On the afternoon of May 19, 1910, the J. Marhoffer, a 174-foot steam-powered schooner, was powering its way north along the Oregon coast. Captain Gustave Peterson, who was travelling with his wife, was steering the ship toward the mouth of the Columbia River, the trip going smoothly so far.
The schooner reached the central coast in the afternoon, when the chief engineer, off duty, fell asleep in his cabin. He left the engine room under the watch of the first assistant engineer, who that day was laboring over a blow torch that refused to light.
Presumably frustrated, he had pumped