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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, December 29, 1901, Image 2

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1901-12-29/ed-1/seq-2/

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Tfc» Ccrflrlia Heald lp a rturdy V"-m.
,\r.<i corxi. strong rihs ha." t-h».
.A former built her in his tack >ar«1
Ar.d then rut o'^t to sea.
Kull-'.uany a month this larvisr^an EailM.
Wnh hie mate, a tsrrrpr. tec:
They managed the boat ju.-» like a j.iow.
These two of a. kind!}- ere?..
But the shhj pjie v.-as s> v.ordrcus wise.
Shs would not steer nor hail.
She driftf-d homeward. - wile a day.
And thereby hang-* this tale.
FROM the life of a farmer sov.-jng
grain amid the ponty valleys of
California, a calm. t;ui*»t life,
where one day is the count erparc
of the preceding one. to the sale
breezes and surging waves that consti
tute the life of a sea ca;»tain is a poetic
flight— according to how yen look a: it.
It may be as well to stay a farmer ami
invent harvesting machines that seli for
5150 each. But if you are Joins as well
as that you -will want to get rich quicker,
and why not get there by water as any
other way? At least that is the opinion
of Captain John L. Heald. ex-farmcr and
inventor, and master of the steam tlredge.
three-masted schooner Cordelia Heald, a
contrary-minded, wishbone-shaped little
The wish for gold was the reason for
the captain deserting the peaceful life
<'f the handlers of the hoe and the plow
and incidentally the beginning of the
btnrdy Cordelia, whose mission v.-as lo go
gold-dredging in >Jome. She and the
captain deciued that to go to sea it way
not really necessary to have training or
experience as a navigator, or even to be
thoroughly proof against seasickness So
as soon as Cordelia was finished— and her
construction. which has «-:ince been
through so much tlriftinj? and steeling,
showed that a man nif.y be a farmer 'anil
KtfU know how lo buiid a boat that is
rtroT.c-^.e turned: her piratical looking
. nose northward— bound for St. Michael—
o:i August 24. 1500. On this voyage the
jaecond skipper 5n command was the wife
of the agricultural captain, for whom the
craft is named. The little woman had
piuck. considering that the sea dog in
command scarcely knew port from star
board, &nd that the Cordelia ' Heald
v.-culd not Fleer except when It suited her
— a courrc which she has kept evenly
ever since. ' .
!t wbs about a hundred miles forward
v.hcn the wind was chasing along behind
them, anfi airy: a hundred miles back
ward v.hcr; it blockaded tha way ahead
cf them. It v.-.-js a terrible experience,
and they were driven back each time
they rtacbc-il t 1 '? C iuTiWa River. Fln
j«I1v. rn Datmbfr 21. IPOO. ft was found
that tho hundred miles backward had
been gaining r.n tlitm and the vessel was
discovered to be just <fT San Pedro and
ready to stay th^re. which was done.
Mrs. lleald'liad enoueh of marine house
lrccp'r.g by this time and" vacated the
cabin, grcirp to Los Armeies to live.
The amateur captain put the boat In
•winirr qvartcrs and went to studying
books on navigation, and reminiscencing
about the time, to be counted by hours,
that he had srent on the water when a
lad. Then when the summer rolled
around again the sturdy little sea-tosssr
—a boat of S3 tons and 73 feet in length
—sailed for the Klcmath River on July
22. 1901, to dredge for gold, and, as It
turned out, to have four months of wind
and sea, of storm and calm, and to re
turn to the Golden Gate without having
entered the Klamath and with two men
to whom the sea has been kind In send
ing them back alive. For the Cordelia
Keald had her way. drifted when she
pleased, and sailed when the wind was
so that, she could not help it. Now she
is kicking up her heels over in Oakland
Creek and wondering If next spring,
when she again will combat the change
ful waters of the ocean in another at
tempt to r<?ach the Klamath River, she
will have a master who is s«3 reminiscent
of his farmer life as to tell her to "lay
to" when he means for her to "go
It is bad enough to be a captain, but it
is worse to be the first and second mate,
the pilot, the cook and the crew; all
hands rolled into one man, and a rather
small man, too. A. A. Platt, formerly a
