The Wreck of the Steam Tug Daring

by John M. MacFarlane 2011

tug Daring

In 1930 the tug Daring was under charter to the Canadian Packing Corporation, towing three scows of fish (pilchards or herring) to the reduction plant at Ceepeecee BC in Nootka Sound under her Master was Captain George Alexander MacFarlane

The steam tug Daring (ON #122375) was purchased from the Gulf of Georgia Towing Co. in 1926 by MacFarlane Towing Ltd., of Victoria BC. She had been built in 1907 with a 16nhp coal burning steam engine. At first this vessel was employed towing booms for the Stella Lake Logging Company from Elk Bay to Victoria BC but the Great Depression caused their mill to close. They then contracted to the Canadian Packing Corporation towing scows of pilchards to the reduction plant at Ceepeecee on Esperanza Inlet.

The Engineer on the August 25,1930 voyage was Cliff Eastwood. The tug had just bunkered coal so she was fully laden. One of the duties of the engineer was to break up the clinker in the fire box so that they could be removed. Apparently after this was done he stowed the red hot slice bars under the firebox resting them on the wooden ribs of the vessel.

It was said that Eastwood had the habit of vacating the engine room between the stoking of the engine to the upper deck. On this occasion he was sitting in the head reading for some time when he noticed that the space was getting very warm. He tried to return to the engine room but it was already too late. The hot slice bars had ignited the wooden hull. It was then too hot and smoky to either fight the fire or to enter the engine room to shut off the steam to the engine.

Another operating error was that he had failed to shut off the steam to the towing winch which actually turned out to be helpful. It allowed the crew to haul in the tow line and bring one of the scows along side. When it was close enough the crew jumped into scow which was full of fish. Captain MacFarlane put the helm hard over before leaving the bridge so that it steamed in a circle for a long time, nearly ramming the scow on several of the passes. The tug cruised in a wide circle until it burned to the waterline and sank.

The work boat was launched but it was quickly crushed between the tug and the tow. Captain MacFarlane swam back to the tug and climbed aboard and single–handed launched the lifeboat which was secured to the scow. The lifeboat was later sent to Victoria and was given to George MacFarlane Jr. as a gift.

Reward Cheque

The crew of the Daring was quickly rescued by the Imlac, a pilchard fish boat, but Captain MacFarlane remained aboard the scow (under very uncomfortable conditions) to prevent a potential salvage claim from their rescuers and others. He was picked up the next day when the scow was towed in to port. For his efforts the company gave him a cheque for $75.00 as a reward for standing by the scow. The manager of the fish plant gave him his personal set of binoculars as a thanks.

The cause of the fire was never officially determined. However during the investigation it was revealed that during the day of the fire the Mate, Ben Davis, mentioned that he was going to treat a hawser to remove either a splice or a knot by storing it in the fidley (the opening above the engine room through which exhaust fumes and ventilators pass up to the funnel) to dry. He was going to wash it with fresh water – apparently this was a trick used to make rope more pliable so that it could be ‘worked’. It was suggested afterwards that the rope overheated and caught fire. Another theory advanced was that the galley ‘Charlie Nobb’ stove pipe ran through the ‘fidley’. These pipes were of domestic quality and burned out from time to time often causing fires.

Daring crew

The Daring's crew shortly after their rescue.

The Daring’s crew included:

  • Captain George A. MacFarlane, Master
  • Clifford Eastwood, Engineer
  • Benjamin Davis, Mate
  • with two unnamed deckhands
  • and an unnamed Chinese cook (not in picture)

Daring With Scows

The Daring with her scows at Ceepeecee BC shortly before her loss.


Sources:
  1. Handwritten notes (G.R. MacFarlane dated 20.09.1987)
  2. Personal conversation (Robert Frayne – John MacFarlane) 1987
  3. Personal conversation (Douglas MacFarlane – G.R. MacFarlane) 1987
  4. Personal conversation (John Henderson – G.R. MacFarlane) 1987

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2011) The Wreck of the Tug Daring. Nauticapedia.ca 2011. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Wreck_of_the_Daring.php

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