Story by John Vonderlin
Email John: [email protected]
In this account of the wreck of the “Alice Buck,” from the September 29th, 1881, issue of the “Daily Alta,” there are more details then in the previous day’s reporting, but more interesting, we hear from the Captain himself, concerning events that transpired around the time of the wreck and afterwards, his harrowing near death experience and rescue. Enjoy. John
THE “ALICE BUCK.”
The Survivors’ Account of The Shipwreck—Names of the Crew Who Perished
The steamer Salinas arrived in port early yesterday morning, having on board from the scene of the wreck of the American ship Alice Buck on Tuesday night, Capt. Henningson and twelve sailors. Capt. Henningson gave the following particulars of the shipwreck : On August 28th we encountered a hurricane in latitude 16 degrees north, and the ship sprung a leak in her bows. The next day we encountered another gale, and the ship doubled water, and I then made for San Francisco for repairs Though the. men remained at the pumps night and day, the water gained on us. The constant work and anxiety began to tell upon myself and crew. On Monday, off Halfmoon Bay, we struck a dead calm, and commenced to drift. We ran in the calm about 8 o’clock on Monday evening, and it continued till midnight when we went ashore. That evening the men were used up and ready to drop, and having been up myself for three days and nights, I began to feel dizzy and shaky, and I turned in. Before midnight I was awakened by the surf, and upon going on deck found the ship bows on, drifting toward a reef. About midnight we struck the reef and rebounded. We bumped five or six times, but as the calm continued we were unable to do anything. The last time the ship struck she hit hard and held on by her bows. She soon broke in two. The dinghy wa launched, but upset, one of the men being drowned and the other two washed ashore.The whaleboat, into which the two mates, the steward and two sailors got, was stovev in, and only the two sailors were able to reach the wreck. Fastening two life-buoys to me, I jumped overboard, but could not swim on account of the pieces of the wreck and the spars continually bumping against me. I floated about in the wreck and surf until rescued at about 8 o’clock in the morning.
Of the crew, the following are known to be lost : William Barry, first mate, D. Crocker. second mate, George Parker, boy, aged 14, David Black, Charles Reader, Pat Welsh, and John Gunnison, seamen, two two Chinamen, cook and steward. One of the sailors states that the ship leaked for two days and that the Captain signaled for a tug, intending to put in at San Francisco. At four o’clock Monday afternoon, the Captain thought he was about fifty five miles southwest of the Farallones and steered northeast. Shortly after midnight, the sky being clear and starry, with a petty good sea running, they struck with terrible force on the rocks, not more then 1500 feet from a high bluff. The two mates and part of the crew jumped from the ship into the waves, and that was the last seen of them.