The World of Jack London
Latch string is always on the outside
By Winifred Kingman

Winnie KingmanThe decision to call off the rest of the Snark cruise was made on December 8, 1908. The Snark was stripped of most of her instruments and finally sold for forty-five hundred dollars in October 1910.

No one knows for sure what happened to it after that. The late Irving Shepard said that the Snark caught fire and burned to the waterline somewhere in the New Hebrides. The Jack London State Park has a picture of the hull of a burned out boat which Charmian felt could have been the Snark.

We know that Jack and Charmian had to abandon their cherished cruise in 1909, selling their much-loved Snark in Sydney, Australia. A year or so later Justus Scharff, Ltd.; 18 York Street, Sydney, sold the Snark to an English syndicate. She stayed in Sydney Harbor until the Syndicate sold her to Captain Briault who used her for recruiting and trading in the New Hebrides. Early in 1913 while owned by Captain Briault, she was used as a lighter to take a cargo of maize to a steamer loading off shore. When the loading was completed, she sank at her moorings with only parts of her masts visible. Evidently someone had forgotten to close her sea valves. She was raised, but her engines were not repaired. In September of 1913, she was tied up at a small island called Aori in the Canal du Segand in the New Hebrides. At this point she was practically abandoned and definitely not in sea-going condition.

Rumors about the Snark are legion. Charmian was told that it was seen sealing in the Behring Sea; others said they were aboard her in Kodiak, Alaska in 1911. However, the Scharff Co. said that the Snark was tied up in Sydney Harbor from 1910 until 1913.

One thing we do know for sure. In 1919 Martin Johnson (who was on the entire voyage with Jack and Charmian) returned with his wife Osa to the New Hebrides and there Martin almost wept when he spotted the Snark. She had been shamefully neglected and ill treated, but he knew without a doubt that she was the Snark.

A report prior to 1927 tells of the Snark capsizing and sinking during a hurricane. Dynamite was used to free her, and she was then apparently salvaged and repaired and left in Undine Bay in the New Hebrides. In 1927 two ladies from Oakland visited Noumea, New Caledonia, and reported that the Snark was still in the New Hebrides at that time.

In 1971 a man reported seeing the Snark's bell at a French Coconut Plantation on a lagoon in New Caledonia near Noumea. The owner of the plantation had told him that the Snark went aground near his place and that the three men stayed three days with him in the early 1940's, giving him the bell as a token of appreciation for his hospitality. He did not know what happened to the boat but did remember that they stated that their boat was Jack London's Snark.

Somewhere in this world she is still afloat or she could be—but where?

Source: Jack London Echos
Vol. 1 No. 3 July 1981

Read: The Cruise of the Snark

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