|dc.description||Named for a local part owner, Dr. A. J. Fuller (who also invested in the Bath ice plant among others), the A J Fuller was a handsome three-skysail-yard full rigger with a main yard some 90 feet in length. John McDonald, her supervising builder at Benjamin Flint’s yard, was a pupil of renowned clipper ship designer and builder, Donald McKay. This photograph, by Webster & Stevens of Seattle, catches the ship in the last phase of her career under Northwestern Fisheries Company ownership. Gone are the skysail yards--and the rectangular openings in the bow indicate lumber loading ports that had been cut into the hull. Doubtless taken in a Puget Sound dry dock, the photograph reveals another square-rigger astern of the A J Fuller. Originally sheathed in copper, the A J Fuller is without that protection in this photograph possibly owing to her employment in Alaska which is less prone to marine growth (although it may equally be reasonable that replacement of copper sheathing is the very excuse for hauling the ship out). The wide chains and deadeyes at fore, main and mizzen stays are a characteristic of east coast-built square-riggers. European wooden square-riggers more often favored chain plates and turnbuckles, as also did west coast sailing ships.
The A J Fuller originally entered the California trade managed by Benjamin Flint of Flint & Company, shipping general cargo from the east coast out to San Francisco, and then shipping grain from California back to the east. A J Fuller’s average runs were 128 days on this passage, the best being 116 days. California in the late nineteenth century was one of the world’s breadbaskets and sailing ships of many nationalities chartered cargoes of wheat. In 1889 while returning from California, the A J Fuller encountered the burning steamer Santiago in the Atlantic and rescued all of her crew and passengers. Felix Riesenberg, himself later a shipmaster, published an account of a voyage in the A J Fuller from 1897.
About 1899, the A J Fuller came under the ownership of the California Shipping Company of San Francisco, and was largely employed hauling lumber from Puget Sound to Australia. Occasionally, A J Fuller also chartered lumber for Capetown, South Africa and the ship still holds the sailing record of 88 days from Puget Sound to Capetown. From Capetown, the ship chartered coal from Newcastle back to the West coast making a complete circumnavigation. Doubtless, it was during this lumber-trading era that the loading ports were cut into the ship’s bows. Captain Charles C. Boudrow (c.1830-1918) was one of the managers and owners of the California Shipping Company, and his house (built largely of redwood) still stands in Berkeley, California.
Sold again to the Northwestern Fisheries Company of Seattle, the A J Fuller spent the years from 1909 until 1918 carrying canning supplies to Alaska and returning with cased salmon from various canneries. It was in this employ on 30 October 1918 that the ship, anchored about 2,000 feet off of Harbor Island in Elliott Bay, Seattle, sank in a dense fog after suffering a collision with the SS Mexico Maru. Struck on the bow, the A J Fuller sank rapidly fully loaded with a cargo of Alaska cased canned salmon. There were no lives lost, as the crew was ashore and only a mate and watchman were aboard. They escaped the sinking ship in a small boat.
A partial list of men who captained the A J Fuller would include the following:
Captain Carver(one of 13 Carvers who sailed out of Bath, Maine);
Captain William Lyons (1894-95);
Captain Theodore P. Colcord (who had the ship more than 10 years);
Captain Charles M. Nichols;
Captain John DeWinter.||