Coffee House Poems

The Wreck of the Steamer Czarina


'Twas a dark and stormy winter's morn in January nineteen

hundred and ten.

The steamer Czarina set out for Frisco Bay with twenty-five

stout hearted men.


Twenty-four sailors and one passenger, Harold, the shipping

manager's son.

A bright young lad, bound for UC Berkeley, not yet quite



Her cargo – cement, coal and lumber. Her hold could hold

no more.

The captain and his crew could not know what Fate had had0

in store.


Captain Dugan started westwards toward the tricky Coos Bay bar.

Giant waves were headed eastward from storms both near and far.


The storm had put her fire out, the waves came fast and steady.

The hapless ship had lost control and bounced against the jetty.


She floated north beside the spit, her life boats were no more.

Captain Dugan ordered the anchor dropped, so she wouldn't

wash ashore.


This turned out to be a bad mistake, the ship too far from

the beach, with lumber floating all around, the rescue boats

could not reach.


The men climbed up the rigging as the ship sank past the deck.

Was there nothing that could save them? Were they doomed

aboard the wreck?


From the shore crowds watched the sailors drop off one-by-one.

From terrible cold and fatigue they finally did succumb.


One man did survive this ordeal. His name was Harry Kentzel,

assistant engineer.

He clung to a piece of lumber, no doubt frozen with great fear.


Alas, all the rest had met their final fate, no more to sail

the ocean.

They washed ashore over several weeks, their families wracked

with emotion.


So let us pause to think of Fate, who's hand does not distinguish

Between the wealthy son or the lowly swab, life too soon.




Note: Some accounts say 23 sailors and one passenger were on board and some

accounts spell Captain Dugan as Duggan. History is not an exact science.