Captain Jumps When Steamboat Hits Rocks
Thursday, September 19, 2013
By Dmitri Shockey
The S.S. South Portland had a varied career as a west Indian trader and smuggling ship before running into the rocks and sinking off the coast of Cape Blanco, Ore.
Originally christened the Dawn, the steamer traded in the West Indies for the British before being sold to an American company and trading along the East Coast under the name of the Caroline Miller. The ship even engaged in smuggling, slipping through a French blockade of the Haitian Republic.
A Boston company bought the Caroline Miller and renamed the ship the S.S. South Portland.
Running up the Pacific Coast from San Francisco to Portland, the steamer collided with rocks off Cape Blanco on Oct. 19, 1903.
Capt. Mcintyre’s reaction to the disaster would be severely criticized. Instead of staying aboard the stricken boat until all passengers and crew members had reached safety, Mcintyre jumped into a lifeboat and fled. First officer Charles Bruce valiantly tried in vain to beach the ship.
Eighteen crew members died. Capt.Mcintyre did save several men on his way to shore, but it didn’t keep The Oregonian from branding him a poltroon, a fancy word for coward.
Source: John, Finn. "Cruise-ship skipper wasn’t the first to “fall into a lifeboat”." Offbeat Oregon History. 4 Mar. 2012. Web. 30 July 2013. <http://offbeatoregon.com/1203a-steamer-captain-named-poultroon-of-the-sea.html>.