Irene

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Irene (#) (1905-1910), 35-foot wood vessel built by Captain Ira Eaton in 1905 for fishing trips and charters to the Channel Islands.

“Just before the boat was pulled into the water, one of Ira's friends, Don Leach, broke a bottle of soda pop over her and named her Irene, after our baby.”

The Eaton’s daughter, Irene, died shortly after her birth, and Margaret Eaton proclaimed: “There would be no more boats named after our babies.” Guests of the Potter Hotel in Santa Barbara were regular customers. Irene also was used to serve island crawfish (lobster) camps. In February, 1910 during a northwester, her engine quit at Valdez Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, and she was smashed against the rocks.

“Tuesday at noon [Ira] came into the yard. His cap was missing. his hair all ruffled, his face scratched and bruised, and his fingernails broken down to the quick. He threw his arms around my neck and said, 'Oh Margaret! My boat Irene is lost!' My heart sank. and suddenly the whole world seemed turned up-side down.” [Eaton 1980: 18, 23, 32, 125].

Eaton went to work on the Baltic while he built his next boat, Sam Pan. Neither their child, Irene, nor the boat survived.



In the News~

April 7, 1905 [SBMP]: “Diver tries to raise engines: Roswell Emmons locates wreckage of the sloop Pride, but fails to raise it... Mr. Emmons had a regular Clark diving suit sent down from San Francisco. It is a large affair made of metal and rubber and connected with air tubes and pumps, by which he is supplied with fresh air while working under the water. The entire outfit weighs about 850 pounds, the suit alone will weigh over 300 pounds. It was operated from Eaton's new power launch Irene...”


April 11, 1905 [SBMP]: “After spending the larger part of four days in diving to the bottom of the ocean midway between the two wharves, Roswell Emmons, Fred Wales and Clarence Libbey at last succeeded in fastening four heavy chains to the engine of the sloop Pride which was wrecked last month... The wreck of the Pride was buried in several feet of sand, and it was found necessary to dig the sand away before a chain could be attached...”


April 16, 1905 [SBMP]: “Ira Eaton's Irene, Percy Bagley's Nautilus, and William Walker's Naiad, have formed a combination and are using every effort to solicit most of the excursion business for the home boats. The McKinley, a large launch from San Diego in charge of Captain Knowles, has arrived in port for the purpose of taking visitors to the warships...”


May 8, 1905 [LAT/SB]: “Craft in danger. Heavy sea at Santa Barbara… A number of small sailboats and power launches that have been built or repaired since the last storm are now at the Channel Islands, and some anxiety is felt as to their safety. Among the crafts that are at the islands are the Vixen, the Irene, Prima María, Portula, Peerless, and Walker’s launch. Bagley’s Nautilus and Gourley’s Belvedere are out riding the storm here.”


May 20, 1905 [SBMP]: “Several large parties will leave the city today and tomorrow in powerboats for cruises and fishing expeditions about the Channel Islands. The Irene, Vixen, Peerless and several other boats will take out parties.”


May 29, 1905 [SBMP]: “An excursion to the islands is being planned for Tuesday in Ira Eaton’s launch Irene. M. A. Tisdale at the Diehl Grocery is arranging the details and all desiring to go can communicate with him.”


June 20, 1905 [SBMP]: “Gem of island is Santa Cruz... Mr. Lowe was piloted to the various points of interest on the island of Santa Cruz by Captain Merry of the Vishnu, the trip across the channel being made last Saturday and the entire day of Sunday being given to the examination of the various points of greater interest... Some idea of the extent of this [Painted Cave] may be gained from the fact that recently the yacht Irene, a 30-foot boat with a mast about 25 feet high, sailed into the cave for a distance of several hundred feet, and turned within the cavern for the outward voyage...”


June 20, 1905 [SBMP]: “The yacht Irene visited Santa Cruz Island with a party of young people, putting into Friar’s Harbor for lunch. The Irene has just been repainted and makes a very fine appearance.”


