The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 10, 1926 · Page 100
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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 100

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 10, 1926
Page 100
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2. While the Miramar Wai Turning, Heavy Roller May Have Caught Her Broad-tide and Cranhrd in the Glass Windows and Flooded the Vetiel. 4. If the Yacht Kept Its Course Trying to Make the Coast of Florida, a Huge "Following Sea" May Have Overtaken the Vessel and a Thousand Tons of Sea Water Falling on Her May Have Crushed in Her Stern. 3. If the Miramar Tried to Make a Harbor in St. Catherine's Sound, the Unfortunate Vestal Had a 20-Mile Run or More in Beam Sea, and May Have Rolled Over. 1. If the Miramar Turned About and Tried to Get Back to Savannah for Shelter, She Had to Drive Against a Tremendous Head Sea, Which May Have Come Over Her Bow and Carried Away Her Deck-House and Bridge. Big, Handsome, Luxuriously Outfitted, but Topheavy and Unseaworthy; Millionaire Statler's House-Boat Fights a Hopeless Battle With a Northeasterly Storm on Its Way to Florida and Founders y ' ti ' ' :,;p3fe' ' kiwm&Jmi-r: 71 be difficult to hear on such a boisterous night. But even if the Miramar found the whistle, it would then be necessary to pick its way through five nun and can buoys to a bell-buoy on a four-foot shoal. In the darkness, rain, mist and spray, even with a searchlight, it would be almost a miracle for even a local pilot to find each of those straggling buoys and o miss any one of them meant going ashore on a shoal. And' even if Captain Farrington, with rare gorfd luck, found his whistling buoy, picked up the five unlit buoys in the darkness and heard the bell on the four-foot shoal, he was still three miles from the entrance to the Sound and exactly in the middle of the entrance stretched a treacherous sandbar with an unlit buoy on it. It is possible that after weathering the beam sea ami almost within reach of shelter the ill-fated houseboat struak one of the multitudinous shoals off St. Catherine and pounded to pieces. But the fact that no driftwood or floating parts of the lost yacht have been found along the shore would indicate that the vessel was not wrecked on a shoal, but probably sank in deep water somewhere well off-shore. It is, of course, possible that in the pitching, tumbling and straining in that boisterous sea, the rivets in the steel plates may have been cut and a plate in the ship's bottom sprung a leak beyond the powe of her pumps to control. The yacht was a SOMEWHERE between New York harbor and the coast ofFWida, on the sandy bottom of the Atlantic, lies the yacht Miramar. Ordered south to join the fleet of millionaires' yachts in the Winter colony, the splendid big houseboat left New York with Captain Thomas Farrington in command and a crew of eleven men. Passing along down the coast, the Miramar reached Charleston, South Carolina, and there picked up a companion voyager, the yacht Seyon, in command of Captain Klang, also bound south. It was the morning "of November 30 when the Miramar and the Seyon put out together from Charleston the Seyon bound for Jacksonville and the Miramar for Miami, further south. Now the stretch of water from Charleston to Jacksonville is none too well liked-by yacht mariners. Even sea-going cruisers like the Seyon usually wait their chance of good weather to start the run, end then hold inshore, so that they can put into the tidal rivers or behind the Georgia islands when one of the numerous Autumn gales spring up. Though it was fair weather when they left Charleston, the barometer showed signs of dropping, and Captain Klang, not being in a great hurry, decided to put in for shelter in the Tybee Roads at the mouth of the Savannah River, Georgia. The wind was northeast, the clouds were heavy, and already a nasty sea was beginning to risa. As Captain Klang put over his wheel and turned his bow toward Savannah, he was EsiflliDD GO uu UU uu -; " ' " :" y ' Til i . . --- r t: . t . jk a. The Luxuriously Appointed Power House-Boat Miramar, Showing Her Top-Heavy Superstructure and the Big Glass Windows Not Far Above the Water-Line. wsfs $m sx:Vr;l7v' . i--fete aiinin fn- in iiMnaiWitmasMinirsrffirwissMasssMssMisssssy '? V " i . i il.rt," ai mf jfTsli i 1 young boat, launcnea in 1922. And she was a hundred feet over-ali in length and twenty-one fee in beam. Designed for shallow Florida waters, she drew only four feet three inches. Extremely heavy twin Diesel-type engines gave her a maximum speed of ten miles an hour. And with that shallow draft went tall superstructures and only some four feet of freeboard. A magnificent craft in still rivers and bays, a real floating palace when moored safely alongside some yacht club or in a sheltered harbor, but never the craft to ride out a heavy sea or to maneuver in a gale of wind. The Miramar, the first of the power boats to be fitted with heavy oil engines of the Diesel type, had attracted much admiration at the time of her launching because of the lavish-ness with which she was fitted 'out. The owner's quarters were not merely a commodious cabin, but a really spacious apartment, with panelled walls and beamed ceiling, containing all the furniture that a similar bedroom ashore would hold double bed, day- rather surprised to see that his fellow voyager, the captain of the Miramar, had decided not to make harbor, but to keep on his course. It was late in the day when, so far as is known, the crew ftf the Seyon were the last human eyes to see the outlines of the ill-fated Miramar as she kept on her course, well off-shore, due south for Miami that Monday afternoon, thf last day of November. And the mystery of her disappearance, like many another mystery of the sea, will probably remain unsolved, for no life-boat, no bodies, not one scrap of wreckage has come ashore; nor have Coast Guard cutters found any trace of her. The Miramar lies on the ocean bottom, a foundered wreck, and not one of her crew survives. It was the eighty-mile gale that sprang up from the mrtheast soon after Captain Klang made harbor that undoubtedly foundered the Marimar. Far better sea-boats would find the going hard, but for a shallow - draft, top - heavy floating bungalow like the Miramar the