Early in the morning of January 14th 1848 on his first commanding voyage, a nightmare awoke Captain Charles Porter Low. The captain decided to check the barometer, which had dropped significantly, and he hastily ordered the crew to prepare for a storm. As the sails were reefed and furled just south of the Cape of Good Hope, the Houqua ran directly into a hurricane, and in a matter of minutes, every sail was ripped to shreds, the top gallant masts were snapped, and the bowsprit broken off. A series of thirty foot spoondrift waves then rocked the Houqua against her beam ends, and Low was thrown over the side. On his way into the sea, Low somehow managed to grab hold of a line and pull himself back onto deck, whereupon he ordered the mainmast rigging cut, and the Houqua ultimately saved. After a successful twenty-five year career in command of clipper ships such as the Houqua, the N.B. Palmer, and the Samuel Russell, Captain Charles Porter Low retired to the first home built on Santa Barbara's Mesa in 1873.
Clockwise from top:
The Clipper Ship Samuel Russell at Sea, c.1860
Oil on canvas
Sterling Silver water pitcher, c.1862
Ball, Black & Co., New York
Presented to Capt. Charles P. Low of the N.B. Palmer by members of its passage from Hong Kong to New York on August 28th, 1862
Portrait of Captain Charles Porter Low, c. 1880
Black and white photo print reproduction
Captain Charles Porter Low
Boston: Geo. H. Ellis Co., 1905
Inscribed to Helen Low by Capt. Chas Low, January 27, 1906
"At Sea, June 8th, 1870"
Letter to Mrs. Charles P. Low from her husband
Letter of thanks from the Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company,
To Captain Charles Low for saving the ship Houqua during the hurricane of January 1848, New York, 28th April, 1851
The Hurricane and Captain Low: A Story of Gallantry at Sea
New York: Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co, 1948.
Binoculars with leather case, c.1860
Originally owned by Charles Porter Low
Gifts of Dorothy and Ashleigh Brilliant
In memory of Helen and Marjorie Low