June 22, 1905 [SBMP]: “A party of 12 or 15 well-known Santa Barbara people, headed by George E. Voorheis, left for Santa Cruz Island yesterday in the yacht Irene. They will camp for two weeks at Friar’s Harbor.”


June 22, 1905 [SBMP]: “The yacht Irene will leave next Monday for a week’s cruise about the Santa Barbara islands. A party is now being made up by Henry Short, and it is proposed to have accommodations for about eight persons. Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands will be visited and all of the famous points seen.”


June 24, 1905 [SBMP]: “W. J. Gillespie and O. H. Grunner of Montecito left yesterday morning for Santa Cruz Island on a fishing expedition. The party will probably return Sunday afternoon.”


June 27, 1905 [SBMP]: “O. H. Grunner and W. J. Gillespie of Montecito returned Sunday noon from a trip to Santa Cruz Island in the launch Irene. They report splendid fishing off the island and in mid-channel.”


July 12, 1905 [SBMP]: “Captain Haron Rock of Montecito, Frank Knott of New York and Cameron Rogers enjoyed a pleasant fishing trip on the channel on Monday. They made the trip in Ira Eaton’s Irene. They brought back a large catch of fish and report fish to be biting very freely off Santa Cruz Island from Pelican Bay to Quava Valdez. In the middle of the channel they found albacore running and received many strikes, catching five large ones. A large whale and a swordfish were sighted on the trip.”


July 12, 1905 [SBMP]: “Henry Short, Ira Eaton, Basil Faulding, Edwin P. Bradbury, Jr. and Mrs. Reynolds left for San Miguel Island last night in the Irene. They were supplied with full camp equipment and will spend a week on the island.”


July 23, 1905 [SBMP]: “Ira Eaton came in from the islands yesterday noon with a party of campers who have spent ten days on Santa Cruz Island, and reported having a very pleasant trip. They made the trip in the launch Irene. Mr. Eaton left last night with another party of fishermen for San Miguel Island, and will return in time to make a trip over to San Nicolas Island on Monday.”


August 2, 1905 [SBMP]: “An excursion to the islands was successfully carried out yesterday as a social entertainment by a party of prominent people at the Potter Hotel. The party consisted of John Keith of Bakersfield, Mrs. Dargie of Oakland, Dr, and Mrs. Craig of Phoenix, and Mr. and Mrs. Keathley of San Francisco. They made the trip to Santa Cruz Island in the power launch Irene, with Ira Eaton at the wheel...”


August 6, 1905 [LAT/SB]: “The largest sea lion herd ever located off this coast was discovered a few days ago by a party of Santa Barbara young men while cruising around the islands on the launch Irene. The cruisers report that Flea Island, a small rocky place, standing out of the sea on the north side of San Miguel Island, is the home of thousands of sea lions that are so tame that young ones can be played with like kittens and that hundreds could be caught without the use of ropes or nets. The party consisted of Henry Short, a boatman who is familiar with the Channel Islands, Basil Faulding, Edwin Bradbury and J. R. Reynolds. They have just returned from their two weeks cruise and brought back a number of photographs taken on their trip…”


August 22, 1905 [LAT/SB]: “A party of pleasure seekers from San Diego, who are spending their vacations in camp at Friar’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, had their pleasure marred by an unexpected visit from State Fish and Game patrolman, H. J. Abels, who caught two of the party in the act of drawing an old crawfish trap from the water. The trap contained a number of these inhabitants of the deep, as a result the two men were placed under arrest and taken into this city. They appeared before Justice Wheaton this morning to answer to a charge of catching crawfish out of season. They gave their names as Oscar Siberg and E. A. Wilkersham. They deposited $20 bail each and were released, returning to their camp in the afternoon. They contend that they were not in the act of catching crawfish, but were simply drawing an old trap from the water, but did so at an unfortunate time, for the launch Irene, with the fish patrol aboard, put in just at that time for water.”


September 26, 1905 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene will leave this morning for the Channel Islands where the crew will capture six live seals to be shipped to eastern zoos.”


