The Frolic was a British merchant ship and was known for being the fastest on the seas. Its captain, Edward Faucon, was an experienced and determined leader. Under his direction, the ship sailed for nearly a decade travelling from harbor to harbor; turning quite a profit for the owners of the ship. However, as more steamers, ships powered by steam, entered the waters sail ships were going out of style. Steamers could travel in any weather whereas sail ships could not. Because of this, the Frolic was on its last voyage to San Francisco for sale.
Captain Faucon was unfamiliar with the coast to the north of San Francisco and was using outdated maps. At night, believing land was 60 miles away, the ship crashed into rocks near a cove close to where the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse now stands. Along with the captain and his crew, Chinese immigrants were also aboard making their way to the California coast for jobs such as mining, building railroads, owning laundromats and general stores, as well as becoming cooks for well-to-do families. Abandoning ship, the captain and very few of his crew made it out on a smaller vessel while leaving the Chinese men on board.
It is unknown what happened to those men abandoned aboard the Frolic, but they were never heard from again. Instead, their presence is known from the items found along the cove and at the site of the wreckage. These items include porcelain bowls, Chinese silk, and opium bottles.
Today, few items remain as most were looted upon discovery of the wreckage. Some were given back in an effort to conserve the history of the Frolic and now reside in the Mendocino County Museum in Willits and the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. The cove itself is not accessible to the public, but can be viewed from the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse.
Porcelain is most likely to be associated with Chinese culture. It is believed that porcelain originated in China as early as 600 C.E. Porcelain is a form of ceramic in which a specific clay, able to be fired at temperatures as high as 2300 Fahrenheit, takes on an almost translucent, glassy look. The heat at which it is fired makes porcelain a very strong type of ceramic, which is likely why porcelain items have lasted centuries. Through trade, other countries gradually acquired, then made their own, porcelain. The glassiness and translucent look of this type of ceramic was admired around the world, which created a demand for it.