“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One

A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
1. A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker
Side 1:
I have heard that cry: that once heard can never be forgotten,

“Man overboard!”
I remember men lost from my ship, far out in the mid-ocean,
On dark midnights.
I remember how we used to stand,
Gathered under the mizzen rigging,
All staring out into the impenetrable blackness.

“Is there anything more that you want me to do, men?”
I heard the skipper ask.

“Nothing more to do, sir.” Bill Adams, Ships & Memories, 1935

Overloaded with cement piers and iron machinery in Hamburg, Pinnas has been awash for much of her voyage wit the sea entering on port and starboard sides. Captain Lehmann assembles the crew of 24 in the safety of the rear cabin. Two masts have blown away, the ship’s rigging is partly overboard, and partly a tangle on the deck, with four lifeboats smashed. As the extra heavy cargo pitches the ship violently from side to side, the crew will try to rig a sail on the one remaining mast to head the ship into the wind.

50 miles away in Port Magellan, Chile, the steamer Alfonso picks up her S.O.S. but cannot
A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
2. A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker
Click or scan to see
this page online
leave in the heavy seas. The Scottish ship Albert passes Pinnas, but avoids the perilous rolling vessel. She radios the British Peer to stand by – but it never appears. On the Morning of April 29, 1929, the Chilean steamer Alfonso reaches Pinnas. Captain Jenson asks for five volunteers to man the lifeboat to attempt a rescue. At any time the heaving and rolling Pinnas may smash the lifeboat. They reach the vessel, but can only take 12 men off. Captain Lehamann stays behind with 12 volunteers. The lifeboat makes its second difficult rescue. Moments later, Pinnas goes down.

Three men hand on to liferopes as the sea washes over the rail in a hurricane off the coast of Japan in 1918. Winds over 150 miles an hour could snap a mast. It took a cool and determined head, plus a steady hand, to capture this classic scene on film. All hands (but the cook and steward) had to be on deck, day and night, to wrestle with rigging and sails that very man’s life depended upon. The four-masted bark Flying Cloud made it through this terrifying Pacific hurricane. Built in Liverpool, in 1888; she was a steel-hulled bark of 2542 tons.

Hove-to in a southeast gale, the lumber schooner C.A. Thayer struck heavy weather off Cape Cabrillo, on the Mendocino coast on September 26, 1957. “The Thayer was doing seven knots on
A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
3. A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker
the log, close-hauled. The next gust might send the old sails flying out of their bolt ropes… A raging green ocean widened around the schooner in the first wild streak of morning light… Rain flew in sheets off the top of the deckhouse… We were working to save the schooner and our necks… Harry said seriously, it would be a shame to lose the schooner now.” To lose the sole-surviving 19th century West Coast lumber schooner – and to lose her in the very act of saving her was unthinkable. But the C.A. Thayer became known as “The Schooner That Came Home.” A National Park museum ship at San Francisco’s Hyde Street Pier.

1933 Meant hard times on the waterfront. If life was hard at sea, try living alone and broke in Frisco. No job in sight. No letters from home. Money running out. San Francisco’s Seamen’s Institute became a safe haven: here, you could leave your gear and know it was safe; pick up any letters from home – or write a letter yourself; and if you ran through your pay, you could always pick up a meal chit.

”It is one of the strangest problems of human character, why half of mankind should feel strongly impelled to go to sea, and the other half as strongly impelled to keep away from it. Neither half can understand the other: The second finds the first lunatic, and the first finds the second just slightly subhuman.” Richard Hughes, The Spectator,
A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
4. A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker
January 22, 1937

GORDON GRANT 1874-1962
Maritime artist and author, whose pen and ink sketch appears at the top of this pylon and other north waterfront pylons, was sent off to Scotland to school on a four-month voyage on a Clyde windjammer around Cape Horn. His plans to be a naval architect got set aside when he studied at Lambeth Art School in London and never stopped drawing – specializing in maritime studies of square-rigged vessels and character studies of the men who sailed them. He earned his living as an illustrator: first, for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1890s, and later, for the New York World and the New York Journal. Harper’s Weekly sent him to Africa to make drawings of the Boer War. His maritime paintings hang in the Metropolitan Museum, the Library of Congress, Naval Academy, and the White House. So accurate are the technical details of Gordon Grant’s drawings, made on long sea voyages, that maritime historians consult his work for “how it was done.” His books include: Sail Ho!, Greasy Luck, and Gordon Grant’s Sketchbook.

