News & Tall Tales. 1800s.

North Pacific Map.

Corinthian Yacht Club

San Francisco Bay. 1800s.

The Corinthian was founded in 1886 by a group of yachtsmen who wanted to promote amateur small boat yachting in the San Francisco Bay Area. The word "Corinthian" is taken in the sailing world to mean "amateur" and is derived from the Corinthian games in ancient Greece, contemporary to the Olympic games and took place on the isthmus of Corinth. The Corinthian founded such popular traditions as Opening Day on the Bay, the Blessing of the Fleet, and the Midwinter races.

The club is housed in a Colonial Revival building located across San Francisco Bay in Tiburon with a breathtaking panoramic view of the city by the bay.

February 26, 1897, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

The Opening of the Season Is Now Close at Hand
Water Front Notes.

Corinthian Yacht Club Bylaws. 1889.

Nearly all the yachts at Tiburon are being put in readiness for the opening of the next racing season. The Clara is getting new topsides and her mast has been cut down four feet. The Freda is having her masts and spars scraped and at the same time is getting a thorough overhauling. The Cisne is on the ways and the Rover is already overhauled and is again in commission Sunday next will see several of the boats on the bay again.

April 24, 1892, San Francisco Call, Volume 71, Number 145


The Corinthian Yacht Club opened the season of 1892 with a reception at Sausalito yesterday. Over 400 people attended. A lunch was served during the day and the opening was on the whole a big success.

Today the yachts will make a cruise on the bay.

Sunday, August 4, 1907, The San Francisco Call

Corinthian Yacht Discovery Defends Perpetual Cup

Corinthian yacht club sloop Discovery, built seven years ago Captain John E. McFarlane, a carpenter, which ran away from the southern California yacht Valkyrie yesterday in a race for the perpetual challenge cup. The Valkyrie is the latest creation of the famous naval constructor of Boston.

By. R. A. Smyth

Captain John E. McFarlane's sloop Discovery defended the Perpetual challenge cup in gallant style for the Corinthian club yesterday; when it fairly ran away from the Valkyrie, the representative of the South Coast yacht club of southern California, and led across the line by 22 minutes and 6 seconds, over a course estimated at 14 miles. The challenger seemed outclassed in every point of sailing, and yet the crew and the experts who watched the race from Meiggs wharf could not account for its poor showing.

It was on the second beat to windward that the Discovery made, its sensational gain and outfooted the southern yacht in such a manner that it gained 22 minutes and 55 seconds. Old yachtsmen found it impossible to explain the disappointing showing of the visitor at this stage of the race except that it was caught in some adverse current, which brought it almost to a standstill.

The Golden Gate. 1878.

San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate. 1878.

The strangest part of it was, however, that the big fleet of pleasure craft which accompanied the two racers ran completely away from the Valkyrie. The latter was left so far behind that the spectators on Meiggs wharf lost sight of it entirely and centered their attention on another boat which was close to the Discovery off Black point and which was made out to be the visitor. All this time the Valkyrie was off Alcatraz and making but slow headway.


The vagaries of yacht building are shown when it is told that the Discovery was designed and built by Captain McFarlane seven years ago while the Valkyrie is the latest creation of Crown-Inshield, the famous naval constructor of Boston. Captain McFarlane is a carpenter by trade and he and his brothers are enthusiastic yachtsmen. The Discovery made a beautiful picture as it sailed down to the finish, accompanied by a big fleet of pleasure craft. As soon as Captain McFarlane rounded the Presidio buoy for the second time, he set every stitch of canvas he had. This included, in addition to his working sails, a gaff topsail, spinnaker and watersail, and all were drawing well. McFarlane got every ounce out of his boat from start to finish and was complimented on all sides for his masterly work.

The Discovery had the best of the start and Captain McFarlane took what is known as the shore course along the Presidio, making short tacks. The Valkyrie stood out in the channel on the port tack straight for Sausalito to catch the last of the ebb tide. The southern skipper did not profit by this as the Discovery rounded the buoy 4 minutes and 19 seconds ahead of him. The southern California boat picked up a little on the reach to the mark at Southampton shoal, gaining 57 seconds. This was the only gain made during the progress of the race by the visitor.

The only mishap during the race was just as the Valkyrie was crossing the finish line when its spinnaker was carried away. The Discovery finished so far ahead that it sailed back over the course and accompanied its rival back over the line. The most plausible explanation of the crushing defeat of the visitor is that it is a light weather boat and the 20 mile breeze which was blowing yesterday was too much for it. This placed its crew at a disadvantage also, as they were not accustomed to handling their boat in the sea which was kicked up. They were not accustomed to conditions prevailing in this bay and they did not get all the pace out of their boat. As one old salt expressed it: "You can't sail a boat in this bay with the sail over the cockpit."

It is hoped the Valkyrie will take part in the special race for the 25-footers today over the same course, as the experience gained by the southern yachtsmen yesterday should enable them to make a better showing.

