Maritime Monday for November 19th, 2012: Around the Horn

Monkey Fist
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November 18, 2012


Airboy Comics (Hillman, 1948)
– lot of 6 comic books for sale –


An essay by Robin Beth Schaer;
submitted to
Adventures of the Blackgang by the author.

I had lost my job and my marriage when I saw Bounty for the first time. I wanted to stowaway, cast off, and leave the ruins of my life behind—and Bounty let me. Yet I left far more than grief on land; what mattered at home—education, achievements, appearance—was irrelevant at sea. It was unsettling to abandon all that I thought defined me. I sat in the galley with the other deckhands and wondered what they understood from my face…

keep reading

A recap of Hurricane Sandy: the ocean version
on Deep Sea News


Piracy #4 (EC, 1955)


South of the Border…


‘Terra Nova’ (the Americas) by Martin Waldseemüller, 1513. Note that South America is unnamed and is simply left as terra incognita.

source file (2000×1743) – posted by mapsandcharts


Buque de Torre Huáscar

Huáscar is a 19th century small armoured turret ship of a type similar to a monitor. She was built in Britain for Peru and played a significant role in the battle of Pacocha and the War of the Pacific against Chile before being captured and commissioned with the Chilean Navy. Today she is one of the few surviving ships of her type.

Ordered by the government of Peru from the Laird Brothers shipyards in 1864 for the war against Spain; launched in Birkenhead on 7 October 1865

On 29 May 1877, she fought the inconclusive Battle of Pacocha against two British vessels, the frigate HMS Shah and the corvette HMS Amethyst, commanded by Admiral de Horsey. This battle saw the first use in anger of the newly-invented self-propelled torpedo which, at the time, had just entered limited service with the Royal Navy

The ironclad Huáscar on wikipedia


The Huáscar sinks the Chilean Esmeralda, 1879
oil on canvas by Thomas Somerscales.
Magnificient enlargement

Huáscar went on serving the Chilean Navy until a boiler explosion in 1897 at the Talcahuano military harbour resulted in her decommissioning. Partially repaired, she later served as the first submarine tender in the Chilean Navy from 1917 to 1930.

When she was recommissioned in 1934, Huáscar was the oldest vessel of the Chilean Navy. Between 1951 and 1952, work was undertaken with the aim to completely restore her to her 1878 condition and declare her a shrine to the glory of both the Peruvian and Chilean Navies.

She became a floating museum and a memorial, displaying many objects and relics. Between 1971 and 1972, a second restoration phase was undertaken at Chilean Navy drydock in Talcahuano: the hull was completely repaired, and engines rebuilt according to original blueprints obtained in England. Since then, a strict maintenance program ensures survival and preservation for future generations.

Huáscar is berthed at the port of Talcahuano, Chile and remained on display for visitors until 2010. The Talcahuano Naval Base and Shipyards were devastated by the 2010 Chile earthquake and the resulting tsunami; although Huáscar was in the base at the moment she survived with no apparent damage.

The Peruvian Navy 1860-1910


‎Huáscar anchored in the harbour at Talcahuano, 27 July 2005
(2,304 × 1,728 pixels)


Map showing the new route around the bottom of South America
discovered by Schouten and Le Maire

From Schouten’s Novi freti, a parte meridionali freti Magellanici, in Magnum Mare Australe detectio . . . (Amsterdam, 1619). Rare Books Division
full size (2546×1949)

There are two routes around the southern tip of South America: the route through Magellan Strait (Estrecho de Magallanes) and the alternative route round Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos). The southern tip of South America tapers off into a collection of rugged islands known as Tierra del Fuego. The southernmost headland in this archipelago (group of islands) is Cape Horn.

The Cape was first rounded by a European in 1616 by the Dutch expedition of Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire. Cape Horn is notorious because of the poor weather conditions that made it difficult to round in sailing ships before the construction of the Panama Canal. The route around the Horn was an important path for trade and passenger ships taking goods and people from the East Coast of the US to the West Coast, and was an essential supply route for the Spanish Empire.

