Vaquero II

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Vaquero II (1958-1998+)
Vaquero II at Becher's Bay, Santa Rosa Island. 1987
Vaquero II in the Sacramento Delta, 2017


Vaquero II (#278560) (1958-1999+), 65-foot wood-hulled freight ship built for Vail & Vickers of Santa Rosa Island by Lindwall Boat Works in Santa Barbara. She was built as a replacement vessel for the first Vaquero which was taken for the war effort. Vaquero II can carry 50 tons of freight and/or livestock. She served Santa Rosa Island for 42 years, until Vail & Vickers went out of the cattle business due to pressures from Channel Islands National Park.

Vail & Vickers donated the vessel to Terra Marine Research & Education [TMRE] in 1999. After maintaining her for several years, Vaquero II was sold to someone who promised to use her for educational purposes connected with the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, but instead sold her to retain her dock rights in Santa Barbara Harbor. After several subsequent owners and a brief stint in Mexico as a floating kayak-center off Puerto Vallarta, she was returned north to the Sacramento River delta, where she languishes.

Vaquero II captains:

  • Albert “McGee” Ball
  • Paul Ray (1912-1997) ran Vaquero II from 1958-1968
  • Kenny Opple (1915-1987) ran Vaquero II from 1968-1984
  • Richard Helfrich (b. 1953) ran Vaquero II from 1984-1992
  • Russ Collins (b. 1929) ran her Vaquero II from 1992-1999



In the News~

March 14, 1961 [letter, Al Vail to Carey Stanton]: Dear Carey, This will confirm our conversation at Santa Cruz Island on March 4, 1961 regarding rates for the Vaquero II.

1. Livestock shipment $200;
2. Cargo shipment $300;
3. Livestock one way and cargo back constituting a round trip $350.

It is also agreed that you would furnish the labor when we load cargo. Of course crew we have on the boat will also help. One thing I forgot to mention to you but did mention it to your father is that we would expect you to sign a Hold Harmless Agreement protecting us from third party insurance claims. He indicated that this was all right with him. This cargo hauling agreement to be reviewed at the end of six months to see how it is working out for both parties and for that matter will review it sooner if you care to. If either party feels it is not fair we will get together and work something else out. I am satisfied we can use the Vaquero II to the advantage of both parties. Sincerely, Al Vail”


March 20, 1961 [letter, Carey Stanton to Al Vail]: Dear Al, Enclosed is your letter accepted by me outlining what we talked about regarding the hiring of the Vaquero II by SCICo. It is exactly as I had understood from our conversation, with one minor exception which will be better straightened out now than later. I understand your graduated charges for different types of cargo because usually it will be as you describe with livestock from the island and cargo returning; but occasionally we will want to make a fuel and gasoline run. In that case the empty drums will be loaded onto the Vaquero at the island, taken to Hueneme where they are filled right on the deck, and returned to the island to be unloaded. I should think that this would be about the same amount of work for the Vaquero as livestock one way and cargo return and so should be considered round trip. Please let me know your thinking on this, though it is a minor point. I agree with you that the use of the Vaquero II by us will be a beneficial arrangement for both companies. My father has the Hold Harmless Agreement and will send it on to you soon. I am sending this to you though it probably should go to the office, but I wanted you to be sure to see it. Many thanks to you and the Vaquero for the work you have done for us and for the initial cargo run you made when we were in trouble. Sincerely, Carey Stanton”

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