Lucas (#) (1828-1858), 280 gross ton three-masted sailing ship wrecked in a heavy fog on South Farallon Island at about 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning, November 10, 1858. Twenty-three lives were lost. The ship had departed Victoria on October 24 with primarily disappointed gold-hunters aboard.
Captain Daggett, master of the vessel, was half-owner of the boat (Daggett & Haskell, L.). Later in the morning a group of Italian fishermen sighted the wreck and sailed into San Francisco to sound the alarm. The steamer Active was dispatched to the site, reaching the Farallones at 2 p.m. They boarded 148 of the passengers. A small ship, Trent, took 13 aboard; another vessel took four more. A total of 165 were rescued of the 175 aboard. The vessel was insured for $3000, with no coverage on her cargo. This was the first major shipwreck on the Farallones. Captain Daggett reportedly died three years later, in 1861, of "consumption".
In the News~
November 11, 1858 [SDU]: “News came in this morning that the ship Lucas, bound in with passengers from Victoria, had been wrecked at the Farallones. The U. S. steamer Active started for the scene of the disaster, and returned at half-past 8 p.m. She reports as follows: Ship Lucas, Captain Dagget, left Victoria October 22nd, with 175 passengers and 75 tons of freight. On the first past of the voyage they had strong southwest winds; and on the 10th instant, at half-past 2 a.m., in a thick fog, wind light from northwest, struck heavily on the South Farallones. One hour after striking the ship filled with water, sunk up to the foreyard, and commenced breaking up. The passengers were landed in boats and by ropes attached to the shore. There was a heavy surf raging. All the passengers, except 22, were landed, when the sea washed overboard 15, all of whom were drowned—the balance saved themselves in the main rigging. A Kanaka attempted to swim off with a line, but could not reach the ship. They then hove a small line from the shore, which those on board succeeded in getting hold of, and were hauled ashore through the surf. Captain Daggert was the last person that left the ship. Eleven of the passengers had left in a fishing boat for this city. There were three lady passengers, all of whom were saved. The Active brought 147.
Mr. Bignell, belonging to Forest City, and others, give the following additional particulars: About half past two o'clock on Wednesday morning they heard waves breaking against what proved to be one of the Farallones Island, but the fog was so thick as to obscure the beacon light onshore. They steered off, but in a few minutes ran against the south Farallones, being a small island with very steep sides. The vessel ran close up and got hemmed in fore and aft; some concealed rocks intercepting her whenever washed off from the island by the surf. This lasted for about one hour, giving the passengers time to get on deck, and then the hold began to fill. Some leaped from the ship to the rocks, but others jumped overboard and were drowned, from not being able to make their way through the surf. About half past six o'clock the ship gave a heavy lurch and the hull disappeared under water almost instantly, causing some to go overboard, but the captain and a few others ran into the rigging, the masts continuing to stand, and were taken off by a rope as above stated. The passengers lost everything. It is not known positively how many are lost. I could not learn the names.”
November 12, 1858 [SDU]: “It will be noticed by our telegraphic column, that the ship Lucas with one hundred and seventy-five passengers from Victoria, has been lost on the South Farallones, and several lives have been lost. The names of those who have met with this mournful fate were not made known at last accounts.”
November 12, 1858 [DAC]: “The ship, after a few thumps, swung round broadside on, and rolled heavily over against the rocks with every breaker. Amidst all the confusion, the Captain tried to get a kedge anchor out, but without avail. As there were six boats and two canoes on the ship,five of the boats were soon launched and filled with passengers... During this time as the ship rolled over, many of the passengers jumped for the shore, and scrambled up to the top of the island out of reach of the surf. A number of them jumped on the rocks, and not getting a foot or hand hold, fell back into the surf and were dashed against the shore, or crushed between the ship and the rocks. The cries for help were heard in every direction, but in the wild confusion, each one was endeavoring to save himself. After about an hour and a half the ship struck, most of the passengers had got on the island, or on to boat. At this time a heavy sea struck the vessel and she slid off, and went down, sinking up to the topsail yards. Most of the passengers, who were still on board, clambered into the rigging, though some are said to have gone down. Captain Daggett and the second mate were taken off the mizzen rigging by means of a rope, which was thrown from the shore.”
