"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

About Us

My photo
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 500, 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.

19 October 2018


Built of steel at the Moran Bros. Shipyard, Seattle
631 tons, 165' x 28.5' x 14.9'
Compound engine (23,43) powered by 2 single-end
Scotch boilers at 105 pounds working pressure
and developing 685 HP.
Launched 1903,
one year before the launch of U.S.S. NEBRASKA
at Moran Bros Yard, Seattle.
HEATHER commanded by Captain W.E. Gregory
from 1903 to 1907.
Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Lifelong mariner born in Dublin in 1848.
He was in the merchant service for over 20 years
before he came to the Columbia River
on the bark HIGHLAND LIGHT and then 
joined the steamer MANZANITA.
There is more to his long service for 
another post.
Original photo from the S.P.H.S.© 
Astoria, OR. c. 1903. Admiral Gregory's flagship, the HEATHER, along with the MANZANITA and the COLUMBINE are all lined up to their wharves in imposing array. The HEATHER arrived down from Portland last evening and is now regularly in commission. She is the largest lighthouse tender in the United States, and, although not of striking beauty, takes much of the shine off her smaller and older associates. It remains to be seen whether she can keep her nose above water as long as they. The HEATHER has on board two large gas buoys which have just arrived from the east. One of them is to replace the light buoy which went blind some months ago on the Columbia bar. They are each about 40-ft long, being more than half submerged when afloat, and are kept in an upright position by a large iron weight at the lower end. The lantern enclosing the light stands about 15-ft above the water and is protected by iron guards.
      The light is guaranteed to burn continuously for 18 months without being refilled.
      The Heather's complement of officers is as follows: 
Captain William E. Gregory; chief officer, E. Hammarstrom; second officer, Gustaf A. Mikander; chief engineer, Harry C. Lord; assistant engineer, Henry E. Wilson. Newspaper publisher unknown. Suspected date of publishing to be 1903.
approaching Destruction Island Lightstation 
on the Washington coast.
dated 1913.
The HEATHER was well known at the Light Stations 
in the Pacific Northwest.
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Capt. W.E. Gregory left the HEATHER
to command the U.S.L.H.T. ARMERIA.
Click image to enlarge.
This card is signed by Capt. Gregory
who mailed it home to Astoria in 1908.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
1907: Capt. W.E. Gregory left the HEATHER to command the ARMERIA. 
Inscribed as participating in the 
The fifteenth annual regatta, Astoria, OR.
Admiral and staff;

Capt. W.E. Gregory is on deck in the black hat.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

1940: HEATHER was decommissioned and replaced by the new 178-ft lighthouse tender FIR.
1948: Following wartime Army service as FS-534 was sold as surplus to J.P. Angel and Matt Ryan of Seattle, who resold her to Capt. Martin Gagino & Victor H. Hammond, British subjects.
      In an R.H. Calkins Marine News column (undated) here is more on the next chapter of HEATHER and her 9,000-mile trip casting off from Seattle, WA.
      "The adventurous captain and crew of the 506-ton former US Lighthouse tender have arrived at Singapore. The HEATHER, piloted by Capt. Martin Gagino, completed the voyage with an unusual crew aboard:
      A honeymooning couple, their bridesmaid, and their amah, who signed on as ships laundress.
      Captain Gagino, who left Seattle last March, after buying the ship, had his 23-yr old son, Desmond, along as mate.
      They all reached Hongkong after 30 days. At Hongkong, the skipper's newly-married daughter, Cora, and her husband, Stephen L. Velge, went aboard with a bridesmaid, Yvonne D'Almedia, and the amah. Mrs. Velge became stewardess, Velge 'junior officer.'
      They sailed to Cebu with cargo, returned to Hongkong, and thence to Singapore.
      Gagino was a War Shipping Administration master mariner during the war. Singapore is Gagino's home. He will sail between that port and the Dutch East Indies.
      The HEATHER, launched at the Moran Shipyards in Seattle, was decommissioned after nearly 30 years service as a lighthouse tender and sold in this port.' 

12 October 2018


Almost gone.
She had spent 20 years moored as a breakwater at
Shilshole Bay, Seattle, WA. and then here came the firemen.
Photo with a back stamp of 25 Jan. 1964
Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
1918: Launched as ANNETTE ROLPH at Rolph, CA. Early in 1925 when the Rolph Steamship Co began operations in the coastwise trade between Portland and San Francisco it was ANNETTE who made the initial voyage. In 1936 her name was ARTHUR J. BALDWIN but when she was taken over by Alaska Steam her name was changed to BERING.
1942: "Another of the surviving wooden vessels of the WWI period was found to be badly strained following a stranding in SE AK waters. She rested on the beach for several months before she was refloated and with constant pumping, she was kept afloat while she was towed to Seattle. Upon her arrival, she was condemned and sold for $1 to the Tregonning Boat Co who secured her as a breakwater for a proposed small boat mooring at the entrance to the Lake Washington Ship Canal. After some years the vessel was beached near the canal entrance. 
      The War Shipping Administration that had been operating the BERING, reimbursed the owners in the amount of $100,000. "
H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Newell, Gordon, editor.

08 October 2018


  Steamer VIRGINIA V
on her first trip to Seattle 1922.
Photo from the Williamson Collection on a promotional 
postcard published by the Steamer VIRGINIA V Foundation.
From the Clinton Betz Collection,
Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The steamer VIRGINIA V must rank among the more famous Puget Sound steamboats of all time. Her record of dependability, owing to the clock-like regularity she maintained on the Seattle and Tacoma route, seven days a week for 16 years; compares favorably with the records of such steamers as the FLYER and the TACOMA. Finally, as the last of the Puget Sound steamboats, she is in a class with the BEAVER, which was the first.
      Capt. N. G. Christensen, president of the West Pass Transportation Co, had named all of his vessels VIRGINIA simply because it was the name of the craft with which he founded the business. In discussing these steamers, he usually referred to them by their numbers, such as the THREE, the FOUR, or the FIVE. Thus, the "V" was a Roman numeral, not an initial.
      While planning construction of the FIVE, Capt Christensen was influenced by the design of Capt John Manson's VASHON II. Many features of that steamer appealed to him, but he could not forget an earlier vessel constructed for his company. A bit nostalgically, perhaps, he decided to have the hull patterned after that of the VIRGINIA II, a much smaller, but well-designed craft. The upper structure would be a slightly larger version of the VASHON II. 
      The builder he chose was Matt Anderson, who lived at Maplewood, just across the West Pass from Christensen's home at Lisabeula. Now in his seventies, Matt Anderson had completed a career in shipbuilding and seafaring before he moved out on the West Pass. He obtained the plans for the VASHON II and VIRGINIA II hulls, and from these began lofting the VIRGINIA V hull in his small yard at Maplewood. The timbers, meanwhile, were delivered to Maplewood by the VIRGINIA III.
      As Matt Anderson studied the VASHON II frames, however, he often remarked, 'I think I'll use a bigger timber here."
      In fact, he ordered bigger timbers so often a deckhand on the THREE, Henry Larson, began calling him "Big Timber" Anderson. The durability of the VIRGINIA V hull, though, has proven the soundness of his judgment.
      Henry Larson, incidentally, figures in some of the better VIRGINIA III livestock stories. Freight on the West Pass consisted of everything from household furnishing to hay, grain, poultry, and farm annals. Henry, having grown up on a ranch at Lisabeula, was considered one of the more knowledgeable members of the crew, where livestock was concerned. To be sure, he was well informed in all matters pertaining to cargo, but he was especially handy to have aboard when a cow needed to be milked.
      As might be expected, Puget Sound steamers were occasionally called on to transport bulls, as well as other farm animals; and the annals of that era are filled with references to these encounters. Invariably, the bulls came aboard with good references. All were described as extremely gentle bulls, but all, it seemed, became ungentlemanly under the influence of salt air.
(launched as TYPHOON in 1910)

Here she is at Joseph Floyd's Landing.
In 1914 she was taken over by West Pass Transportation, 
completely remodeled, emerging as VIRGINIA III. 
One of her masters was Capt. J.J. Macmillan (d. 1935.)
Original photo from the archives of Saltwater People Historical Society©

