Monday, February 01, 2016

'...it was the fiercest face I ever saw'


The following newspaper account was placed in the San Francisco Call on July 18, 1909:

SEA MONSTER MAKES GOO GOO EYES AT ASTONISHED MARINER

Captain Ross of the Standard oil company's steamer Dakotah, which arrived here yesterday from Manila, enjoyed a brief but soul stirring flirtation July 11 with a strange fish. On the Dakotah's log, the "finny flirt' is described as being 40 feet long and 10
feet wide, with a cavernous mouth and very large eyes.

Captain Ross was on the bridge when his mate called attention to what he thought was a whale on the port bow. When within about 100 feet of the monster they saw that while very like a whale, at a distance, an intimate view showed no resemblance.

"As we came along," said Captain Ross, "the creature turned its head toward the ship. It was the fiercest face I ever saw. The mouth was like the entrance to a railroad tunnel and the eyes big as locomotive headlights. For all the ferocity of the face the eyes had a kind look in them."

"We watched the brute intently. Just as we came almost alongside he gave those eyes a regular goo goo roll, and sank out of sight. A whale would have gone down head first and waved goodbye with his tail. We never saw this fellow's tail, and whether he said 'goodbye' or 'come along boys' with his eyes is more than I can tell. I've been to sea for many years but never saw another fish like that one."

As proof that the fish was all he describes, Captain Ross points to the log which says the encounter took place in latitude 45.30 north, longitude 152 west.


NOTE: Less than one year later, the Dakotah and it's Captain Ross ran into a bit trouble on its way to Japan:

TYPHOON DAMAGES STEAMER DAKOTAH

Standard Oil Company's Tank Ship Battles With Big Wave in Japanese Seas

Captain and Two Mates Are Washed From Bridge Amid Deck's Wreckage

IE tank steamer Dakotah, which arrived from Moji yesterday, had a terrible battle with the elements in Japanese seas on its outward voyage. It was struck by a tidal wave which damaged the ship and nearly washed Captain W. A. Ross and two of his officers overboard. The Dakotah left this port February 6 laden with a cargo of petroleum for Yokohama. All went well and the fine until February 26 when the vessel ran into a typhoon at 9 o'clock that evening, a great tidal wave 50 feet high dashed with tremendous force over the bow of the ship. Captain Ross, with his second master and third officer, were standing on the bridge, which was carried away, and Captain Ross and his companions were swept along the decks a they were nearly carried away by the raging waters, but miraculously escaped with bruises, cuts and scratches.

The steel bulkhead of the wheelhouse, which was one and a half inches thick, was twisted up as though it were so much paper. All the rails were wrecked and everything movable was carried into the sea, leaving the vessel in a pitiable plight. After hard work a temporary steering-gear was rigged up and a shelter erected amidships. The vessel finally limped into Yokohama without further mishap, it discharged its cargo at Yokohama and then all necessary repairs were made. It then proceeded on its way to Moji and took on 3.500 tons of coal for the Western fuel company and started on its way back across the Pacific. Smooth seas and light northwest and southeast winds favored the homecoming voyage. Captain Ross reports that when in latitude 33 degrees 53 minutes north and longitude 36 degrees east, March 28, he sighted a water logged junk, with mast above surface of the water. The Dakotah is owned by the Standard oil company. - San Francisco Call, Volume 107, Number 139, 18 April 1910


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