Before the completion of the Panama Canal, ships had to “round the Horn” in order to move goods or people from the Atlantic side of North and South America to the Pacific. The area is notorious for its sailing hazards: strong winds, large waves, and icebergs drifting up from Antarctica. If weather conditions were unfavorable, this voyage could take as long as eight months. Due to great demand, the ships were often jammed with passengers, and unsanitary conditions prevailed.

There was a great development of the shipping industry after the discovery of gold in California. The sailing vessel was almost the only means of transportation. The voyage generally occupied about six months, which might be extended indefinitely should an accident to the vessel necessitate a visit to Rio Janeiro, Valparaiso, or Callao, while on route, for repairs, water, or provisions. Companies were formed, and vessels were bought and chartered.

Rounding Cape Horn


Why Sailors Wear Gold Earrings

Between a Rock and a Wet Place:
Death and the Mariner

No farmer’s tan line across his forehead, the capable gaze of a young Capt. Harvey Mills of St. George, Maine twinkles just a bit in this detail from his ca. 1847 portrait.

A captain at 25, he survived Cape Horn many times in his long career, entitling him to wear the traditional Cape Horn-er’s gold earring, that also twinkles here in contrast to his formal black cravat. Tradition also has it that the mariner’s gold earring was to defray the cost of his funeral, assuming that his body was ever found.

Ahead Full at Fifty: 50 Years of Collecting at Maine Maritime Museum

runs Nov. 10, 2012 to May 26, 2013


Bounty Rounds Cape Horn

Cape Horn (Dutch: Kaap Hoorn), Spanish: Cabo de Hornos; named after the city of Hoorn in the Netherlands) is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island.

Although not the most southerly point of South America, (which are the Diego Ramírez Islands) Cape Horn marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage; for many years it was a major milestone on the clipper route, by which sailing ships carried trade around the world. However, the waters around the Cape are particularly hazardous, owing to strong winds, large waves, strong currents and icebergs; these dangers have made it notorious as a sailors’ graveyard.


Edward Gennys Fanshawe (1814-1906)
HMS Daphne off Cape Horn
28 May 1852

Admiral Sir Edward Gennys Fanshawe GCB (27 November 1814 – 21 October 1906) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.

Educated at the Royal Naval Academy, Portsmouth, he came second from the top in a very talented year and was commended for both his artistic and writing ability. He went on to join the Royal Navy in 1828.



April 14, 1862, before a cheering crowd, the steamer Louisiana leaves the port of Saint-Nazaire to inaugurate the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique’s first regular line from St Nazaire to Veracruz, Mexico.

In the 1870s, the trip to Mexico took about twenty days.
more on 150 Years of Transatlantic Lines at St-Nazaire


SGTM РSoci̩t̩ G̩n̩rale de Transports Maritimes

fuckyeahlatinamericanhistory:The French Société Générale de Transports Maritimes offered cruises to South America, on its SS Provence and SS Bretagne ocean liners, which operated out of Marseille.

The poster above features Argentina on the left, and Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro on the right. The ships were meant for vacation cruises, but they also served to transport poor Italian immigrants to a new life in South America.

The two ships launched in the early 1950s. SS Bretagne was destroyed in a fire by the 1960s. SS Provence was sold to another cruise company and kept operating until the mid-1990s.


Banana Boat: 1906

Circa 1906. “Banana docks, New York.” An interesting cast of characters. 8×10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size



Tea Clipper Off Cape Horn
by Oliver Hurst

Before and after the second world war, cargo ships were regularly taking passengers. Some had luxurious conditions on board, others rather more modest ones. They usually stopped for one week or more at ports. Life on board had the taste of adventure and represented unforgettable holidays for those who had time and no restraints. The development of air travel led to a gradual end of passenger liners and transformed them into cruise vessels. Most cargo ships, with irregular timetables and too inaccurate itineraries, no longer offered cabins to passengers.

