From Islapedia
Comet at Simonton Cove, San Miguel Island, 1911

Comet (#126379) (1886-1911), 429 gross ton, 145-foot, three-masted wood-hulled lumber schooner built by the Hall Brothers in Washington for the Pacific lumber trade. She was registered out of San Francisco. Carrying 620,000 feet of redwood lumber to San Pedro from Gray’s Harbor, Washington, she ran into Wilson Rock off San Miguel Island in a dense fog on August 30, 1911. A 24 year-old German crew member, Hans Mailborn born in Hamburg, Germany, was killed in the incident. With a badly damaged hull, she drifted ashore at Simonton Cove and came to final rest. Island resident Captain Waters bought her salvage rights for $1000. As late as 1962, her hull could be seen on the beach buried in sand with only her anchor exposed.

[see photo in Siwash ms. p. 9]

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In the News~

January 7, 1899 [LAT/San Pedro]: “The schooner Comet, Captain Toenstrum, which finished discharging Monday, brought from the north a cargo of lumber…”

January 3, 1904 [SBMP]: “The three-masted schooner Comet arrived in the channel last night with 600,000 feet of pine lumber for the Santa Barbara Lumber Company.”

March 5, 1904 [SBMP]: “The Comet is expected on the 25th with 600,000 feet for the Santa Barbara Lumber Company.”

July 28, 1904 [SBMP]: “The three-masted schooner Comet is at the wharf unloading 600,000 feet of lumber for the Santa Barbara Lumber Company.”

July 26, 1904 [SBMP]: “The sailing vessel Comet is expected in from Gray Harbor today with 600,000 feet of lumber for the Santa Barbara Lumber Company.

September 10, 1905 [SBMP]:Comet and unknown ship near disaster... The schooner Comet, sister craft of the Colman, which left this port the middle of last week, got into fog on Friday and with no wind to fill her sails drifted between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands....”

January 2, 1906 [SBMP]: “The schooner Comet sailed yesterday noon on her way to Gray's Harbor after more lumber for the Santa Barbara Lumber Company. She just unloaded over 600,000 feet of pine.”

February 22, 1906 [SBMP]: “The schooner Comet was sighted going down the channel yesterday morning with a cargo of lumber for San Pedro. She will bring her next load to this port for the Santa Barbara Lumber Company, arriving the latter part of next month.”

April 20, 1906 [SBI]: “The Comet, which arrived from Gray’s Harbor several days ago with a cargo of lumber for the Santa Barbara Lumber company, finished discharging her cargo at the commercial wharf yesterday afternoon…”

June 10, 1906 [SBMP]: “When the schooner Comet was pulling away from the wharf yesterday afternoon one of its hawsers caught the water pipe that skirts the edge of the wharf and a large piece of the pipe was broken and twisted, cutting off the water supply of the wharf company’s office.”

September 2, 1911 [SBMP]: “Congress Fails To Act: Another Wreck on San Miguel Island. Three-masted schooner Comet goes on rocks during heavy fog Wednesday night. Comet narrowly escaped destruction in this port during southeaster several years ago. Lost in a blanket of fog, the three-masted lumber schooner Comet's captain Borgenson, with 620,000 feet of pine from Gray's Harbor [WA] for San Pedro, ran into a reef off Richardson Rock about 20 miles from Point Conception Wednesday night and was so badly stove in that it was necessary to beach her on San Miguel Island, after the strong current had swung her off from the rocks. She now lies at a point not far from the wreck of the lumber schooner W.S. [J.M.] Colman which went ashore several years ago. Captain Borgenson with his wife and part of the crew made their way in a small boat to Santa Rosa Island and were brought to this city yesterday morning by manager Frank Pepper of the Santa Rosa Island Company and his powerful schooner Santa Rosa Island.”

September 3, 1911 [SBMP]:Comet Mate drowned trying to board wreck. The second mate [Hans Millborn] of the three-masted schooner Comet, wrecked on San Miguel Island, was drowned Friday afternoon, according to information brought to this city yesterday by the crew of the launch Miramar...”

