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Princess May goes high and dry

The Princess May (first named Cass, then later, Arthur, Cass (again), Ningchow, and Hating) was 249 feet (76 m) long, 33-foot (10 m) beam, 18-foot (5.5 m) depth of hold, 1717 gross and 1394 registered tons.  She was driven by 3 engines driving three propellers.  Built in 1888, The Princess May was designed for speed. In 1901, the newly formed Canadian Pacific Railway Coast Service, operating in British Columbia, wanted a steamship to meet the high demand for traffic on the route to southeastern Alaska.  The Hating was purchased and renamed the Princess May.  She was placed on the 1300 kilometer run between Vancouver and Skagway, Alaska to service the active Klondike Gold Fields.

Princess May Shipwreck

Princess May

On August 5, 1910, Princess May, having departed from Skagway under the command of Captain MacLeod with 80 passengers, 68 crew and a shipment of gold, was proceeding south down Lynn Canal in heavy fog.  At a speed of about 10 knots (19 km/h), the ship ran aground on rocks near the north end of Sentinel Island. It was high tide and the momentum of the ship forced it well up onto the rocks with the bow jutting upward at an angle of 23 degrees.  By low tide almost the entire structure was out of the water.  Quick actions on behalf of the wireless operator got a mayday out.  The passengers and crew, as well as the gold shipment and the mail were removed to nearby Benjamin Island where all were soon rescued and taken to Juneau.

It took a great effort to close the 50 foot gash in the hull of the Princess May, but she was finally re-floated and taken for repairs.

The Princess May was sold to a Caribbean company in 1919 and deliberately sunk in 1932.

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Author of Mysteries of Canada

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