The Anchor of the Guadalupe

Y’all know I’m partial to our Lady of Guadalupe, aka

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Patron Saint of the Americas, but that’s not what this post is about. Not really. This one is about my latest visit to the San Gabriel Mission, and fully realizing what that anchor is about for the first time. The anchor of the first boat built in California.

Now we’ve already seen in the Joseph Chapman posts and the facts about Miguel Blanco that they built the Guadalupe (probably named after Chapman’s wife, Maria de Guadalupe Ortega) out of the remains of the brig, Danube, which ran aground in a storm on Christmas Eve, 1828. The vessel was built for the padres of the San Gabriel Mission to be used for sea otter hunting off Catalina Island (probably through other parties). Some reports indicate that the schooner was put together at Goleta Point in 1830.  And we know that White sailed the Guadalupe to Mazatlan and returned in 1832 and married Rosaria shortly after that.

Here’s what the sign at the mission says about it:


"Historic Anchor


Anchor of the 99-ton top-sail schooner, “Guadalupe” built here in 1830 by Joseph Chapman Michael White Thomas Paine and Mission Indians. Dismantled, she was hauled to the roadstead of San Pedro on carretas (carts) re-assembled and launched… the first ship in California from native materials [you’ve got to count the remains of another ship as “native materials”]


In 1831 Don Miguel Blanco, Master, sailed her to Mazatlan and San Blas Mexico with mission goods.


Mission blacksmiths have since melted and cut off pieces of the anchor to made hinges, hoes, nails and other such articles."


Can you believe what a huge undertaking salvaging, re-building, transporting, re-building again, and then sailing the ship must’ve been? It makes me tired thinking about it. I haven’t been able to find and drawings of the “Guadalupe,” but this one is similar. It was called the McLane and she was a little smaller – 73 tons rather than 99 tons, and a Yankee ship, not a Spanish one, but the idea’s the same: a top-sail schooner made of wood in the Age of Sail.



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~ by ravenjake on December 7, 2009.

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