September 3, 1911 [LAT]: “The second mate of the three-masted sailing schooner Comet, wrecked on San Miguel Island Thursday night, was drowned Friday afternoon, according to information brought to this city today by the crew of the launch Miramar. The second mate, whose name is unknown, together with two other members of the crew, swam out to the wreck and had reached the side of the vessel when the officer was struck by a heavy wave, striking his head against the ship. He appears to have been rendered unconscious and sank before his comrades could assist him. When the Miramar left this morning for Santa Barbara, the body had not yet been recovered. On board the Miramar was Captain C. A. Knudson, of the lumber schooner Raymond. He made the trip for the purpose of seeing if there was any chance of using his vessel to tow the beached schooner off. Conditions were found to be so rough in the vicinity of the wreck that it would be useless to attempt anything of this sort. The vessel was under full sail when it struck Richardson’s Rock last Wednesday night. The rigging has gone by the board, and most of the deck load has been swept away. Captain Bordenson, with the seven survivors of the crew, sailed today for San Pedro on the schooner Santa Rosa Island.”

September 10, 1911 [SBMP]: “The schooner Comet which went ashore on San Miguel Island has been abandoned by her owners... The Comet carried 620,000 feet of lumber. Most of this has already been washed into the sea.”

September 14, 1911 [SBMP]: “That the lumber schooner Comet did not strike Richardson Rock before going ashore on the north beach of San Miguel Island August 30th is the statement made by Captain Henry H. Short, master of the powerboat Charm, just returning from the scene of the disaster…”

September 15, 1911 [LAT]: “New theory about Comet. That the lumber schooner Comet did not strike Richardson Rock before going ashore on the north beach of San Miguel Island August 30, is the statement made by Captain Henry Short, master of the powerboat Charm, just returned from the scene of the disaster. It was the belief of Captain Borgenson, of the Comet, that in the heavy fog during the night, when his vessel was wrecked, he first ran upon the Richardson Rock, which lies three or four miles northeast from San Miguel Island. This is pronounced a mistake by Short, who says that the Comet must have struck Wilson’s Rock, a reef that is closer to the island. From his study of the situation, he says Captain Borgenson cannot be blamed for the wreck. The Comet is hopeless in its position. It lies in shoal water, with a line of breakers 200 or 300 yards wide behind it. The three masts are still standing, but the rigging is badly demolished and the sails torn. The whole bottom of the vessel must be gone from the manner in which she is pounding on the rocks. Lumber is scattered along the shore for a mile or more, but the cargo in the hold is still practically intact. Owing to the heavy sea that is continually breaking on this beach, it will be impossible to salvage the Comet to any extent, and to attempt to haul the lumber from the beach to Cuyler’s Harbor would be unprofitable, because of the sand hills that must be crossed.”

September 22, 1911 [SBMP]: “Lumber will be used on improvements to be made on island ranch. President John A. Hooper of the Santa Barbara Lumber Company and principal owner of the schooner Comet, recently wrecked on San Miguel Island, was here yesterday and reported the sale of the wreck to Mr. Vickers, of the firm of Vail & Vickers, owners of Santa Rosa Island, adjoining San Miguel. The island company hopes to secure a good portion of the damaged cargo of 650,000 feet of lumber and use it for improvements on their cattle ranges on Santa Rosa. There is also a valuable donkey engine on the Comet, which may be saved, and the other salvage that it is possible to obtain.”

October 3, 1911 [SBMP]: “The cargo and rigging of the wrecked lumber schooner Comet will be brought from San Miguel Island to this city if the plans of Captain Henry Short of the Charm and Captain Waters, owner of San Miguel Island, will be carried out. They are now the owners of the wreck, Vail & Vickers, owners of Santa Rosa Island, having abandoned their option some days ago, after a careful investigation of the stranded schooner. Waters and Short are in the best possible position to handle the wreck, by reason of the facilities at their command. Captain Waters has a number of mules on San Miguel, and they can be utilized in carting the lumber from the shore to Cuyler’s bay, a distance of two miles, where it can be made into rafts, and towed across the channel when weather conditions are favorable. A certain quantity of the cargo can be floated from the wreck itself, just how the wreckers do not care to divulge — being a trade secret. The Comet carried a general cargo of both dimension and finish lumber, and the material will find a ready sale if it can be landed here.”

