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

LOG OF THE SALTWATER PEOPLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY



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.

21 May 2015

❖ M.V. SAMISH CHRISTENING 20 MAY 2015 ❖

Car deck party for M. V. SAMISH
Anacortes, WA. 20 May 2015
Photo by Allison Hart Lengyel©
for Saltwater People Historical Society
The Olympic-class ferry M.V. SAMISH was christened today, May 20, at the ferry landing in Anacortes. The $126 million SAMISH is the second of three planned Olympic-class ferries that will replace ships in operation since the 1950s. Washington State launched the first Olympic-class ferry, the TOKITAE, in March 2014; the third ferry, the CHIMACUM, is still under construction. A fourth and possibly fifth ship may follow, depending on financing from the state legislature.
      Problems with the TOKITAE’s propulsion system, which caused 26 sailings to be cancelled last year, informed the construction of the SAMISH; in addition, the TOKITAE's car ramps, with a steep angle that scraped the bottom of cars, were also redesigned for all three ferries. The SAMISH will accommodate up to 144 cars, which is 50 more cars than the ferry it will replace on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands run. After two months of sea trials, the SAMISH will begin its first day of active service June 14.
The Samish Nation honors the 
M.V. SAMISH at christening
20 May 2015, 
Anacortes, WA. 
Photo by Allison Hart Lengyel ©
for the Saltwater People Historical Society
      On hand at the christening were members of the Samish Indian Nation, for whom the ferry is named. Tribal Chairman, Tom Wooten, spoke on behalf of the Samish. Members of the tribe also performed a traditional song of welcome, after thanking people who were instrumental in the design, construction, and funding for the ferry. Other dignitaries present included members of the San Juan County Council; Frank Foti, CEO of Vigor Industrial Co, the company that built the ferry; Anacortes Mayor, Laurie Gere; and State Assistant Transportation Secretary, Lynn Griffith. Governor Jay Inslee’s wife, Trudi Inslee, performed the christening itself with a bottle of champagne.
      In addition to increased capacity, the SAMISH also features wider car lanes and wider stairwells, an ADA-compliant car-deck restroom, large sundecks at either end of the ferry with wrap-around windows, and advanced radar and navigation controls.
Written for Saltwater People Historical Society by Allison Hart Lengyel, San Juan County guest at this event.

19 May 2015

❖ Hewitt Jackson's Historical Drawings ❖

Marine artist Hewitt Jackson, 1975,
at Oregon Historical Society.

