"To kidnap or coerce against one's will; from the abuses practiced by boarding-house keepers who put drugged or drunken men aboard ships to serve as sailors."
From Sea Language Comes Ashore by Joanna Carver Colcord
|Clipper SAINT PAUL,|
Lower photo dated 1934, Ballard.
From the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"Sixty years ago I was serving my apprenticeship in an old East India clipper, and had just arrived in San Francisco harbour anchorage from Antwerp after the smartest passage of the season, 107 days.
A few days after our arrival a tall down easter passed close under tow and came to an anchorage off Green Street wharf. We could see that she was loaded; she must have come from either of wheat-loading ports of Porta Costa or Crockett. This vessel was SAINT PAUL. What a sight for our young eyes! If I remember rightly she swung three skysail yards; her bow scroll-work showed up to its best advantage with the sun shining on it as she came abeam of us. It must have been newly painted, probably done as she was loading up the river.
Her white paintwork and the varnished stanchions around her poop had also been touched up; her yards were dead square with both lifts and braces; truly a sight that I, at least, have never forgotten. Some mate took pride in her!
Now we apprentices had to take our old man ashore each day and as our landing was at the Green Street wharf steps, we passed each time close to the SAINT PAUL. She evidently was waiting for stores and also for one more seaman to make up her complement.
Finally came the day when this last was supplied––the day I found that 'shanghai-ing' was not just a word.
I was waiting that day at the dock for our old man's return when two men came from the direction of Telegraph Hill where there was a saloon on every corner. One man was well-plastered––this was to be the SAINT PAUL's new sailor, the other was a notorious 'runner' from Hansen's boarding house.
The two commenced arguing and this seemed the signal for the arrival at the dockside of a square-stern rowing boat, in it a man we had had pointed out as Red Crowley. We boys soon tumbled to the fact that he was in cahoots with the runner.
Well, the two on the wharf still kept up the arguing and I remember the sailor telling Hansen, 'I'm going to have another beer before I go on board that hooker!'
'Probably he'll be easier to handle then,' can have been Hansen's thought for away they went and I suppose he had his beer. Then back they came still arguing. The drunk shouted at Hansen, 'I'm not going on that ship!'
I won't say what Hansen said in reply but they started to fight, Hansen continually edging the man towards the face of the dock. At its base the boatman had backed in close, and when Hansen let the drunk have one under the chin, over the dock he went, and square into the boat.
Crowley immediately started pulling out towards the SAINT PAUL. As far as we could see the other man never moved after he landed in the boat, nor did Crowley interest himself in him––just kept pulling on his oars.
We boys watched the whole affair until he arrived alongside. They pulled the drunk up in a bowline and landed him on the deck and that was the last we saw of the 'shanghaied' seaman."
Words by Alexander McDonald. Deep Sea Stories from the Thermopylae Club; 1971. Edited by Ursula Jupp.
The author of this essay was a dynamic personality who was skipper of the Thermopylae Club, Victoria, B. C. for its first six years. Scion of generations of Aberdeen ship-builders and master mariners, he loved the sea and the courage of the men who sailed it with a love almost mystical.
Not yet eight years of age when his mother waved him goodbye when he left London Docks on the ship, CITY OF CORINTH, of which his father was master, he returned a long sixteen months later quite sure that life at sea was what he wanted as a career.
In 1890 Alexander McDonald signed on as apprentice and before his retirement, nearly fifty years later, he had sailed in many seas and had rounded the dreaded Horn twenty-six times.
Another post about this ship can be viewed here.