Gironde

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La Gironde in a sketch from the San Francisco Call 10-25-1901. Photo courtesy of S. Schwartz
Frontispiece In Mexican Waters by George Banning (1925)


Gironde (La Gironde) (# ) (1875-1901), wood-hulled two-masted schooner, 114-feet in length, built at Port Ludlow, Washington in 1875. She went ashore at San Nicolas Island on October 16, 1901, and was sold as salvage for $125 to H. P. Squire of San Francisco.



In the News~

November 28, 1891 [LAT]: “A lively row occurred on board the schooner La Gironde Sunday, which was lying at Hueneme. The captain, cook and first mate had been playing poker and frequently hitting a decanter of ‘good red licker,’ about the time that considerable money was spread out, a scrimmage ensued and the mate grabbed the silver and the cook the gold and ran on deck pursued by the skipper. The cook jumped overboard and swam to the steps of the wharf and reached shore, while the mate climbed ashore by means of a derrick. A lively chase ensued about town… The schooner sailed yesterday and they may have it out while at sea.”


October 17, 1901 [LAT/SP]: “Swallowed by a fog so dense that she drifted miles out of her course, driven by wind and breakers upon the shores of a lonely island, and going to pieces among grinding rocks—that is the fate of the lumber schooner La Gironde, Captain Grimm, which discharged her cargo at Redondo and cleared for the north from that port on Monday. Monday night at 8:30 o’clock, when the vessel was making good progress, all was believed to be well, the men suddenly felt a crash and a quiver and the hull, from stem to stern, seemed to be lifted almost out of the water. The ship had struck the rugged coast of San Nicolas Island, and her doom was sealed. As speedily as possible, when it became evident that La Gironde could not be saved, the lifeboats were lowered, and then began a battle with the waves, out under that thick blanket of fog, which seemed hopeless for a time. The hearty seamen won, however, the entire crew of eight being saved. This morning at 3 o’clock, the shipwrecked sailors pulled into San Pedro, exhausted and hungry, and were given attention. They report that their craft has undoubtedly been battered to the embrace of Davey Jones’ locker ere this. The schooner La Gironde was built in Port Ludlow, Washington in 1875. She has a gross tonnage of 204. Length 114 feet, 8 inches; breadth 31 feet, 7 inches; depth 9 feet, 2 inches. Her home port was San Francisco. The owner is C. A. Thayer, secretary of the E. K. Wood Lumber Company, San Francisco. She has been carrying lumber from Washington to California ports for years.”


October 18, 1901 [SBMP]: “The two-masted schooner La Gironde with Captain Grimm in command left Redondo for Eureka last week. She now lies beached on San Nicolas Island, and her captain and crew of eight are at San Pedro. A dense fog was the cause of the disaster. The captain thinks the vessel can be saved and will attempt to pull her off with the steamer Acme, which will arrive at San Pedro today… The schooner, which is worth about $6000, is owned by A. W. Beadle of San Francisco, with the exception of a small share, which is owned by Captain Grimm, and insured for $1000.”


October 18, 1901 [SBI]: “The two-masted schooner La Gironde, which has been running between San Pedro and the Sound, ran onto the beach of San Nicolas Island and is now fast in the sand. She fortunately missed the rugged reefs that are so numerous off the island, and it is thought that she can be taken off the beach in smooth weather. Captain Grimm and eight men were on board, all of which reached Redondo after a long pull in a rowboat. A dense fog was the cause of the disaster…”


October 18, 1901 [LAT/SP]: “The whole town is talking today of the possibilities as to what will be done with the schooner La Gironde, which went ashore on San Nicolas Island Monday night. Some questions of admiralty and other law are involved, so that there may be a lively dispute over the rights of parties interested in the matter. Captain Grimm of La Gironde says that when he left the vessel she had an anchor down, and that the anchor was on a line attached to the schooner. Under admiralty practice it is said that in that event no person unless authorized by the owners would have any right to attempt salvage… The skipper of La Gironde says that the vessel went ashore on a sandy beach, instead of on a rocky coast, as first reported. He says he thinks, that barring the loss of her keel, the schooner is in condition to be towed away from the spot where she went ashore… The age of La Gironde and the fact that when she went ashore she carried no cargo very much reduces her value as an object of salvage.”