He did the drawing of the SANTIAGO 
and other historic vessels in their collection.
Original photo from the S.P.H.S.©
Building ancient ships is the occupation of Hewitt Jackson, former seaman and marine draftsman, then a full time artist.
      H. W. McCurdy purchased one of his paintings of historic vessels, the BEAVER, from the 1963 "Changing Scene in Seattle" art show at the Museum of History and Industry and presented it to the Seattle Historical Society for the permanent collection. He commissioned another, the EXACT, also for the museum.
      Earlier, Victor Denny, president of the society, purchased Jackson's picture of the United States sloop of war DECATUR from the 1961 show, for the collection, and an anonymous donor did the same with Jackson's 1962 entry, the DISCOVERY.
      Thus the museum has been supplied with accurate views of four vessels that had important roles in Puget Sound history. The schooner EXACT brought the first American settlers to Alki Point, the DECATUR protected Seattle during the Indian War, the BEAVER carried supplies and furs to and from the Hudson's Bay Co Post at Fort Nisqually and the DISCOVERY was flagship on Capt. Vancouver's Voyage of Exploration. It anchored off Bainbridge Island for several days in 1792.
      Jackson's nautical research for his pictures is almost equivalent to preparing a thesis. He has accumulated approximately 100 books on ship architecture, manuals of masting and the like.
      Jackson lived in Kirkland and worked on a drafting table, surrounded by volumes, correspondence and coffee cups and subject to interruption by any of his six children or the dog. His tools are fine crayons, pen and ink and water colors.
      "It's a compromise medium in order to permit a lot of detail that would be overpowering in oils," he explained.
      Before Jackson ever touched pencil to paper, he consulted books and diagrams and written letter queries. He did not give credence to everything he read or was told about a vessel, nor did he trust the proportions and rigging in ship pictures allegedly made from memory. He wanted to know the vessel's use when first built and the depth at high tide of water on bars it passed over. He made a thorough inquiry into the gear and handling, reading logs of voyages whenever they are available.
      When Hewitt had enough material assembled, he drew the idea sketches, showing the ship pointing into the wind, broadside or viewed from the stern. He may have made nine drawings before he is ready to start the final painting. He saved those, and as he accumulated more information, he made additions and changes to increase their accuracy. 
      He filled a commission for buyers in Oregon who desired Captain Gray's COLUMBIA, Vancouver's ender CHATHAM and Captain Baker's JENNY, all of which visited the mouth of the Columbia River in 1792.
      In order to be certain of backgrounds as they were before modern changes, Jackson not only consulted profiles in the oldest Pacific Coast Pilot, but twice he sailed along the Washington shore, making photographs. He returned to the Lower Columbia in September to accompany John McClellan, Longview publisher and historian, on an expedition to trace by water, Lieut. William Broughton's small-small voyage from the Chatham's anchorage to the vicinity of Vancouver.
      "I armed myself with old charts and used rocky outcrops and high places for bearings, as these will not be distorted," Jackson said. "The CHATHAM's compass was affected by iron deposits, the river course has changed greatly and the channel as shown in Vancouver's maps was full of errors. I had to plot anew where Broughton's ship lay."
      On reading journals kept by officers of the CHATHAM, Jackson found they did not hold their ship in any high esteem. He was entertained by references to "our tub," the old pot" and less flattering descriptions.
      Jackson's experience in professional cartography is of help in his artistic enterprise. He worked at mapping when in the Army and during the years he was employed at the U of WA in the department of oceanography. As a boy he had some experience on survey crews.
      Jackson never studied drafting or art, though he has taught the former. He grew up on the east side of Lake Washington when Bellevue was the home of the last American whaling fleet. Going to sea in 1926, he turned naturally to making pictures of sailing craft.
      He painted contemporary vessels in which he had shipped until about 1950, his attention was drawn to accounts of Vancouver's DISCOVERY and he wanted to do a likeness of her. Obtaining sufficient descriptive information was more difficult than he expected, but the experience taught him how to proceed on other unfamiliar vessels.
      Jackson made about 20 paintings of the DISCOVERY and they are scattered over world. When he fills an order for one of them, he puts in from a week to a week and a half on the picture itself, using the fruits of his previous research. 
      For the EXACT, he studied old systems of measurements as applied to some 300 vessels, comparing them with the known dimensions of the EXACT until he arrived at the correct hull form of an East Coast schooner capable of crossing West Coast river bars.
      He also profited from data gathered by several ship experts, fellow members of the P.S.M.H.S., and had the benefit of recollections of Captain Everett Coffin, a descendant of one of the owners.
      Similar painstaking work went into Jackson's other historic pictures. He obtained plans of the CHATHAM from the British Admiralty. The JENNY had to be approached as hypothesis, based on the fact that she was fitted out originally for the slave trade. For the BEAVER, Jackson benefited from a set of prints resulting from a National Parks Service study.
      Lately, a new use has developed for nautical research of this type. Museums are requesting models of historic vessels, so Jackson has prepared a series of plans of each ship he has done, arranged like a naval architect's presentation.
      He has lately started to set down facts about the DAEDALUS, Vancouver's store ship, the best sailer of the three British vessels. As she was the initial ship to enter Grays Harbor, Jackson expects to get her on the drawing board soon. He is also putting out feelers for construction data on early Spanish craft that touched the Washington Coast. [as depicted in the above photo taken a few years later.]
      There is no end to this sort of thing, once a person starts. Jackson has found, in the course of corresponding with museums and ship experts, that there is an upsurge of curiosity about old ships and a great number of persons are trying to find accurate information about them.
Above text by the late, great author/historian Lucile McDonald, published by The Seattle Times, 1963.

