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The wreck of the Selma. Photo by Ralph Glidden from his Nov 1915 – March 1916 expedition. Courtesy of the Santa Catalina Island Museum.

Selma (#) (-1916), 32-foot fishing boat which was wrecked on San Nicolas Island on January 8, 1916. Of the two lobster fishermen aboard, Henry Geberbauer was drowned and Charles Eckhart survived.

In the News~

February 9, 1916 [LAT]: “Wrecked on the loneliest spot in the world, Charles Eckhart of San Pedro was yesterday rescued from the coast of San Nicolas Island, where he had been marooned for a month. His friend and sailing partner, Henry Geberbauer, was drowned when the launch Selma, in which the two men were working, was driven into the surf on the island on January 8. Eckhart survived the buffeting of the waves and reached the shore. The launch was wrecked. The drowning of Geberbauer brings the channel’s death toll for the storm to three. For the entire month Eckhart was on the island he subsisted on such food as could be wrested from the ocean. The storm continued and boats from San Pedro did not put out to the fishing ground. It was thought that the two fishermen had made a safe landing either on San Nicolas, San Clemente or had gone north to escape the storm. When the weather conditions became better and no word was received of the missing men, William Eckhart, a brother of Charles, went in search of the Selma and her crew. He discovered Charles Eckhart living a Robinson Crusoe existence in an abandoned sheep herder’s hut. In telling of his experience Eckhart said the he, with Gerberbauer, was setting lobster traps when a strong gale suddenly sprang up. Unable to reach their launch they tried to get ashore through the surf, but the skiff capsized. Eckhart never saw his companion again, and the body was not washed ashore. Eckhart waited on the beach until nearly morning, hoping the storm would abate so that he could swim out to the launch. Toward morning the launch was torn from her mooring and driven ashore, a total wreck. Then until the time of his rescue, the fisherman led the life of a hermit, knowing that if he could keep alive until the storms ceased other fishermen would pass near the island. The stranded fisherman had a plentiful supply of certain kinds of food such as shellfish, lobsters, crabs and kelp. Each day he gathered a supply and carried it to an abandoned sheep hut, where he kept a lonely vigil. Fire was out of the question and for several days his suffering from cold was intense. Then a tarpaulin that had been on the launch came ashore and when that was dried served to keep the sailor warm. San Nicolas Island is the loneliest coast on the Pacific. It is also the home of a few sheep and is interesting from a scientific standpoint. On this barren island scientists have discovered traces of the stone age that have tended to upset former ideas of the mode of life of the prehistoric race. Sculpture, art and high standards of living are indicated by what still remains of that ancient people’s civilization as depicted on the walls of caves and from articles found in pits. The other victims of the channel storm were Christian Gunderson and Peter Cruz, fishermen lost in the storm on Santa Cruz Island January 27. The wreck of the launch Selma is complete, according to the owner, and entails a loss of $1500. There is a possibility that the engine may still be serviceable and Eckhart will today take out a launch for the purpose of salvaging that part of the wreck. Funeral services for the drowned fisherman will be held at San Pedro next Sunday.”

February 15, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “Henry Gerberauer, a well known San Pedro fisherman, was drowned off San Nicolas Island January 8. News of his death was brought home by Charles Eckhart, his partner, whose launch Selma was wrecked the day after the accident so that he could not return home. Marooned on the island, Eckhart remained at the ranch house until last Sunday when his brother, William Eckhart, brought him home. The day of the fatality Geberbauer and Eckhart were tending to their lobster traps when a strong northwester came up and swamped the skiff. Eckhart was able to reach the shore, but Geberbauer was caught in the surf and drowned. His body was not recovered. The next day the Selma broke loose from her anchorage and was thrown upon the beach. The huge waves smashed the hull like kindling wood, but Eckhart hopes to return to save the engine. The Selma was a 32-foot launch and equipped with a 16 horse-power engine and was valued at $1700. The Eckhart brothers live at 368 Sepulveda Street. Geberbauer was unmarried and had no relatives and no property.”