Skip to main content
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary National Marine Sanctuaries Home Page National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Home Page

Historic Shipwreck Profile

Steam Schooner Gipsy
Steam Schooner Gipsy, also known as “Old Perpetual Motion” for 36 years of freight service along the California coast. Courtesy of Randle McLean Biddle Collection.


Steam Schooner

shipwreck location map

Casualty Location: McAbee Beach, Monterey, Monterey County, California, USA

Location Status: Located (see Important Note)

Casualty Date: 1905 (Sept 27)

Owner: Pacific Coast Steamship Company

Home Port: San Francisco, California, USA

Length: 102 feet Beam: 28.3 feet

Gross Tonnage: 293 Cargo: general, grain, beer

Builder: Middlemas & Boole for David Stoddard

Launched: 1868 (San Francisco, California, USA)

Official Number: 10982

Description: The steam schooner Gipsy hauled freight and people along the California coast between San Francisco and San Diego for 36 years; and was otherwise known as “Old Perpetual Motion”. On a dark and foggy night (27 September 1905), bound for Monterey from San Francisco, the Pacific Coast Steamship Company’s inexperienced relief captain encountered fog and mistook a red light (sewer construction light at the end of Hoffman Street) for the marker at the end of the Monterey wharf. Soon after, the vessel wrecked amid the breakers and rocks of McAbee Beach. The uninsured vessel was a complete loss, costing the owners approximately $22,500 (Reinstedt 1975, Olesen 1994). Remnants from the wreck continue to be of interest to divers.

Nature of Casualty:

Newspaper clipping from San Francisco Call 28SEP1905 of shipwreck Gipsy

Source: The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), 28 September 1905, p. 1, col. 2.
Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Washington, DC.


The Gipsy Torn to Pieces on the Rocks.
Breaks Up Half an Hour After Striking on a Ledge.
Old Coast Vessel With Cargo a Total Loss — Members of Crew Saved.
Special Dispatch to The Call.

PACIFIC GROVE, Sept. 27.— Shortly be-fore 8 o'clock to-night the Pacific Coast Steamship Company's freight steamship Gipsy went on the2 rocks off McAbees Beach, a mile and a half from this city, and is a total wreck. The Gipsy was on its regular, weekly trip between San Francisco and Port Harford and was heavily laden with grain and other freight. Captain Boyd was in charge. The boat was due at 6 o'clock, but it was 7:30 when Chief Wharfinger Norton, in charge of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company's wharf at Monterey, sighted the boat, coming in. When the Gipsy, came within a quarter of a mile of the wharf she appeared to turn and go beach- ward. She drifted outward and shore- ward, finally landing on the ledge of rocks immediately in front of McAbees Beach at a point half-way between Pa- cific Grove and Monterey. The distress whistles were immediately sounded. The life-saving crew from McAbees Beach, headed by J. B. McAbee, immediately launched a boat and rescued the crew of the freighter. Five minutes after striking the engine room was flooded with water and the boat began beating on the rocks and tearing to pieces. In thirty minutes' time the beach was strewn with broken tim-bers and sacks of grain. Captain Boyd could give no clear ex- planation as to the cause of the disaster. He was promoted about two weeks ago and this was his maiden voyage. He claims the red lights displayed as danger signals off the beach of New Monterey, where a sewer is being constructed, con-fused him, and he thought he was enter-ing port when he went aground. The Gipsy was the oldest boat in use by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company and has been in a frightful condition for years. The loss is estimated at $22,500, cargo $10,000 and ship $12,500.

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

Newspaper headline from Daily Evening Bulletin 5JAN1905 of shipwreck Gipsy

Source: Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco, CA), 5 January 1869, p. unk, col. G.
Courtesy of Robert Schwemmer



Newspaper headline from Sacramento Daily Union 25JUN1869 of shipwreck Gipsy

Source: Sacramento Daily Union (Sacramento, CA), 25 June 1869, p. 2, col. 5.
Courtesy of California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside.


The California Pacific Railroad Company have perfected arrangements

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

Take Our Survey | Privacy Statement | Site Disclaimer
National Marine Sanctuaries | National Ocean Service | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration |