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Historic Shipwreck Profile

wreck Flavel
Wreck of steam schooner Flavel at Cypress Point, December 1923. Courtesy of Monterey History & Art Association.


Steam Schooner

shipwreck location map

Casualty Location: Cypress Point, Del Monte Forest, Monterey County, California, USA

Location Status: Located (see Important Note)

Casualty Date: 1923 (Dec 14)

Owner: Hammond Lumber Company

Home Port: San Francisco, California, USA

Length: 209.8 feet Beam: 42.0 feet

Gross Tonnage: 967 Cargo: lumber

Builder: McDade

Launched: 1917 (Fairhaven, California, USA)

Official Number: 214907

Description: The steam schooner Flavel (Captain H. Johnson), carrying lumber from Aberdeen (WA) to San Pedro (CA), went ashore after midnight in the fog near Cypress Point off “The Loop” on Seventeen-Mile Drive. Routing a course too close to shore was likely cause of the accident. After launching their boats, the captain, two officers and crew of 22 men were taken up by Captain Kaichi Takigawa of the Paladini launch Normandie (a fishing boat). Lumber was piled along the beach for a distance of three miles. Flavel’s cargo consisted of 1,118,249 feet of lumber. The ship itself was valued at $250,000. According to Reinstadt (1975), the wreck of the lumber schooner generated more “local” excitement than any shipwreck before or after this half-century old mishap. Two days after the wreck, more than 10,000 people visited Cypress Point to view the crippled ship (“Schooner wreck” 1923). Several interested parties battled for the rights of salvage and to board the abandoned ship, including The Hammond Lumber Company, insurance companies, Del Monte Properties Company, and Paul Flanders of Carmel and James Meehan of Monterey.

Nature of Casualty:

Newspaper clipping from Peninsula Daily Herald 14DEC1923 p1 col1 of shipwreck Flavel

Newspaper clipping from Peninsula Daily Herald 14DEC1923 p4 col2 of shipwreck Flavel

Source: Peninsula Daily Herald (Monterey, CA), December 14, 1923, p1 (cols 1-2), p4 (cols 2-3).
Courtesy of Monterey Peninsula Library



Hammond Company’s “Flavel,” Carrying Million Feet From Aberdeen To San Pedro, Gets Off Her Course By Several Miles And Tears Out Her Bottom On Jagged Reef


Paladini Launch Normandie Goes To Rescue And Takes Captain And Crew Of 22 To Safety; Effort Being Made To Salvage Some Of Cargo; Watchers Maintain Vigil

Possibilities of a great fight for possession of the steam schooner Flavel, which went ashore at “The Loop,” on Seventeen-Mile Drive this morning, loomed today, following the announcement of a decision of Del Monte Properties company to seize the vessel under the terms of maritime law, permitting the first person to board a ship abandoned by its master and crew, possession thereof, together, with all privileges of salvage on both ship and cargo. The Flavel is valued at in the neighborhood of $50,000 and her cargo of lumber is estimated as worth an additional $65,000.

Following their decision this morning, Del Monte Properties company wired San Francisco for a Red Stack Tug to take charge of the wreck.  On its arrival at 6:00 o’clock tonight, its crew will board the Flavel, to take possession.

Captain H. Johnson, master of the Flavel, after one attempt to board his ship this morning, abandoned it, once more, announcing that he would turn it over to a representative of the U.S. Marshal’s office in San Francisco.

It is understood that Captain Johnson disagrees with Del Monte Properties company’s belief in the right to board and seize the ship, claiming that the provision of maritime law thus cited pertains only to ships abandoned by master and crew without the three mile limit.

Hammond Lumber Company’s three-masted schooner Flavel, Captain H. Johnson, carrying more than 1,000,000 feet of lumber from Aberdeen to San Pedro, went ashore in the fog off “The Loop,” near Cypress Point, on the Seventeen-Mile Drive, at 12:18 last night. The captain and crew of 22 men were taken up, after they had launched their boats, by Captain Kaichi Takigawa, of the Paladini launch Normandie, and brought into port, none the worse for their experience save for a wetting and a considerable scare.

Routing a course too close to the shore is likely responsible for the accident. The schooner is almost a complete loss, although it may be possible to salvage some of the cargo. The beach for many hundred yards each way from the scene of the accident was strewn with wreckage this morning.

Distress Signals Heard

News of the accident came to Monterey Peninsula in an unusual way. H.R. Lyons, of Pacific Grove, returning home from a dance late last night, had his attention attracted by a signal whistle. Mr. Lyons, formerly a chief quartermaster in the U.S. Navy, promptly recognized the maritime distress signal, and turned the nose of his car out the Seventeen-Mile Drive in the direction of the whistle.

“I’ve been at sea myself, and I know what it is to be wrecked,” was Lyon’s explanation to Mrs. Lyons, when she attempted to dissuade him from going out alone to make the investigation. But, like the good little scout she is, Mrs. Lyons accompanied her husband and stayed by thru-out the long night vigil maintained by a group of watchers on the point above the wreck.

