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Historic Shipwreck Profile

Point Sur
Point Sur, assumed vicinity of sunken wooden motorship Babinda. This view from Hurricane Point. Courtesy of Steve Lonhart / NOAA MBNMS.



shipwreck location map

Casualty Location: Point Sur, Monterey County, California, USA

Location Status: Unlocated (see Important Note)

Casualty Date: 1923 (Mar 3)

Owner: Ocean Motorship Company

Home Port: Seattle, Washington, USA

Length: 268.7 feet Beam: 48.5 feet

Gross Tonnage: 3,098 Cargo: general

Builder: Patterson & MacDonald Shipbuilding Company

Launched: 1919 (Seattle, Washington, USA)

Official Number: 218986

Description: The wooden motorship Babinda, sailing north from San Pedro, caught fire off Santa Cruz in the early morning of March 3rd. The fire assumedly started in the engine room, spreading from the stern and threatening the fuel tanks. The twenty-three officers and men tried to save the vessel, but ultimately Captain Helge Maland ordered the crew to “Abandon ship!” The nearby steam schooner Celilo, rescued and transported all men to San Francisco. The abandoned vessel burned to the water line and drifted south before sinking off Point Sur. The vessel was deemed a total loss, estimated to be worth $200,000.

Nature of Casualty:

Newspaper headline from Santa Cruz Evening news 3MAR1923 p1 col1 of shipwreck Babinda

Newspaper clip from Santa Cruz Evening news 3MAR1923 p1 col1 of shipwreck Babinda

Source: Santa Cruz Evening News (Santa Cruz, CA), 3 March 1923, p. 1, col. 1.
Courtesy of


Motorship Babinda Destroyed By Fire Off Santa Cruz

Wireless Aids Rescue Of Crew; Local Boats Visit Doomed Vessel

The wooden motorship Babinda of 3000 tons gross register and belonging to the Ocean Motorship company of Portland, Ore., was totally destroyed by a fire which started near her stern during the early hours of this morning along the coast about three and a half miles from Davenport, this county. The Babinda wirelessed for help between three and four o'clock this morning, stating that fire was threatening her fuel tank. The steam schooner Celilo which was a few miles away responded and removed the crew at daylight. The fire was then burning fiercely but the captain and crew did not leave the doomed ship until it was certain that the fire could not be kept from the fuel tank. The source of the flames and smoke indicated that the blaze started in the engine room near the stern of the boat.

First word of the burning ship was telephoned to Santa Cruz from Davenport about 4 o'clock this morning. The blaze was easily seen from the cement town. Sunday Faraola of the California Western Fish company dispatched Arthur Googins in a launch to the scene of the burning boat and at 6 o'clock this morning Captain William Olson of the whaler Port Saunders steamed out to the Babinda to render what aid it might be necessary to give. It was discovered upon arrival, however, that the crew had been taken off the Babinda and that the boat was a roaring furnace and doomed to burn out and sink. About 8 o'clock this morning the C. Stagnaro fishing company sent two launches to the scene in charge of Steve Ghio and C. Ghio.

A News man was on the city pier at 11 o'clock this morning when Captain Olson of the Port Saunders came ashore after his trip to the burning boat.

"The Babinda is doomed," said the captain. "We were about a hundred yards from her. She's burning fore and aft fiercely and just before we started back the bridge was falling. Three steamers were standing by when we got there. I do not think the Babinda carried a cargo. She was too high out of the water. She's now about seventeen and a half miles south-south-west of Santa Cruz."

The wireless messages sent out by the Babinda and the answers of various steamers were picked up by Frank Chase at his Walnut avenue radio plant this morning. Messages to and from the S.S. City of Alameda and the S.S. Mazatlan and the Bolinas radio station concerning the burning Babinda and her plight were caught here.

The Babinda was a gasoline wooden schooner built in Seattle in 1919. She had a length of 268 feet, 48-foot beam and a depth of, 24 feet. She had a gross tonnage of 3000 and registered 2483 net tons and had engines of 1000 horsepower. She was engaged in the print paper trade between Columbia river mills and California points.

Additional Information: Wreck Event
(click headline to access full article)

Newspaper headline from San Francisco Examiner 4MAR1923 p3 col1 of shipwreck Babinda

Source: San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, CA), 4 March 1923, p. 3, col. 1.
Courtesy of


Officers and Men Picked Up in Heavy Seas as Flames Sweep Freighter Off Monterey Bay

Newspaper headline from San Francisco Chronicle 5MAR1923 p15 col2 of shipwreck Babinda

Source: San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, CA), 5 March 1923, p. 15, col. 2.
Courtesy of



Additional Information: Vessel
(click headline to access full article)

Newspaper headline from The Washington Standard 15AUG1919

Source: The Washington Standard (Olympia, WA), 15 August 1919, p. 3, col. 1.
Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Washington, DC.



Referenced and Additional Resources

Important Note: Section 922.132 of the sanctuary regulations prohibits or restricts several activities in order to safeguard sanctuary resources, including: Moving, removing, injuring or possessing historical resources.

For a complete “official text" of MBNMS regulatory prohibitions, see Title 15, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 922.132 published by the U.S. Government Printing Office.

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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