SCHAFER, Bryan

From Islapedia

SCHAFER, Bryan E. (c. 1898-1917), crawfisherman who drowned off the Marguerite at Anacapa Island when he was 20 years old. He was the second of four children born in Santa Barbara to Henry Theodore Schafer (1859-1909) and Minnie Rebecca Cuddeback (1863-1931):

  • William Henry Schafer (1896-19500
  • Bryan E. Schafer (1897-1917)
  • Alfred Hubert Schafer (1899-1961)
  • Elizabeth Cornielia Schafer (1901-1988)




In the News~

October 20, 1917 [SBDN]: “Youth drowned in windswept ocean. Launch Marguerite founders off Anacapa and Bryan Schafer is lost. Bryan Schafer, 20 years old, a native of Santa Barbara, was drowned Wednesday morning when a fishing boat, the launch Marguerite, foundered off Anacapa Island, during the terrific windstorm that swept the ocean and sections of the mainland. Schafer’s companion, Jack Carrillo, owner of the boat, saved his life only after a hard battle with the sea, when he swam for seven hours, finally reaching Hungry Man’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, seven miles distant from the scene of the disaster. Jack Carrillo reached home late last night, and this morning broke the news to the bereaved mother of the drowned boy, Mrs. Minnie Schafer, who lives at 417 Santa Barbara Street. How young Carrillo lived through the thrilling battle with the sea he does not know. His face, hands and body bear the gashes and bruises that mutely testify to the hard fight and frightening ordeal through which he went. At the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Morrow, at 121 Anacapa Street, the young fisherman told the story of his remarkable experience.

‘We were out crawfishing, making camp on Anacapa Island. We had caught about $60 worth of crawfish, when the wind came up, and not wishing to risk pulling traps in the storm, and having no fresh water we decided to put in the time during the storm in a run to Potato Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, to replenish our fresh water supply. The wind was not so high at the time we put off from camp, and the run would have been safe in any storm, but we broke our rudder. We had been going about ten minutes when the boat was struck by a fearful swell. Our rudder snapped under the strain, and we found ourselves drifting helpless in the wild sea. We outrode several bad swells before that, and could have reached Santa Cruz Island all right but for the snapping of the rudder. Suddenly a comber struck us as our boat was on the crest of a swell, got beneath our keel and literally turned us completely over. I was in the engine house at the time. As I saw us going over I involuntarily took a long breath, and that’s what saved me from going down with the boat. When I came to the surface I saw Schafer within a short distance, swimming. A bundle of lathes came to the surface from our boat, and we grabbed them. As we clung to these supports we shook hands at our good luck. We floated for about fifteen minutes and then struck out for our boat, which was floating bottom up. On the bottom of the boat we floated for probably an hour, when suddenly the Marguerite righted herself, and filled with water, and weighed down also by the weight of the engine, she began to sink. Before she righted, and while we were on the bottom of the boat I took off my clothes, and tried to persuade Schafer to do likewise, but for some reason he wouldn’t. He was borne down by water soaked clothes and heavy boots, which were also filled with water. When the boat suddenly disappeared, two lengths of scantling 2 x 6 bobbed to the surface. I was then some feet from Schafer, and I grabbed them and swam towards him. I gave him the longest scantling, and hanging on to these we drifted, swimming at times, before the wind. Schafer began to grow weak, and for two hours I held his head out of the water. Then a mountainous comber separated us and knocked our scantlings from our grasp. We were about ten feet apart when I swam for the scantlings. I could see that Schafer would not last long unless assisted. So I poked both scantlings under his arms, and stayed by him, trying to keep his courage up. He was caught with the cramps and was exhausted from trying to keep up with the weight of his heavy clothing and boots. “How far are we from the island,” he asked, and at times at times he would try to talk to me. I think he tried to ask me a question. I had a slight cramp, but it wore off. Finally, after Schafer had been as though unconscious for some time, he suddenly asked, “Can you see the kelp, Jack?” and the next instant the mad seas tore us apart, and as I looked back my chum was disappearing. He was under a swathing of sea and kelp, and his eyes were small and black like shoe buttons. I am sure he was dead at that time. He had blue eyes, but death had come to him in the icy cold.’ Jack Carrillo couldn’t [go] on for a moment with his tragic rehearsal. He swallowed hard, and soon a blue handkerchief went up to conceal his tears, as they forced their way to his eyes. His form shook for a moment with sobs. ‘I could see no more of my chum,” he continued as the tears trickled down his weathered face. ‘So I swam on. At first I thought I wanted to die too, but almost without thinking I swam and swam, and for three hours or more I fought with the storm and sea. I could not go back to Anacapa, for the storm was driving me toward Santa Cruz Island. Finally after nine hours or more since the boat sank under us, I pulled myself up on the rocks of Hungry Man’s Harbor. I could hardly put one hand before the other, in dragging myself forward. I was picked up time and again by the swells and hurled helpless about, and cannot understand how I escaped being dashed to death on the rocks. Finally I began to call for help. My calls were heard at H. W. Tom’s fishing camp. Mr. Tom fishes for Larco. He came down to the shore and helped me to his camp. There I was given hot coffee and something to eat, and remained with him until the fishing smack Eagle arrived yesterday. On the Eagle I came to town.’ This morning Carrillo broke the news to the bereaved mother who opened the door to his ring, expecting on seeing him, to also see her son, but the glad welcome was quickly turned to sorrow, for Mrs. Schafer could read in the cut and bruised face of her son’s chum the tragedy that had occurred. Just two months before the accident on August 18, the Marguerite was was bought for Jack Carrillo by Scotty Cunningham, a local fisherman. The boat was worth $1100, was 33 feet in length, 10 feet wide, and had a five-horsepower engine. It was considered one of the most seaworthy boats in this section. Jack Carrillo says that it sank about three quarters of a mile from the west end of Anacapa Island and seven miles from the east end of Santa Cruz. He reported the drowning to A. M. Ruiz early this morning. Bryan Schafer was the youngest son of the late Henry Schafer, who died some years ago. The father was prominent in Democratic politics. Besides the mother, the drowned boy is survived by a sister, Miss Elizabeth Schafer, and two brothers, Alfred and William. The latter was a member of the Sixth Division Naval Militia, leaving last March when the division sailed away to become a part of the navy, and is now somewhere on the Atlantic. An aged grandfather, Thomas Prior, also survives him. The fishermen will continually search the sea in hope of finding the body, though it seems doubtful if the remains will ever be recovered. The drowning took place in one of the wildest sections of the channel group, where winds, tides and currents continually meet in conflict.”


