Siwash

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Siwash enroute to Mexico, 1913
Howard Walter Wright, left; Walter Savage Wright, his father, on the tiller.
Siwash
Siwash at Cueva Valdez, Santa Cruz Island
Siwash at Pelican Bay, Santa Cruz Island

Siwash (#108355) (1913-current), sailboat given to Howard Walter Wright, Jr. by his father in 1911.

“There’s no knowing what the builder, Charlie Fulton, intended to call the 47-footer he built in Wilmington, on the shores of Los Angeles Harbor. What’s certain is that this high school kid, Howard Walter Wright, hung around every day, lusting after the boat as it came together frame by frame. And come time to launch, some disgruntled yard worker chalked the world Siwash on the transom—it was a not quite gentle dig at Fulton, who had some Indian blood—and Fulton decided to paint the name on and let it stick."

Siwash was Fulton’s boat, but only for a while. The lucky young Wright had earlier been gifted with a 28-footer, but his persistent mooning over Siwash was rewarded when his father bought the big boat for him as a high school graduation present.


The boat, today over a century old, is owned by H. W. Wright's grandson. Present owner Bill wright allows, “I’m not really an avid wooden boat owner, but Siwash is a member of the family.” The boat is berthed in Alamitos Bay and sails under the colors of Los Angeles Yacht Club. And, Siwash continues to be a regular visitor to the favored coves of Catalina.


WRIGHT, Howard Walter (1892-1977) [SS#550-28-4305], born September 6, 1892 in Pasadena, California, was the second of three children and only son born to Walter Savage and Bernice Wright. He lived in Pasadena his entire life, and attended Throop Polytechnic Institute and Stanford University. Between 1908 and 1913 Wright authored six articles in Condor. While in high school, Wright owned a 28-foot sailboat, Seabird. In 1911, his father gave him Siwash (#108355), a brand new 41-foot yacht, which Wright sailed for 45 years, after which he turned the boat over to his namesake son in 1956. A century later the boat is owned by H. W. Wright’s grandson, marine biologist, Dr. William G. Wright.

Wright collected a set of Bald Eagle eggs on Santa Catalina Island on March 29, 1909 [WFVZ 3223]. In July 1912, Wright, his Stanford friend, Gaylord K. Snyder, and others cruised around the California Channel Islands, visiting Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz and San Miguel islands, including Prince Island. Although they anchored at Santa Rosa Island they didn’t go ashore. The following year, in July 1913, he sailed Siwash to San Martin Island, Mexico on a birding expedition. Between 1908 and 1916, Wright collected birds on all but Santa Rosa Island, variously in company with ornithologists A. J. Van Rossem, P. I. Osburn and others. During World War I Wright served a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He gave up collecting birds to devote his time to his legal career. Wright was a Los Angeles attorney and member of both the California and American Bar associations. He served as commodore of the Los Angeles Yacht Club and the Trans-Pacific Yacht Club, and for 35 years held the sailing record around Santa Catalina Island.

Wright died on September 11, 1977 in Pasadena, California at age 85, and his ashes were scattered at sea. He outlived his wife of over 50 years, Ruth Shelton (1893-1967), and was survived by his daughter, Elizabeth Merrell (1917-1994), and sons Howard Walter Wright, Jr. (1922-2007), Jefferson Chandler Wright (1927-2007), and Robert Shelton Wright (b. 1929).



In the News~

August 25, 1910 [SBI]: “Paul Jeffries, skipper on the yacht Wasp, returned from the Santa Barbara races last night bringing a tale of thrilling experiences of the South Coast fleet on the return voyage. The Mah-po, Minerva, Siwash and Wasp started from Santa Barbara Saturday with the understanding that all were to anchor in Fry’s Harbor at Santa Cruz Island Saturday night and proceed to port Sunday. A heavy wind was blowing and when the Minerva arrived her mainsail was in tatters and some of the others were in little better shape. Fry’s Harbor is a small cove and there was scarcely more than room for the four yachts. When the Mah-po came in she had all sails set and before they could be reefed she was driven on the beach. It is not believed that she was seriously damaged. The Genevieve did not put in at Fry’s Harbor, but continued direct to port, making the run in 16 hours…”


August 25, 1910 [LAH]: “San Pedro. August 24. Four yachts coming back from the Santa Barbara regatta had a rough time of it the first day out on their return home, according to tales of the crew on the Wasp, which arrived here late last night. The Minerva, Mah-pe, Siwash and Wasp put in at Fry’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island Saturday night, after a heavy wind had carried away the mainsail of the Minerva and played havoc with the other yachts. There was scarcely room in the cove for the four yachts, and when the Mah-pe came in she was driven on the beach by the heavy wind before her sails could be reefed. Her keel may be damaged, but not badly. The Genevieve and Mischief I did not put in at Fry’s Harbor, but continued to port. The Mischief got through without any mishap, but the Genevieve shipped a heavy sea and her compass, dory, steamer chairs and most everything else that was moveable were washed overboard and lost.”


October 2, 1910 [LAH]: “San Pedro. October 1. A negro employed as caretaker on the yacht Genevie is supposed to have been drowned last night about 10 o/clock. The yacht was moored in the turning basin near the yacht Siwash. The negro is known to have been aboard the Genevie alone about the time a party of workmen on the Siwash heard a splash and gurgling that sounded like a man overboard. An investigation was made at once, but no trace of the negro could be found. The bay was dragged in an effort to recover the body without success. The yacht in charge of the negro is owned by C. A. Borden, an attorney of Los Angeles with offices in the Stimson building. Borden came down this afternoon and went out for a cruise on the yacht with a party of friends. The name of the negro could not be learned. He was known as Frank on the water front and had been on the yacht for several weeks.”