October 17, 1905 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene returned yesterday afternoon from a trip to Anacapa Island where she went after fish. She returned Sunday afternoon from Santa Cruz Island with twenty-five sacks of crawfish, which were shipped to the San Francisco market.”


October 17, 1905 [SBMP]: “A party consisting of Ed Stafford, Dwight Faulding, and Ray Leslie, Santa Barbara boys who are enjoying a week’s vacation from school, will leave today on the launch Irene for Lady’s Harbor. They will take along full camp equipment and food supplies, and are prepared to spend the week in fishing and camping on the shores of Santa Cruz.”


October 22, 1905 [SBMP]: “Ed Stafford, Ray Leslie and Dwight Faulding who have been camping on Santa Cruz Island for several days, are expected to return this afternoon [on the Irene]. Boatmen returning from the island report that they are having a very good time.”


October 29, 1905 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene, in charge of Ira Eaton, sailed last night for San Nicolas Island after crawfish and other products of the ocean obtained on that island. She intended to make the trip a few days ago but repairs delayed the departure. She will bring back two of the fishermen who have been there for several weeks.”


November 1, 1905 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene arrived yesterday morning from San Nicolas Island with a cargo of several tons of abalone shells and meat, which were procured by Clarence Libbey and Frank Nidever during the last few weeks. They will now engage in the crawfishing business for the San Pedro Canneries.”


November 3, 1905 [SBMP]: “The Irene came in yesterday afternoon from San Nicolas Island with a ton and a half of abalone shells, which were gathered on that island by Frank Nidever. Walter Stafford is in charge of the boat. Abalone shells are in demand at the present time, and they command a good price in wholesale markets. They are used in the manufacturing of jewelry and fancy articles.”


November 3, 1905 [LAT]: “Many dead whales afloat in channel. The bodies of over twenty dead whales, known as ‘killers,’ are floating in the channel off San Nicolas Island, thirty miles from this city. The discovery was made by Walter Stafford, who has just returned from the islands in the launch Irene...”


November 4, 1905 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene sails this morning for Santa Cruz Island in charge of Albert Stafford. The boat will visit several crawfish camps on the island and will bring in their catches on time for shipment to San Francisco on Sunday evening’s steamers.”


November 13, 1905 [SBMP]: “The power launch Irene sailed for Santa Cruz Island and Anacapa Island yesterday morning, taking over a number of craw fishermen, who will give their time to that industry for several weeks.”


November 18, 1905 [SBMP]: “The power launch Irene returned yesterday afternoon from Santa Cruz Island where she has been for several days working on the crawfish camps of Santa Cruz. Ira Eaton, who went over with the boat, remained on the island and will be busy for several days changing the location of the camps.”


November 21, 1905 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene returned from Santa Cruz Island on Sunday afternoon, and after unloading some crawfish caught at that island, left again for Anacapa Island. Ira Eaton returned from Santa Cruz with the boat. He reports that the channel was very rough, even before the strong wind of yesterday began.”


November 22, 1905 [SBMP]: “Yacht Vishnu will leave today in an endeavor to locate the missing boat Peerless... Captain Merry will sail today if the weather conditions will permit, in his power yacht, Vishnu, to the rescue of the boat and the men whom it is feared are stranded on the island. Captain Merry will be accompanied by Ira Eaton of the Irene, and by Horace Lawn...”


December 28, 1905 [SBMP]: “The power launch Irene will sail for Santa Cruz Island today in charge of Albert Stafford. She will visit the crawfish camps there and look after other business of a minor character. Rough weather at the islands has been disastrous to the crawfish business, washing away many traps and making catches small where paraphernalia was saved.”


January 4, 1906 [SBMP]: “The power launch Irene arrived from Santa Cruz Island yesterday afternoon with 16 sacks of crawfish which were shipped north on the steamer last night.”


January 16, 1906 [SBMP]: “Captain Ira Eaton went over to Santa Cruz in his launch Irene in the afternoon.”


March 21, 1906 [SBMP]: “The Irene, Captain Eaton's launch, was towed into port last night by the Vishnu. Having her engine disabled, she managed to reach Ventura under sail.”


