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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
October 19, 2012     The Catalina Islander
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October 19, 2012

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Watson From page I cently as a merchantman, the ship was soon turned to more devious pursuits and it wasn't long before she was involved in smuggling various contraband from opium and silk to prostitutes. In between smuggling runs she often turned pirate. This naughty nauti- cal behavior continued for several decades with the ship being confiscated by Chinese authorities or--later-- the British. on at least four occasions in the early 19th century. In 1841, fed up with her reputation, the Im- Jim Watson perial Chinese govern-Columnist ment turned herinto a prison ship. It was on a fateful day during this period that 158 prisoners were summarily brought on deck and beheaded. During the Taiping Rebellion in the 1860s, the ship was captured by British forces and it was then, under the command of Colonel Peter "Chinese" Gordon, that the name was changed to Ningpo, or the "Peaceful Wave." It was only then that the ship began her new career in the tour- ism industry becoming something of an early cruise ship. But even her appearance as a larceny. According to a 1958 ar- ticle in the Journal of San Diego History, the Ningpo first began her career in the travel and tour-. ism industry in the late 1800s in the Hong Kong area. The game was to lure a group of foreign tourists aboard for a multi-day sojourn down the coast where the unsuspecting tourists were then robbed and set ashore. It wasn't until about 1913 that the Ningpo fi- nally made it across the Pacific to the coast of California where she was put on display along with enougtl cutlery and tor- ture implements to make even the sturdiest Victo- rian matron swoon. After temporary berthings in San Diego and San Pedro, she finally made her appearance at Catalina Island in 1917--the last landfall she would ever make. For awhile, she was anchored in Lover's Cove and served as a restaurant and museum, but even- tually found her way to Cat Harbor where she continued keeping tour- ists in awe throughout the 1920s. Her closing chapter in life be- gan when a Hollywood movie crew inadvertently caught the ship on fire when a burning prop ship drifted too close for comfort. The upper decks of the Ningpo burned to the waterline and what was left For an early Chinese junk, the history of the Ningpo is remarkably well recorded. She was originally built in 1753 in Fuzhou province and was christeeed Kin Tai long, or "Gdden Typhoon." Several 'ears ago, my snorkel- ing gear ard I made a pilgrimage to Cat Harbor to see if there was anything left of the ship. I knew it had been many years since any part of the ,essel was visible above the surface but tough old sailing ships die had and I hoped I might find sometaing ,of this piece of maritime hstory. I snorkded along a predeter- mined (sor: of) grid pattern, sift- ing the bcttom sands here and there wherever I saw something promising. I had h,ped to find a rotting timber or lerhaps a barnacle-en- crusted iron fitting or two. But there was mthing left. Nothing that is, except for an unnaturall) straight bed of a pe- culiar variety of sea lettuce which spanned th~ bottom for about 30 yards. Ths ray of seaweed was equally umatural in the consis- tency of its width of about a yard over its entre length. I surmised that this life was per- The Ningpo sitsin a harbor awaiting her next adventure. Courtesy photo the long-buried keel and timbers of the ship, perhaps themselves only molecules diluted in the fine sands, of Ballast Point. I thought it ironic at the time, and still do, that this ship that had seen so much destruction and tak- en part in so much loss of life was now itself giving back to that life in a sleepy, wave-lapped lagoon on The "Peaceful Wave" is finally at peace. Jim Wdtson is the author of MYSTERIOUS ISLAND: CATA- LINA, available at Amazon, Kin- did and in stores all over Avalon. tourist attraction, was tainted with of her hull settled into the mud. haps a grovth that was feeding on Catalina Island. - Co I mE r local resident ! a ily I ho las i There will be a fundraiser for Randy Thomas from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the end of the Green Pier Shore Boat Float. The former U.S. Navy air crew- THE DMV WILL BE IN THE CITY OF AVALON man has lived'on Catalina since " OCTOBER 22, 23, AND 24. 2003. In the past weeks, Thomas I has been diagnosed with Stage IV,Come by City Hall to sign up for your appointment. They will process cancer and will be undergoing a l California Driver license and identification card appaications, Conduct series of treatments under the care l drive tests, and process basic Vehicle registration renewals/applica- ,tions.The hours of operation will be:2:30pm-5:00pm on Monday, Oc- of the City of Hope. l tober 22nd, 20128:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-5:00pm on Tuesday, Since 2003~ Thomas has made,October 23rd, 20128:00am-12:00pm On wednesday, October 24th, Catalina Island his home base l 2012.They will accept cash, checks and money orders. Checks are while working for Avalon Shore ! preferred) .-- Boats, the city of Avalon, United I Water and Ocean Rafting. He met Marie "Manette" Roxas Thomas while he was working as a shore- boat captain and Manette contin- ues to provide clerical and sales support to Catalina Adventure Tours. The fundraiser will include a cookout dinner and a chance to win raffle prizes courtesy of com- munity businesses. The commu- nity is also invited to a dockside viewing of the P-520 a restored World War II Crash Boat, courtesy of the West Coast CRBA "Crash Boat Association," as well as the famous yellow semi- submarine, the Nautilus, courtesy of Catalina Adventure Tours, Inc. To contribute to "Randy's Fundraiser," make checks pay- able to Marie Thomas and mail to: Thomas Family, P.O. Box 92766, Long Beach, CA 90809. For more information, call (562) 432-8828. ||' Are you a writer, or would like to be one for the Catalina Islander. The paper is seeking to expand its edit0- rial horizons. New reporters and guest columnists are welcome. For more information, contact the Islander pub- lisher at or call (3111) 510-0500. @ CITY OF AVALON FINANCE DEPARTMENT IS NOW DEVELOPING A HIRING LIST FOR THE EQUIPMENT MECHANIC POSITION OF Scope: Under general supervision, inspects, troubeshoots, diagno- ses, and repairs a variety of vehicles and heavy equipment; maintains and orders necessary inventories of equipment~ sFop supplies, parts, and materials; performs other related duties as required. The Equip- ment Mechanic is the journey level class responsil~e for a variety of mechanical, electrical and hydraulic maintenance ~nd repair on City owned power equipment. How To Apply:Applications may be obtained from the Finance Department at Avalon City Hall. All applications must be turned in by Monday, October 29, 2012 by 4:00 p.m. All applications should show educations and experience relevant to the position, incomplete ap- plications will be rejected. Selection Procedure: Applicants will be screened ~nd those can- didates possessing the most relevant experience viii be invited to participate in an oral interview. City of Avalon is an equal opportunity employer. Range 28 Step 1 $23.563 Step 5 $28.641 @ CITY OF AVALON ROAD IMPROVEMENTS The City is now proceeding, wit~ roadway repairs & improvements throughout many areas in the t wn" Due tO theupc ming Winter (and i colder) season, it is imperative that this work be performed as soon as possible. The work will consist of slurry seal and new asphalt depend- ing on existing street needs. The complete package of work will begin thiS next coming week, Monday, Octobeg:i5i and will ast tfirough the first week of November. The first order of worl~ is going to be some minor gradin9 of the newly constructed sewer lines, in order to prepare them for new hot-mix asphalt. Some areas of Whitley, Marilla, Vieudelou and Hiawatha will receive a "grinding" prior to a new asphalt overlay. Other areas and streets will be cleaned and treated with a special slum/mix material. Many property owners and residents will be required to parkaway from their regular locat!ons~in order for this'work tolse'compieted. Every effort will be :made to- notify all residents of the impeding WOrk in their immediate ~a[ea::Thank you for your patiehce:and Understand- ing during this requ!redw01rl(. : : : . : ~ THE CATALINA ISLANDER October 19, 2012 i8