October 18, 1901 [SFCall]: “San Pedro, October 17. During a heavy fog last Monday night the schooner La Gironde went ashore on San Nicolas Island. Captain Grimm supposed he was miles from shore when the crash came. Asll the members of the crew were saved. The La Gironde was a 204-ton schooner. She had just unloaded a cargo of lumber at Redondo. The captain believes the vessel can be saved and will make an attempt to pull her off with the steamer Acme. The schooner, which is worth about $6000, is owned in San Francisco.”


October 20, 1901 [LAT/SP]: “The launch O.K., which left here for San Nicolas Island with a number of sailors Wednesday night, returned Friday morning, having left the sailors with the schooner La Gironde, which went ashore on that island Monday night. Captain Grimm of La Gironde went over to the island Thursday on the steamer Acme, and found a number of the men aboard the vessel he had lately commanded. He and the captain of the steamer Acme were refused admittance to the beached schooner. The tide was not then favorable for an attempt to pull the vessel off from the beach, and so the Acme returned without proceeding further in the case. It is said that the men on the island are dismantling the vessel, and taking the sails, rigging lines, and other gear ashore. According to a report brought back by the O. K., there was no mooring line found attached to the schooner when the launch arrived at the place. There is a good deal of speculation here as to whether the United States Marshall will be asked to send deputies over to the island to prevent the carrying away of the portable property.”


October 21, 1901 [SBI]: “Word comes from San Pedro that the crawfish catchers on San Nicolas have looted the ill-fated schooner, La Gironde, which ran on the sandy beach during a heavy fog several days ago. Questions of admiralty are involved in the loss. She had an anchor down and under admiralty practices no one can attempt salvage without authority from the owners. No one has gone after the vessel, nor have the owners given anyone permission to claim the right of salvage. The vessel was valuable having cost over $6000.”


October 25, 1901 [SBI]: “Al Shade and Ernest Morris, who left here a week ago on the little sloop Bertha to look up the wreck of the schooner La Gironde on San Nicolas Island, returned yesterday. They found a party of five men from San Pedro in possession of the craft, and they refused all comers permission to board the boat. When the boys reached the site of the wreck they found the men busy dismantling it. They took out the masts and sails and a few other things, and carried them ashore, and then desisted from the work and are contenting themselves with holding the fort. The captain of the Gironde, with his first and second mate, is on Nicolas awaiting some legal process by which he may regain possession of his ship. The schooner is high up on the beach, each end resting on rocks, and at low tide is completely out of the water. It looks like a physical impossibility to float her, and the first storm will break her in two.”


October 25, 1901 [LAT/SF]: “The steamer Samoa has instructions to tow the schooner La Gironde off the beach at San Nicolas Island and bring her to San Francisco.”


October 25, 1901 [LAT]: “Santa Catalina Island. Fight for wrecked schooner. Avalon, October 24.—Al Shade and Ernest Morris, who left here a week ago on the little sloop Bertha to look up the wreck of the schooner La Gironde, on San Nicolas Island, returned yesterday. THey found a party of five men from San Pedro in possession of the craft, and they refused all comers permission to board the boat. When the boys reached the site of the wreck they found the men busy dismantling it. They took out the masts and sails and a few other things and carried them ashore, and then desisted from the work and are contenting themselves with holding the fort. The captain of the Gironde, with his first and second mates, is on San Nicolas awaiting some legal process by which he may regain possession of his ship. The schooner is high up on the beach, each end resting on rocks, and at low tide is completely out of the water. It looks like a physical impossibility to float her, and the first storm will break her in two.”


October 25, 1901 [SFCall]: “The steamer Samoa, which passed here last Wednesday evening, has instructions to tow the schooner La Gironde off the beach at San Nicolas Island and bring her to San Francisco. On October 14 the La Gironde left San Pedro for San Francisco. At 8:30 P.M., during a dense fog, she went on San Nicolas Island at the only point where there is a shelving beach. The crew refused to remain with the vessel and went with the captain to San Pedro, where they spread the news of the derelict. A wrecking crew was at once formed in San Pedro and when Captain Griff and his men arrived on the steam schooner Acme, they found the wreckers in possession. Captain Griff went back to San Pedro and telegraphed the situation to the owners, with the result that the Samoa will tow the vessel off and leave the question of salvage to arbitration. The La Gironde is one of the best known schooners that comes to this port.”


