1907 Hudson River Water Carnival
Motorboat Afire In Race
H. N. Baruch's Skedaddle in Danger at Height of Storm on Hudson River
Motor boating on the Hudson was conducted under thrilling and somewhat dangerous conditions yesterday. It was the second race day in the carnival week of the Motor Boat Club of America, and the houseboat, which constitutes the club quarters at the foot of 108th Street, was well filled with members and guests early in the afternoon, attracted to the scene by the fine weather and the prospect of a fast contest in the free-for-all event over a course of thirty nautical miles. But with the fine weather there was s tiff southeast wind blowing up the river at a twenty-five to thirty mile clip, churning up the water in such a manner as to make it absolutely treacherous for the ordinary type of a motor racing boat to attempt a run three times around the ten-knot course.
Of the four boats to start, the only one ready to get under way at 2 o'clock was H. N. Baruch's 60-foot, 190 horse power Skedaddle. This boat ultimately won the race, but under most strenuous conditions, for in the height of the gale and downpour of rain that swept down the river late in the day the Skedaddle on her second round caught fire when off Grant's Tomb, and only quick action by Mr. baruch, who handled the boat, and his four assistants prevented a deplorable accident.
The tremendous waves sweeping over the craft on all sides choked up the exhaust, causing the engine to back fire, and this set the accumulated oil and gasoline in the drip pan under the engine in a blaze. Before the fire extinguishers were brought out, the flames were leaping over one side of the boat and two men were working incessantly at the pumps to keep the cockpits from being flooded. After ten minutes lively work the fire was extinguished and the boat then ran slowly until the fury of the storm passed.
Meanwhile Joseph H. Hoadley had put out in his motor yacht Alabama to pick up his competing boat, the Den, a much smaller craft than the Skedaddle, and which was being steered by Charles H. Herreshoff, the boat's designer. He found the boat in a disabled condition up the river, a mass of driftwood having bent the propeller, rendering it helpless, and throwing a line to the disabled craft, he towed it down opposite the clubhouse landing.
Besides these two boats, two others started, E. J. Schroeder's Dixie, which won the International Harmsworth Cup in England this season, and J. F. Anderson's Irene. Owing to the rough water, the committee deemed it advisable to postpone the start until 4 o'clock, but it was 4:16 before the gun was fired. The Dixie, handled by Capt. Pierce, and Al Rappoon, who steered the boat to victory in foreign waters, got over the line first, half a minute after the starting gun. Irene was ten seconds behind, Den third, 4:19:20, and the Skedaddle last, 4:29:23.
The latter had gone across the river for gasoline and, being delayed, had not started back until the starting gun was fired.
The Dixie dropped out due to engine trouble on her downward trip on the first round.. The good time made by the other three boats for the first ten-mile lap gave evidence of a snappy finish, Den making the circuit in 25:37, Irene in 25:38, and Skedaddle in 26:18. Then came the storm. The boats were lost to sight, and the spectators ran to the cabin for shelter. Nearly an hour later the Irene and Skedaddle came around, the former in the lead, but with just sufficient power to get across for the second lap and then tie up at her anchorage, it being evident that she had but one good working cylinder. The Skedaddle, on the contrary, was running perfectly, and although her final lap was a walkover, she finished at 6:08:46, making the last ten nautical miles in 24:40, considerably better than her rivals had done in the first round, but she also had the advantage of much smoother water. Skedaddle's time for the last ten miles was at the rate of 24 1-3 knots, or 28 statute miles an hour.
(Transcribed from the New York Times, Sep. 25, 1907.)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page --LF]
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