Elleda Wilson: In One Ear: Balaklava's misfortune

·1 min read

Jun. 10—The Daily Astorian, in the June 10, 1888, edition, noted the "long and stormy voyage" of the British bark Balaklava, which finally entered Astoria after a grueling 439-day voyage.

Captain Palmer set sail from London on March 25, 1887. The trouble began after they rounded Cape Horn on July 29, when they were caught in a cyclone off the coast of Chile.

The ship was dismasted, 10 of the crew members were washed overboard and lost, and the captain broke his leg — which was set by the steward, who created splints from wooden barrel slats.

Meanwhile, the deck was covered in debris, which was tossed overboard, along with most of the cargo, "to relieve the ship." New masts were jerryrigged and the Balaklava headed for Ancud, Chile, arriving Sept. 12.

On Jan. 6, 1888, she was towed to Valparaiso, Chile. Once repairs were completed, and a new crew hired on, Balaklava sailed for San Francisco on March 23, nearly a year after leaving London.

But the misfortunes continued, as she was hounded by storms. Just before she entered the Golden Gate, two more crew members were lost at sea.

When the Balaklava arrived in Astoria, the captain and the second mate were the only remaining members of the original crew.

Sadly, their luck didn't improve on arrival, either, since their last port, Valparaiso, had been declared "infected," which forced the captain and crew to stay aboard to "remain in quarantine for the time being."

Hopefully, they all lived happily ever after.

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