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Sailing History From the Wulzen Family Albums

Here are more pictures from the ‘Wayback Machine.’ The Wulzen family sent along some additional photos taken by their grandfather, D. H. Wulzen Jr., in 1898 at Fisherman’s Wharf. They are photos of the local felucca fishing fleet at the time that they were being converted from sail power to motor propulsion. There are some fine square-rigged vessels in the background, plus the somewhat barren hills of San Francisco that look closer to what the hills of Inverness look like today.

San Francisco
This photo from D. H. Wulzen Jr. is from Fisherman’s Wharf in 1898.
© 2022 D. H. Wulzen Jr.
D. H. Wulzen Jr.
The local San Francisco fishing fleet in 1898.
© 2022 D. H. Wulzen Jr.
You can see from the large props that this was the era when they were “switching from sails to steam (gasoline).”
© 2022 D. H. Wulzen Jr.

We first shared some of the photos from the Wulzens in February, when William Podzun spoke up in our comment section identifying one of the classic boats. “The first photo looks like the sailboat Angelita, winner of a gold medal in the, I’m guessing, 1920 [ed —1932] or so Olympics in Los Angeles. Angelita’s winning skipper then went on to invent the swim flipper after a trip to the South Pacific, where he saw natives attach leaves to their feet. Angelita is now in Newport, RI.”

We did look up Angelita online to learn she is an 8-Metre sloop designed by Nicholas Potter and built by the Wilmington Boat Works in California in 1930. She became the first American boat to win an Olympic medal, with skipper Owen Churchill sailing her to a gold medal in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. You can check her out here, where you can see the restored Angelita is still beautiful and sailing today.



  1. Memo Gidley 2 years ago

    Nice photos! Amazing how quickly things change in a really short time!

  2. Tim Errington 2 years ago

    Wow. There’s a memory. I crewed on Angelita in an MPYC bouys race in Monterey in, I believe, 1970.
    It was my first experience crewing in a race.

  3. George J. Shea 2 years ago

    When I first arrived in San Francisco at the end of 1960, the Wharf looked very much like it does in the pictures. I remember the pizanos sitting on the wooden pier mending their nets. Their boats were mostly Monterey fishing boats designed after the feluccas, double-ended, low freeboard, awash decks and Hicks single-cylinder slow rpm engines with dry exhaust. As they putt putted the exhaust sometimes came out as a smoke ring. You could buy a dixie cup of bay shrimp with red dressing and a small piece of sourdough for $.75 (which I thought at the time to be just about the right price, but not really inexpensive). The only tall ships that I remember were berthed at the Maritime Museum where I spent hours. The superior sense was the aroma of the fish/crab/bread/seawater, and the sounds, especially the Italian and Portuguese languages. It was a busy thriving fishing village of the early 20th century. There was plenty of salmon and crab.

    • rsmithsc 2 years ago

      For more perspective, I don’t recall towards the end of the 1960’s but in the early 1960’s a gallon of gas was around $.30.

  4. milly Biller 2 years ago

    Very wonderful pictures John ! I fished out of fisherman’s Wharf in the mid- late ’70s . and by then it was Party boats on the front row, and a few commercial boats ( us ) on the back row. I love the sailing ships pictured in the background, and since those that have survived are mostly school and research ships, I wish that every young person alive could get an opportunity to sail on a sailing ship. The cooperation, skill set and confidence learned, lasts a lifetime.

    • George J. Shea 2 years ago

      Call of the Sea in Sausalito offers sail training about the Matthew Turner built from scratch in Sausalito by volunteers. They also own Seaward.; Spaulding also in Sausalito offers hands on camps this summer with lots of sailing in Bay Pelicans built there.

    • milly Biller 2 years ago

      Thank you so much George ! I might be be in the position to send some great , young folks in the direction of Spaulding, and/or Call of the Sea. I have so very much respect for hands training for young folks. There is also the Derick Bayliss sailing work boat program out of Richmond, that does charters and awesome educational programs.

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