      
      
       

11 May 2015

❖ OCEANID ❖ Was a Novel Craft

OCEANID
(ON 285719)
heading southwest in Upright Channel,
San Juan Archipelago

With telephoto lens; undated photo from S.P.H.S.©
Unusual water craft are nothing out of the ordinary on the waters of Puget Sound, but whenever Robert H. Ellis, Jr, Portland, OR, landscape architect, went for a cruise from his Shaw Island summer home, boat lovers cast envious eyes his way.
      Ellis' craft was the OCEANID, an English steam yacht built just before the end of WWII for harbor mine-patrol duty.
      Ellis, who is of English descent, and who went to school in England, loved steam engines all his life. This led to his decision to own an English steam yacht. Brokers scoured England, Wales and Scotland, on his behalf, until he learned that the Royal Navy's Launch 370 was in good condition and was for sale. Ellis bought it.
      After being rebuilt, the launch was shipped to Seattle on the deck of the SIMBA, a Danish freighter, arriving in Spring 1961.
      The OCEANID was towed to Lake Union, where it was inspected by the Coast Guard––as thorough an inspection as for any ocean liner, with the same rules applying as for any full-size steam vessel. The yacht went to Shaw Island under steam on 30 June, and since then has seen service on sight-seeing cruises Ellis runs for friends and his island neighbors.
      Ellis had no experience with boats of this size, so he faced one problem: who would run the OCEANID? He particularly needed someone with steam experience to handle the engineering end.
OCEANID
Squaw Bay home dock, Shaw Island, WA.
      About the time the OCEANID was ready to be shipped to this country, he learned that a Shaw Island neighbor, Clare Tift, was a retired steam engineer with 13 years of experience in steamships on ocean-going runs.
      Tift held an unlimited license for 30 years. He was chief engineer for the Tacoma Oriental Line for some years and also served on ships of the American Mail Line. He worked for the government from 1933 to 1958, when he retired.
      Since then Tift has lived on Shaw Island; he volunteered to act as engineer for Ellis.
      Getting into the spirit of neighborly cooperation on what has almost turned into a community project, two other Shaw Islanders, Dan Mather and Earl Hoffman, offered their services as pilots. Both have spent much of their lives in San Juan waters and know its rocks and bays.
      Another summertime neighbor, E. C. Bold of Seattle, father of a teenage son, Skippy, who "signed on" as assistant engineer. Bold said Skippy has been "on boats since before he learned to walk" and his particular interest is engine-room operation.
      Ellis built a special floating concrete dock for the OCEANID. His landing was opposite Canoe Island just outside Squaw Bay.
      The OCEANID was built at Ipswich, England, by C.H. Fox & Son, Ltd, in 1946. It originally was 52.5-ft long. A maximum of wood, mostly teak, and a minimum of steel, was used in building the yacht to minimize its magnetic attraction for mines in its wartime service.
      
Fine article by the late
Bill Durham, editor
Steamboats & Modern Steam Launches
1962.
Mr. Durham was the engineer
for two years in the early 1960s.

After Ellis bought it at Gosport, the wheelhouse was changed, an awning was placed aft of the stack, and much of the teak was replaced. The stern was modified, resulting in an extra 7 1/2-ft of length.
      The OCEANID had a Scotch marine boiler (Scotch used here, as a trade name, not a nationality) and an 85-HP fore-and-aft compound steam engine using a 120-pound-pressure steam atomizer. It used diesel fuel.
      The yacht had a speed of 8 to 10 knots, a 13-ft beam, 6-ft draught and displaced 30 tons. She had her own 3-kilowatt light plant, and 400-gallon-capacity fuel tanks to give her a cruising range of about 250 miles. 
Above text by historian/author David Richardson, formerly of San Juan County, WA.
Published in The Seattle Times 1961
Bob Ellis was a member of the Puget Sound Live Steamers in their early years and welcomed his steaming friends to his place at Squaw Bay.

