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THE LOSS OF THE COTOPAXI., Issue 7963, 19 July 1889
THE LOSS OF THE COTOPAXI.
[From Ocb London Correspondent. J London, May 31. The Lord Mayor and the great British public have expended so much coin and enthusiasm over Captain Murrell's achievements in connection Mi\h the Danmark rescue that I fear they will not have much left for Captain Hayes and the officers of the good old Cotopaxi. Nevertheless, if the following story of the two catastrophes, which recently occured to that ill fated vessel, and the way they were met, is correct, Captain Hayes deserves at least a portion of the hero-worship that is being showered on Skipper Murrell. The Cotopaxi sailed from Liverpool with a large number of passengers, the South American and Pacific mails, specie, and a general cargo for Valparaiso. The ship reached the Strait of Magellan in safety, and left Punta Arenas on April S. The weather was fine and clear and the sea smooth. The land was distinctly visible on both sides, and the Cotopaxi seemed to bo in the middle of the Channel. About 11 p.m. the passengers were terrified by hearing a fearful crash, and on rushing on deck learnt that a large steamer, which aftervtarda proved to be the German steamer Olympia, bound from Valparaiso to Hamburg, had crashed into the Cotopaxi on the starboard side below the water-line. The boats were instantly got out, and the passengers all prepared to get into them. There was not the least excitement, owing to the coolness of the captain and officers. The water was running into the ship very fast, and Captain Hayes decided that the only thing which could bo done to aave the ship was to run her ashore. By midnight the vessel was safely beached, and all danger was considered over. Captain Hayes Bent away three lifeboats to render assistance to the Olympia, and they returned in an hour with the intelligence that the Olympia had her bows stove in, but was in no immediate danger of sinking, About 9 a.m. next morning the Olympia came up, and, having communicated with the Cotopaxi, proceeded. In the meantime many of the male passengers assisted the crew in working the hand-pumps, as the water had risen above the plates in the engine-room and put out the fires. The chief officer and chief engineer by daylight succeeded in effecting a temporary stoppage of the leak, which was four feet below the water-line. The water in the ship having been somewhat reduced, the engineers got a steam pump to work, and then everyone helped in throwing cargo overboard to lighten the ship. So much progress had been made that at 4 p.m. steam was np, and as it was high water the engines were put full speed astern, and the Cotopaxi floated off Bafely amid loud cheers for Captain Hayes and the crew. Tho ship anchored off the beach, and the cargo was shifted to port to list the ship over, so that the broken plates might show above the water. This done, the engineers worked at the plates from stages, although their ' position was far from enviable, the weather being bitterly cold. By the afternoon of the following day the damaged plates had been sufficiently repaired to allow the ship to resume her voyage. The cargo, which had been jettisoned, was recovered. On account of a heavy N.W. gale, Captain Hayes, in order to avoid the heavy seas running, took tho northern portion of Smyth's Channel. The chip safely passed on the 15th April through the English Narrows, which are said to be most difficult to navigate; and between two and three o'clock the same afternoon, the ship, being in mid-channel, and going full speed, suddenly struck on an unknown rock not marked on the Admiralty chart, the position being in latitude 48deg 44min S., longitude 74deg 30min W. She must have been ripped clean open as she passed over the rock, for she at once oommenced to sink. The boats were got out with all despatch, the women and children placed in them first, then the male passengers and crew. When the last man of the crew had got into the boat the stern of the ship was under water, and Captain Hayes stood ankle deep in water. Having eeen all safely out of the ship the captain picked up his dog and jumped into the boat. The chief engineer had a narrow escape, the water in the engine room being up to his waist before he had time to clear out. The Cotopaxi sank perpendicularly, stern first. Although only eight minutes elapsed from the time tf striking to the time of founder-
ing, the whole of the passengers j anil crew, 200 in all, were saved. There were two paralysed passengers on board, and Dr E. D. Alton rushed below and brought up the steerage passenger, and having safely deposited him in the boat, returned to the saloon for the other. The boats made for an inlet two miles to the westward, where all landed in safety. The boats were hauled up and turned bottom up, the sails being utilised as tents to shelter the women and children, whose position was most deplorable, as the weather was icy cold, and they had saved nothing but what they stood upright in. The island was a miserable swamp. Beyond five tins of bread, the passencers and crew had nothing but raw musseU found on tho rocks and melted snow. The ladies and children behaved most bravely under the trying circumstances. They spent two days and two nights on this waste, and thenCaptain Hayes having found a more comfortable place on tho other side of the channel, four miles distant—the camp was broken up and the party taken safely across. There they found the remains of several ludian huts, which served as a shelter for the passengers. The following morning the German steamer Setos, of the Kosmos line, bound from Valparaiso to Hamburg, hove in sight, and took the passengers and crew on board. They had a good supply of coffee and biscuits—the first morsel that some had tasted for three days.
THE LOSS OF THE COTOPAXI., Issue 7963, 19 July 1889
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