CATALINA CARGO CONSEIL; offering travel by cargo ship


Standard Fruit & Steamship Co. (Vaccaro Line)
on Timetable Images

The Amapala or Atlántida (4,148/4,191 grt, 350 ft. long) were the first purpose-built combined passenger and banana carriers with Standard Fruit. They were delivered in 1924. While the Amapala was sunk by a submarine in 1942, the Atlántida sailed on until 1958 when she was, like several of her fleetmates, laid up and sold to breakers the year after.


The Morazan (2,984 grt, 300 ft. long) was built in 1908 as the Manco of the Booth Line. She was bought by Vaccaro Brothers in 1922 and sailed for Standard Fruit on the Mexican run until sold in 1941. She was eventually seized by the Japanese and sunk in 1944 by a U.S. submarine. –Timetable Images


Sailings aboard
Contessa, Cefalu, Morazan,
Tegucigalpa, Atlantida, and Amapala
Ports of Call:
New Orleans, Havana, Cristobal, Vera Cruz,
Santiago de Cuba, Kingston, and New York


1927 brochure promoting the Havana and La Ceiba cruise

imageStandard Fruit Company (now Dole Food Company) was established in the United States in 1924 by The Vaccaro Brothers.

Its forerunner was started in 1899, when Sicilian immigrants Joseph, Luca and Felix Vaccaro, together with Salvador D’Antoni, began importing bananas to New Orleans from La Ceiba, Honduras.

By 1915 the business had grown so large that it bought most of the ice factories in New Orleans, in order to refrigerate its banana ships, leading to its president Joseph Vaccaro becoming known as the “Ice King”.

Standard Fruit & Steamship Company
(now Dole Food Company) on wikipedia

inset: Princess May (1888) managed by Standard Fruit Co


Standard Fruit and Steamship Company
at Pier 19, East River (1951)


Sailings 1951


USS Osborne (DD-295)laid down 23 September 1919 at Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Squantum, Massachusetts. Sold 1930 to Standard Fruit Company of New Orleans where (she was) gutted to hulls then fitted two new deck houses, electrical plant and other ship service plants and with dual 750 hp Ingersoll-Rand Diesel engines by Todd Dry Dock and Construction Company.

With the new name Matagalpa and four holds capable of carrying a total of 25,000 banana stems between Central America and New Orleans the Standard Fruit & Steamship Company operated as a banana boat until the eve of World War II.

On 26 June 1942 Matagalpa burned at her berth in Sydney, Australia as over one hundred firefighters worked in vain to unload gasoline drums and fight the fire. Eventually scuttled in the disposal area off Sydney on 6 September 1947.

Standard Fruit Co / Vaccaro Brothers
on The Ships List

1920s map showing the holdings of Standard Fruit


Sailings January-July 1912
route map from the mid-1930s

Ships of United Fruit Company’s Great White Fleet

The United Fruit Company (formed in 1899, by Lorenzo Dow Baker, a sailor who, in 1870, had bought his first bananas in Jamaica) was an American corporation that traded in tropical fruit (primarily bananas) grown on Central and South American plantations and sold in the United States and Europe.

image25[3]It flourished in the early and mid-20th century and came to control vast territories and transportation networks in Central America, the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Ecuador, and the West Indies, had a deep and long-lasting impact on the economic and political development of several Latin American countries.

At its founding, United Fruit was capitalized at $11,230,000. The company proceeded to buy or buy a share in 14 competitors, assuring them of 80% of the banana import business in the United States.

In 1901, the government of Guatemala hired the United Fruit Company to manage the country’s postal service and in 1913 the United Fruit Company created the Tropical Radio and Telegraph Company. By 1930, the Company had absorbed more than 20 rival firms, acquiring a capital of $215,000,000 and becoming the largest employer in Central America.

The United Fruit Company was frequently accused of bribing government officials in exchange for preferential treatment, exploiting its workers, paying little by way of taxes to the governments of the countries in which it operated, and working ruthlessly to consolidate monopolies. Latin American journalists sometimes referred to the company as el pulpo; “the octopus”.

