Friday, May 2, 2014

Right of Passage - Stories, 1904

Two stories about Fellows stand out from the usual biographies written about him for the 50th anniversary of his firm in 1949. One chronicles just how much a daredevil appears to take chances, while the earlier story here tells of sailing home during a spring storm in San Pedro Bay.

Joe Fellows' yacht MINERVA with passengers and crew, circa 1910.

The earlier news clippings is over 100 years old, it’s the one from the LA Times, May 3, 1904, entitled: "Six Lost in Stormy Sea", with the subtitle, “Searchers Fail in Hunt for Fellows Party”. By 1904, the Joe Fellows Yacht and Launch Company had grown from a one-person firm employing several industrious engineers and tradesmen. Joe had taken them for their mutual enjoyment on an overnight excursion to Catalina and the crew had passed the first half of the journey without incident. Then came a spring storm and the party had to outride the storm by sailing leeward of it for 24 hours---they were inside the Bay, but unable to cross it to the Harbor and safety. It was Joe’s decision but his crew’s safety was foremost in his mind.

Here’s a selection from the news article, “Cheers of Joy for Mariners”, published May 4, 1904:

As the Minerva passed up the inner harbor the crowd that lined the wharves cheered the return of the missing mariners, who waved their caps and cheered in return.

In relating his experiences since Sunday, Captain Fellows says he left the harbor of Avalon because his anchor was dragging and he feared the destruction of the little yawl. Although the wind was blowing a hurricane from the northwest Fellows and his crew of five men did not fear that the little craft would not withstand the gale, and boldly put to sea. The Minerva stood off from Avalon for San Pedro but on account of the severity of the storm, at night they found themselves about five miles off Long Beach. Seeing that it would be impossible to make the inner harbor of San Pedro, Fellows and the crew of the Minerva decided to tack back and forth until the wind should abate.

On the second tack made off Long Beach, the jib of the yawl was blown away, so the only course left for Capt. Fellows was to run before the wind. At this time the wind was blowing great guns, and the Minerva sped before it like a fishing schooner before a South Sea hurricane. Capt. Fellows figured that in about 10 hours he could make San Diego. At length the wind abated and they found themselves about thirty-five miles southeast of Santa Catalina Island early Monday morning… This morning about 7 o’clock the Minerva was sighted by the Clemente and Challenger, which were out with searching parties. The joy felt when the Minerva flew the signal “All’s Well” would be difficult of description…

Capt. Fellows says that while he and his crew suffered inconvenience and were drenched, there was at no time any fear but what they would pull through, and were it not for the anxiety their absence would cause the friends and families of the mariners, none of them would seriously object to a repetition of the experience.

See more stories about Joe Fellows.

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