October 25, 1901 [SFCall]: [photo of La Gironde stranded on San Nicolas Island]


October 26, 1901 [SBI]: “A San Francisco dispatch states that the steamer Samoa has instructions to tow the wrecked schooner La Gironde off the beach at San Nicolas Island. The question of salvage is to be left to arbitration.”


November 2, 1901 [SFCall]: “The steam schooner Samoa came back to port last Thursday night without the schooner La Gironde. She was supposed to have towed that vessel off San Nicolas Island, but the men in possession would not allow the captain of the steamer to put a line aboard. The La Gironde was on her way to San Francisco, when a dense fog came down and she ran on San Nicolas Island. The crew refused to remain by the vessel and forced the captain and mate to go with them to San Pedro. At the latter port the captain chartered the steam schooner Acme to go back to the wreck, but on is arrival found a crew of salvers in charge. They refused to give up possession, so the Acme came to San Francisco. Then the Samoa was sent from here to make terms with the men in possession, but the latter would not treat on any terms, and when the captain of the steam schooner attempted to put a line aboard they produced shotguns and threatened to kill the first man who put foot on La Gironde. The matter will now have to be taken into the courts for settlement and in the meantime the schooner will probably go to pieces in the first gale.”


November 7, 1901 [LAH]: “Wreck of La Gironde sold. San Francisco, Nov. 5,±At an auction held at the Merchants' Exchange today the wreck of the schooner La Gironde stranded on San Nicolas Island, sold to H. B. [P.] Squire for $125, subject to claims for salvage.”


November 11, 1901 [SBI]: “The two-masted schooner La Gironde, which went ashore on the beach of San Nicolas Island about three weeks ago during a thick fog, has been sold at auction to H. B. Squire of San Francisco for $125. The sale is subject to claims for salvage. When the schooner was abandoned by her crew, crawfishers on the island boarded her and took most of her rigging and whatever else was loose. When San Francisco wreckers arrived, the pirates refused to allow them to board, and a quarrel followed in which the wreckers came out second best. They returned to San Francisco and according to last reports from the island the breakers were fast tearing the schooner to pieces.”


November 14, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Three or four weeks ago, when the schooner La Gironde was reported ashore on San Nicolas Island, a party of sailors came over and engaged the yacht Avalon to take them from here to San Nicolas. On her return trip the Avalon encountered some very rough weather, and when off Santa Barbara Island lost her skiff, which she was unable to pick up in the darkness. A few days since the skiff drifted into the little bay at Gallagher’s on Clemente Island, the headquarters of the San Clemente Island Wool Company, and was picked up by the Robarts brothers, who are in charge of the island. It had drifted nearly a hundred miles.”


November 20, 1901 [SFCall]: “The steamship Ruth arrived from the south yesterday and brings the news that the schooner La Gironde may be salved. Lumber and wrecking machinery was taken down, and when the Ruth left San Nicolas Island, the prospects for getting the schooner off seemed good. The La Gironde was owned by the E. K. Wood Lumber Company and was on her way from San Pedro for San Francisco. In a dense fog she went on San Nicolas Island and the crew deserted her. While they were away some men from San Diego took possession and held the vessel in spite of a wrecking crew sent on the Samoa to get her off. Then the La Gironde was sold on the floor of the Merchants’ Exchange to H. P. Squier for a song and he sent out men on the Ruth to float her. The people in possession, after consulting an attorney, gave up everything they had stripped the vessel of and also possession. Now the captain of the Ruth reports that with the first spring tide the La Gironde will be floated.”


November 22, 1901 [SBMP]: “The Chronicle reports that the prospect of a tragedy on the lonesome shores of San Nicolas Island off the coast of Southern California over the possession of the stranded schooner, La Gironde, is at an end. Soon after the schooner ran ashore there during a fog a few weeks ago and was abandoned, a party of men hurried to the scene from San Pedro and took possession, subsequently threatening to blow the head off any man who dared go aboard to dispossess them... Soon afterward the owners sold the schooner at auction in the Merchants Exchange to H. P. Squires for $125...”