October 13, 1911 [SBMP]: “Captain Henry S. Short, of the Charm, returning yesterday from San Miguel Island, reports that he will be able to save much from the wreck of the Comet. He made a thorough survey of the vessel as she rests on a reef a short distance from the island, and commenced the dismantling of the ship. He has secured enough of the rigging to pay the expenses of the whole venture, and is confident that much of the lumber will be safely secured. By rigging a line from the schooner’s deck to the shore, they are able to go to and from the vessel in a bos’n chair, without encountering the danger of the heavy sea that is almost always running at this exposed point. Captain Short will return to the scene today.”

October 14, 1911 [LAT]: “Lumber schooner Comet wrecked on rocks at San Miguel Island — valued at $15,000; cargo $10,000; sold for $1000.”

October 20, 1911 [SBMP]: “Captain Henry S. Short, returning yesterday from San Miguel Island, reports good progress in the work of wrecking the stranded lumber schooner Comet. The action of the waves is carrying the Comet nearer shore every day, she having covered a distance of about fifty feet during the past week. At this rate, the boat will be high and dry on the shore before the end of winter, if she holds together that long, which now seems probable. The wreckers are now engaged in securing a full set of new sails from the hold. There is also much rigging that has already been taken out of the ship, and Captain Short is thinking of setting up a ship’s chandler’s shop with the stores taken from the Comet. No effort has yet been made to move the cargo, which still remains practically intact in the hold, the deck cargo having gone over the side during the first few days following the wreck; but even a large portion of this can be gathered up along the beach. Homeward bound, Captain Short stopped at various crawfish camps and brought about 2000 pounds of these lobsters to Santa Barbara. Call either phone, 481, Larco & Co., for these delicious lobsters.”

November 19, 1911 [SBMP]: “Captain B. G. Crist of the power boat Comet just missed sending his vessel to the bottom of the channel last week, while attempting to cross with a load of abalone shells and meat from Santa Rosa Island. While loading the hold, unknown to Crist, one of the Chinamen of the abalone party opened two of the portholes for ventilation. In the heavy sea outside, water poured through the openings, and as the hold was full of sacked shells, it was impossible to close the apertures. The first Crist knew of the calamity was when one of his engines went dead — drowned out. Speedy investigation revealed the cause, the hold and engine room being half full of water. They were then about two miles from shore, and Crist headed his boat for the nearest island cove, meanwhile throwing overboard about two tons of shells in the effort to keep the boat afloat. The Comet came finally to a safe anchorage, and the cargo was removed. Crist came over yesterday with the last of the shells, leaving, however, a number of sacks scattered about the bottom of the channel.”

December 7, 1911 [SBI]: “Captain Waters, owner of San Miguel Island, will leave tomorrow for Los Angeles. He will make a trip next week to San Miguel to see what is being done with the wreck of the Comet from which he and Captain Short are securing the lumber. Captain Waters says that so far they have been greatly hindered in their work on the wreck by rough weather, which has prevailed since the wrecking began. Better weather is expected during the winter, when the southwesterly winds calm the water on the northwest corner of the island, where the Comet was wrecked.”

December 11, 1911 [SBI]: “Captain Short left this morning on the Charm to continue his work of wrecking the lumber schooner Comet on the northwest corner of San Miguel Island. Short, who planned his work under the belief that he could sink heavy anchors where the Comet is lying, has found that this is impossible on account of the hard clay bottom there. He is undecided as to what method he will use now, but thinks he may blast the bottom for an anchor hold. During the greater part of the time Short has been at work the weather has been most unfavorable toward him. He hopes the southeast winds that prevail in the winter will smooth the water about the wreck.”

December 14, 1911 [SBI]: “Captain Short arrived here last night in the Charm from San Miguel Island. He reports that as yet he has been unable to get an anchor hold in the hard clay that lies under the water where the lumber schooner Comet grounded. Captain Short expects to leave for the island again tomorrow morning. He will take with him Captain Waters, the owner of the island.”

