"The cure for anything is salt water––sweat, tears, or the sea."
Isak Dinesen


About Us

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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 400, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

23 April 2016

AN UNFORESEEN JOURNEY ❖ New Release for 2016 ❖

Decatur Island, San Juan County, WA.
3.524 square miles
Population c. fifty full-time residents.
Click here to order online:

An Unforeseen Journey, Tales of Pioneering Spirit on Decatur Island
by Mary Stewart Van Valkenburg and Gail Dupar

After the Alaskan Gold Rush, and following the Great Fire of 1889, the islands and waterways of Puget Sound were opening to the curiosity of Seattle residents. Decatur Island, in the San Juan Islands, was regarded by schooner captains as a place so remote, it could only be populated by Indians, squatters or recluses. That is, until land speculators discovered the island's primitive beauty, and began a campaign to draw Seattleites north. Those same early settlers then became pioneers, facing dangers from isolation, storms, and lack of medical care.
      Visually spectacular, with many photos and images of historic documents, it is the only book written solely about the settling of this island in the San Juan group. After 110 years, it can be considered the first definitive study, an accurate and riveting history of Decatur and its residents. Colorful characters inhabit detailed stories that will find the reader engrossed, as well as charmed, by the writing style and the people.
      Dedicated to those living on Decatur Island, this high-design volume covering the years 1895 to 1935, will also be of interest to other Washington readers.
      Author: Mary Stewart Van Valkenburg, adopted at 3 months old, grew up on Decatur Island. She attended school in the one-room school house built by her grandfather in 1908. She has written for The Sea Chest journal, and is a member of the Washington State Historical Society and the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
      Artist: Gail Dupar, artist and designer, contributed her artistic skills to the selection and arrangement of vintage photos and the artwork that surrounds them. Gail, Mary's youngest daughter, studied at Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle.
      Mother and daughter successfully collaborated on the design and completion of this historical non-fiction book.
Mary Van Valkenburg
P.O. Box 94
Hansville, WA. 98340

21 April 2016

❖ TATOOSH and CREW ❖ 1958

"Two of the girls rode in the dinghy astern.
The rougher it was, the better they liked it."
Photos by the team of brothers Bob and Ira Spring.
Original photos from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"When Dr. Alexander Bill and Sally Bill wanted to go sailing, they didn't need to shanghai a crew. They had a willing and able crew in their own family of six children.
      The roster of the 40-ft ketch Tatoosh included Dr. Bill, a native of Massachusetts who had been sailing since he was 5; Sally; Molly, 11; Betsy, 10; Susan, 7; Peggy, 5; Jamie, 31/2, and Davy, 1 1/2. 
      It isn't often a busy doctor got three days off, so the cruise down the Sound was a rare threat.
      Drizzly rain and rough weather didn't dampen their enthusiasm. At the height of one storm a Coast Guard patrol boat circled the Tatoosh.
      The patrol crew must have been surprised at the sight of the little ketch bobbing along on the choppy seas, steered by a young girl, while the skipper and another girl hung onto the bow straightening some fouled lines on the storm jib.
      Tatoosh had a 3,500-pound keel. Her three sails total about 650 sq ft, supplemented by a 600-sq ft spinnaker. Auxiliary power was a 25 HP motor.
      Once out on the open waters of Puget Sound, the Tatoosh headed north in a light following breeze. The big red nylon spinnaker caught every breath of air."
Words Bob and Ira Spring published 27 July 1958, The Seattle Times.

10 April 2016

❖ M. V. KITSAP ❖

Built Houghton, WA.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

"The KITSAP was a double end auto ferry constructed in 1925 for the Kitsap County Transportation Co. She was 158.9-ft long and fitted with a 600 HP Washington Estep Diesel engine by the Lake Washington Shipyard in Houghton, WA. This vessel was first placed in service on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Harper route. She was designed to be an auto ferry, where many of the other vessels operating in the auto trade were made over former passenger vessels. Most of these vessels had a bow and stern; whereas, the KITSAP could run in either direction and had a pilot house on each end.
      She operated for many years on the Suquamish-Ballard fun, docking in Ballard where Ray's Boat House now stands. This run gave the north end of Kitsap peninsula a direct auto connection to Seattle. Prior to establishment of this run the nearest crossing was Bremerton to Seattle.
      In 1936 the Kitsap County Transportation Co sold out to the Puget Sound Navigation Co, who continued operating her. Later, [1951] the Washington State Transportation Department took over the running of the ferry system. The KITSAP continued on many of the lighter traffic runs including the San Juan Islands runs and Tacoma to the south end of Vashon Island.
      In 1962, the KITSAP was sold to the Oregon Highway Commission for the Astoria-Meglar run. After the construction of the bridge was completed, the KITSAP was sold to an Alaska cannery and it remained there on the beach. The level deck for cars with a full engine room below proved excellent to movable canneries in AK. This vessel was constructed of Douglas fir and gave many years of good service."
Above text from: About the Boats by Captain Ed Shields. Poulsbo, 1944.     
      Boatbuilder, Charlie Taylor, who worked for Lake Wa. Shipyard for many years, had the contract to lead the building of  the KITSAP, the BAINBRIDGE, and their big sister, the VASHON, the latter being the largest of all, launched in 1930. 