November 13, 1858 [DAC]: “Wreck of the Lucas—Trip of the Goliath.—As soon as the news of the disaster to the ship Lucas became generally known on Tuesday morning, it was resolved that the steam tug Goliath should be dispatched in addition to the Active, which already had gone out in order that any assistance might be rendered, either in the way of saving lives or property. This steamer was at the time employed in docking the clipper Eagle Wing, which occupied some considerable time, inasmuch as the tide was low and the lamentable condition of our city front, with respect to mud banks, is such that unless there is a flood, it is almost out of the question to lay a ship alongside of the piers. Finally at dusk, or about 5-1/2 o'clock, the Goliath left Vallejo Street wharf, under the command of Capt. Flynn, and conveying Capt. Crary, R. S. Haven Esq., Insurance agents, and a few others who went to render what assistance they were able. The shades of night fall thick before the boat had gained Black Point, and there was but slight inducement to remain in the open air where all was chilly, gloomy and uncomfortable. A brisk breeze was blowing in from the sea, and as the Goliath is not the steadiest of sea-going boats, her cabins were preferred to the inclement without. As she swept rapidly down the harbor, lights ahead were discovered, and soon from their rapid passage, were found to belong to a steamer. As it was expected that the Active would return about this time, the course of the Goliath was laid so that she ran alongside only a fwe yards distant, and as the two vessels shot by each other, the various hailings were exchanged and the information given that the Active )for it was she) had all of the rescued passengers and was conveying them to the city. As the intent of the party aboard was to ascertain whether any service could be rendered, whether to life or property, the steamer held her course, and soon the lights of the "surveying steamer" had faded in the distance, and now only the highest edge of the Fresnels on Fort Point and Benita were visible in the rear. The Farallones After Dark. The evening was rather monotonous; the Goliath kept on her way bearing for the glimmering light on the Farallone Island, which flashed out like Hero's torch, across the Helespont, when Leander swam to his nightly wooing. The mechanism of the illuminating operators on this Island is different from those inside the harbor. These last are all stationary and burn with a pure steady flame, never so much as twinkling or vibration. The Farallones light, on the contrary, is a revolving luminary, and flashes up with great brilliancy and then gradually fades away to a mere spark, which again, in the course of a few seconds, flares over the dark waste of waters. About half-past nine o'clock, the slow bell of the Goliath was rung, and she commenced to feel her way into the "bight" on the eastern side of the island. This was done very cautiously, and the combined wisdom of all the skippers on board was brought to bear in the way of steering, "spearing," sounding, etc., with the view of obtaining the best anchorage and shelter for the night. Once or twice the steamer was run up close enough to the breakers to cause sensations the reverse of pleasurable to pervade the minds of the relief party. The wheels were stopped, and an opportunity given to hear and see both. Long lines of white foam suddenly appeared a few lengths ahead, which traversed the gloom with rapidity, and anon broke in broad patches milk white, with here and there a spectral column starting up into the air. These were the "rollers" or surf, and it needed not the long hollow rumble, reverberating through the night, to tell us that they broke upon an iron and savage coast. The milky spectres, which accompanied them, were the breakings of the sea over jutting heads and knobs. At intervals, lights could be perceived, and it was judged that the fishing boats were pursuing their regular avocations at anchor. High over all, shadowy and indistinct, rose the cliff, at the apex of which shone the light described. Now, that we were directly underneath it, neither flashes nor glimpses could be seen, but, instead, two long bright trains of white radiance, like the tail of a comet, projected out at acute angles with each other, slowly revolving with the lantern, like the spokes of some ghostly wheel. After some time spend in sounding, and an equal depth of sixteen fathoms being found, the engines were backed, and the Goliath slid a few hundred feet further off, when the anchor was slipped from its fasts, and the jangling chain shook the vessel to its centre, as forty-five fathoms rattled out to allow for fair swinging room. At this point, a light in a boat was seen approaching, and, in a few moments, one of the lighthouse keepers pulled up alongside with a hail and a polite inquiry as to what we wanted there at that time of night. The result of mutual questions was, that each party became convinced of the wonderful ignorance of the other. The steamer learned not a syllable more of the disaster than was known before she left town, and unluckily no information could be imparted to him of the "Beacon," on the subject of lighthouses and their appliances. The fact was that they expected a vessel from San Francisco with some machinery, stores, etc., and thought they might have come to hand on the steamer. In the distance, a vessel's lights were seen glancing, probably those of the Challenger, as she made for the mouth of the harbor. The example being set by the steamer herself of coming to an anchor, it was not long thereafter before all on board followed suit, and disposed of themselves in various positions and situations on the floor and cushions, where soothed by the lullaby of the breaking surf, and rocked by the gentle motion of the vessel, all on board subsided for the night.
November 18, 1858 [SDU]: “The Farallones Light House Keeper—Some of the San Francisco merchants raised $200 recently to reimburse the keeper of the light house at the Farallones, for stores furnished by him to the persons lately wrecked on the ship Lucas.”