Police Notified

Lyons, upon ascertaining the cause of the disturbance, returned to town and notified, first, the local police department, then Chief Wharfinger J.J. Harrington, both of whom responded immediately, and were soon on their way to the scene of the wreck.

The Harrington car carried a reporter for The Herald. When it arrived a score or more of people were already on the scene, and Harvey Mundell was off to Pebble Beach to send word to Captain Takigawa to come out to the rescue.

Through the earlier hours of this morning. Mr. Lyons and others attempted to signal those aboard the ship. For a time there were feeble efforts at a response, but finally all the lights went out and all was still, save for the pounding of the waves. The vessel, meanwhile, lay off the left side of “The Loop.”

Vessel Shifts

Shortly after 3:30 the disabled ship began swinging by her starboard bow and drifted across the face of the point, through a narrow channel in
(Continued on Page 4)

Big Lumber Schooner Piles Up On Rocks
(Continued From page 1)

the reef, to a place well off the right side of “The Loop” and began drifting toward Fanshell Beach.

Captain John T. Pierce, Jr., of the Presidio of Monterey, kindly sent out a large truck with a squad of men and a spot light, to light the scene.

On land, the anxious watchers tramped the shore in search of any-one who might have come off the vessel, and waited for daylight. A ray of hope came when the lights of the Normandie were seen rounding Point Pinos. Finally, however, these disappeared and it was generally conceded that the heavy fog bank had engulfed the little launch, and that her skipper had been compelled to turn back.

Daylight Comes

After 4:00 o’clock the fog settled down to a drizzling rain, and the watchers huddled in their cars, or about the large fire builded on the rocks above the wreck. Finally the fog began lifting with the coming of daylight, and despite shouts, automobile horns, no sign of life could be detected aboard the domed ship.

At this point, tow of the party were dispatched back to Pebble Beach to get in touch with the Normandie, where they were told that Captain Takigawa had safely landed the entire crew.

Captain Keeps Rule of Sea

The story of the night of terror was briefly told this morning by Captain Johnson, who stated that the first boat, carrying all of the crew but two, and the first mate, put off from the ship at 2:30. At 3:30, after deciding that a longer stay aboard the wreck would be foolhardy, he and his chief engineer and the other man who stayed behind, put off in the second boat.

As the Normandie rounded the point on her way out, she encountered the first boat coming in. After having landed the crew she again put about and drove out through the fog to the rescue of Captain Johnson and his two intrepid men. The second boat was picked up off Seal Rocks.

Crew Returns To Ship

At 7:00 o’clock this morning Captain Johnson again had his crew aboard the Normandie and was head-ing out toward the wreck, with the hope of salvaging as much of the cargo as possible.

All hands were reticent about the crash, but it would appear possible that the ship lost her way in the fog. The place where the accident occurred is from three to five miles off the beaten path of the freighters plying up and down the coast.

Some Hard Workers

While it is most fortunate that their efforts were not needed to save the lives of the men aboard the Flavel, no mention of the wreck could be complete without some commendation of the work of the night operator at the local P.T. & T. switchboard, the Presidio of Monterey, Messrs. Lyons, Mundell, Harrington, Chief of Police Cording, and others who kept the vigil on the rocks above the doomed ship throughout the night.

Chief Engineer Admits Fright

The chief engineer, who remained with Captain Johnson after the first boat had put away to sea admits that he was one frightened individual, which is quite natural.

“I’ve been at sea all my life – I’ve been torpedoed – I’ve been wrecked in daylight – I guess I’ve had my share of accidents. But I was never so scared in my life as last night when the old Flavel was being whipped about in the seas out there. I thought I would be ‘brave man’ and stay behind with the skipper when the first boat went off, but inside of 10 minutes I wished I had gone with the first boat.

“When we went over the side the old tub rolled toward our little life boat, and I said, ‘Good night’ it’s curtains for us. But she rolled back again, the life boat righted and we paddled out through the inky black-ness, with nothing but a flash-light and the flare of the fire on the point to guide us. We were sure a tired trio when the Normandie picked us up, and turned her nose back to-ward Monterey.”

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

Newspaper headline from San Francisco Examiner 15DEC1923 p5 col6 of shipwreck Flavel

Source: San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, CA), 15 December 1923, p 5, col 6.
Courtesy of



Newspaper headline from Santa Cruz Evening News 17DEC1923 p1 col4 of shipwreck Flavel

Source: Santa Cruz Evening News (Santa Cruz, CA), 17 December 1923, p 1, col 4.
Courtesy of California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside



Newspaper headline from Santa Cruz Evening News 17DEC1923 p2 col5 of shipwreck Flavel

Source: Santa Cruz Evening News (Santa Cruz, CA), 17 December 1923, p 2, col 5.
Courtesy of California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside



Newspaper headline from Santa Cruz Evening News 17DEC1923 p6 col1 of shipwreck Flavel

Source: Santa Cruz Evening News (Santa Cruz, CA), 17 December 1923, p 6, col 1.
Courtesy of California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside



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

Newspaper clipping from Humboldt Times 4MAR1917

Source: The Humboldt Times (Eureka, CA), 4 March 1917, p 8, col 1.
Courtesy of California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside



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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