      In one instance, a rancher on the West Pass maneuvered a young bull onto a wooden base, then managed to build a crate around him. This unorthodox contrivance was wheeled to the steamer landing, and at low tide was slid onto the top deck of the VIRGINIA III. All would have gone well enough, perhaps, if the bull hadn't considered it a personal affront every time the gangplank was dragged by his cage. At last, Henry Larson, to show his disdain, no doubt, for a bull in a packing case, hauled off and kicked the crate. The response was instantaneous. The crate literally exploded, and out of the spray of kindling charged the bull. Henry headed aft at full speed, with the bull only a step behind. When he reached the stern, Henry made a U-turn and started up the starboard side. The bull, unable to manage the sharp turn on a wet deck, lost his footing, plunged off the stern, and did a high dive into the Sound.
       Retrieving a chastened bull, and delivering him, sans crate, but still intact, made for a normal day on the West Pass.
      Those awaiting the launching of the VIRGINIA V, on 9 March 1922, were greeted by a typical March dawn. The sky was grey, and a light drizzle of rain was falling. The shipways were adjacent to the Maplewood wharf, and the launching was scheduled for 7 A.M., to coincide with the arrival of the VIRGINIA III on her regular morning trip from Tacoma. Some observers looked upon the rain as a bad omen and predicted that the launching would be postponed. At the moment the bow of the VIRGINIA III touched the wharf, however, there was a groaning of timbers, and the hull of the VIRGINIA V slipped, stern first, down the ways.

undated photo by James A. Turner.
Click to enlarge.
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
       The whistle of the THREE sounded in a long, piercing salute that echoed and re-echoed along the high bluffs of the West Pass; as the VIRGINIA V dipped lightly into Puget Sound, and backed easily over the calm water. She came to anchor a short distance north of the Maplewood dock, and the echoes of the familiar whistle died away. It was appropriate that it should have been heard at that moment, for it was the whistle that the VIRGINIA V would carry during all her years on the West Pass."
The Sound and the Mountain. Carey, Roland. Alderbrook Publishing. 1970
Mr. Carey has written more for another day.

29 September 2018


Ferry Boatmen's Strike––
This homeowner was packing up and moving on.

Frank Fletcher on the move for fear of another upset
of ferry service and increased fares.
Bainbridge Island was in his wake.

Original photo dated 11 July 1937
From the archives of the Saltwater People Log©

Frank Fletcher, an insurance man, decided to move. Not only his household belongings but his house as well. Placing the five-room cottage on a large barge, Fletcher had it carried from his former location on Bainbridge Island, across Puget Sound, and thru the Lake Washington Ship Canal Locks, to a new site on the shores of Lake Washington. 
      Ten years later–––

Ferry Tie-Up, March 1947.
This team was moving goods in the opposite direction
from Mr. Fletcher's experience, viewed in top photo.
Doc Freeman and Russ Gibson to the rescue for the
readers of the Seattle-Times with M.V. SPEEDER.
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives
of the Saltwater People Log©
"Despite the ferry tie-up for several days, persons living in island communities isolated by the strike-bound ferries still received their editions of the Seattle 
Times. In a few instances the paper maybe has been delivered an hour or two later than usual, but––they got the paper. 
      This was due, in large part, to the cooperation and seamanship of O. H. 'Doc' Freeman and Russ Gibson, operators of a charter service and owners of the 80-ft SPEEDER, with which they literally "delivered the mail" for the Times
      Both are old hands at helping out when ferry schedules are disrupted or other water transportation is tied up.
      'This is the fourth time we have delivered the Times,' Freeman recalled today. 'The first time was during the first ferry strike in '35. The next time was '37 and then '39. Now this time. We're getting used to it.'
      After loading the bundles of newspapers onto their boat at the float at the foot of Washington Street, the men deliver their cargo at Bremerton, Bainbridge, and Vashon Islands, where trucks and cars pick up the bundles of newspapers and distribute them to subscribers from Gig Harbor north to Port Angeles.
      Freeman, Gibson, and Ray Strickler, skipper of the SPEEDER, make two trips on Saturday. The last beginning about midnight guarantees that island residents will have the latest possible edition when they open their copy on Sunday morning.
      Navy authorities were particularly helpful during the present emergency. At Fort Ward, the Navy installation on Bainbridge Island, the SPEEDER was allowed to unload its cargo at the Navy float for the convenience of island residents.
      'Everybody wants his paper,' reported Freeman. 'Whenever we approach a dock, there are always at least a dozen or more people waiting. The newspaper apparently is the thing they miss most."
Text for the bottom article is from The Seattle-Times 18 Mar 1947. Writer unknown.

23 September 2018

❖ The S.S. PACIFIC ❖ Remembered by Capt. Oscar Scarf

with inset of survivor
Scots Quartermaster Neil O'Henly
Ship lost 4 Nov. 1875
Off Cape Flattery, WA.

Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Captain Oscar Scarf, a boy at Otter Point

"A native Victorian among the early Thermopylae Club members was Oscar Scarf, who was born in Esquimalt in 1864 and spent all his life on this coast and the adjacent waters.
      In this yarn, he tells of a marine tragedy that once stunned Victoria. It was on 4 November 1873, that the steamship PACIFIC, loaded with nearly 300 passengers, set out from Victoria bound for San Francisco. A few hours later she was seen by a boy from the beach at Otter Point, and yet another few hours and she, and all but two aboard her, were lost, victims of a glancing blow from a sailing ship which after the collision, sped into the darkness unaware that the damage she had inflicted was more than minor character. It was, in fact, to prove fatal.
      For the sail-powered ORPHEUS indeed the main need seemed to be to attend to her own repairs, wasted effort as it turned out, for a few hours later she too became a total loss near Cape Beale on the west coast. However, fate was kinder to her for not a life was lost.
      In Victoria the next day relatives and friends of the hundreds on the PACIFIC went peacefully about their business, unaware that those to whom they had yesterday waved goodbye were already corpses.
      A storm 6 Nov may have given them concern but then surely the PACIFIC must be well off the coast.
      To the boy at Otter Point, the storm meant the chance of finding some flotsam on the beach, and so it was that the news of the wreck that was to shock Victoria was started on its way by a beachcombing ten-year-old boy—a boy who was later known as Captain Oscar Scarf, sealer.
      Probably no other member had memories that stretched so far back into the history of this coast as did those of Oscar Scarf. Even by the time, the big square riggers that brought White and McDonald to Victoria in the 1890s had sailed up the strait, Juan de Fuca had been for him familiar waters. Here from the decks of sealing schooners he had gazed up at many ships, including probably even the THERMOPYLAE herself.
      But by 1905, after eleven harsh years in the North Pacific, he was ready for amiable waters and moved to boats coasting around lower Vancouver Island and down to CA. He was also, for a time, on the Dunsmuir yacht DOLAURA.
      Last of all “my boat” meant to Oscar Scarf the little launch in which he carried the mail across Brentwood Bay to Bamberton. By now it was the 1930s and he was also a member of the Thermopylae Club and spinning yarns. The story of the PACIFIC follows immediately."

"In the late summer of 1872 I left Esquimalt with two white men and some Indians in a large Indian canoe like the TILIKUM and, after some delay on account of headwinds, landed on the beach at Otter Point, 33 miles west of Victoria where the late Mr. Tugwell, with whom I lived, had a cabin and owned the land there.
      I was just eight years old and did what little I could to help the men to build a new house one mile further west. There I spent most of my time for the next ten years. It was while living there that with a friend, Indian Jonnie, we would look out to sea and wonder what could be at the other side of the great body of water, little dreaming of the strange things that were to happen to both of us on the other side and among the strange people we had never heard of at that time.
      It was also while living there that I saw something that I shall never forget.
      On 4 November 1875, the steamer PACIFIC, outward bound with mail and nearly 300 passengers and crew, and the steamer SALVADOR, inward bound, passed, as many steamers did, about a mile off in front of our house. Each ship blew three whistles as they passed out of sight towards Cape Flattery, not thinking of course that of her passengers and crew few would see the lights of another day.
      That night the PACIFIC sank following a collision with a sailing ship off Cape Flattery. Only survivors were a Mr. Jelly who was found floating in a trunk and a Mr. Henley on a small raft sometime later [see photo.]
      Though misty it was not bad weather but two nights later we had a very heavy storm and, as usual, after a storm, I went to the beach soon after daylight to pick up some pieces of timber that came up on the beach and might be useful on the farm. I was surprised to see a large ship’s deck-house and part of a ship’s deck breaking up in the heavy surf in front of our house.
      I at once notified Mr. Tugwell who, after seeing the wreckage, sent a man on horseback with a letter to Mr. Michael Muir, the postmaster at Sooke, who in turn sent word of the wreck to Victoria.
      The three-mile beach from Otter Point to Muir Creek was covered with doors, buckets, and life belts plainly marked S.S. PACIFIC. We also found the golden eagle, a large gilded wooden eagle that the PACIFIC carried on her pilot-house. We sent it to Victoria and it was given to the owners of the wrecked vessel.
      On the beach at Otter Point, strange to say, no bodies from the PACIFIC were ever found though some were found near Victoria and San Juan Island."

Jupp, Ursula. Home Port Victoria. Pg 62-65.
      Ursula Jupp was born on the Scilly Islands, where no one lives more than a mile from the sea. Memories of a sailing-ship grandfather and many other relatives closely connected with the sea and ship-building lie behind her deep interest in all that pertains to the world of ships and sailors. She was one of the first women to join the Thermopylae Club [Victoria, BC.] when, in 1954, it began to sign on female crew members.

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