November 22, 1901 [LAT]: “Captain Alex Smith has returned from the Channel Islands where he has been on a lobster-catching expedition. He says that he saw the schooner, La Gironde, on the beach on San Nicolas Island a few days ago. Her rudder attachment was gone, and the cement had fallen from her stern butts. Some men who supposedly represented the man who purchased her at a San Francisco sale about a fortnight ago, had come to make preparations for an attempt to float the vessel.”


November 29, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “The party of relic hunters which went over to San Nicolas two weeks ago, on the Mascot, consisting of Messrs. Crose, Murphy, Veth, and Captain Holbrook, returned this morning with an extensive collection of curios and remains of the ancient inhabitants of that once-densely populated island. The collection is said to be the best ever procured in so short a time. They report that the stranded schooner, La Gironde, remains still in her old position, not withstanding a force of fifteen men has for sometime been at work trying to float her, on the high tide at full moon. The workers have all left the scene except three, who are encamped on the island. The San Pedro party which took possession of the schooner made no resistance to the wreckers who bought her subject to salvage, at auction in San Francisco, but gave possession and left the island.”


January 23, 1902 [LAT/SD]: “The [U.S. Revenue cutter] Bear will leave tomorrow, this time going to San Nicolas Island, where she has been ordered by the government to help the wreckers pull the schooner La Gironde off the sand. She was wrecked October 14 with a full cargo of lumber. The owners at that time were unable to rescue her because of the interference of pirates, and sold out their right to a wrecking company in San Francisco for a song. This company was able to patch up an agreement with the pirates and has recently had the Samoa out trying to pull the wrecked schooner off. It is said that she is well-preserved, and that her cargo is intact.”


January 31, 1902 [SFCall]: “San Diego, January 30. The topmast schooner La Gironde, which was wrecked on San Nicolas Island last October, is gone from the beach on which she stranded and no one seems to know when, why or whither. Captain Tuttle of the revenue cutter Bear, who sailed from here a week ago for the purpose of taking a pull at the stranded vessel with the expectation that he would be able to get her off the beach and into deep water without any trouble, reports that there was no sign of her on the beach where he had left her only a few days before. The captain, supposing that the steam schooner Samoa, which was working on the La Gironde when he left them, had succeeded in getting her off, continued on his way to Santa Barbara, and there learned that the Samoa had not succeeded. The only explanation Captain Tuttle can think of for the schooner’s disappearance is that the winds of a week ago piled up an extra big tide on the San Nicolas beach, and that the men left by the Samoa were able to float her. What became of her then no one pretends to guess. She might have gone to the bottom in the same rough weather, which was instrumental in floating her. She has not been reported from any place, but with the prevailing wind would have brought up at Redondo or Santa Monica before now.”


January 31, 1902 [LAT/SD]: “The revenue cutter Bear returned from a cruise along the coast north of here… The cutter went from here with the intention of taking a pull on the schooner La Gironde, which was wrecked on the sand flats of San Nicolas, but when she arrived there was no schooner in sight, and there is no theory of what has become of her. The steamer Samoa, which belongs to the wrecking company, which purchased La Gironde, has reported at San Francisco that she was unable to move the wreck. It is the supposition that during the recent high winds she was blown out to sea, and as there were men aboard, that she will show up at San Pedro or Santa Barbara soon. In the meantime, here whereabouts it a mystery.”


February 7, 1902 [LAT/SP]: “According to advices received at this port, the schooner La Gironde, which went ashore on San Nicolas Island several months ago, was found to have her bottom perforated so badly as to render repairs impracticable. It is supposed that the vessel was washed away from her position by storm, and sunk, as the officers of the revenue cutter Bear, when that vessel visited the island not long ago, failed to find any trace of the schooner.”


June 4, 1902 [LAT]: “The yacht Avalon returned last night from San Nicolas, bringing back Mrs. Trask from a month’s botanizing on that island. They were gone a week and encountered some pretty rough weather, but not more so than was expected. Notwithstanding the revenue cutter Bear reported that the wrecked schooner La Gironde had disappeared, it still lies there on a sand spit and one can walk all around it at low tide.”