fruit grower near Los Angeles, has filled
all these berths at once on the Cordelia
Heald, ana still he swears that the sturdy
craft Is the finest sea boat afloat, except
that "she can't sail and she won't steer."
He had to work sixteen hours a day,
and It was a "heave ho" sort of time ■with
him at first, for the eea acted as If it
knew he was a landlubber, and even his
own cooking made him sick. He was chief
cook and bottle washer, and. about the
only thing he did not have to wash was
his clothes, and those he never got time
to change. He had about as much Idea of
making bread as he did of sailing a boat,
but how:t^ould any one make even hard
tack when they had nothing but sea
water to mix it with? So it happened that
the first loaf made by the jolly tar was
consigned to the ocean at once, and he
Bays he saw the fishes playlner marbles
with It several times afterward.
The next worst Jpb, after playing sailor,
of course, was washing dishes. For that
sea water must be piping hot and needs
a ruinous amount of soap in order to
make It efficacious.
Platt is a little man,, with a Jolly twinkle
in his eye. and wears a nautical looking
The Strangest Craft That Ever Put to Sea,
Manned by jhe Oddest Crew,
And Met With the Queerest,of Adventures.
cap with a good deal of knowingness. He
is a bachelor, and his idea of home la not
the cabin of a home-made schooner. He
was after gold when he started on the
trip. .He knows a few things now that
he didn't know then, and when the Cor-
della sails again next summer for the sold
fields she will go without him. She Is too
rapid and hard to control, he says. If
they would give him ;5000 ho would prefer
after this to make the journey by land.
He remembers the trip as a vast expanse
of -work, with a little sleep thrown In. But
It Is over now, and he is the sort of a man
to remember the pleasant things, and
when he takes another tack be all the bet
ter for his varied experiences.
There was not all comedy, however, in
this search for the sands of gold, and
Captain Heald Is as glad as any lands
man could well be to be back on terra
flrma again, and It does his heart good
to hear the song of the birds and see th«
crass springing? up among the hills. He
looks more like an old salt than he ever
did before, and he certainly knows more
about the sort of man a real old salt
should be. But h« Is going to have that
gold, and he is going to have the CordfeLj*
Heald take him to get it. for he sp€nt
J3O.0CO in building her for that purpose.
And he has as much obstinacy as she and
regards her as the finest vessel of her
class to keep afloat most anywhere in the
sea. notwithstanding that he never had
such a four months in his life as thos«
just spent.
"Now, I'll tell you," he says, confi
dentially, with a stroke of his whiskers
and a tug at his sou-wester, "you've got
to have a mighty good imagination to
think you're on a steamer when you're
on board of the Cordelia Heald. She's
fitted for steam all right, but it has never
been used, and I begin to think now that
a landlubber like me, who didn't know
the fo-castle from the poop, would not
nave made much show with a lot of
valves and whistles. If you don't know
how to run up a sail just right it won't
explode on you! But. I tell you. the Cor
delia is about « s good a sea boat as th«r 9
Is afloat. She's got steel ribs closer to
gether than th» whalebones in a wom
an's stays, though her sides am not more
than two inches through.
"From the time we left San Pedro on
July 22. 1001. till now. never bnt one or
two seas broke over us. and she is as dry
ns a bone. When we left San Pedro it
ww wlth * «ww list or four men. Ona of
them was a navigator, something that I
thought ft might b» handy to hare
around, seeing as most cf my na-rfyatiny
had be«n don© In a bath tub, He was a
Blue Noae from Nova Scotia, by name
Moctler. TT»« Cordelia thought he knew
too much. J think, for she humped up h«r
-ieck and acted kind of cantankerous, and
when we g-ot-to Port Harford the navi
gator eot up nome excuse about bis health
and left me.
"That left It to me to run the ship.
"I had then a crew of two besides my
self, George Moseley. a youny sailor, a
good lad of about 25, whom I hired «j
Continued on Page Three.

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