Daily Event for February 5, 2006

February 5, 1925 the steamer Caoba, after departing Willapa Harbor, Washington with a load of lumber ran into a storm. The ship was bound for San Francisco, but she would never make it. The storm raged and the waves battered the ship until her seams began to give way. After the water put out the fires the ship was at the mercy of the sea. Captain Alfred Sandvig ordered the crew into the lifeboats because he was sure the ship would founder.

Two boats were launched which was no easy task, but the entire crew made it to safety in the boats. The first boat was picked up by the tug John Cudahy, but the other boat, with ten men, drifted away and was reported lost at sea.

Fortunately for the ten men in the boat the Pescawah came along and rescued them. The crew of the Pescawah however was in no hurry to report finding the missing boat. The Pescawah was a rum-runner and she was loaded with booze, over 1,000 cases. (One can only imagine the crew of the Caoba's joy at finding out that their rescuer was loaded with illegal liquor. I would bet that they were not in a hurry to make it back to shore.) Never the less they finally were located by the USCG Algonquin and the ship was interned at Astoria. The crew of the Pescawah was arrested and jailed for smuggling.

The press blasted the Coast Guard for interning the ship after the good deed that had been done, but the captain of the Pescawah, Robert Pamphlet, went to prison for his illegal activities. The Caoba, abandoned and drifting, landed on the beach five miles from Ocean Park, Washington. The load of lumber had apparently kept her afloat. Over the years the wreck was broken up and carried away by the sea leaving only a boiler as her final remains.

The Pescawah came to grief herself on Feb. 27, 1933 after leaving on a whaling voyage. She left during a storm and was run on to the north jetty at the Columbia River mouth. The captain was killed, but the rest of the crew managed to abandon the ship safely. The ship was pulverized by the waves and rocks leaving the ship's wheel to be the largest piece remaining.
© 2006 Michael W. Pocock