March 24, 1906 [SBMP]: “The Irene sailed to Santa Cruz Island yesterday to escape the storm.”


April 1, 1906 [SBMP]: “D. W. Ferguson of Los Angeles arrived in the city yesterday and returned with five sea lions... The seals were caught off Santa Cruz Island by Henry Dally of this city and were brought over in the launch Irene...”


April 5, 1906 [SBI]: “ The power launch Irene was brought back to port last night after having been given a general overhauling at San Pedro and being treated to a new coat of paint. She was in charge of Ira Eaton, who was accompanied by Frank Nidever and Gus Zukeweiler. The Irene is now in fine trim and will be a prominent factor in the channel pleasure business from this date on.”


April 15, 1906 [SBMP]: “The power launch Irene sailed for Santa Cruz Island last night with a party of Santa Barbara residents who will spend Sunday on a pleasure trip on the island and in fishing in the channel.”


April 29, 1906 [SBMP]: “Mr. Howard, an employee of the Potter Hotel garden department, left for the islands yesterday in the launch Irene. He will search for rare botanical specimens and other things in which he is interested.”


May 9, 1906 [SBMP]: “Ira Eaton has shipped 15 live seals from this city to New York. With Frank Nidever, he caught them off Santa Cruz Island and brought them to this city in his launch Irene. They have been sent by express to zoological gardens in New York. Mr. Eaton has several other orders to fill and will endeavor to catch 16 more seals at once. He went over to the islands again yesterday afternoon.”


May 9, 1906 [SBI]: “Ira Eaton and Frank Nidever have again departed for the Channel Islands in search of seals and expect to be gone for several days. They left in the launch Irene. A shipment of fifteen seals has just been made to zoological gardens in New York City and there is a demand for more from the same source.”


May 13, 1906 [SBMP]: “Captain Ira Eaton of the sloop Irene is catching sea lions off Santa Cruz Island with Frank Nidever and a force of men. He has an order for sixteen live sea lions, which he hopes to fill this week. Boatmen returning from the island report that he had not caught any two days ago. He expects to return to this city on Tuesday.”


May 24, 1906 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene, Captain Nidever, returned yesterday from Forney's Cove where a Japanese diving camp was established.”


May 25, 1906 [SBMP]: “Frank Nidever, captain of the launch Irene, has recently returned from a trip to Santa Barbara Island. Nidever reports that there two Japanese abalone camps on the island, and that according to statements of the fishermen themselves, the grounds will be about cleaned out within a month. When there are no more shellfish to be taken, one outfit will move to San Miguel and the other will locate on either Santa Cruz or Anacapa. Nidever has been active in bringing the practical extermination of abalones by the Japs to the attention of the authorities, and hopes that some legislative action will be taken to protect the fish. The Japs use up-to-date diving outfits and get the large abalones in several fathoms of water. These large black abalones are the breeders, and it will take years to undo the harm that the divers have already done, even if measures are taken to prevent further depredations.”


June 8, 1906 [SBMP]: “Ira Eaton returned yesterday from a long pleasure cruise up the coast in his launch Irene. He was accompanied by Frank Nidever and Clarence Libbey. They started for Del Monte, but turned back after hugging the coast for a distance of 160 miles. They were eight days on the water and report having had a very pleasant trip.”


July 17, 1906 [SBMP]: “Five tons of abalone shell were unloaded at the wharf yesterday from the launch Irene. They were gathered by Ira Eaton and Frank Nidever at the islands. The abalone shells bring a good price in the open market.”


July 29, 1906 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene returned from San Miguel Island yesterday noon in charge of Ira Eaton. The Irene left last Thursday with Captain Waters, who went over to gather together a few hundred head of sheep for shipment in the schooner Santa Rosa Island to Port Los Angeles. The shipment will be made on Tuesday. The Irene left for Santa Cruz Island last night with a party of fishermen on a pleasure cruise.”


August 9, 1906 [SBI]: “Ira Eaton returned from Santa Cruz Island in the launch Irene, this morning, with five seals captured for H. A. Rogers. Eaton says they were obliged to lasso the animals on the rocks, and that he had an exciting time in landing them.”


