"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 over 300, 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.

03 July 2015

❖ 4th of JULY ❖

Postcard inscribed by the highly regarded
Capt. Sam Barlow, born into one of the earliest families 

on Lopez Island.
Posted to Mary Hudson, of a homestead family 

farming along Harney Channel, Shaw Island.
Mary fell in love with Capt. Robert Griswold of 
Blind Bay. Mailed 1910.
"Recalling the 4th of July 1895
I tell the story as it was related to me, by my sister Mrs. E. W. Harrison, who was one of those present. The Mt. Constitution 'switchback road' was made entirely by donated labor, and was a tremendous undertaking, considering the difficulties involved.
      About 35 people attended the picnic, few of them now living on the Island [Orcas.] It was a very rainy day, but in spite of that fact, the start was made about 9 am. There were two teams, one belonging to Eb Harrison, and another consisting of a bull and a horse tied up together, belonging to Dr. Hilton.
      The women and children were in the wagons, together with an organ for there was to be a dance; numerous baskets of lunch and a big freezer of ice cream. The bull and the horse went bravely for a time, but finally became stuck in the mud, and the other team came to the rescue and pulled them out. It must be remembered that this road had just been completed; it was therefore soft and the rain descending steadily did not help matters at all. The summit was finally reached, a fire made, and a few dispirited attempts made at dancing in the 'pavilion,' that was a big-framed structure, then in existence. The lunch was served under the friendly roof, the picnickers visiting the bonfire to thaw out between bites of ice cream. A tent had been erected for the babies and it was pretty well filled. Everybody shivered––the babies cried––and Mollie Harrison was said to be the only cheerful one present. She was four years-old and gave a recitation as follows:
            'Mamma had a chicken,
             Its feathers were white as snow
             Along came a Methodist preacher
             And the chicken had to go!'
Above the clouds that dim the blue,
Early Mt. Constitution, Orcas Island, WA.
click to enlarge.
      After the chronicle of this sad event, the horses becoming cold and restless, it was decided that the celebration was over and the return trip was made in much shorter time than the previous one.
      But the road was made, and the picnic celebrating its completion was a fact, and succeeding generations trailing over it probably have little idea of what it meant in those times to project and carry out such an undertaking."
Agnes B. Harrison; Friday Harbor Journal, 5 May 1932.
      To read more about Dr. Agnes Harrison of Eastsound, WA, here is a Link

24 June 2015


Long wooden canoes with seventy-seven natives
Summer 1939

Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
"Bronzed backs bending to their work, over seventy-five paddlers set out in seven war canoes on a gruelling three and one half mile race up and down Penn Cove, during Coupeville's Indian Water Festival and International War Canoe Races, fighting for top rung in the ladder of sport their Indian forefathers practiced by the hour when not hunting or fishing.
      Despite the handicap of a ferry strike that reduced water transportation almost to nothing, the Island city was host to thousands of visitors who drove over the Deception Pass Bridge at the northern end of the island to see the program that included parades, Indian games, dances and canoe races with people from twenty tribes, band concerts, street dances and carnival attractions that transformed the main street into a gay midway."
The Seattle Times 20 August 1939

20 June 2015


Original photo dated 1935

Click to enlarge.From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
The WESTPORT, one of the 14 ships of the Pacific Coast whaling fleet, shown leaving Seattle for the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea, some of which were uncharted at the time of this photo. With the harpoon gun on her prow, the men believed there would be a big profit in whale oil that year.
The next year, the crew of the Seattle whaler WESTPORT,
had their ship breakup on Bight Reef in the Aleutians

15 Sept. 1936.
The crew escaped and was brought to Seattle, 
5 October, on the Coast Guard cutter CHELAN.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

1912: Built by the former Moran Brothers Shipyard (renamed the Seattle Construction and Drydock Co.) for Gray's Harbor Station of the American Pacific Whaling Co.

G.t. 116 / 59 N.t. 
88' Reg. L.  x 19.0' x 11.5'
450 HP-triple expansion engine, single Scotch boilers of 180 lb. working pressure.

1934: Capt. Harold C. Kristensen, 50, master of WESTPORT, killed when the harpoon gun he had fired, collapsed, & its heavy steel frame toppled over on him in Western AK waters.

1935: WESTPORT lost off Akutan, AK., September 1936. No lives lost.
Above dated material from H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest . Newell, Gordon, editor.

15 June 2015


Seymour Narrows, Discovery Passage,
with the remains of the infamous Ripple Rock
below the freighter.
50°.00' N 125° 21.' W.
Photo date 21 May 1958.

Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
Named by Capt. Richards, RN, and long a menace to navigation, this passage was described by Captain Vancouver as "part of the vilest stretch of water in the world."
      Ripple Rock had it's top successfully blown off at 9:33 am April 1958, after the R.C.M.P. cleared people from a 3 mile area around the site. There were two unsuccessful tries in 1943 and 1945, when 9 men died. 
      Ripple Rock consisted of two underwater peaks, just close to the water's surface in Seymour Narrows, between Vancouver Island and the mainland, about 100 miles north of Vancouver, B.C. The twin peaks rose in the middle of  the Narrows, part of the marine trade route since the beginning of boats, and the route for the Race to AK still underway (as this is written), for the toughies paddling and sailing to Ketchikan from Port Townsend, WA. 
      Over the years, at least 110 people have drowned as a result of wrecks impaled on the rock.
      High explosives, 2,750,00 pounds, were used for the blast, the largest non-atomic explosion ever detonated up to th time. The explosion was televised nationally from coast to coast in Canada.
     Go "TEAM MAU".
Publisher unknown. UP photo.