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Bridge to the Castle.

 

January 20, 1882, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

The British ship Cochin, Captain Oudrey, 149 days from Dundee, arrived in port yesterday, having on board the steward and six sailors of the British ship Milton, Captain McArthur, which was burned at sea on the 22nd day of December last, in latitude 22 north, longitude 123 west.

The Milton sailed from Shields, England, on the 9th of August last, for this port, with a cargo of coal. The crew consisted of 15 sailors and the Captain, wife, and two children, first and second officers, and steward. The vessel was favored with fine weather and strong winds, and every prospect of a speedy voyage was entertained until the afternoon of the 22d of December, when smoke was noticed issuing from the after hatch of the ship.

Fire Aboard Ship. William Turner.
Fire Aboard Ship
William Turner

The men were called to the pumps, and labored incessantly pouring water into the hold until 2 o'clock of the next morning, when flames commenced to issue from the hatchway, and the Captain was compelled to order the crew to take to the boats, three in number. Capt. McArthur, accompanied by his wife and children, and five sailors occupied the first boat, the first mate and seven men the second, and the third boat contained the steward and six sailors. The boats hovered about the burning vessel during the day and night of the 22nd, taking on board all the provisions they could stow away, but at daylight on 24th, the Milton then being a mass of flames, the boats departed, keeping as close together as possible. On the morning of the 25th, the boat of the first mate was nowhere to be seen, and the boats of the Captain and steward kept together until January 2, when they separated. The third boat, on which there were no instruments for navigation, then drift about until 1 o'clock on the night of January 15, when the crew was picked up by the Cochin.

The men were in a pitiable condition when rescued, some of them being unable to walk. Michael Willer, one of the rescued seamen, who has not yet recovered from the suffering he endured during the 23 days spent in the open boat, stated last evening tat the occupants of the boats suffered greatly from lack of food and water, as very little of either had been provided, and for three days before they were picked up, they drank kerosene oil and salt water to quench their thirst. They had sunk a bottle 60 fathoms deep in an endeavor to procure fresh water, but were unable to do so. During the first week, the rations were one biscuit and a half teacupful of water to each man, with a small piece of pork, three times a day, but this was curtailed to half a biscuit, and the same amount of water and pork twice a day until the water gave out, which soon occurred, as they only possessed 15 gallons when they left the ship.

The Captain's wife, with her boys, Archie and Flack, aged 4 and 2 years respectively, suffered greatly from this exposure and were in a truly deplorable condition when last seen by the rescued men. The lady was close to confinement, and this, together with her terrible position in an open boat on the wide ocean, added to both her mental and bodily anguish.

The names of those saved are Ole Olerson, George Williams, Oscar Bergund, Ivan Gulanovich, George Marlin, and Michael Willer.

The fire was thought to have been occasioned by the generation of coal gases in the hold of the vessel. The worst fears are entertained for the safety of the occupants of the two missing boats as their lack of provisions and water would controvert the possibility of their long surviving the hardships and perils to which they were exposed, and the faint hope that they may have, like the arrival yesterday, been picked up by some passing vessel, alone remains.


Sweatshops at Sea.
Sweatshops at Sea: Merchant Seamen in the World's First Globalized Industry, from 1812 to the PresentSweatshops at Sea. Merchant Seamen.
Leon Fink
As the main artery of international commerce, merchant shipping was the world's first globalized industry, often serving as a vanguard for issues touching on labor recruiting, the employment relationship, and regulatory enforcement that crossed national borders. Historian Leon Fink examines the evolution of laws and labor relations governing ordinary seamen over the past two centuries. The merchant marine offers an ideal setting for examining the changing regulatory regimes applied to workers by the United States, Great Britain, and, ultimately, an organized world community. Fink explores both how political and economic ends are reflected in maritime labor regulations and how agents of reform--including governments, trade unions, and global standard-setting authorities--grappled with the problems of applying land-based, national principles and regulations of labor discipline and management to the sea-going labor force. With the rise of powerful nation-states in a global marketplace in the nineteenth century, recruitment and regulation of a mercantile labor force emerged as a high priority and as a vexing problem for Western powers. The history of exploitation, reform, and the evolving international governance of sea labor offers a compelling precedent in an age of more universal globalization of production and services.

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. This synthesis of key elements might never have occurred without the 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.

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 alike--anyone who loves the sea and ships--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.