situation was precisely thai for which she was least fitted. When the Miramar passed the entrance to View of the Owner's Stateroom Showing Unprotected Glass Windows Close to the Water Which a Heavy Sea Might Easily Smash In. View of the "Lounge" on the Upper Deck with Big Plate-Glass Windows Which a Broadside Sea Might Reach Up and Crush in Allowing the Water to Rush Down the Staircase, Shown in the Left-hand Corner of the Photograph. the Savannah River the vessel was heading fairly well off-shore, intending cast pretty closely just what happened to the ill-fated Miramar. If the officers of the yacht decided to keep on their course, running before the wind and sea, it is probable that some huge green comer overtook the that course in view of the fact that the vessel was making very bad weather of it and the- wind and sea were growing worse. Another alternative was to turn around, retrace their course and try to make Savannah. But to do this involved two very serious difficulties. The ship woulj have to be turned around, and bed, window seat, arm chairs, wardrobes and tables. The reception room, in the 44 by 14 foot deck-house, was constructed entirely of panelled mahogany; and the dining room, far bigger than many New York apartments entire, was finished in ivory enamel, with hangings and upholstery of delicate French hues. The quarterdeck, under its canopy, was big enough to hold a good-sized dance party, and the rest of the boat guest staterooms, baths, galley engine room and crew's quarters was quite in keeping with the luxuriousness of the show spots. Altogether she cost around $150,000 completely furnished. The yacht was owned by Mr. E. M Statler, the millionaire hotel owner and' after a long Summer in northern waters the Miramar wa3 ordered south late this Fall. Captain Farrington was an old, experienced yachtsman, but he was in a hurry to reach xMiami by December 4th Prudence and ordinary good judgment would have persuaded the captain of any house-boat not to undertake a night's run with all the signs that a storm was rising But Captain Farrington was in a hurry He did not realize what an unseaworthy craft is a top-heavy house-boat, flat-bot tomed and shallow of draft. Or, if he Hi realize this, he took the chance whio' cost his own life and the other eleven nn on board. rhotei by Morrli RMMiltld, N, T. View of the Comfortable Stern of the Miramar on the Upper Deck. It May Be That a Heavy "Following Sea" Came Over the Stern, Ran Forward, Smashed in the "Lounge" and Flooded the Vessel. across to the Florida coast. As darkness settled over the ocean the wind increased in violence and the sea rose rapidly. By 8 o'clock in the evening the big houseboat was probably twenty miles off-shore and about opposite the entrance to St. Catherine Sound, the harbor next nearest to Savannah, and twenty-five miles further South. The barometer had fallen, rain had begun to fall, the wind now was whistling through the rigging of the signal mast, and the unfortunate vessel was laboring heavily in the boisterous sea. Captain Farrington .."tust have held a consultation with the mate and the engineer. Theresas every evidence of a very nasty night, and the ill-fated crew must now have realized their error in judgment in not putting in for a safe shelter when they had daylight to see the channel buoys of the Savannah River. There were three things which could be stone. The Miramar, already slowed down to iiwt more than probably four or five miles an hour, might try to weather the gale and keep on to the Florida coast with more than an all-night run ahead of her. But it is hardly likely that the experienced officers yacht would have chosen vessel from behind, and landing a thousand tons of sea water on her stern, crushed in her upper work and, ' running through the lounge and the dining room, flooded the engine room and the vessel foundered. If the Miramar turned in its tracks and started north to try and make Savannah, the vessel may have succeeded in turning about without mishap, and then, through the long and almost hopeless drive against the head seas, may have taken a huge load of green water over the bow, which carried away the forward house and, perhaps) swept Captain Farrington and the men in the wheelhouse into the sea., But if the decision was made to try and make harbor in St Catherine Sound, a beam sea may have crashed through the windows and flooded the vessel; or the ship may have been caught in the trough of a roller and bowled over. St. Catherine Sound is not an eajsy place to enter except in Idaylight A whistling buoy lies about five nules off-shore, which would for four or five minutes be broadside to this terrific sea, thus running the risk of being rolled over or taking a heavy sea broadside, which would smash in the glass windows and sink the vessel. But if by rare good luck they were able to turn the vessel without mishap, they had the difficult task of forcing the top-heavy house-boat against a head sea and a head wind, which might also slow them down to a possible two miles an hour, and would take them all night to make the short twenty-five-mile run Lack to shelter in the Savannah River a prospect haps twenty miles and a period of perhaps four hours, risk taking the seas broadside. This would mean not only the danger of smashing in the great windows of the dining salon and lounge, but also the probability that a sea might catch the vessl on the beam and turn her over. Which of the three alternatives did Captain Farrington elect as he held his consultation in the darkness that night, twenty miles off-shore, with a howling wind and a heavy following sea? If any member of the crew had lived to answer this question it would be possible to fore- Orest Brtttlo B!hts Btstrmi hardly less promising than to keep on 'running before the wind and sea for the Florida coast. , There remained one more alternative. Captain Farrington may have decided that tha ship would not weather a night of increasing wind and sea to make either the Florida coast ahead of them or the Savannah River behind them. He may have decided to try to make the harbor of St. Catherine Sound. But this, too, was a desperate alternative. It would force him to turn at right angles, and thus, for a distance of per- (OJ UH, a? amuiou Wsiklr. Ins.

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