At 9:30 p.m., Orpheus’ Capt. Sawyer left the bridge in charge of second mate James G. Allen. A short time later, Allen reported the Tatoosh Island light off the port bow, but Sawyer decided it was an approaching vessel and ordered his ship turned hard to port to keep out it its way. The abrupt maneuver left Orpheus almost dead in the water. Capt. Sawyer could only watch as the other ship closed in without altering course. At the last minute, the steamship frantically blew her whistle and reversed her engines, but struck the Orpheus a glancing blow on her starboard side. The steamer then ran against the sailing vessel two more times, staving in side planks, breaking 40 feet of rail and carrying away the chain plates and most of the rigging on her starboard side.
On Pacific, Capt. Howell rushed to the bridge. He saw the running lights of a sailing vessel off the starboard beam drifting slowly away and realized there had been a collision. It was soon evident that Pacific was taking on water rapidly. She was, in fact, sinking. Passengers began arriving on deck to see what had happened, creating a chaotic scene.
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