The two-masted ALICE was no stranger to Puget Sound waters. Shipbuilder Charles Sanders launched her in the spring of 1874 from his property on the south side of Port Blakely Harbor. While early records describe that property as "Bean's Pt.", it has been established that Sanders purchased 108 acres at what is now called Restoration Point in 1868 from one Theodore O. Williams. He lived there until he sold out to his brother Eric in the ear after the ALICE launch. The Sanders brothers were natives of Sweden and had practiced the shipbuilding craft in San Francisco as early as 1865. Sanders very likely obtained the timbers for the ALICE from Renton & Holmes Co, forerunners of the famous Port Blakely Mill Co.
The ALICE's documentation described her as 232.14 gross tons, one deck, two masts, billet head and elliptic stern. She measure 115' x 31' x 10'. She was put into the coasting trade by those astute mill owners and lumber promoters John A. Hooper and F. P. Hooper of San Francisco. F. C. Glidden was listed as her first master. It can be presumed that ALICE carried a cargo of fir on her maiden voyage to San Francisco.
The ensuing years were busy ones for the little vessel. In November 1881, she was chartered by agents of the Sinaloa & Durango Rail Road Co to carry a cargo of lumber and piles from Port Blakely to Altata, Mexico. The charter specified that $5,000 in U.S. gold coin would be paid at the San Francisco offices of Renton & Holmes upon 'presentation of Bill of Lading' duly endorsed by Charter Agents at Altata."
It was also agreed that 15 lay days would be spent to load cargo and 15 days to discharge. All cargo was to be loaded and discharged alongside the vessel, within reach of her tackles. If there was insufficient water at the Altata bar, cargo was to be lighterd outside the bar. In that case, piles stowed on deck were to be delivered to rafts secured by dogs and chains.
On a run from Port Townsend to San Pedro, in 1903, her master, W. J. Moloney, recorded mutinous actions by second mate Arndt Thiele. Twenty days into the voyage Thiele neglected to secure two brand-new full coils of rope, that were lost overboard. Two weeks later Capt. Moloney Himself was forced to put rovings in the head of the foresail when the second mate refused to do the job and encouraged the other men on watch to rebel.
Thiele was ordered to take his clothes forward. When he refused, Moloney threatened to put him in irons. Thiele 'feigned illness' and spent the rest of the voyage in the forward cabin. When ALICE arrived in San Pedro a few days after Christmas, the captain discharged the man. He offered the mutinous mate $43.39 for services rendered. Thiele disdained the offer and demanded full second mate's pay. Capt. Moloney deposited the partial payment with the Judge at the Commissioner's office and considered the mater closed.
During her last year in the lumber trade, ALICE, made voyages from Puget Sound ports in San Francisco, San Pedro and to Nelson Lagoon in the Aleutian chain. At Nelson Lagoon she experienced minor damage to her hull when under tow of Lagoon Packing Company's steamer PRINCESS.
1904 saw the schooner's conversion to a codfisher by William Robinson of Anacortes. The little ALICE soon to be outclassed, as far as she was concerned by her sisters, JOSEPH RUSS, WAWONA and AZALEA, served Robinson Fisheries Company faithfully for over 20 years. It was not until May 1927, that she was honorably retired and sold to motion picture interests in southern California.
Was it the ALICE that we saw in some of those early schooner movies? Very possibly. Dr. John Lyman recorded that her hull could still be seen on the mud banks of San Pedro harbor in the late 1930s.
Text by Harriet T. DeLong for The Sea Chest, quarterly journal published by Seattle's Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. March 1983.
1906: Robinson Fisheries engaged 40 experienced cod fishermen in Gloucester, MA and brought them to the coast, shipping them as crew on ALICE & JOSEPH RUSS.