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Lt. Douglass Ottinger of the Revenue Marine captained Laura Virginia as she passed out the Golden Gate and headed northward. The coast was reconnoitered from Cape Mendocino to Point St. George. Near the latter headland, the lookouts sighted a brig at anchor and a schooner aground. The schooner was the Gloucester fishing boat Paragon of 125 tons. She had been purchased by a group of 42 adventurers in March and had sailed from San Francisco.

Captain Marsh had taken his ship in close to the shore as she beat her way toward the Humboldt Coast, while the lookouts kept a sharp watch for a harbor. Paragon sailed by Humboldt Bay without sighting it, because the entrance has a northwest slant, and a view into that body of water is cut off by "the overlapping south spit." She now encountered a squall, and she was driven out to sea. Paragon then was caught in front of a gale, which drove her back toward the coast. Captain Marsh now ran his vessel close into the point and anchored. That night a storm swept in, and although Paragon was anchored in lee of the island, her cables parted and she "plowed her way to a berth she never left." [7]

4. John S. Hittell, "The Story of an Unfortunate City," The Overland Monthly (San Francisco, 1868), 1, 142. Ehernburg's companions were: J. T. Tyson, William Bullis, A. Heepe, and a Mr. Bunus.

No lives were lost in the stranding of Paragon, but the crew and passengers spent several uneasy nights ashore, as the Tolowa were not "overly friendly, as the occupants of a small boat, which had landed here several days before, had shot and killed an Indian." [8] To Paragon belongs the distinction of being the first identified vessel to be lost on the Humboldt Coast.

Captain Ottinger, on contacting the vessels, learned of the mishap, and that Cameo had taken aboard the survivors. He was also told of another disaster. He was informed that Lts. R. Bache and R. Browning, U. S. Navy, and two others had been drowned, when their small boat from Cameo had capsized in making a landing through the booming surf. Bache's body had been recovered and buried on the beach. As Ottinger was a friend of the deceased's brother, A. D. Bache, Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, he led a landing party which removed and reinterred the body on high ground near the beach. A letter was then addressed to the Superintendent, giving him the details of his brother's death. [9]

Ottinger then took Laura Virginia down the coast to Humboldt Bay. As the vessel coasted southward, the mouth of the Klamath was reconnoitered. Ottinger reported:

The Klamath is a river of considerable magnitude in latitude 41° 33' with but few little breakers on its bar, and not less than three fathoms, so far as I had an opportunity of sounding. This stream, I have no doubt, can be safely entered by vessels of 50 or 100 tons, and rafts of timber floated to ships outside where the anchorage is good, and the current strong from the river three-quarters mile from the beach. [10]

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Last Updated: 15-Mar-2006