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Martinez – Forester’s Last Port of Call

Written by Andrea Blachman
Published Martinez Historical Society Newsletter, January 2006

If you walk along the Martinez shoreline, a little northwest of the downtown area, you will see an old Martinez landmark:  The remains of a 105 year-old trans-oceanic lumber schooner called the Forester. 

The Forester went into service as a lumber carrier, taking long, straight logs of Pacific Northwest spruce and fir to ports in China, India, Australia, the South Sea Islands, and South America.  Sometimes the logs were piled up to fifteen feet on her decks.  She would bring back copra (dried meat of a coconut from which coconut oil is extracted), tropical hardwoods, coal and general merchandise. Old records show that she often netted between $12,000 and $19,000 per trip for her investors.

In 1932 Captain Daeweritz bought out his partners and had the schooner towed through the Carquinez Strait to tideland property west of Grangers’ Wharf in Martinez.  Captain Daeweritz continued to live on the Forester with his faithful companion, the dog “Texas”, until his death on November 28, 1947.

Forester Facts:

  • The Forester, a 4 masted schooner, one of Saunders & Kirschmann’s fleet of 16 schooners and barkentines, was launched November 10, 1900 at the famous Hay & Wright Yard in Alameda, CA and immediately went into the offshore lumber trade.
  • The Forester was 217 feet long, 680 ton, 32 feet wide, drew 13.6 feet of water with a displacement of 1,812.5 tons.
  • Cost to build $60,000.00
  • From 1900 to after WWI, the Forester would take a cargo of lumber from the west coast, sail across the Pacific to ports in China, Peru, South Sea Islands & bring back copra (dried meat of a coconut from which coconut oil is extracted, coal, hardwoods, etc.
  • Captain Otto A. Daeweritz, born in Czechoslovakia, was the Forester’s only master. He came to San Francisco in the 1890’s and received his captain’s papers at the age of 24.  He helped design the ship & had two partners until 1927 when he bought them out.
  • From 1927 – 1931 the Forester was used as a tidal break, tied to a pier of the Carquinez Bridge then being built.  From 1931 to 1932, the Forester was in the Oakland estuary at which time the Captain had her towed to the Martinez Tidelands.
  • The Captain lived on the ship with his faithful companion, the bulldog “Texas”, until his death in 1947.
  • Charles (Charlie) J. Fitzgerald moved aboard the ship in 1948, purchased it in 1950 for $90, and settled in, trying to preserve and protect the Forester from vandals and souvenir hunters.
  • During 1962, a crew from the San Francisco Maritime Museum dismantled parts of the ship and put them in an interpretive display at the museum.
  • On June 18, 1975, a fire swept through the Forester.  It burned almost to the waterline.
  • The remains of the Forester can still be seen along the Martinez Shoreline.
Looking back on the Forester during high tide

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