United Fruit Company
(present-day Chiquita Brands International.) on wikipedia

inset: Detail of cover from a c. 1950 United Fruit Company promotional booklet


The Peten (6,968 grt; 447 ft. long) sailed for “The Great White Fleet” from 1932 together with her sisters Chiriqui and Talamanca. She was renamed Jamaica when chartered to the Colombian Line in 1937. She kept her new name when returned after a year. After war service she continued her career for United Fruit until sold to Germany in 1958.

United Fruit Company
on Maritime Timetable Images


Almirante: The Flour Wreck

The Almirante was a United Fruit Company steamship bound from New York City to Colon, Panama with a full cargo hold. On Friday September 6, 1918 at 2:00 a.m. the 15,000-ton Navy tanker USS Hisko rammed the Almirante in heavy seas and fog. The ship sank within 4 minutes, with an amazingly small loss of 5 lives out of 105 crew and passengers due to the prompt rescue by the Hisko crew and the Lifesaving Corps (the precursor to the Coast Guard) from Atlantic City. The entire cargo was lost, including 26 sacks of mail.

The wreck site is more commonly called the “Flour Wreck,” due to the white foam that washed onto the shore after the Almirante sank. For days after the wreck the local beaches were covered with a doughy, frothy mess. Because of this it was thought that large part of her cargo was flour, so the Almirante is known as the Flour Wreck, however the ship’s manifest indicates that it was carrying a cargo of fruit.


Abangarez (British and American Passenger and cargo ship, 1909)


United Fruit Co. building, 321 St. Charles Ave. New Orleans (built 1920)


San Francisco History Center: View of United Fruit Company shacks
along Mission Creek between 3rd and 4th Streets in 1932

After the stock-market crash of ’29, the normally large population of transient, out-of-work men in the south-of-Market area was swelled by waves upon waves of men and boys on the move. One of the boys, Harlan Soeten, arrived in San Francisco at the age of 16 in 1931, hoping to ship out, fascinated by all he had read of life at sea and all he had seen as a young boy hanging around ships at southern California wharves.

imageThere were a number of longshoremen staying there and railroad men who worked across the street. There were two men who loaded the banana boats for the United Fruit Company, down on Mission Creek.

“I remember walking down to Mission Creek in 1931 and ’32. The United Fruit boats couldn’t turn around in the narrow channel, so a tugboat would tow the big banana boats in by the bow and out by the stern. These were the famous banana boats that unloaded with conveyor belts into box cars at the China Basin Building.

They would have shape-ups there in the early morning, if a ship was due on the pier. There would be crowds of longshoremen waiting, hoping for work. The star-gangs were paid by the company and they got the first chance at being hired. If they needed more men the walking boss hired the extra men. He’d say, ‘That’s all,’ and they would drift off looking for work somewhere else. If a banana boat was due in at 10 am and got held up by fog until noon, nobody got paid until noon. There was a lot of standing around and hoping, down on Channel Street and all along the waterfront in the ’30s.”

The Strike

In February 1934 the International Longshoremen Association met in San Francisco and made demands on West Coast shippers. They wanted a minimum of $1 an hour and $1.50 overtime, a six hour day and, most important, the elimination of the shape-up system of company hiring. All up and down the West Coast other maritime unions joined, and thousands of men didn’t turn up for work…

keep reading on Found San Francisco

inset: united fruit historical society



The Delta Line – Cruising to South America from New Orleans in the 1950s

Delta Line’s “Coffee Run”

Offering American flag service, between New Orleans and South America.  All were cargo carries and carried 67 first class passengers.

They would be the first passenger-cargo ships of the 1938 Merchant Marine act – the DELBRASIL, DELORLEANS, DELARGENTINO, DELURUGUAY, DELORLEANS and DELARGENTINO.

The ships were to be symbols of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy with South America. Passage one-way from New Orleans to Brazil cost $200 per person. This included transportation, accommodations and all meals.

Many of the Spanish or Portuguese speaking  travelers would have been business people and kept in touch with their home offices via the ships wireless. They sailed at 1:00 pm from New Orleans on a six week round-trip itinerary, calling at: Pemambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

The DELORLEANS (went on to become) the cadet ship for Vallejo-based California Maritime Academy.

