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LOSS OF LIFE AT SEA.

TO THE EDITOB. Sm.-In your paper of the 20th you give a full account of the death by drowning of Mr Adolph Durlach, a passenger by the s s. , Alameda on her voyage from Sydney to I San Francisco. I will give a few extracts from a letter describing what transpired. The writer says:-" I was startled and alarmed at two minutes to ten with the cry of 'Man overboard.' . . • Captain Morse, a very intelligent seaman was on the bridge within a few seconds after the alarm had been given, and just a minute had elapsed when the steamers engines were stopped. As quickly as possible they were reversed, and we proceeded full speed astern. ... In from twelve to fifteen minutes we were back on the spot where the sad event occurred. A boat was lowered," etc., etc. The writer adds : "The poor fellow was never seen again." Here we have the sad old story: No means on board to pick a man up who unfortunately falls overboard. Over twenty-five years back, after spending L6OO in bringing my brother's, Charles Clifford, boat lowering apparatus before the Steam Navigation Board of Melbourne, I induced that body to make it compulsory that all steamers leaving Melbourne should carry it. , , In the year 1572 I paid a visit to England. O.J my return to Melbourne in 1876 I Went on board one of the New Zealand Bteamers and found none of her boats fitted with the apparatus. I was referred to Captain J. M'Lean. I asked him how it was the vessel was not providrd with Clifford's apparatus as the Act required. He said she was provided. I told him I had examined all the boats, and not one was so fitted. He admitted such was the case, but added that the Act said the ship should carry the apSaratus— that she did so carry it; it was own in the hold. I wrote to the Steam Navigation Board on the subject, but could get no redress. Here was a state of affairs. I could do nothing, as I was obliged to leave Melbourne.

Charles Clifford had been dead some {Mare. During his life he frequently pubhhed the following challenge:—" I am prepared, single-handed, to unlash, lower, and entirely disengage from a ship (under a'.l the following circumstances), either stationary or under way, or going at any speed, and from any height, a boat and crew weighing from lOcwt to 3 tons against any invention or crew in the world, for the sum of LIOO, to be given for placing a lifeboat on an exposed part of the coast, the boat to be named after the successful competitor." For years afterwards, out of respect to my brother's memory, I published the same challenge, which was never accepted. I may add that I have never kuown the apparatus to fail if kept in order. When the Sarah Sands, the Eastern City, and Cospatrick were burnt, the only boats that were safely lowered were fitted with Clifford's apparatus, and I could mine many other cases. I (a landsman) have often lowered boats from ships running eight to ten knots in from a minute to a minute and a-half. In one voyage to India of H.M.S. Shannon (Captain Peel), three men that fell overboard on diferent occasions were all nicked up by boats fitted with Clifford's' apparatus. On the last occasion Lientenant Vaughan, who was in charge of the boat, wrote : "I wan below at the messroom table when 1 heard the cry of' Man overboard !' but in three minutes from the time the boat was manned, lowered, and the man was picked up. I lowered the boat myself, singlehanded." The boat was a ship's boat, and contained fourteen hands. Had the Alameda had such apparatus on board no doubt Mr Durlach's life would have been saved, as the boat might have been lowered in the time it took to stop the ship, instead of having to wait from twelve to fifteen minutes before it was possible to lower a boat as described. If vessels carried any plan by which a boat could be lowered safely with a vessel under way I should not have written this, nor, in all probability, should I have had cause; but as it is I unhesitatingly assert that shipowners are morally guilty of manslaughter, if not murder, who fail to provide their ships with a tried apparatus, so as to be able at least to try to save the life of either passenger or sailor who may unfortunately fall overboard. Our papers are daily full of advertisements describing the advantages to be obtained ou board the splendid ship Dangerous—saloons, smoking rooms, bathrooms, pianos, etc., etc.; and it might be added, with the greatest safety, that in the event of anyone falling overboard in all probability she or he would be drowned, as no means of hastily lowering a boat is on board. Only a short time since a lady fell overboard from a steamer in Hobson Bay. the lady could not be found, aud the steamer went on to Melbourne without her. The lady was afterwards most miraculously picked up by another steamer. Why was the lady not picked up by the boats of the ship from which she fell ? For the simple reason that before the ship could be stopped ehe wai so far from tho poor lady that she could not be found when they went to look for her. Had a boat been on board, fitted with Clifford's plan, it could have been iu the water long before the lady was lost 1 sight of. Xn writing this I have no personal object to serve. Charles Clifford died brokenhearted and a ruined man. His patent has run out, and neither myself nor any of his family have any interest in his plan.—l am, etc., G. ?• Clifford. Dunedin, May 23.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890525.2.30.1

Bibliographic details

LOSS OF LIFE AT SEA., Issue 7916, 25 May 1889

Word Count
987

LOSS OF LIFE AT SEA. Issue 7916, 25 May 1889

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