Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s


Captain Daniel McLaughlin

Born November 29, 1823, Digby, Nova Scotia

Captain McLaughlin and his wife were shocked when they sailed into San Francisco in May of 1851 on Gray Feather to find the San Francisco waterfront a blackened ruin. This was the fifth time the waterfront suffered a fire, but this was intentional and destroyed 18 blocks and 2,000 buildings.

Tuesday, October 24, 1876

"This was an extremely busy day for 52-year-old Captain McLaughlin, master of the stately American medium clipper ship. It was sailing day. The captain had many last-minute duties to attend to before the heavily-laden vessel could depart for the open sea."

A three-and-one-half month, 14,000 mile voyage lay immediately ahead. The ship's ultimate destination was Liverpool, England by way of Cape Horn.

Captain McLaughlin, at 5'8" stood taller than the average man of the 19th century. He was of slight build, had blue eyes, a ruddy complexion and long, curly brown hair flecked with grey. The captain was a member of the American Shipmasters' Association (the U.S. counterpart of Lloyd's Register of Shipping). He was also a member of the Boston Marine Society; he became a part of this established group in 1863 when master of the Boston ship Western Empire.

His wife Margaret was in San Francisco with him. She took care of last minute purchases while her husband met with Captain Josiah Nickerson Knowles, the immediate past master of the Glory. The captains took care of all the formalities accompanying the clearing of the ship at the Custom House located about three blocks from the waterfront. Captain McLaughlin filed his cargo manifest with a government clerk and Captain Knowles paid the miscellaneous fees required by customs.

After formalities, the captains and Mrs. McLaughlin boarded one of Captain Griffiths' neatly painted steam tugs to board the Glory of the Seas. It was not uncommon in this era for captains wives to join them on their voyages, at times accompanied with their children.

Laden with grain, she was being towed to open sea for her first passage under the command of Captain McLaughlin, one of the vanishing breed of California gold rush shipmasters who helped make the name "clipper" mean something in American maritime history.

Captain McLaughlin would be referring to Matthew F. Maury's "Wind and Current Chart," which helped reduce the length of such long voyages by over a month. This is the same chart referred to by Mary Patten when her husband fell ill and she brought the extreme clipper Neptune's Car around the Horn to San Francisco.

Map San Francisco Bay 1850..

Relief Map of San Francisco Bay Area showing the entrance through the Golden Gate.


 

The Sea Chart

The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational Charts 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.


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 as a result 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.

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. Herein is a 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. 150 color illustrations including the earliest charts of the Mediterranean made by 13th-century Italian merchant adventurers, as well as 18th-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 Edition 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. Includes 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

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship 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; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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