Side 2:
Dona Juana Briones
1802 – 1889

Dońa Juana Briones , probably the first settler in the North Beach – Telegraph Hill area, built an adobe home near the corner of what is now Filbert and Powell Street in 1836. Early travelers remember
A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
5. A Sailor’s Life is a Dangerous One Marker
Side 2
her for her kindness to incoming sailors who were sick – and ready to jump ship. When there were only a handful of houses in the village of Yerba Buena, and no one to welcome sailors, she offered fresh milk from her dairy, herbal tea steeped from them mint Yerba Buena, which she gathered on Telegraph Hill, and best of all, she gave them a place to hide until their ship had departed. Married at age 24 to Corporal Apolinario Miranda, she bore him eight children before petitioning her bishop to sanction her separation for reasons of hos infidelity, drunkenness, and “scandalous behavior.” Dońa Briones became known as an energetic business woman who successfully operated her own dairy. Those few vessels that called at Yerba Buena, made it a point to obtain milk from Dońa Briones at whose home visitors were always welcome and treated kindly. She bartered milk for grain, took in sewing, acted as a nurse and mid-wife, and managed her large household of servants and children earning sufficient funds to buy the Rancho Purisima Concepcion in Santa Clara County – where she lived out the remainder of her 87 years.

Charles Brown arrived aboard the whaler Helvatius on October 13, 1829, tired of the sea, took French leave of the ship.
AN old lady named Juana Briones residing in the Presidio, understanding that myself Ephraim P. Frawell, Gregorio Escalantes (a Manila
Side 3 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
6. Side 3
man) and an Indian, native of the vicinity of New London, named Elijah, wanted to run, stowed us away in the loft of her house – from there she moved Frawell and me to the bushed on Black Point – Then she sent for her brother Felipe Briones from Pinole, who came and carried us over there. There I remained until 1832. Frawell wanted to live with the Castros – he was a tailor and a native of Philadelphia.

Elijah the Indian, lived around San Francisco Bay among the native Californians, till 1842 when he went with Captain Cooper (John B.R.) to Japan – remained and died there. He was a very good cook, but not over smart as may be proved from the fact that he once climbed up a tree, stood on one of the limbs that he wanted to cut off – came down with it and broke his jaw. Juana Briones cured him.

Gregorio Escalante lived a long time here, got rich, married and raised a family, but his wife ran away from him and he got discouraged and lost all his fortune. Juana Briones took care of him until she was unable to do it any more, and Escalante had to find refuge in the poor house at Mayfield, where he still lives.

Manuscript at the Bancroft Library

Sides 3 & 4:
Shipwrecks by the Golden Gate
1849 – 1894

Based on research by James Delgado, Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum
Stephen Haller, Historian
Side 3 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
7. Side 3
for the Presidio, National Park Service
Taken from Shipwrecks by the Golden Gate: A History of Vessel Losses from Duxbury Reef to Mussel Rock by Delgado and Haller, Lexikos Press, San Francisco 1989

Gold Rush Ship Tonquin, built 1841, 194 tons
Strick shoal at Whalemen Spit near North Beach
November 20, 1849

Danish Bark Caroline Amelia, date built & tonnage unknown
Wrecked on Mile Rocks,
March 19, 1850

British Bark Robert Henderson, built 1838, 368 tons
Lost at Ocean Beach
July 12, 1850

British-owned Canadian Bark Mersey, built 1840, 393 tons
Went ashore near Point Bonita,
December 16, 1850

Arriving from New York, Ship Tagus, date built & tonnage unknown
Went ashore four miles north of the Golden Gate,
August 3, 1851

U.S. Revenue Cutter, Brig C.W. Lawrence, built 1848, 144 tons
Lost off Ocean Beach,
November 25, 1851

East Coast Brig Petersburg, built 1837, 183 tons
Wrecked north of Point Bonita at Rodeo Cove,
August 23, 1852

Maine-packet Ship Aberdeen, built 1847, 719 tons
Went ashore on the rocks off Fort Point,
December 1852

Side-wheel Steamship Tennessee, built 1848, 1275 tons
Wrecked at the Marin cove which now bears its name,
Side 3 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
8. Side 3
6, 1853

Screw Steamer Samuel S. Lewis, built 1851, 1103 tons
Ran aground at Duxbury Reef,
April 9, 1853

Clipper Ship San Francisco, built 1853, 1307 tons
Wrecked off Point Bonita,
December 8, 1853

Clipper Ship Golden Fleece, built 1852, 968 tons
Went ashore, beating out the Golden Gate,
April 22, 1854

French Ship Chateau Palmer, built 1855, 800 tons
Went aground five hundred yards west of Fort Point,
May 1, 1856