The race held yesterday is, the blue ribbon event of the yachtsmen's year and drew a large crowd of-spectators both on land and water. Commodore Brickell of the Corinthian club, was out in the Speedwell as the guest of Tom Jennings. W. C Morrow of the San Francisco yacht club and some friends followed the yachts in a launch.


San Francisco Bay. c. 1898.

Harry Goodall was out on his steam yacht, the Lucero, with a party of friends. I. Gutte sailed his smart schooner, Chispa, and the schooner Lady Ada was also much in evidence during the race. The Harpoon and Ruby were also in the big fleet of pleasure craft which helped make up yachting picture.

The crew of the winning Corinthian boat consisted of Captain John E. McFarlane, Alexander McFarlane, Jack Stack, Ed Hamberge and Syd Marshall. There was a celebration at the- Corinthian clubhouse at Tiburon last night in honor of the occasion. The club lost the cup to the San Francisco yacht club in 1902 and retained it two years later. It defended the trophy successfully the following year. There was no race last year owing to the fire.

The defeat of the Valkyrie by 22 minutes and 6 seconds was the second most decisive defeat in all the history of the race. Thewless best the Gadder in 1900 by 25 minutes and 30 seconds, which was the most crushing defeat in the history of the race. The Presto was by a margin of 46 6-10 seconds over the Helen in 1901, while the Corinthian best the Challenger by 41 seconds in 1904.

July 16, 1896, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club Cutter 'Bedouin'
off Execution Rocks Lighthouse. Elisha Taylor Baker

The Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club Cutter Bedouin off Execution Rocks Lighthouse - by Elisha Taylor Baker.

Seawanhaka - Corinthian Cup Captured by the Glencairn.

OYSTER BAY, Long Island, July 15.— The Canadian yacht Glencairn to-day won the third of the international races, beating El Heirieby three-quarters of a mile. The Glencairn thus wins three straight races out of five and the SeawanhaKa - Corinthian cup for boats under the 25-foot limit noes to the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club. The former club, however, has just sent another challenge to the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club, the size of the boat and other conditions to be decided upon later.

Gold Rush Port
The Maritime Archaeology of San Francisco's WaterfrontMaritime Archaeology of San Francisco's Waterfront.
James P. Delgado
Gold Rush Port The Maritime Archaeology of San Franciscos Waterfront.Described as a "forest of masts," San Francisco's Gold Rush waterfront was a floating economy of ships and wharves, where a dazzling array of global goods was traded and transported. Drawing on excavations in buried ships and collapsed buildings from this period, James P. Delgado re-creates San Francisco's unique maritime landscape, shedding new light on the city's remarkable rise from a small village to a boomtown of thousands in the three short years from 1848 to 1851. Gleaning history from artifacts, such as preserves and liquors in bottles, leather boots and jackets, hulls of ships, even crocks of butter lying alongside discarded guns. Gold Rush Port paints a fascinating picture of how ships and global connections created the port and the city of San Francisco.

The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold RushPacific Worlds.
David Igler
Master Under God.The Pacific of the early eighteenth century was a place of baffling complexity, with 25,000 islands and seemingly endless continental shorelines. But with the voyages of Captain James Cook, global attention turned to the Pacific, and European and American dreams of scientific exploration, trade, and empire grew dramatically. By the time of the California gold rush, the Pacific's many shores were fully integrated into world markets-and world consciousness. The Great Ocean draws on hundreds of documented voyages as a window into the commercial, cultural, and ecological upheavals following Cook's exploits, focusing in particular on the eastern Pacific in the decades between the 1770s and the 1840s. Beginning with the expansion of trade as seen via the travels of William Shaler, captain of the American Brig Lelia Byrd, historian David Igler uncovers a world where voyagers, traders, hunters, and native peoples met one another in episodes often marked by violence and tragedy.

Rounding the Horn 
Being the Story of Williwaws and Windjammers, Drake, Darwin, Murdered Missionaries and Naked Natives. A Deck's-eye View of Cape Horn
Murdered Missionaries and Naked Natives. Captains.Rounding the Horn.
Dallas Murphy
Fifty-five degrees 59 minutes South by 67 degrees 16 minutes West: Cape Horn, situated at the bottom of South America, is a place of forlorn and foreboding beauty that has captured the dark imaginations of explorers and writers from Francis Drake to Joseph Conrad. For centuries, the small stretch of water between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula was the only gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Storms are bigger, winds stronger, and the seas rougher than anywhere else on earth. In Rounding the Horn, author Dallas Murphy undertakes the ultimate maritime rite of passage weaving together stories of his own nautical adventures with tales of those who braved the Cape before him from Spanish missionaries to Captain Cook and interspersing them with breathtaking descriptions of the surrounding wilderness.

Master Under GodAt Sea.Master Under God.
Captain Gwilym Williams
Captains exercised absolute authority at sea and so were dubbed "Master Under God" by early insurance writs, agreements with ship owners and passengers and the Board of Trade.

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, as well as company and flag state policies. 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 ultimate responsibility.

The Naval Order of the United States has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths.

The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year.

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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