Good seafaring men of Maine stock, whose parents went to California in Forty-nine, they followed a natural inclination, and the application of Yankee methods soon built up a business which has grown to be one of the most important in the Islands. (Rogers)
The family hailed from San Diego – four boys, Herbert, William, Jack and Edgar, and older sister Edith. The family patriarch, John, had sailed through the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco from New Brunswick in 1849 then skippered the schooner Champion for several years along the West Coast.
The boys must have inherited this nautical bent because, at an early age, they were hiring themselves out for fishing trips using a small skiff that they sailed around the bay. In the summer of 1899, all four boys ran a glass-bottomed boat excursion at Catalina Island.
Then, on January 19, 1900, 29-year old Herbert and 25-year old William had their first view of Honolulu after a ten-day journey from San Francisco.
Shortly after, Jack, age 18, arrived on October 16, 1900; youngest of all, Edgar, arrived in July 1901 (but being only fifteen at the time, he attended McKinley High School before returning to California to study medicine.)
Shortly after arrival, the boys were “building a boat fitted in the bottom with a cased pane of the finest plate glass procurable, one-fourth of an inch thick. This will be so placed that it can be easily removed, as one of the most important conditions for success is that the glass be perfectly clean.”
“This kind of boat is much used on Catalina island.… With a glass bottomed boat, where the light from above is excluded be a wide awning the bottom may be inspected at from twelve to eighteen fathoms.”
The boys planned “to take passengers out to the reef surrounding the (Honolulu) harbor”. (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, October 31, 1901) They did other things to entertain people, as well.
Fifty members of the Methodist Church were their guests; “the entertainment taking the form of a moonlight ride about the harbor, and refreshments at the island home of the hosts.”
They “spent the evening upon the waters or the bay. There was a compete round of the harbor made, the launches going out to where the lights of the battleship Wisconsin outlined the mass of the great ship, and then the return(ed) (for) an hour spent in games and partaking of refreshments, after which there was another ride about the placid bay before the good nights.”
“The evening was enlivened with music, several of the young people taking musical instruments with them. The arrangements were made by Mrs. Katherine Clarke, the chairman of the social committee.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, October 25, 1901)
They also added other adventure. “Professor PM Stewart who occupies one of the chairs of language in Cambridge University, England, has had an experience during his visit to Honolulu that probably never came to him before. He went shark fishing”
“On Friday he caught a shark. His wife who has attracted much attention in this city on account of being a very tall striking looking blonde with very ultra English appearance, accompanied him and to catch the first shark.”
“He hooked one shark yesterday morning and drew the shark close to the boat and then started to dispatch the sea wolf with a spade. The weapon was bent and then Professor Stewart took a hatchet to strike the monster. In his excitement the professor struck the line with the hatchet cutting the line and allowing the shark to escape.”
“Later in the day a second shark was caught near the bell buoy. This time the shark was dispatched without cutting the line and was towed in shore. The shark measured about 14 feet in length and was of the man eating variety.”
The boys “have hit on a new scheme for shark fishing. They are able now to take the sharks with a hook and line instead of harpooning them as was done formerly. Some very successful expeditious have been taken out by tile young men.” (Hawaiian Star, June 2, 1906)
They also looked at other fish activities …
It was the idea of Jack. “He has been plying the waters of the bay at all hours of the day and night for many years and had grown so accustomed to seeing the buzzing blue fish leap out of the water as his launch plowed past that he knew, almost to a foot, where every school of flying fish is between the bell buoy and Diamond Head.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, August 23, 1910)
“Yesterday a new sport was born; Waikiki bay was the birthplace, and HP. Wood of the Hawaii promotion committee was the accoucheur. For the first time in the history of the field and gun were flying fish flushed with a steam launch and shot on the wing.”
“It was a brand new experience in the hunting line that a party of local nimrods and visitors indulged in yesterday morning, an experience that will undoubtedly be shared in by many others before long. Taking pot shots at fish on the wing is sport of the first water, affording plenty of exercise in the good sea air, giving the opportunity for quick shooting, providing for the use of all the alertness contained within a man and being not too hard upon the fish.”
It all was not fun and games. In those days, there might be from five to twenty sailing ships off Sand Island. When a ship came in, the anchor line had to be run out to secure the ship; if the ship was coming to the dock, a line had to be carried to the pier.
In the early years of the company, they used its first boat, Billy, to service the ships by carrying supplies and sailors to ships at anchor outside the harbor, as well as run lines for anchoring or docking vessels. They also pulled boats off the reefs, conducted salvage operations and various other harbor-related activities.
Regularly, the brothers were called upon to help in rescue and salvage operations, including, “For more than an hour yesterday morning Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole and the three companions with whom he started to make the sail from the harbor to Pearl River, in is yacht the Princess, battled for their lives in the waves which swept over their heads …”
“It was left for some young men on the galleries of the Myrtle Boat house to see, without a glass, the accident and the position of the sailors, and to rush an order to (Herbert and William) and to send their fastest launch to the rescue.”
“When the men were reached they were all in fair shape though they felt the effects of the battering of the waves and were considerably exhausted by the strain upon them. They were taken into the launch and a line passed to the yacht and she was towed to her anchorage off the club house.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, November 17, 1902)
Oh, the boys of this story, the brothers, Herbert, William and Jack (and a bit of their early history) … they were the Young brothers. Their company, Young Brothers, eventually grew over the years into an active interisland freight company. Young Brothers continues today.
In 1999, Saltchuk Resources, Inc of Seattle, Washington, the parent company of Foss Maritime, acquired Young Brothers and selected assets of Hawaiian Tug & Barge. In 2013, Hawaiian Tug & Barge was rebranded and incorporated into the Foss Maritime fleet, while Young Brothers remains a wholly own subsidiary of Foss.
The youngest of the Young Brothers, Jack, is my grandfather. (Lots of information here is from YB-100.)