As the sailing vessel appeared out of the fog, the Coogee turned hard to port in an attempt to avoid a collision. She avoided driving into the hull of the Fortunato Figari but tore a large hole in its bow. The Coogee, however, had almost everything destroyed above the level of the main deck as she passed under the iron bowsprit of the barque, with its chain rigging and bobstay (a 100mm iron bar). The masts, the open bridge, the funnel, deck houses and boats were all flattened. The captain was killed, the helmsman died later and the other man on the bridge was seriously injured. There were no casualties on the Fortunato Figari. Capt Carrington was an experienced and highly regarded captain but the court of inquiry found that on that foggy night he was operating his ship at a dangerous speed.
Both vessels were later towed to Melbourne, repaired and returned to service. The Coogee continued on the Bass Strait run until replaced by the SS Loongana in 1910. She was returned to the Melbourne-Geelong service until 1917, used as a minesweeper late in World War I and taken out of service in the mid-1920s.
BY MAURIE HUTCHINSON
President, Peninsula Ship Society
T: Maurie Hutchinson 9787 5780
The Peninsula Ship Society meets at Hastings Yacht Club on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 10am. Visitors always welcome.