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

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. A significant portion of book sales benefit the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

The Marlinspike SailorThe Marlinspike Sailor.
Hervey Garrett Smith
"Knowledge of marlinspike seamanship is what distinguishes the true seaman from the man who merely ventures upon the water. No one can become a skipper, or should aspire to that distinction, who has not mastered knots, palm and needle work, and the making of small objects on board as necessary. In fact the few required knots, hitches or bends should be so well known that they can be tied blindfolded or in the dark. The greatest value of this work is the amazing clarity he achieves in his drawings. He has set a new standard for all time. Rope is a difficult subject to draw. Like the sea itself, it changes its appearance constantly" -From the Forward.
(Second Edition. Enlarged. 2012 reprint of 1952 edition.) Exact facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software.

Jack Tar and the Baboon Watch: A Guide to Curious Nautical Knowledge for Landlubbers and Sea Lawyers AlikeJack Tar and the Baboon Watch.
Jack Tar and the Baboon Watch.Frank Lanier
A collection of unusual, nautical-based phrases and trivia tidbits for Jack Tars and landlubbers alike. Author and mariner Frank Lanier began to compile these entries while serving in the Coast Guard; they were included in the Plan of the Day published aboard various ships Lanier was stationed on starting in the 1980s. He explains these colorful terms and entertaining phrases and presents their origins. Words and phrases incluide: Over a Barrel -- Sailors were sometimes tied over a barrel while being flogged. Rummage -- A ship's cargo or the packing of it in the vessel's hold, the yardsale-type association of the term arising from the fact damaged cargo was often sold at a "rummage sale," a clearing out of unclaimed goods at the dock. Rubbernecker -- A sailor who stood by and looked on as his shipmates worked. Square Meal -- A solid, hearty meal, said to be derived from the square, wooden platters hot meals were served upon aboard ship in good weather. To "Fudge It" -- A sailor's term for a lie, nonsense; exaggeration that can be traced to one Captain Fudge, a seventeenth-century sailor whose propensity for telling outrageous whoppers prompted his crew to meet any tale of dubious origin with a cry of "You Fudge It!" Kissed by Mother Carey -- Those whose destiny seemed forever tied to the sea. Suck the Monkey -- Clandestine siphoning of spirits from one of the ship's casks via a straw or other such tube. Swallow the Anchor -- An old salt who retired ashore, forever giving up his life at sea.

Shanghaiing Days
The Thrilling Account of 19th Century Hell-Ships, Bucko Mates and Masters, and Dangerous Ports-Of-Call from San Francisco
Shanghaiing Days, Dillon.Shanghaiing Days in San Francisco.
Richard H. Dillon
In the last quarter of the 19th Century, American Merchant Marine went into a decline, and sailors were forced to serve under conditions that were little better than serfdom. Seamen were exploited in wholesale fashion, disfranchised of almost all their civil and human rights, and brutally punished forminor offenses. Successful skippers turned into slave drivers, cracking down on the sailors, sometimes even murdering their "hands." Though captains were legally prohibited from flogging their crews, they did not hesitate to wield belaying pins, marlin spikes, or bare fists. The seamen's lot was so horrible that entire crews jumped ship when in port. New crews were kidnaped, crimped, or shanghaied from the unsuspecting populace of the ports. These "impressed" or "hobo" crews were still further conspired against. They often had their wages stolen from them; they were poorly fed and clothed. Their lives became "hell afloat and purgatory ashore." Our "first and finest employ" in colonial days was turned into a disreputable profession-one that was classed with criminals and prostitutes.

Oregon Shanghaiers: The Columbia River Crimping from Astoria to PortlandOregon Shanghaiers.Oregon Shanghaiers.
Barney Blalock
In the hardscrabble early days of Portland's seaport, "shanghaiing" or "crimping" ran rampant. The proprietors of crooked saloons and sailors' boardinghouses coerced unwitting patrons to work on commercial ships. Shanghaiers like James Turk, Bunko Kelley and Billy Smith unashamedly forced men into service and stole the wages of their victims. By the 1890s, these shanghaiers had become powerful enough to influence the politics of Astoria and Portland, charging sea captains outrageous fees for unskilled laborers and shaping maritime trade around a merciless black market. For nearly a century, the exploits of these notorious crimpers have existed mainly in lore. Now historian Barney Blalock offers a lively and meticulously researched account of these colorful and corrupt men, revealing an authentic account of Oregon's malicious maritime legends.

 

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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