January 3, 1912 [SBI]: “Captain Short left Tuesday morning in his launch Charm to continue to work on wrecking the lumber schooner, Comet.”

January 6, 1912 [SBI]: “Wrecked schooner is mine of salvage. Captain Short, master of the launch Charm, stands to make a good thing out of the wreck of the lumber schooner Comet which went aground and was lost several months ago on the coast of San Miguel Island. He and Captain Waters bought the stranded ship at a bargain and will manage to save nearly all of the cargo of lumber, as well as the ropes, rigging, sails and whatever else is of value. The Comet was loaded with about 500,000 feet of lumber, and of this from 300,000 to 400,000 feet has been practically recovered, together with $1,500 bundles of laths. The prospect is good for saving the remainder of the lumber cargo. An offer of $1,700 has been made for the donkey engine aboard the wreck, where it is now in constant use in handling cargo. Santa Barbara lumberyards will take the whole cargo of lumber recovered and it probably will be rafted across the channel in lots of 50,000 to 75,000 feet. Finally the wreck will be demolished to save several tons of copper sheathing timbers, and other valuable salvage.”

January 7, 1912 [LAT]: “Through surf upon a raft the first lumber from Comet’s wreck is hauled in. Odd contrivance rigged to save the cargo. Over rows of rocks, which stand like formidable teeth blocking the pathway to the wrecked schooner Comet of San Francisco, on the north side of San Miguel Island, the first raft of lumber was hauled through the breakers yesterday. Immediately the raft was unhooked from the ‘endless rope’ and made fast to the side of the steamer Cornell a joyful shout came from those on the beach who had witnesses the successful venture. Nearly two months have been spent in preparation to unload the cargo. Having bought the ship and cargo for $250, the present owners are now in line for realizing the profits of their speculation. Five hundred thousand feet of lumber still remain intact and will be handled by the wrecking crew. The Comet was built for the Hooper Lumber Company in 1889 at a cost of $25,000. At the time of the disaster in the Santa Barbara channel the vessel was carrying lumber valued at $35,000. Most of the rigging, sails and equipment have been recovered. Three hundred and ninety dollars, which was aboard the abandoned vessel on the night of August 29 last, remains undiscovered. The body of the sailor who tried to swim out to the wreck on October 3 has never been found. All records, including the logbook, were washed away. Probably his name will never be learned…’It may take us a year to unload the entire cargo and remove everything,’ said Captain Short of Santa Barbara, one of the owners of the wreck, ‘but we think it can be done. We have a market for the lumber at $18 per thousand feet… Undoubtedly the vessel struck Wilson’s Rock and not Richardson’s Rock as was first reported’… Within five years four vessels have been driven to destruction there, an immense loss. Beyond Princess Island the hull of an unknown vessel came ashore a few days ago. Its large propellers point skyward. No trace can be found to indicate what craft it was. Above the waterline it was painted green. The Comet lies three miles from the steamer Anubis catastrophe. Beside Captain W. J. Rasmussen and wife, on the Comet was a crew of nine…”

January 19, 1912 [SBMP]: “Captain Waters says… work on the salvaging of the wrecked cargo lumber schooner is well advanced. New moorings have been placed, and the schooner rests quietly with no sign of disintegrating. She has worked nearer shore.”

January 20, 1912 [SBMP]: “Captain Henry Short, arriving from San Miguel Island on his powerboat Charm, reports that Japanese fishermen camped on the island have told of recently finding the body of a white man on the extreme end of San Miguel. While not identified, it is supposed to have been that of the mate of the lumber schooner Comet, wrecked off San Miguel last fall... The Japanese dug a grave and buried the man, marking the place. Captain Short verified the story by going to see the freshly formed mound.”

February 24, 1912 [SBI]: “Captain Short, who is now at the Cottage Hospital, was reported this afternoon to be doing exceptionally well. It is thought that he will be able to be out of the hospital in a week, or at least ten days. Short’s right hand and leg were rushed by a falling rock while he was working on the wreck of the Comet on San Miguel Island. He was brought to the mainland by Captain Cornell.”