03 April 2016


Auxiliary steel, full-rigged, sail training ship.
7" x 9" original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Click to enlarge.

The stately Danish square-rigger DANMARK, was built in 1932 for the Danish ministery of Shipping and Fisheries for use as a training ship. 
      She visited Seattle on a training cruise in 1946, mooring at Pier 54 on the central waterfront and causing considerable tourist traffic for the month of December.
Downtown Seattle, WA. 
at a familiar landmark on shore.
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

30 March 2016


BERMUDA (center)
Showing off her lovely sheer,
location and date of photo unknown.

This image was kindly shared by 
Captain Lawrence Lowell "Larry" Crawford (1917-2011)
 a cousin to the Fowler clan,
 who grew up playing on the shores of Shaw Island.

The wooden cannery tender/tug BERMUDA was built at Hoffman Cove, Shaw Island, in 1908-1909, by boatbuilder Delbert E. Hoffman, who came to the San Juan Islands in the 1880s. The vessel was built for three island brothers, E.B. "Bert", Jr., F.E. "Gene," and William Fowler. 
      Local historians have not heard of BERMUDA ever leaving her home waters of the northwest.
      From the Master Carpenter's Certificate (MCC) filed with the federal government when the vessel owner chooses to register the new craft as a documented vessel, we learn when, where, and for whom BERMUDA was built. In an interview with one of Gene's sons, Captain Earl Fowler, late into his long life, it appeared easy for him to recollect the BERMUDA and the days his family was associated with her operation. For three commercial fishing seasons they hauled salmon for Apex Fish Cannery, owned and operated by cousin Lee Wakefield, in Anacortes, WA.
Undated photo purchased from the PSMHS
Click to enlarge.

BERMUDA was later sold to a bridge and dredging company that built bridges and engineered deep water dredging around the Sound. Several years later she was re-engined, giving up her 50-HP Troyer-Fox. She went out of registry sometime between the years 1938 and 1941. Earl Fowler, who was a lad of six when she was launched, remembers seeing her laying in Pt. Townsend when he was working on another Hoffman built tug, the EDNA.
ON 206177
scan from an original photo
from the George Stillman family.

      Ninety years after launching, the above vintage photo of BERMUDA underway in local waters, showed up in the photo album of Earl's school buddy, George Stillman. Stillman was another Shaw Island native who "took to the boats," as a young man educated at the one room grade school.
      Thank you to Ivaloe Stillman Meyers and sister Mary Ellen Stillman Carpenter, descendants of pioneer families of Shaw Island, for sharing their knowledge of island history.
      These three images are the only known photos of the island-built BERMUDA. There are no known photos of the Hoffman yard on the south side of Shaw Island. Do you know of one? Could be a prize awarded.

We know Hoffman was building as early as 1895 when he had just completed six new 22-ft  x 7.5-ft boats for Island Packing Co of Friday Harbor. They were described in the Islander  newspaper as "heavy strip-built with oak gunnels and washboards with a small mainsail only. They row very easily for a boat that size & run like a deer, under canvas, in a light breeze."

Hoffman built a tug, ARTHUR G. for Joseph S. Groll by commuting across the channel to Fisherman's Bay, Lopez Island during 1900, with launching the following February. Does anyone have a photo of this vessel??

ON 206177
US Documentation:
47.15' x 11.8' x 4.7'
G.t. 14.70
N.t. 10
Launched with 50-HP Troyer-Fox gas engine.
Built during 1908 and 1909 by D.E. Hoffman (1870-1915,) Master Carpenter, [at Hoffman Cove,] Shaw WA.
Source of dimensions: MCC purchased from the National Archives, PNW, Seattle, WA.