Ship Zenobia, built 1838, 630 tons
Wrecked on rocks at North Head,
April 30, 1858

Ship General Cushing, built 1856, 681 tons
Loaded grain for Australia, wrecked at Fort Point,
October 16, 1858

Three-masted Ship Lucas, built 1828, tonnage unknown
Wrecked on Seal Rock in the Farallones
180 passengers on board, between 15 and 30 people perished
November 11, 1858

Bark Julia Castner, built 1858, 509 tons
Capsized off Clay Street Wharf, wrecked on Ocean Beach,
June 28, 1859

Side-Wheel Steamship Granada, built 1855, 1058 tons
Grounded on sandbar near Fort Point,
October 13, 1860

Clipper Ship Noonday, built 1854, 1189 tons
Wrecked off the Farallones,
January 1, 1863

From Bordeaux, France, Ship F.W. Bailey,
Side 3 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
9. Side 3
built 1854, 711 tons
Wrecked south of Point Lobos,
Of the 17 people on board, only 8 were saved
January 8, 1863

Schooner Beeswing, date built & tonnage unknown
Wrecked near Mussel Rock,
All eleven people on board perished
February, 1863

Barkentine Jenny Ford, built 1854, 397 tons
Lost on the rocks at Point Bonita,
Two men drowned as the vessel hit the shore broadshide
February 1, 1864

Bark Ann Parry, built 1825, 348 tons
Grounded neat Cliff House,
Captain Trask and three of his crew were lost
January 4, 1865

Wooden-hulled Steamer Labouchere, built 1858, 507 tons
Struck submerged ledge at Point Reyes,
April 15, 1866

British full-rigged Ship Schah Jehan, date built & tonnage unknown
Driven ashore near Point Lobos, had her bottom stove in,
February 3, 1867

Cargo Carrier, Bark H.L. Rutgers, built 1855, 405 tons
Wrecked on rocks on north side of Point Bonita,
January 1, 1868

Two-masted Schooner Morning Light, built 1858, 43 tons
Wrecked on North Farallon Island,
January 18, 1868

Iron Hulled British Ship Viscata, built 1864, 1065 tons
Went aground on Baker Beach,
March 7, 1868

Italian-owned Bark Brignardello, built 1865, 543 tons
Side 4 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
10. Side 4
in Kellys Cove, below the Cliff House
September 3, 1868

Fishing Sloop Eliza, built 1868, 10 tons
Went ashore on rocks near Point Lobos,
January 3, 1871

Two-masted Lumber Schooner, Aimer, built 1870, 96 tons
Went on the beach at Ocean-Side House,
June 26, 1871

Full-rigged Ship Annie Sisie, built 1856, 1163 tons
Wrecked on South Farallon Island,
September 18, 1871

Two-masted Schooner Josephine Wilcutt, built 1860, 86 tons
Wrecked on the rocks near the Cliff House
January 24, 1872

Two-masted Schooner William Miguel, date built unknown, 25 tons
Was run down by Steamer Prince Alfred off Point Bonita,
and sunk, one crew member killed
February 12, 1873

British Ship Patrician, built 1859, 1140 tons
Struck submerged obstruction, sunk off Point Bonita,
February 28, 1873

Iron-hulled Steamship Prince Alfred, built 1852, 815 tons
Ran aground on the rocks at Potato Cove,
June 14, 1874

Iron-hulled Steam Screw Tugboat Rescue, built 1865, 139 tons
Ran ashore and wrecked at Point Bonita,
One person died
October 3, 1874

Downeaster Ship Champlain, built 1874, 1473 tons
Lost at sea neat the Farrallones,
June 17, 1875

Bark Isaac Jeanes,
Side 4 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
11. Side 4
built 1854, 814 tons
Wrecked at the Golden Gate near Fort Point
March 9, 1876

Three-masted Ship King Philip, built 1856, 1194 tons
Went ashore on Ocean Beach,
January 25, 1878

Full-rigged Ship Western Shore, built 1874, 1117 tons
Struck Duxbury Reed and sank,
July 2, 1878

Schooner H.C. Almy, launched 1855, 12 tons
Dragged ashore by heavy surf outside Bolinas Lagoon,
March 30, 1879

Barkentine W.H. Gawley, built 1861, 483 tons
Wrecked on Ocean Beach,
October 23, 1880

Two-masted Scow Schooner Elko, built 1868, 147 tons
Foundered on the rocks near Lands End,
April 26, 1881

