John Vonderlin: 1853: More Bad Luck at the Carrier Pigeon Wreck (3)

Story from John Vonderlin

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Hi June,

This is a story about a fairly common happenstance reported in the old newspapers; a salvage boat getting into trouble while attempting to “steal” Neptune’s due; after a cargo-laden boat had gone aground. The danger of tying up close to a ship that had been driven onto rocks, perhaps in shallow waters, is considerable, even in the best of marine weather conditions. But, I’m sure maximum profit or even pure greed and the fear of competitors often didn’t allow salvagers time to wait for favorable seas.  This story is from “The Daily Alta” issue of June 13th, 1853, just a week after the wreck of the Carrier Pigeon. Enjoy. John

P.S. Try to follow who is captaining what boat and you’ll see there is major confusion. Is Mr. Wright the Purser for the Goliah or the Captain of the Sea Bird? Is Mr. Waterman the Captain of the Carrier Pigeon or is Mr. Doane? Four Captains, three boats Hmmm. I’ve got a few more things to check on, before I throw in my two cents.

Steamer Sea Bird Ashore— The Carrier Pigeon.   We have intelligence of the steamer Sea Bird having gone ashore, furnished by Purser Wright of the steamer Goliah, Capt. R. Haley, which arrived yesterday afternoon from the wreck of the Carrier Pigeon. That vessel  was lying head on shore, with the water ebbing and flowing in her.

 The steamer Sea Bird, laying at anchor astern of the Carrier Pigeon, at 3 A. M. on Friday, parted her best bower chain; she immediately let go her second anchor which brought her up head to the sea. In a few minutes she parted her second chain, when the captain made sail on her, and veered her clear of a reef of rocks lying off her lee side. There being a heavy ground swell when the second anchor brought the steamer’s head to the sea, the chain veered across the forefoot, which caused her to start the scurf at the bottom of the forefoot, and in a few minutes the steamer was reported to be filling. Capt. Wright immediately kept her off under steam, and succeeded in reaching the beach under Point Anno Nuevo, where he beached her, all hands being engaged in pumping and bailing in the meantime. Capt. Waterman and the crew of the Carrier Pigeon were on board at the time. The Goliah took out the cargo that the Sea Bird had received from the Carrier Pigeon, some 1,200 packages of merchandise.

 When the Goliah left the Sea Bird, Capt Wright thought he would be able to get the steamer afloat the next high water. She was not leaking as bad as when she went ashore. The Goliah left the wreck of the Carrier Pigeon yesterday morning at 9 A. M.


Immediately after beaching the Sea Bird, Captain Wright sent an Express to San Francisco for the steamer Goliah to come to his relief. Capt. Waterman and a gang of men remained at the wreck of the Carrier Pigeon, and if the weather continues good, there will be more goods saved. Capt. Doane, officers and crew of the Carrier Pigeon were passengers in the Goliah. The Goliah returned to the wreck last evening.
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