The GOLDEN BEAR II California Maritime Academy’s third training ship started as a cargo-passenger vessel; Delta Line’s DELORLEANS served briefly on the “banana” South American run prior to World War 2. on Cruising the Past


Grace Line, owned by W.R. Grace & Co. — Sailings 1927-1932

Ports of call: New York, Cristobal, Balboa, Talara, Salaverry, Callao, Mollendo, Arica, Iquique, Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chanaral, and Valparaiso


The Coamo (7,057 grt, 429 ft. long) was built in 1925 and sailed on her maiden voyage in January 1926. She and her near sister, the Borinquen, built in 1931, set new standards on the Puerto Rico run.

On December 2, 1942, while on her way back to the U.S. after having carried troops from Britain to the North African campaign, the U.S. Army Transport Coamo was sighted by a German submarine, the U-604. A torpedo sealed the fate of the Coamo. Although a few men managed to escape in lifeboats, none of the 186 onboard (133 crew, 17 Naval Armed Guard and 16 U.S. Army personnel as passengers) was ever heard from again. The sinking of the Coamo also brought to an all too early end the outstanding maritime career of her master, the Commodore of the Porto Rico Line, Captain Nels Helgesen.

In addition to being a popular captain, both with passengers and crew, Captain Helgesen was also a licensed pilot for all ports in Puerto Rico as well as New York and many other east coast ports. He enjoyed “a fine reputation for reliability, good judgement and for maintaining excellent discipline”, quoting a 1939 article in the Brooklyn Spectator.

In November 1928, Captain Helgesen and his then ship, the San Juan, made the headlines when becoming the first to reach the scene of the Vestris disaster. The British ship Vestris of Lamport & Holt Line, on her way from New York to La Plata, had wired an S.O.S. but had sunk before any ship could come to the rescue in the stormy weather off the Virginia Capes.



Atlantic Fruit & Sugar Company (Sugar Cane in Nicaragua and Cuba)

Formed in 1905 by Joseph Di Giorgio and in 1906 United Fruit Co. purchased a half share in the company, but was later forced to sell it under current anti-trust laws. In 1923 Di Giorgio entered into partnership with the Vaccaro Bros (Standard Fruit Co.) and formed the Mexican American Fruit & Steamship Co.

Above: certificate from the Atlantic Fruit & Sugar Company issued in 1924 – Incorporated under the laws of Maryland, Feb. 15, 1924, as a reorganization of the Atlantic Fruit Co., incorporated under the laws of Delaware, Dec. 27, 1912, to take over the business and assets of Atlantic Fruit & Steamship Co.

Owns 132,000 acres of land in Nicaragua; 153,000 acres in Cuba, a considerable portion of which is cultivated in bananas and sugar cane, and on which a sugar mill has been erected and is now being operated; owns 30,000 acres of banana property in Jamaica; also has branch offices in New York City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and agencies in Canada and a number of Eastern states.

Atlantic Fruit Company Fleet
on The Ships List


Payday for the stevedores
2800 × 2221

Baltimore, Maryland, circa 1905. 8×10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company.

imageThe steamship Bodø was variously described in period newspaper accounts as a United Fruit Company freighter and a Norwegian fruit freighter, but the flag on her funnel indicates that she was registered as an Italian merchant ship.

In 1903 the Bodø was one of several ships transporting bananas from Jamaica and Cuba for the Di Giorgio Importing & Steamship Company of Baltimore, docking at Bowly’s Wharf. A portion of the cargo would be unloaded by stevedores on the dockside and sold directly to local wholesalers, while the larger portion was unloaded into Baltimore & Ohio Railroad boxcars on floats on the water side.

inset: Atlantic Fruit Company (Jamaica) brass banana tally token

Fruit Shipping Companies / Banana Boats
on The Ships List


Cape Horn print by Jon Contino



Sea Story Sailboat Ornament $14.00Bon Voyager Globe $30.00
@ Anthropologie see also:
Spangled Sea Lobster


The Banana Boats of Jacob Dahlstrup

Adventures of the Blackgang on tumblr — (twitter)

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