Chinese Junks

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Chinese junks were used by the Chinese who dominated the Channel Islands abalone industry in the 19th century. By 1885, at least six junks were working the islands out of Santa Barbara, including Jog-On and Acme. Many were owned and operated by Sing Chung, a prosperous merchant on East Canon Perdido Street in Santa Barbara. Additional junks came from other ports. Known named junks operating around the Channel Islands include:

In the News~

September 16, 1873 [SBDMT]: “A party of gentlemen leave this morning at 8 o’clock to cross the channel in search of piscatorial sport. The good ship Star of Freedom, the gallant Chase commanding, will bear the jolly party to the scene of action. She has been well victualed with fifty cases of wine and demijohns of assorted liquors, all of which have been duly licensed by the Internal Revenue Collector, who goes along to see that it is not retailed. The fish will be brought back in a Chinese junk. The invalids are expected to be at home again tomorrow evening. We wish them luck.”

September 27, 1873 [SBWP]: “Chinese junk, from the islands.”

October 14, 1873 [SBMP]: “Departures. October 8th, Chinese junk, to the island.”

April 22, 1876 [SBMP]: “A Chinese junk is in the harbor this morning.”

November 25, 1876 [SBMP]: “There is a Chinese boat-yard on Bath street, between Montecito and the beach. There is a good-sized fishing junk now on the stocks. One of the peculiarities of their construction is that they plank clear up to the timber-ends before setting the stem and stern posts, which, to us Christian barbarians, is like building the attic to a house and adding the body afterwards.”

July 18, 1877 [SBMP]: “A Chinese junk is the only boat in the harbor at present.”

January 17, 1878 [SBMP]: “Among the small craft damaged and damaging, during the storm, was a Chinese junk of about three tons, which ran into and under the wharf on one side, carrying away some piling, and then, being caught by a counter current, turned and carried away some more as it went through again.”

November 13, 1878 [SBDP]: “A Chinese junk arrived yesterday and cast anchor in the channel.”

December 13, 1878 [SBDP]: “The schooner Alma and a Chinese fishing junk are lying in the bay.”

December 13, 1878 [SBDP]: “The Chinese junk is the only boat at anchor, and from the way she is rolling today, she will go to the bottom or ashore soon.”

January 2, 1879 [SBDP]: “A rotten Chinese junk, moored further inshore, was also torn loose from its anchorage and carried against the wharf, the collision breaking her up. The fragments went through between the piles without injury to them, and through the old whatf, landing high and dry on the beach near Arnold's bath house. She is a total wreck.”

April 22, 1879 [SBDP]: “The government steamer McArthur and sloop Catalina and a Chinese junk are the only vessels in the harbor today.”

June 24, 1879 [SBDP]: “The McArthur, schooner N.B. and a Chinese fishing junk are in the harbor today.”

August 14, 1879 [SBMP]: “The Chinese junk Wam Wo, with its crew, fish, shells, and abalones, is under attachment.”

September 8, 1879 [SBMP]: “The See Ling, a genuine Chinese junk, arrived yesterday from Santa Barbara Islands with a cargo of abalone shells.”

November 23, 1880 [SBDP]: “The Chinese junk, Jog-On, arrived from the islands with fish, oil, abalones, shells &c.”

November 28, 1880 [SBDP]: “A Chinese junk, a stranger at this port, arrived today from the Islands.”

September 2, 1885 [SBMP]: “The Tong Sun Hop, the Chinese junk which arrived a few days ago with a load of fish for Sing Chung, whose savory fish packing establishment adorns the beach, was the only craft in the harbor today.”

September 21, 1885 [SBMP]: “The Chinese junk was unloading large quantities of fish today for the Mongolian fish establishment on the beach.”

October 12, 1885 [SBMP]: “The vessels in port this morning were the Star of Freedom, Ocean King, Rosita, Pirate and a Chinese junk.”

November 11, 1885 [SBMP]: “The Chinese junk Sun Lee arrived from the Islands yesterday with a cargo of fish for the fish curing nuisance on the beach.”