August 12, 1906 [SBMP]: “A party of Santa Barbara men had a very pleasant trip to Santa Cruz Island yesterday morning as the guests of Alan Dunn, the associate editor of Sunset, and Julius Padilla, official photographer of Southern Pacific Railroad. They left at 2 o'clock in the morning in the launch Irene, in charge of Captain Eaton... The launch Irene slid into Cueva Valdez...”


August 12, 1906 [LAT]: “The Irene, Captain Frank Nidever, reached port yesterday with five seals, four of them being intended for shipment to the East, by H. A. Rogers, and the other being purchased by the Potter for the hotel zoo.”


August 22, 1906 [LAT/SB]: “A party of pleasure seekers from San Diego, who are spending their vacations in camp at Friar’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, had their pleasure marred by an unexpected visit from State Fish and Game Patrolman H. J. Abels, who caught two of the party in the act of drawing an old crawfish trap from the water. The trap contained a number of these inhabitants of the deep, and as a result the two men were placed under arrest and taken to this city. They appeared before Justice Wheaton this morning to answer to a charge of catching crawfish out of season. They gave their names as Oscar Siberg and E. A. Wilkersham. They deposited $20 bail each and were released, returning to their camp in the afternoon. They contend that they were not in the act of catching crawfish, but were simply drawing in an old trap from the water, but did so at an unfortunate time, for the launch Irene, with the fish patrol aboard, put in just at that time for water.”


September 21, 1906 [SBI]: “The launch Irene, Frank Nidever, captain, which has been in the harbor for the past two days, will leave this afternoon for Forney’s Cove, Santa Cruz Island. Captain Nidever on Tuesday brought eighteen sacks of crawfish from the fishers at the cove. He reports that the fishing is as good as in previous years, but that the market is not strong. The prices which the first shipment brought were a disappointment to Santa Barbara fishermen. Captain Nidever says the only way he can account for the low prices which are being received in the north is that the destruction of San Francisco has brought new conditions and lessened the demand. ‘There is a new class there, a kind that don’t eat lobsters or crawfish,’ he says. ‘The market in Los Angeles is no better.’ The Leone, a gasoline launch, and a crawfisher, with Captain Swanson in command, arrived in Santa Barbara this morning from San Pedro and will leave tonight or tomorrow for the island. Captain Nidever and his partner, Ira K. Eaton, are handling the catch of four crews. The Irene will return to Santa Barbara Sunday night in time for the northbound boat.”


January 4, 1907 [SBMP]: “Crawfish are plentiful. The Irene, in charge of Frank Nidever and Ira Eaton, has arrived from the Channel Islands with a big load of crawfish. The men report that since the heavy storms and the water has settled, the crawfish have come out of the deep water and the caves and are easily attracted to the trappers.”


January 9, 1907 [SBMP]: “Wind demoralizes shipping, driving many craft to beach. Gasoline launch Irene, Frank Nidever and Ira Eaton owners, probably safe at the islands...”


January 17, 1907 [SBWP]: “Boat owners will rebuild. New fleet will be in water soon. Valuable engines saved from wrecks. Since the heavy southeaster that cast so many of the smaller craft onto the beach, the waterfront has been the scene of much activity… The Peerless, the Vishnu and the Irene are about the only boats left that are fit for service. The Irene, belonging to Nidever and Eaton, was at the islands during the storm and this probably saved her from the fate that befell the other small craft.”


January 18, 1907 [SBMP]: “Lying at anchor yesterday were the Santa Cruz, the Vishnu, the Peerless, the Irene, the Victoria, and the launch formerly belonging to the fisherman Maglio.”


February 19, 1907 [SBMP]: “The steam schooner Irene reached Santa Barbara yesterday morning from Prisoners’ Harbor with a load of crawfish. Captain Nidever reports the crustaceans very plentiful.”


