|The bark STAR OF ENGLAND|
(ex-BLAIRMORE, ex-ABBY PALMER)
This photo was snapped outside
San Francisco as the tug was cast loose.
Photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Each year, steamers have been entering the fleet carrying the fishermen and cannery hands to the Alaska salmon waters. To make the last chapter of the romantic age close in true style, the skippers of the two vessels bet a month's salary on the race.
"FULL SAIL AHEAD" was the order as the STAR OF ENGLAND unfurled canvas in a stiff breeze for the race to Alaska with her ancient sister ship, STAR OF ALASKA.
Then there is the STAR OF ALASKA (ex-BALCLUTHA) noted for her sailing qualities; in her last fishing season with Alaska Packers Association in 1930, she was ready to race from San Francisco to the Alaska Peninsula with the STAR OF ENGLAND. She flew.
She made the run in 19 days, beating the STAR OF ENGLAND by 14 days & 4 hours. This race created much comment throughout the US at the time; I do not know the name of the skipper who lost a month's wages.
1902: chartered to Alaska Packers Association. She struck a reef off Sitkinak, AK, near Kodiak Island in 1904. She was renamed STAR OF ALASKA when she was bought for $500 by APA. For the fishing trade, she carried over 200 crew and passengers compared to a 26-man crew as the BALCLUTHA.
1933: the STAR OF ALASKA was sold on 30 Sept 1933 to Frank G. Kissinger and renamed PACIFIC QUEEN. She was used in Mutiny on the Bounty with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton but was later stationed in California for a "show ship".
1976: Added to the list of National Historic Places.
1988: Moved to a mooring at Hyde Park Street Pier of San Francisco Maritime National Park.
2018-2019: The square-rigger BALCLUTHA is closed for viewing at her home at the San Francisco Maritime National Park. She is receiving maintenance and will be returned to her dock in early 2019. As reported on the Park site here. Check out how many other historic vessels they caretake.
Stephanson, U.S.N., W.S. SHIPS, A Collection of Marine Illustrations. Vancouver, B.C. Ben Kreis Publisher. 1947. The book is archived in the Saltwater People collection.