in preparing the steamers of the White Squadron for the forthcoming season's operations on the river among the Islands.



Marine City Commission Finds Him Blameless.

At last the suspense has been relieved, and the decision in the Marine City disaster investigation declared. That decision exonerates Capt. Malone, of the steamer India, from all blame. A large number of citizens assembled at the city hall this morning to hear the decision read. Promptly at eleven o'clock, commander Spain, chairman of the investigating commission, mounted the platform, and in clear decisive tones announced the findings of the court. He said:

From the evidence submitted at the investigation into the loss of four lives on the derelict

Marine City, the court has come to the following conclusion:

That Capt. Malone did all that was possible to do under the then existing conditions. The chief engineer, who was apparently the only person on the steamer to have had any disagreement at all with the captain, and a man of thirty-five years experience as engineer on steamboats says:

"I do not think the loss of life could have been avoided."

It is possible that it would have been better if Capt. Malone had hoisted a flag of distress on his own vessel when he saw that there was one hoisted on the derelict, but the reason he gives for not doing so is reasonable; and in the evidence given by Capt. Craigie - which is very important evidence - it is stated that it is quite impossible to render assistance of any kind from 9 a.m. Thursday.

1. It has been strongly represented, and brought out in the evidence, that no life boat was left on the Marine City for the safety of the men, when the derelict was first taken in tow, but was returned to the India by the captain's orders. The reason the captain gives for doing this is that there was only one davit on the Marine City, the other being broken. From the evidence produced, apparently there were no falls on the davits; consequently it would have been a difficult matter for four men to handle such a boat without any appliances and to have hauled her up on board the derelict; which was stated to be about ten feet out of the water. Under these circumstances the court is of opinion that it was hardly possible for the boat to have been left on board the Marine City. The first mate was in charge of the men on the derelict, and it is to be presumed if he considered it was necessary for a boat to be left, that he would have requested the captain to do so. On the mate being asked by the captain from the India, when he was on board the derelict, if everything was all right, he replied, "Yes, it is all right."

2. The derelict was taken in tow about ten a.m. Wednesday, and from that time till her arrival off Goderich, about 5:30 p.m., nothing whatever transpired to indicate that there was any danger.

3. On arrival off Goderich the captain gives as his reason for not making the harbor that he could not see the range lights. This is verified by the wheelsman on watch. It is stated by the second mate that he saw the range lights and told the captain so; on being recalled he stated that when abreast of Goderich he could pick up the range and see it occasionally. The wheelsman states that he heard the second mate say to the captain that he saw the red light, but did not hear him say he saw the range lights. The wheelsman further states that after 1:30 o'clock he could see them once in a while.

Under these conditions and when the captain found that the anchorage was not good he went, very properly, out into deeper water.

4. It is brought out by most of the evidence that up to the time the captain went out into deeper water there was no apprehension of danger on the part of any person; neither is it shown that up to that time the first mate, who was in charge of the derelict, had given any signs to indicate that there was apprehension of danger on his part, which may be presumed he would have done if he thougth such was the case. The first mate, an experienced seaman, no doubt, and possibly as good a judge of weather indications as the captain, does not appear to have made any signals to be taken off the derelict up to this time, nor does it appear that there was any suggestion made by any person to do so.

It is only possible to believe that the captain, who is shown to be a master mariner of excellent repute and extended experience, did what he considered the very best at the time in the interests of all concerned.

5. After anchoring in deep water the weather began to get very bad, but at no time between the time of anchoring and the breaking of the tow line - of which there are various statements ranging from ? to 4:30 o'clock - does there appear to have been any apprehension of danger on the part of anyone on board. After that time there is, apparently, a diversity of opinion as to the safety of lowering the life boat and going to the succour of the men on the Marine City. The captain maintains most positively that he did not consider it safe on account of the heavy sea, to do so for the reason that the attempt would only endanger more lives. The chief engineer and the wheelsman are of the same opinion; these two men having the most experience at sea, the experience of the balance of the crew being very limited, the second mate having served as second mate two seasons, one season as wheelsman, and four seasons before the mast on a tow barge.

6. It is stated, and no doubt, is a fact, that the men on the Marine City hoisted a flag of distress on Thursday morning, and that the captain of the India did very little to render them assistance. In the opinion of the court, the captain did all that was possible, under the then existing conditions. His life-boat could not live, and Capt. Craigie, of the life-boat station, and Capt. Ewart, of the steamer Rosedale, clearly illustrated that there was danger of his own vessel getting into the trough of the sea and coming to grief. The captain of the India tried to drag back to the derelict and throw them a line, but he could not accomplish this. Capt. Ewart, of the Rosedale, an experienced master mariner, states that it would not have been prudent to go within 800 or 1,000 feet of the Marine City.

7. Regarding the question of the inefficiency of the tow line, the first and second mates, who knew the line perhaps as well - or better even - than the captain, neither raised any question at the time as to its fitness or safety to tow the derelict. The second mate himself made it fast, and the very fact of it having towed the derelict nearly eighty miles, and holding on until the storm became absolutely terrific, does not indicate that the line was an inferior one.

The court inspected this tow line on board the India and was satisfied with it.

8. It is stated that the captain of the India might have blown his whistle. The captain's reason for not doing so is that no one could have heard it on shore. This is a good reason, and any person conversant with steamboat whistles will agree that it could not have been heard from that distance under such conditions of weather.

9. It is charged that the captain did not raise a flag of distress on the India, and that if he had done so it might have been seen from the shore better than the one that was flying in the rigging of the Marine City. The court coniders that it would have been better if the captain had hoisted the flag, but from all the evidence nothing could have been done from the shore, even if a flag had been seen.

After a very colorful and earnest consideration of the whole case, and taking into consideration in the first place that all the men who went from the India to the Marine City went of their own free will, and were anxious to go, and had no instructions or orders to do so, the court is of the opinion that Capt. Malone should be exonerated in that he did all that was possible for an experienced man to do under the then existing circumstances, and his certificate returned, which is done herewith: Mr. Harty, one of the assessors, dissenting.

The court desires to point out that there is apparently a lack of discipline on board vessels of the class of the India, as it does not seem correct that the first mate and three men should leave a ship without first receiving direct orders from the captain.

Signed, O.G.V. Spain, commissioner, and E. Adams, assessor.

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15 Mar 1902
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 15 Mar 1902