November 13, 1885 [SBMP]: “The modus operandi of the crew of the Chinese junk Sun Lee, in surfing a cargo of fish, today attracted considerable attention on the beach.”

November 17, 1885 [SBMP]: “The Chinese junk Sun Lee is riding at anchor near the kelp, with a solitary sailor aboard. What he thinks of the storm is not known, but his co-sailors were today offering $10 to anyone who would bring the man ashore.”

November 18, 1885 [SBMP]: “The main object of interest was the Chinese junk, with its solitary figure aboard, the boat being anchored about three hundred yards from the wharf. For three or four days the poor Chinaman, the captain of the junk, has remained in his lonely and perilous position, during the daylight hours clinging to the deck and casting anxious looks at the sea and land. His clumsy and uncouth looking craft is well anchored, however, and seems likely to weather the storm through the waves constantly dashing over its rocking sides as if to submerge them. Twenty-five dollars was offered by the other Chinaman to any boatman who would push off and bring their captain to shore. A boat was ready to lower for several hours but it was finally decided that the Chinaman had but one life while four must be risked to rescue him, and that the junk was safer than a small boat. There is said to be nothing but sugar on board for the poor junk captain to eat.”

January 23, 1886 [SBMP]: “A Chinese junk arrived in port this morning with a cargo of fish for Sing Chung, making two junks now in port besides the schooners Rosita and Star of Freedom, the latter vessel arrived from Santa Cruz Island yesterday, for freight brought down by the steamer Santa Rosa.”

March 17, 1886 [SBMP]: “Of the channel fleet, Angel Dolly, a Chinese junk, the Annie, and Ocean King were the only vessels in port today.”

August 16, 1886 [SBMP]: “A Chinese junk arrived in port last night from off the Mexican coast, bringing nine tons of fish for the Santa Barbara fish curing establishment.”

November 17, 1886 [SBDP]: “A Chinese junk, laden with abalones, came into port yesterday from the islands.”

February 9, 1888 [SBMP]: “There was a small Chinese junk in the harbor yesterday.”

June 17, 1888 [SBMP]: “There were two schooners, two sloops, one steamer and a Chinese junk in the harbor yesterday.”

July 11, 1888 [SBMP]: “A Chinese junk which has been in the harbor for several days left yesterday morning on a fishing cruise.”

January 27, 1889 [SBMP]: “There is a Chinese junk in the harbor from Lower California. She brought in cargo of abalones and several enormous snapping turtles.”

September 8, 1889 [SBMP]: “There are two Chinese junks in the harbor.”

November 15, 1889 [SBMP]: “A Chinese junk loaded with fried fish and abalones is in the harbor.”

February 10, 1891 [SBMP]: “A Chinese junk is in the harbor with a load of fish for Sing Chung.”

May 3, 1891 [SBMP]: “A Chinese junk, the property of Sing Chung, has been lying at the wharf for the past day or two, loading four tons of dried fish, for the San Francisco market.”

August 8, 1891 [SBMP]: “A Chinese junk left port yesterday for the islands to gather abalones and shells.”

November 4, 1891 [SBMP]: “The Chinese junk which has long been anchored on the east side of the wharf, has been brought nearer in shore on the west side.”

May 10, 1898 [SBMP]: “The Chinese junk, Hongkong, Captain Forrest, arrived yesterday from San Miguel Island, with 40 sacks of wool and 100 head of sheep. Captain Waters also came over from the island. The Hongkong will go to Santa Rosa Island in a day or two.”

February 23, 1899 [SBMP]: “The Chinese junk Acme, five and a half days out from San Diego, arrived in port late Tuesday evening. The Acme is in command of Captain Steven and is a very large three-masted junk. She is now in the employ of Captain Waters of San Miguel Island and will go over immediately to get a ship load of sheep for the market. It is understood that she will remain here permanently in the employ of Captain Waters.”

February 24, 1899 [SBMP]: “The Chinese junk Acme was loading yesterday morning preparing for sailing to San Miguel Island in the afternoon.”