October 31, 1950 – San Francisco – John Napoli, a fisherman who saved the lives of 70 persons the night the freighter Mary Luckenbach rammed into the Navy hospital ship Benevolence, put up his crab nets for sale today—at a loss. “I have to eat,” he explained. Napoli said he hoped to get $1,000 for his crab nets.
They cost him $3,200 and represented the savings of a lifetime. On the night of Aug. 25, Napoli was returning to port with 750 pounds of salmon aboard. A Coast Guard patrol boat turned up alongside and asked his help in rescuing survivors of the ship collision.
In six hours, Napoli hauled 54 aboard his boat, the Flora. When the boat became overcrowded, he transferred the survivors to another vessel and continued patrolling the Golden Gate. He found another 16.
For his efforts, Napoli got a civic banquet in North Beach, the thanks of the Navy, a promise from the Navy to reimburse him for the loss of his catch, and a sprained back that has kept him from going to sea again. The Navy has not yet reimbursed him for the salmon he had to throw overboard.
Meanwhile, Napoli has to take it easy until he gets over his sprained back. “I got to lay down,” he said. “And you can’t make a living that way.” His wife has gone to work to help out. Napoli said, but it still isn’t enough to pay off a debt on a new home and other living expenses. And that’s why he had to put up his crab nets for sale. (United Press International)
Explosion Demolishes Steamer Sophie McLean
October 26, 1864 – San Francisco – Owned by the California Steam Navigation Company, the steamer Sophie McLane was on charter to carry freight between San Francisco and Suisun. She had previously served on the route between San Jose and Alviso.
The Daily Alta California published a bulletin from Suisun in its October 27, 1864, edition that, “A terrible explosion occurred here today [October 26]. The Sophie McLane blew up this morning at 7 o’clock, while lying at the wharf at Suisun City. She is a complete wreck.
“Captain Hulbert is badly, but not dangerously, injured; the pilot not to be found. F. Staples had his leg broken. The Second Engineer and one deck hand are dying, and several are badly injured, and two or three missing.”
The following day, the Sacramento Daily Union ran the following report: “The particulars of the explosion of the Sophie McLane are sorrow in the in the extreme. The boat was preparing to return to San Francisco, and had rung her second bell. “Fortunately, however, only two passengers had got aboard. The left-hand boiler burst first, and almost instantly afterward the second exploded, blowing everything into atoms.
“Some pieces of the wreck were blown a hundred yards. Speculation was rife as to the cause of the explosion with the blame resting on the feeling that the Sophie McLane’s boilers were poorly made and operated at extreme pressures they were not designed to sustain.” (Daily Alta California, Sacramento Daily Union)
New LA-SF Route for Ocean-Borne Trailers Planned
October 19, 1955 – San Francisco – Attorneys for a New York shipping interest have announced a plan to ferry loaded trucks and trailers pick a back between Los Angeles and San Francisco aboard steamships.
Pacific Trailer Ships Inc., revealed the plan yesterday in an application to the Public Utilities Commission which asked permission to form a company and operate as a California utility.
Richard Norton, an attorney for the company said the firm seeks to operate two steamships on a daily schedule between San Francisco and Los Angeles. He said the ships, to be built at the cost of $8,750,000 each, would leave the respective ports at 5 p.m. dally and would arrive at their destinations at 10 a.m. the next day.
Norton said the ships would be exclusive carriers of autos and loaded and unloaded trucks and trailers. The shipping charge would be $3 per linear foot. (United Press)