February 27, 1912 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara. Captain Henry Short of the powerboat Charm is in a local hospital suffering from severe cuts and bruises received from an unusual and dangerous accident at Anacapa [San Miguel] Island a few days ago. Captain Short recently purchased the remains of the steamer Comet, which went on the rocks near the island, and was stretching a line from some of the wreckage to a high point on the island when the earth gave away and he was precipitated as distance of fifty feet into the water. In falling he unloosened a huge boulder, which tumbled after him and struck him on the head. Had it not been for timely assistance it is declared that the captain never could have reached shore. He was brought to this city by a friendly boatman.”

April 14, 1912 [SBMP]: “The powerboat Charm, Captain Short, will leave here today for San Miguel Island to resume transportation of lumber rafts from the wrecked schooner Comet to this port. Two rafts, each containing about 25,000 feet of lumber, have been prepared for towing across the channel, and with the first favorable weather, the task will be undertaken. One raft of like size has been already brought safely to port. The salvage lumber is handled through the Santa Barbara company.”

April 14, 1912 [SBI]: “Captain Short left Sunday in his launch, Charm, for San Miguel Island, where he, in company with Captain Cornell, will continue the work of recovering lumber from the hull of the Comet.”

June 1, 1912 [SBI]: “Captain Short expects to leave for San Pedro Sunday in his launch Charm. The captain with his boat has been at San Miguel Island many months working on the wreck of the Comet with the result that the Charm is not only shabby, but covered on the bottom with a small marine garden. While in San Pedro the Charm will be thoroughly overhauled, scraped, painted and put in trim.”

June 5, 1912 [SBI]: “Captain Short left in his launch Charm Tuesday afternoon for San Pedro. He will put his boat in drydock when he reaches there and have her entirely overhauled. The bottom will be scraped of the growth that has formed since the launch has been working on the wreck of the Comet. The engine will be overhauled and the entire woodwork painted.”

June 17, 1912 [SBI]: “Captain Short and Captain Cornell left Sunday afternoon in their launches for San Miguel Island where they will continue to recover lumber from the wreck of the schooner Comet. There remains about 40,000 feet of good lumber to be saved.”

June 27, 1912 [SBMP]: “Captain Henry S. Short has returned from San Miguel Island with his launch Charm, and will discontinue for the present the work of transporting lumber from the wrecked Comet to this port, having a number of summer engagements for vacation trips to the islands.”

October 17, 1912 [SBMP]: “With West Thompson and a party of craw fishermen, the launch Charm, Captain Short, will leave today for Santa Cruz and San Miguel islands. Short will bring back the rigging of the wrecked lumber schooner Comet, which went ashore on San Miguel Island two years ago. Thompson will establish a camp at one of the islands.”

October 22, 1912 [SBI]: “Another attempt to recover the lumber stored aboard the schooner Comet, wrecked on San Miguel Island, is to be made by Captain Cornell. Captain Waters, owner of San Miguel Island, who returned here late Monday, said that the hull of the wreck was still in good condition and the lumber safe aboard. About six months ago Captain Short and Cornell brought to this port several large rafts of lumber from the wrecked schooner. Their attempt to recover the cargo was beset with many difficulties. Unfavorable weather kept their crews on the islands for weeks when no work could be done. Attempts to plant buoys near the vessel from which to string cables proved futile because the sea bottom near the wreck is too solid to drive anchors in. In this second attempt on the old wreck Captain Cornell has in partnership with him a lumber merchant from the south. It is understood that the two men mean to begin work immediately. They will attempt to raft the lumber to this port as was done before. Captain Waters in reporting the conditions on his island said that the weather was excellent and the sheep, of which there are thousands, are in fine condition.”

November 8, 1912 [SBI]: “A raft of lumber from the wreck of the schooner Comet on San Miguel Island is expected in port next week. Captain Cornell, who is making this second attempt to secure the valuable lumber, still safe in the unbroken hull of the Comet which was wrecked over a year ago near San Miguel Island, has had a camp established near the boat for several weeks. A year ago Captains Cornell and Short attempted to secure the lumber, but for a long time in their work by rough weather and unforeseen obstacles. Several large rafts of planks and heavy lumber were secured from the wreck however, and landed here. The work dropped soon after the second or third raft was towed to this wharf.”

