(From the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey
ASSOCIATION OF FIELD ENGINEERS BULLETIN
No. 4, December 1931, pp. 123-124.)
the report of Lieutenant (j.g.) E. R. McCarthy on the accidental
drowning, on October
11, 1931, of three members of the crew of the FATHOMER attached
to a sub-party under his charge while engaged on surveys on
the southwest coast of Palawan Island, P. I.)
* * * Before daylight on the 17th the wind died down and the
sky cleared to the southward about 6:00 A. M. so it was decided
to run to the ship at Sepangow Bay to report on progress and
to obtain provisions for the following week, stopping en route
to add a target to Station Fish and to put cloth on the tripod
at Station Isle. The men were given their choice of returning
to the ship or remaining in camp. Those who decided to return
were Crispin Alandruque, Santiago Longalong, Gonsalo Senitara,
Domingo Nualla, Domingo Rangasajo and Marciano Kasupanan.
party left camp at 8:00 A.M., the launch towing the skiff,
and arrived at Station Fish on the reef at the mouth of the
Arapitan River about 10:00. The launch sounded its way in
as the water was extremely muddy due to the discharge from
the river (it was about low tide) and anchored in two fathoms
about one hundred fifty meters west of the signal at what
was thought to be the edge of the mud bank. There was a light
breeze from the southwest and small seas.
skiff with Crispin Alandruque, Gonsalo Senitara, Domingo Nualla,
Domingo Rangasajo and myself left the launch and rowed into
the signal. On arriving there it was noticed that it had clouded
up to the southwest, and so instead of building the target,
the poles which had been cut at camp were left here and the
skiff put back for the launch, with the four men rowing.
one third of the way back a brief flurry of rain and wind
was met but the skiff took no water and the flurry passed
quickly. About half of the way back another flurry came and
passed and the wind increased. The skiff shortly after began
to take in water faster than it could be bailed out so the
boat was turned around and headed for the reef to the north
- the launch was nearer but the reef could be reached more
quickly as the wind would be astern. Two men were rowing and
half way to the reef three or four short waves higher than
the others came over the stern in succession, the water in
the boat surged and it swamped, going down bow first at a
men were left in the water. When I first noticed matters,
Alandruque was leading toward the signal and was already some
distance away. Senitara, Nualla and myself were floating,
expecting the skiff to come to the surface; Rangasajo could
not be seen. Nualla and Alandruque had oars and one was floating
nearby, which I pushed over to Senitara. The skiff remained
on the bottom so I waved to the launch and had just begun
to take off my shirt and trousers, as they were becoming very
heavy when I heard three shouts from the direction of the
reef seemingly some distance away (Nualla said later that
this was Rangasajo, who went down immediately afterward).
I had considerable trouble removing my clothes and went below
the surface a number of times. Upon coming up, Senitara was
gone, Alandruque was still going toward the signal and Nualla
was floating easily, so I started to swim for the reef, which
I barely reached. Upon getting to my feet, I could see Nualla
coming in about twenty yards away and no sign of Alandruque.
The launch arrived then and I was hauled aboard and went out
in the area where the skiff swamped. Nothing could be seen
of clothes or any floating objects so the launch went back
to the reef to pick up Nualla and went aground in doing so
(this was about 10:25). It remained aground until three Moros
arrived in a banca an hour later and carried out the anchor,
after which the launch was pulled off. I dived a few times
about where the accident occurred and dragged in the vicinity
with a weight on a large fish hook for about twenty minutes,
but could find nothing.
was now more than an hour and a half since the men were drowned
and as nothing further could be done and the chances of locating
the bodies was rather small, since the wind had picked up
and the banca, which was large and heavy and unstable, could
not be used, a note was sent to camp by the Moros informing
the men there of the accident and instructing them to look
for the bodies while the launch ran to the ship.
launch got into Marasi Bay, and since wind and sea were gradually
increasing, it could not get out and remained there the 17th
and 18th. On the 19th, after an unsuccessful attempt to go
to the ship, we succeeded in returning to camp. On the way,
the body of Senitara was picked up offshore, taken aboard
and buried near camp.
weather cleared on the 20th but with a heavy sea running.
The afternoon was spent in fruitlessly searching for the bodies.
the 21st a Moro reported a body in the mangrove, but it could
not be reached until high tide the next day as the mud was
too deep to wade there, the water too shoal for the launch
and no small boats available. The launch returned to the ship
on this day with the remainder of the party.
wind at the time of the accident was no stronger than it had
been many times during the preceding two weeks when the skiff
was used in signal building and the area was partially sheltered
by the point a mile to the southward so the waves were not high.
All the men could swim, although the failure to remove their
clothing probably pulled them down, as Nualla and myself succeeded
in removing part of ours. The boat swamped - as close as could
be estimated - about 50 meters off the reef.
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