Downeaster Franconia, built 1874, 1461 tons
Wrecked on the Farallones,
June 27, 1881

Coasting Skow Schooner George Louis, built 1863, 42 tons
Went ashore inside Mile Rock,
March 8, 1882

Iron-hulled Screw Steamer Escambia, built 1879, 1401 tons
Capsized and sank neat Point Lobos,
Three sailor drowned
June 19, 1882

Three-masted Bark Dulin, built 1839, 706 tons
Struck Ocean Beach south of Cliff House and sank,
August 31, 1882

Iron-hulled Steamship Bremen, built 1858, 2687 tons
Crashed ashore on South Farallon Island,
October 16, 1882

Bronze border at the base of the pylon image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
12. Bronze border at the base of the pylon
Bark Atlantic, built 1851, 366 tons
Went ashore on Ocean Beach,
Of the 43 men on board only 11 survived
December 16, 1886

Two-masted Schooner Parallel, built 1868, 148 tons
Carrying 42 tons of black powder, exploded below the Cliff House,
January 15, 1887

Two-masted Schooner William Frederick, built 1863, 42 tons
Beached below Sloat Blvd. with her bottom knocked out,
Of crew of four, two were drowned
July 3, 1887

Brigantine Claus Spreckels, built 1879, 246 tons
Wrecked on Duxbury Reef,
January 22, 1888

Steamer City of Chester, built 1875, 1106 tons
Struck by the Oceanic, sank just past Fort Point
16 passengers lost at the Golden Gate Channel
August 22, 1888

Two-masted Schooner Bessie Everding, built 1876, 73 tons
Carrying firewood & railroad ties, went on the beach,
September 9, 1888

Two-masted Schooner Pet, built 1868, 49 tons
Struck the North Heads and went ashore,
September 1888

Two-masted Schooner American Boy, built 1882, 183 tons
Went ashore on the North Farallones,
November 4, 1890

Downeaster Ship Elizabeth, built 1882, 1866 tons
Grounded on Four Fathom Bank in the Potato Patch, After Captain
refused to pay $50 for a tow,
Bronze border at the base of the pylon image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Joseph Alvarado, June 21, 2022
13. Bronze border at the base of the pylon
of the 26-man crew, including the captain perished
February 21, 1891

Downeaster Palestine, built 1877, 1397 tons
Struck the Golden Gate bar and sank,
June 27, 1891

Two-masted Schooner Esperanza, built 1877, 15 tons
Wrecked on Duxbury Reef,
September 26, 1892

Steamer City of New York, launched 1875, 3019 tons
Went on rocks southeast of Point Bonita,
October 26, 1893

Three-masted Schooner William …ebe, built 1875, 281 tons
Grounded on Ocean Beach,
December 10, 1894

Salvage Schooner Samson, built 1890, 21 tons
Wrecked while dismantling the hulk, City of New York,
In a fierce gale near Point Bonita Watchman & two divers lost
January 3, 1895

Bark Helen W. Almy, built Connecticut 1859, 314 tons
Sank between Point Reyes and the Farallones,
All 39 aboard perished without a trace
March 20, 1898

Two-masted Schooner Nettie Low, built 1891, 26 tons
Foundered off the rocks off Duxbury Point,
February 7, 1900

Pilot Schooner Bonita, built 1892, 75 tons
Perished at sea six miles off the Farallones,
July 21, 1900

Two-masted Schooner Neptune, built 1882, 84 tons
Went aground six miles off Point Lobos,
August 10, 1900

Two-masted Schooner
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
Daisy Rowe, built 1879, 122 tons
Went ashore one mile inside Point Bonita,
November 20, 1900

Steamship City of Rio de Janeiro built 1878 at Chester, Pa., 2548 tons
Struck Fort Point ledge in dense fog at 5:25 am,
Of 210 people aboard, 128 went down with the ship
Treasure on board estimated value between three & ten million dollars
February 22, 1901

Three-masted Bark Eureka, launched 1868, 295 tons
Went aground near Mussel Rock,
June 19, 1902

Three-masted Schooner Reporter, built 1876, 351 tons
Wrecked on Ocean Beach,
March 13, 1902

Four-masted Steel Bark Gifford, built 1892, 2245 tons
Struck the shore off Mussel Rock,
September 25, 1903

Four-masted Schooner William F. Witzemann, built 1887, 473 tons
Wrecked near Duxbury Point,
February 6, 1907

Five-masted Lumber Schooner Louis, built 1888, 831 tons
Wrecked off South Farallon Island,
June 19, 1907

Two-masted Steam Schooner R.D. Inman, built 1907, 768 tons
Went ashore at Point Bolinas,
March 20, 1909