November 13, 1912 [SBMP]: Captain Henry S. Short has sold his salvaging interest in the wrecked schooner Comet to Captain Cornell and a Los Angeles lumber man who will undertake to bring the balance of the cargo which is now ashore at San Miguel Island, to this city in rafts.”

November 27, 1912 [SBMP]: “For the first time in making a passage to San Miguel Island during twenty or more years he has sailed the channel that intervenes, Captain W. G. Waters reports that he was compelled on his last trip to put in to Santa Cruz Island for two days until the high seas subsided. He reached home yesterday aboard the launch Charm. The return voyage was comparatively smooth, but at Cuyler’s Harbor at San Miguel Island, the waves were 10 to 15 feet high, while outside the breakers formed at nine fathoms. A heavy northwest swell was running, the result, he supposes, of a big storm up the coast. The salvaging of the lumber from the wrecked Comet has been abandoned for the present, on account of these weather conditions.”

July 16, 1913 [LAT]: “Clipper and Wasp [racing yachts] make trip… What is left of the wreck of the schooner Comet was also seen high up on the beach of the rocky island which has always been looked upon as a dangerous menace to navigation by the skippers in the lumber vessels bound for San Pedro…”

September 2, 1913 [SBDN]: “Sea moss sacked and piled in a miniature mountain was brought from the islands this morning by Captain Ira Eaton. His staunch vessel was loaded to its capacity with the weed that is dear to the heart of the Mongolian. With the vessel and cargo came six Chinese, whose labors for weeks are represented by the sacks of moss. They were sent to the island by local and San Francisco interests to harvest the moss, now in a state of perfection. This is said to be one of the largest moss consignments ever brought to this port. When gathering moss one of the Celestials last week had an encounter with a wild boar, but managed to escape the creature’s sharp tusks by leaping into the ocean and swimming around a rock. The hogs relish the moss when dried, and had caused the Chinese no end of trouble by attempting to raid their drying camp. The trip from the island was made without incident. The arrival here was witnessed by a throng of local Chinese, who had gone to the wharf before daybreak in expectation of the return of the moss gatherers.”

January 8, 1915 [SBMP]: “The schooner Comet, which went on the rocks of rugged San Miguel Island four years ago and had a rest there ever since, with her hull intact and most of her cargo still on her deck and in her hold because it could not be landed through the raging surf that almost continually assails the shore of the little-visited island, went to pieces in a might ground swell that came to those waters last Friday. This information was brought to the mainland yesterday morning by Captain Ira K. Eaton, who returned from the island armed with a small load of fish. He said the people who have lived for years on the island declared that they had never seen such a violent ground swell there – and there are stronger ones there regularly than almost anywhere else on the coast. The Captain said that the Comet’s hull was simply shattered in splinters, and that the sea for a long distance roundabout was strewn with the wreckage.”

February 27, 2020 [Independent]: “The Comet was a three-masted lumber schooner built in 1886 by the Hall Brothers of Washington State, who designed some of the finest and fastest sailing ships of the era. She was carrying 620,000 feet of redwood lumber when, at 11 p.m. on August 30, 1911, she lost her way in a pea-soup fog and ran into Wilson Rock off San Miguel Island. The captain blamed the collision on a faulty chronometer, a timekeeping device used to determine longitude, which put the vessel eight miles off its course. A 24-year-old German crew member, Hans Mailborn, was killed in the incident and his body lost at sea. Captain Henry H. Short of Santa Barbara purchased the Comet’s salvage rights. He rafted most of the lumber to South Coast lumberyards and sold the rest to the Vail & Vickers Company on San Miguel Island, which used it in the construction of new ranch buildings. The following January, Japanese fishermen found “the body of a white man on the extreme end of San Miguel,” a Los Angeles Times article states. “While not identified, it is supposed to have been that of the mate of the lumber schooner Comet, wrecked off San Miguel last fall…. The Japanese dug a grave and buried the man, marking the place. Captain Short verified the story by going to see the freshly formed mound.” The next month, Short’s right hand and leg were crushed aboard the Comet as he continued salvage operations, but he recovered at Cottage Hospital. ”