Anniversary of the Shipwreck of the New York at Half Moon Bay (longer version) Part IV

After Captain Peabody telegraphed the New York’s owners, the Luckenbach Brothers, headquartered on the New York, giving them details of the shipwreck at Half Moon Bay, the tug Reliance arrived from San Francisco but was unable to get within a half -mile of the stranded vessel.

On March 14, 1898, the day after the wreck, Peabody, Callip and six sailors made several trips to the ship to retrieve personal possessions, including Claire’s parrot—but the last effort ended with disaster.

“When the lifeboat was halfway to the beach,â€? Claire wrote, “a breaker hit it broadside. Father, Mr. Callip and the sailors were thrown into the surf…The boat was abandoned and the men with the assistance of ropes thrown from shore managed to make their way through the surf to safety…It was then that gentle Mr. Callip had a hemorrhage from the lungs.â€?

Callip immediately received first aid on the scene, and was “roundly applaudedâ€? by the people of Half Moon Bay for his heroism, but he needed round-the-clock medical care and was taken to San Francisco’s Marine Hospital where he died two months later.

The Coastsiders were so charmed by Thomas, Clara and little Claire Peabody that the family was invited to stay in Half Moon Bay at the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Schaeffer—George was the editor of the town’s newspaper. They had become local celebrities and their presence was demanded everywhere.

“I have many pleasant recollections of your good old dad,â€? George Schaeffer wrote Claire Peabody in 1941. “I salvaged a goodly sized keg of old Jamaica rum from the wreck, and I remember how many times we tested it to see if the sea water had spoiled it…â€?

Stuck hard and fast on the sands of Half Moon Bay, the New York was dismantled quickly and efficiently. Much of what was salvageable was bought by Joseph Debenedetti, a well known Half Moon Bay entrepreneur.

Afterwards, for days, the beach was crowded with buggies and wagons as people from all over San Mateo County came to see the shipwreck, picking up souvenirs such as firecrackers that had floated to shore.

The iron vessel New York, the unlucky ship that failed to revolutionize the shipping industry, settled into a watery grave at Half Moon Bay—and while it left a bitter memory for sailors the world over, the shipwreck of the New York was a sweeter moment for the isolated Coastsiders, the taste of an unforgettable adventure.