So I collected Catalina postcards until I lost interest. And guess what happened? Yall already know I'm sure. I got side tracked on to another subject when I saw something in the Catalina postcards that sparked a new interest. Pirates! Arrg
If you want to go on a fascinating journey of discovery. Check out the Ning-Po Pirate ship.
The Ningpo was launched in 1753 in the city of Fu Chau as a 3-masted, 291 ton junk named the Kin Tai Foong. The 138 foot long junk was said to be the "fastest and best equipped vessel afloat in Chinese waters," and it wasn't long before the merchant trader turned into a smuggler and a slaver. Her first battle was during the rebellion against the Emperor in 1796. It was just the beginning of long series of events that would follow:
1806 Seized for smuggling and piracy
1814 Captured and set on fire at Nanking
1823 Seized for smuggling silk and opium
1834 Confiscated by the British under Lord Napier for smuggling and for carrying slave girls to Canton
1841 Captured by the Chinese government and used for seven years as a prison ship for pirates and smugglers. During this time, the Chinese government found some of the prisoners too expensive to feed, and reportedly ordered 158 of them beheaded.
1861 Seized by rebels in Taiping and converted into a transport because of her size and speed. Retaken by "Chinese" Gordon, in command of the English Imperial forces against the Taiping rebel. Gordon changed her name to Ningpo meaning "calm waves" or "peaceful waves" and after the city of the same name.
1861 Wrecked in a typhoon.
pre-1884 The vessel preyed on tourists in Hong Kong. Passengers were taken of board for a few days' cruise. The unsuspecting passengers would then be robbed and set ashore. The British vessel H.M.S. Calliope captured the Ningpo imprisoned the 60 crewmembers, and sold the vessel in Hong Kong.
1911 Captured by rebels in the battle of Hankow and sold to Americans for $50,000. 1912 Wrecked in a typhoon on June 12. Wrecked again in a typhoon September 26 off Kyushi, with the loss of the sails and use of the rudder. Crew mutinied and refused to work. Four men rowed the vessel 320 miles back to port. Once in port, the crew were taken in arms. On December 22 of the same year, a new crew sailed the repaired Ningpo7,000 miles in 55 days to San Pedro.
1913 Towed to Venice Beach for display. In April, the junk was towed down to San Diego, and in October she was towed back to San Pedro. In November, the Ningpo wrecked off Dead Man's Island. While being dry-docked and repaired in Long Beach, a small silver plate was found behind one of the "eyes" of the ship. The plate had inscriptions on it that were translated to say "The eye of the dragon is bright and colorful." Put on display at Long Beach.
1915 Towed to San Diego and put on display.
Circa 1917 Towed to Catalina Harbor for display.
1938 Burned (possibly for a movie) in Catalina Harbor.
The Before her sinking, the Ningpo was one of the oldest vessels afloat, which brings about the question: How can a wood vessel remain afloat for so long? Nearly everything about the Ningpo's design and construction is unique to Western vessels. For instance, the vessel was designed to resemble a dragon. Her open bow (with her sides joined at the waterline, but widely spread apart at the deck level) was built to look like a mouth.