Accident to the Arrow [1906]

Speed Saves The Arrow From Plunge To Bottom

Propeller Shaft Breaks Aboard Fastest Yacht Afloat

Knocks A Hole In Her Hull

With Only One Engine She Runs Two Miles to Safety in About 5 Minutes

Her speed, and that alone, saved the fleet yacht Arrow, which holds the world's record, from going to the bottom of the East River yesterday morning. Had the boat not been capable of making the run from Sixty-fifth Street to Twenty-fourth Street in five minutes, with only one screw in action, she would have sank, and her owner, Edward F, Whitney; his nephew, the Captain, and the crew would have had a ducking at the very least. As it is, the yacht was put out of commission for some time to come

Mr. Whitney, who bought the Arrow from Charles R. Flint, has a Summer home at Oyster Bay, and he comes to the city every morning in the yacht. As the attendant at the New York Yacht Club landing put it, "he starts out late and gets in early," because the boat is so very fast.

The landing is invariably made at the yacht club float, at the foot of Twenty-third Street, and there the boat waits for the day, taking Mr. Whitney aboard again in the early evening. The crew, which numbers fourteen, is under the command of Capt. Packard, who has seen years of service on the waters about New York and has come to know the Arrow and her capabilities thoroughly.

Put On Extra Speed

Yesterday the start was made from Oyster Bay as usual, but the boat was a little late in getting off. She came down the Sound all right and passed through Hell gate without mishap. Then the Captain "shook her up" a little, and the yacht traveled at such speed that the skippers of other craft readily recognized her, even though the name was not distinguishable.

While the Arrow was passing Blackwell's Island, and just as she was off Sixty-fifth Street, there was a sudden jar, a clanking aft of her engine room, a noise of wood being hammered and splintered, and a yell from the engineer. The yacht is a twin-screw boat, and one of the shafts had broken suddenly. The stub end, rotating at high speed, thrashing about, smashing everything it struck and causing consternation among engineers and crew. Before the engine governing that screw had been stopped there was a good-sized hole in the bottom of the boat, through which the East River was pouring, and another hole in the after-cabin floor.

There wasn't time for investigation. When the noise stopped the floor of the cabin was ankle deep in water, and the speed had slackened about one-half because of the fact that one screw was out of business. Capt. Packard knew that as soon as the water had flooded the cabin to a sufficient depth, the Arrow would go straight to Davey Jones's locker. he did not know how long it would be before that moment arrived. He might run for one of the piers along the shore near by, or he might try to make Twenty-third Street with one screw. As no sailor man likes to run to a strange landing if he can help it, Capt. Packard took the other alternative and rang for full speed ahead on the one screw.

The Arrow Did Her Best

Despite the dead weight of water pulling her stern down and keeping her bow up, the Arrow responded to the additional steam bravely. She put her nose through the ripples of the river and bounded along at a great rate, as though she feared a ducking more than her owner. it was a good two-mile run to Twenty-third Street, but she made it in about five minutes, and, as one of the crew remarked afterward: "She was only half in commission at that."

Meanwhile, there was excitement on board. Mr. Whitney and his nephew, who had been talking together when the accident happened, helped the deckhands and the chef to get the furniture and rugs out of the after cabin. These were piled on the forward deck, until, with a big mound of wicker chairs, plush cushions, and dripping carpets, the Arrow looked like a miniature pirate craft that had just made a rich haul in household goods.

When, with a somewhat sharp turn, Capt. Packard brought the boat's nose around toward the shore, it occurred to him that his charge was likely to sink at any moment and that the yacht club landing did not offer the facilities for keeping afloat that the Dock Department recreation pier at the foot of Twenty-fourth Street did, especially as there were two department tugs just off the dock. So the Captain ran up along side the recreation pier and stopped. It was estimated afterward that he had about fifty seconds top spare, and no one doubted that the boat would have sunk within two minutes at most.

Laborers On The Pier Helped

There was a crowd of laborers on the pier, for they are paid off on Thursday morning. They all sprang to the assistance of the Arrow's crew when they saw what the trouble was. Lines were passed from the wharf and from the department tug Brooklyn, which was on the off side, and by quick work and good judgment the boat was kept partly afloat, though her after cabin was flooded almost to the roof.

Mr. Whitney and his nephew got ashore at once, and the crew clambered up after them on to the pier. Later, the Merritt Chapman Wrecking Company took charge of the yacht, and she was buoyed up and towed to the Morse Iron Works, at the foot of Fifty-sixth Street, Brooklyn. Mr. Whitney is one of the owners of the docks, and the yacht will be repaired there.

(Transcribed from the New York Times, Sep. 7, 1906, p. 6)

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page]