March 28, 1907 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene, Captain Frank Nidever, arrived from Santa Cruz Island yesterday with 45 sacks of crawfish and having in tow the launch Ina C, picked up disabled in the channel. The engine of the latter craft had broken down after having fruitlessly attempted to make land under sail, was aimlessly drifting when she was sighted by the Irene and taken in tow.”


April 20, 1907 [SBMP]: “The power sloop Irene reached Santa Barbara yesterday shortly after noon with a quantity of seals and Captain Nidever on board. The vessel had been cruising around Gull Island. This is an island a short distance east of Santa Cruz which is a regular rookery for gulls above and seals below. Captain Nidever reported very heavy ground swells off the island, but no wind.”


April 26, 1907 [SBI]: “The launch Irene, Captain Nidever, arrived from the islands this morning with twenty sacks of abalone shells.”


May 1, 1907 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene, Captain Nidever, goes to Monterey Bay to engage in salmon fishing until the next crawfish season begins September 15...”


May 2, 1907 [SBI]: “Captain Nidever left this morning in the launch Irene for the islands on a seal expedition. He will visit Forney Cove.”


October 16, 1907 [SBMP]: “The launch Irene came over from the islands with a load of sixty sacks of crawfish, picked up at various camps. The crustaceans will be shipped north.”


October 26, 1907 [SBMP]: “Ira Eaton arrived Thursday in the launch Irene from Forney's Cove, Santa Cruz Island, bringing 25 sacks of crawfish.”


December 11, 1907 [SBMP]: “Woman falls into sea in mid-channel. Heroic rescue of San Pedro resident by mate Charles Hansen of the schooner Baltic. Swept from the deck of a fishing schooner in a howling southeaster in mid-channel, a woman fought heavy seas until a heroic man from the same boat reached her and then, after a difficult and dangerous maneuvering, both were rescued by a boatman from another craft. This was the story brought here last night by Wesley Thompson of the launch Irene, just in from the islands... The Irene also brought back 52 sacks of crawfish from the island fishing camps...”


December 12, 1907 [LAT/SB]: “Mrs. Charles Sanderson of San Pedro was rescued from the angry waters of the mid-Santa Barbara Channel, by the heroic act of mate Charles Hanson of the power schooner Baltic in a southeaster last Thursday. The news of the rescue reached here only last night. The Baltic is the schooner arrested recently for piracy. She left here last Thursday for Santa Cruz Island, in charge of Captain John Warnell and carrying as passengers Mr. and Mrs. Charles Sanderson. About the same tine the power schooner Irene also started for the same island. The Irene was a quarter of a mile astern of the Baltic, when a sudden puff heeled the latter. In the sudden shift of the tiller, Mrs. Sanderson, who was sitting aft, was caught in the sheet line and the whirl of the tiller and whisked overboard. Mate Hanson leaped after her. The sea was running high, with combing tops and the gale was at its fiercest. The mate reached the woman and held her head above water. In the meantime, the crew of the Irene had seen the woman go overboard, and her captain sent away a dory in charge of Joe Morales. Morales reached the pair, after a fight with the heavy seas and wind, and both were taken aboard. The Baltic is now on the south side of Santa Cruz Island, and the Sandersons are camped on Gull Rock. The woman suffered no ill effects from her experience, but Mate Hanson is the hero of the fishing fleet.”


February 9, 1910 [SBI]: “Ira Eaton and Frank Trout, well-known local professional fishermen, narrowly escaped with their lives Sunday night, when Eaton’s launch, the Irene, was totally wrecked at the entrance to Valdez Harbor on Santa Cruz Island. At 10 o’clock Sunday night, Eaton and Trout left Valdez Harbor for a cruise up the coast of the island, when the gasoline engine stopped and the boat became unmanageable. The heavy surf caught that boat and tossed it on the rocks, wrecking it completely. Eaton and Trout escaped with a wetting and walked 15 miles to the nearest ranch house of the Santa Cruz Island Company. Destroyed with the boat was most of Eaton’s fishing equipment. He estimates his loss at $1600, uninsured. Eaton and Trout returned to the mainland yesterday afternoon in the Richard, owned by Joe Welner.”