Pilot Schooner Pathfinder, built 1900, 86 tons
Ran up on the rocks at Point Diablo,
January 15, 1914

Four-masted Schooner Polaris, built 1902, 790 tons
Crashed on the rocks at Duxbury
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
January 16, 1914

Single-ended Steam Schooner Hanalei, built 1901, 666 tons
Struck rocks with no warning & ran aground on Duxbury Reef
Of 62 people on board, 23 died,
November 23, 1914

Two-masted Steam Schooner Eureka, Built 1900, 484 tons
Wrecked at Point Bonita,
January 8, 1915

Steam Schooner Aberdeen, built 1899, 499 tons
Capsized and sank at the Golden Gate,
Several of the crew, including Captain Knudson drowned
June 23, 1916

Steel-hulled tanker Lyman A. Stewart, built 1914, 6076 tons
Rammed by the Walter A. Luckenbach,
Went on the rocks at Lands End,
October 7, 1922

Single-ended Steam Schooner Yosemite, built 1906, 827 tons
Wrecked on the rocks below the Cliff House,
February 9, 1926

Freighter Coos Bay, ex-Vulcan, built 1909, 5451 tons
Struck on the rocks at Lands End,
October 22, 1927

Trawler Three Sisters, built 1917, 28 tons
Wrecked at Tennessee Point,
Two of the three men perished
April 15, 1929

Diesel-powered Purse-Seiner Acalin, built 1928, 87 tons
Struck Duxbury Reef and sank,
August 30, 1934

Purse-Seiner San Domenico, launched 1935, tonnage unknown,
Ran aground north of Bolinas,
December 27, 1935

Freighter Ohian, built 1914, 5153 tons
Returned from active W.W.I. duty, wrecked at Point Lobos,
October 7, 1936

Tanker Frank H. Buck, built 1914, 6076 tons
Rammed by President Coolidge, beached near Lands End,
March 6, 1937

Floating Dry-Dock #20, built 1942, 6500 tons
Grounded at Duxbury Reef,
January 20, 1943

Liberty Ship Henry Bergh, launched 1943, 7176 tons
Ran hard aground at South Farallon Island,
May 31, 1944

Navy Hospital Ship Benevolence, built 1944, 11,141 tons
Rammed by Mary Luckenbach in thick fog, outside the Golden Gate,
54 survivors were picked up by John Napoli, fisherman on the Flora
Of 526 people on board, 508 were saved,
August 25, 1950

Ocean-going Barge Kona, built 1969 at Portland, Or., 5825 tons
Smashed on the shore north of Point Bonita,
January 1, 1980

Tanker Puerto Rican, built 1971, 20,295 tons,
Loaded with oil and fuel, burned and broke up after two explosions
Outside Golden Gate, near Gulf of Farallones Marine Sactuary
One crew member lost
November 1, 1984

Bronze border around the base:

You can put me in jail. But you cannot give me narrower quarters than as a seaman I have always had.
You cannot give me worse food than I have always eaten.
You cannot make me lonelier than I have always been.
Andrew Furuseth, Sailor’s Union of the Pacific
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicIndustry & CommerceWaterways & VesselsWomen. A significant historical date for this entry is November 20, 1849.
Location. 37° 47.937′ N, 122° 23.829′ W. Marker is in San Francisco, California, in San Francisco City and County. Marker is on The Embarcadero North south of Broadway, on the right when traveling north. The pylon is on the sidewalk just north of Pier 7. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: San Francisco CA 94105, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Russian Navy Heroes (a few steps from this marker); Landing Downtown (a few steps from this marker); Pony Express Wharf (within shouting distance of this marker); Braving the Seas (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Kanrin Maru (about 400 feet away); Ferry Boats (about 400 feet away); Crimps and Dives (about 400 feet away); Vallejo Street (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Francisco.
Additional keywords. Shipwrecks
Credits. This page was last revised on July 1, 2022. It was originally submitted on June 22, 2022, by Joseph Alvarado of Livermore, California. This page has been viewed 58 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 22, 2022, by Joseph Alvarado of Livermore, California.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on June 25, 2022, by Joseph Alvarado of Livermore, California.   9, 10. submitted on June 26, 2022, by Joseph Alvarado of Livermore, California.   11, 12, 13. submitted on June 28, 2022, by Joseph Alvarado of Livermore, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.

Share this page.  
Share on Tumblr

CeraNet Cloud Computing sponsors the Historical Marker Database.
Paid Advertisements

Aug. 16, 2022