Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2019

Four Captains Can’t Command a Ship

By Laurie Thompson · September 20, 2018

Yacht Ivaneo on SF Bay <span>&copy; Anne T. Kent Rm Stanley </span>

Yacht Ivaneo on SF Bay


 <span>&copy; Anne T. Kent Rm Stanley </span> Lime Point as seen from yacht Ivaneo <span>&copy; Anne T. Kent Rm Stanley </span> Yacht Ivaneo "at Main Sheet." <span>&copy; Anne T. Kent Rm Stanley </span>

Among the most widely used of our California Room special collections is the Dr. Leo Stanley Collection, documenting his life and times, and, in particular, his tenure at San Quentin State Prison, 1913-1951, where he was the chief surgeon.

A less-known component of the Stanley Collection are his engaging scrapbooks which document everything from ocean cruises –where he frequently served as ship’s doctor- to official business on behalf of the State Prison system to camping trips with the Sonoma County Trail Blazers.

Almost all of these scrapbooks are professionally bound (most likely at San Quentin) and all include a profusion of photographs and ephemera.

One of these scrapbooks titled “Four Captains Can’t Command a Ship,” tells the story of an outing on the SF Bay aboard the yacht Ivaneo:

“The Ivaneo, a staunch two masted yacht, had made a trip into the Arctic with Commander MacMillan in 1927…. After laying up at Wiscasset for a season, she was put up for sale. She was bought by Leo Bourke, a big chicken man of Petaluma, and with a seasoned crew was brought through the Canal and fastened to her moorings at Sausalito.”

The crew on this particular March outing included four Captains - Bourke, Quinn, Wilson (U.S. Coast Guard) and Hart- as well as some guests.  Among the guests was famed travel author Frederick O’Brien.

“There was a tail wind as the boat headed out…. But it was a grand morning. The beautiful Marin hills rose from the water’s edge and above them towered old Tamalpais, dressed in her green garments of springtime. On the port side, the City of the Golden Gate…sparkled in the sun.”

“By the time Mile Rock was reached, the crew had finished its lunch, the jib, the fore and the main sails had been hoisted, the engines shut off, and the Ivaneo was prancing before a good Nor’west wind. She was headed for the light ship far out from the entrance to San Francisco Bay.”

“The Guest and supernumerary captains lounged on the lee side in the sun, sprawled out on the planking. Here, for over an hour, as the good ship sped along over the sparkling waters, the famous Frederick O’Brien told some of his South Sea tales….”

“…. Again inside the Gate, the engines were started and orders were given to bring down the sails. Here Leo, the owner, took the wheel and commenced to give some orders. One of the men was placing a gasket about the sail when there was a lurch to the vessel and over the side he went. Fortunately, he was able to catch the gunwals and only went into the water to his chest. He was quickly dragged back inboard. He was one of those sailors who could not swim. Had he not been able to catch the rail, he probably would have drowned for the tide was running fast and it would have taken time to turn the big boat about to rescue him. He was quite pale after this experience.”

“After an eventful day, the Ivaneo picked up her moorings as the shadows were falling over Sausalito.”

“’It was a wonderful trip,’ said Captain Quinn, ‘but four captains can’t command a ship.’”

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