Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s


Henry Cleaveland

(aka Henry Cleveland)

In 1848 Henry Cleaveland took over as master of the whaler Niantic and in May 1849, he was in Paita, Peru, as captain of the ship. 

He learned of the discovery of gold, sailed to Panama, picked up 249 passengers, charging $150 to $250 each, and arrived in San Francisco on July 5, 1849. 

Once the Niantic anchored, its crew left town along with the passengers.

Advertisement of the sale of the Niantic.

The whaler's owners pulled the ship ashore, dismantled its masts and rigging, and constructed offices and warehouses on her.

December 26, 1849, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

STORAGE In the Niantic Warehouses, foot of Clay street. The owners of the ship Niantic announce to the public of San Francisco, that said vessel is now ready to receive storage upon the most favorable terms. From the facilities offered of receiving and delivering goods, both afloat and on shore, with security against rain and fire, they confidently recommend these warehouses to the attention of the mercantile community. Terms of storage -- $1 per month per barrel of 196 lbs., or thereabouts; $10 per month per ton of 40 cubic feet. Goods are received and delivered from 8 a. m. to 5 p. m. Two large lighters of about 50 tons, to let.

Apply on board to GODEFFROY, SILLEM & CO.


The Authority to Sail.The Authority to Sail: The History of U.S. Maritime Licenses and Seamen's PapersThe Authority to Sail.
Robert Stanley Bates, George Marsh (Editor), John F. Whiteley (Forward)
(Batek Marine Publishing, 2011; Nominated in 2012 for a Pulitzer Prize)

This book depicts important aspects of our maritime history never before addressed. This synthesis of key elements of our rich maritime history might never have occurred without the many years of original research done by the author, Commodore Bates, the holder of an unlimited master's license who has enjoyed a distinguished fifty-year career in both the Coast Guard and the American Merchant Marine.

The U.S. Coast Guard issues all Captain Licenses for U.S. Ports.
Note: Other countries have different regulations, i.e. the RYA (Royal Yachting Association), conducts certification for Britain and Ireland. As of 2011, they did not recognize the USCG certification; certification through their courses was required.

Master Unlimited is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of a vessel any gross tons. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws. All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain's authority and are his or her ultimate responsibility. The STCW defines the Master as Person having command of the ship.

Merchant Marine License - Sample.

The Sea Chart
The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational ChartsThe Sea Chart.
The Sea Chart.The Sea Chart.
John Blake
The sea chart was one of the key tools by which ships of trade, transport and conquest navigated their course across the oceans. John Blake looks at the history and development of the chart and the related nautical map, in both scientific and aesthetic terms, as a means of safe and accurate seaborne navigation. This handsome work contains 150 color illustrations including the earliest charts of the Mediterranean made by thirteenth-century Italian merchant adventurers, as well as eighteenth-century charts that became strategic naval and commercial requirements and led to Cook's voyages in the Pacific, the search for the Northwest Passage, and races to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Get Your Captain's License. Fifth EditionGet Your Captain's License. Fifth Edition. Charlie  Wing. Get Your Captain's License. Fifth Edition. Charlie Wing.
Charlie Wing
Considered the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to prepare for the U.S. Coast Guard captain's ratings exams required for anyone who takes paying passengers on a boat, and useful for serious boaters who want to save money on insurance. 350 pages of seamanship and navigation tutorials. More than 1,500 questions and answers from the Coast Guard exams.

This study tool includes:

  • The six-passenger "Six-Pack," Master and Mate Inland, Master and Mate Near Coastal, and Sail/Auxiliary Sail Endorsement
  • Every question and answer on the Coast Guard exams--all 9,000 of them
  • An interactive CD-ROM with all 14,000 questions and answers in the USCG database, so you can take an unlimited number of practice exams

Three Centuries of Seafaring: The Maritime Art of Paul HeeThree Centuries of Seafaring: The Maritime Art of Paul Hee.
Rick Carroll, Marcie Carroll (Author, Editors) Three Centuries of Seafaring: The Maritime Art of Paul Hee.
Great moments in seafaring history as depicted by internationally known maritime artist Paul Hee are collected in a handsome new art book, Three Centuries of Seafaring: The Maritime Art of Paul Hee. Old salts and armchair sailors will delight in this glossy art book, which features more than 150 color images of Mr. Hee's artful works in signature painstaking detail. Scenes range from battles at sea and famous shipwrecks to yacht races and peaceful harbors. Hee, master of past masters, documents not only moments in maritime history but also the artistic styles of three centuries of painters whose work depicts American and British ships of their day, from topsail schooners to the White Squadron.

A significant portion of book sales benefit the North Carolina Maritime Museum. The book is available in two formats: hardbound with glossy dust jacket ($49.95); and a signed, numbered slip-cased hardcover keepsake, commemorating the 300th anniversary of the 1709 founding of Beaufort, NC, ($79.95), home of Mr. Hee and of the museum.

Maritime art of Paul Hee. A self-taught artist and active octogenarian, Mr. Hee grew up by the sea on Long Island and spent World War II in the US Navy before becoming a Miami-based cruise ship executive.

He raced Ferraris and restored a historic ship, then retired to Beaufort to paint in the luminescent styles of past masters and to build classic model ships.

(Image: Bald Eagle, 1852, by Paul Hee.)

The Project

Maritime Nations, Sea Captains, Ships, Merchants, Merchandise, Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California.

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