October 21, 1917 [LAT]: “Jack Carrillo, one of the heirs to the De Baker millions, saved his life after seven hours of battling with the sea in a swim of seven miles, after his boat, Marguerite, foundered during the terrific windstorm Thursday. His companion, Bryan Schafer of Santa Barbara, was drowned. The two were out after crawfish. When the storm came up they started to run from their camp on Anacapa Island to Santa Cruz Island for fresh water and ten minutes out their smack was caught by a heavy sea, the rudder smashed and the boat capsized. They swam for a time, clinging to a bundle of laths from the boat, and they reached the craft and for an hour sat on the upturned boat. There Carrillo disrobed, but his companion refused to. Suddenly the boat righted itself and sank. Two scantlings floated from the boat and on these the two youths floated, until Schafer went down. For two hours Carrillo kept his companion’s head above water, and when he finally disappeared Carrillo continued swimming without the aid of the scantling, until exhausted, he reached Hungry Man’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, seven miles distant. He was rescued among the rocks of the harbor by fishermen and brought to Santa Barbara today. Bryan Schafer was the son of Henry Schafer, now deceased, who was for years a leader in Democratic politics.”


October 24, 1917 [SPDN]: “Search for body of man who was drowned. All fishing or pleasure boats along the coast are asked to keep a watch out for the body of Byron Shafer who, on October 18th, was drowned at Anacapa. His body has not yet been recovered. He was six feet and one inch tall, and weighed between 180 and 190 pounds.”


October 26, 1917 [SBDN]: “Jack Carrillo put to sea this morning in another fishing smack, Marguerite, to pick up the crawfish traps which he had to abandon off Anacapa Island, when his first fishing smack foundered in a storm a week ago, drowning his companion, Bryan Schafer. Captain Nidever, a neighbor, having an extra boat, and having faith in the seamanship of young Carrillo, and the youth is again off to sea. He will spend some time cruising to recover the body of his friend, if possible. He has already devoted days to his search with other fishermen. Little hope is entertained for the recovery of the body, as there is a heavy current at the point where the accident occurred, which heads out to sea, and it may be that even the boat that sunk has been carried out to mid ocean. In a search for the body just concluded, young Carrillo found his skiff, which was bottom up, but in the bottom of it held fast between the boards, was found a costly hunting knife. Accompanying Carrillo on this trip is Danny Pico, a youth very familiar with the sea. The sinking of the Marguerite was the third disaster young Carrillo has had since last April. In the bay at San Francisco he had one boat wrecked and a third was burned.”