9 July 1961:
"About 11:30 AM we headed to the Bob Ellis dock, where we boarded the OCEANID. Clare Tift was in charge. The Earl Hoffmans, the Dan Mathers, the Ted Coppers, the Sullivans, the Durhams, Tommy Thompson, Romanos Windsor and one other, young Skip Bold was helping in the engine room. We circumnavigated the island, blowing the whistle whenever passing a house. Out about 2 1/2 hours." Erret Graham. 
Summer 1967:
Keith Sternberg, now of Lopez Island, was engineer on the OCEANID for Bob Ellis.
Fate: OCEANID is out of service.

06 May 2015

❖ THE GEODUCK THAT WASN'T ❖

GUEMES ISLAND.
Day 47 of 100 Days in the San Juans 
June Burn on contract to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; 1946

"When we woke up in our little playhouse down on the Bessner Beach, that Sunday morning, the tide had lit out from there like a scared rabbit. Water was almost out of sight. The SAN JUANDERER, completely at the end of its 150-ft tether, was a half mile this side of the water's edge, or nearly. A little more, and you could have walked all the way to Jack Island on dry land––or on firm sand, the clams spurting at you all the way.
      
GEODUCK CLAMS
Native to Washington State
Courtesy of WA. State Fish and Wildlife.

      We went up beach to breakfast at the Batleys' and then out, with them and Mr. Kemoe, to dig geoducks––our first in all our years in the islands. We took two shovels, a bucket and the camera. The sand was pitted with round holes as much as an inch and a half in diameter. Now and then a hole would be full of what looked like a bit of sandy flotsam.
       We found a very big hole with the animal there at the top––or his snout, anyway. He was probably far down in the sand. The two men fell to digging just as hard and fast as they could, one on each side for the hole. Mr. Kemoe put his hand down, burrowed for the big clam, grabbed the withdrawing neck and held on. Farrar kept digging and and at last the heavy, thick, long clam came up. The first one must have weighed four pounds, more than a meal in itself, if you ate all of it.
      We dug several more and gave them to a neighbor on the beach who hadn't enough muscle for that kind of digging. She had a host of guests to feed.
      
Horse Clams
Native to the San Juan Islands
Courtesy of Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.



By that time, the beach was full of people digging for geoducks. We felt tremendously proud of our big one. Then someone said: 'They aren't geoducks at all; they're horse clams.' And when we looked them up in our Seashore Animals, later on, sure enough they were horse clams, summer clams, otter shells, gapers or, if you prefer, Schizpthaerus nuttallii.
'This, the books says, ' is one of the largest clams to be found on our coast. Shells reach six to eight inches in length and the weight of the whole clam may reach four pounds––the clams are of excellent quality, siphon and all being used though the siphon has to be 'skinned' before it is cooked.'
      This is the clam which the Agners on Big Double call the sweet clams and that they fry and steam. The Batleys use only the white muscles, the skinned siphon, and the foot for meat. These they grind and make into patties.
      They and many other people throw away all the rest. 'But that is the very best part of the clam,' someone else will tell you. One man there on the beach said they cut away the muscles, the neck (siphon), and the foot, grind them for chowder, but fry as tasty delicacies all the rest of the clam that is tender as butter, and certainly the flavorful portion.
      If people can eat the whole oyster alive and raw, stomach, intestines, and all, why not the clam?
      (For others who also do not know geoducks when they see them, that animal has a whiter shell than the horse clam, with no dark edges on it, the shells much more clearly marked with growth rings, and the 'neck' or siphon is longer. The geoduck goes up to five or six pounds, too. My Seashore Animals gives 'goiduck' as the pronunciation of geoduck.
      Last winter, when I was on Guemes, I met Tony Naser, a retired railroad engineer who lives with his wife in a green cottage here on North Beach. He was gone but across the road we met Mrs. Whicker, the wife of an artist about whom we have been hearing about for a long time. Mr. Whicker wasn't at home, but his wife with the shiny yellow braids obligingly posed for us on the porch of their house. She was canning salmon and making doll clothes for the gorgeous rag dolls she makes as her hobby to match her husband's paintings.
     I wish we could have photographed the interior of that cabin. But Mrs. Whicker said it had been tried without success by experts. We didn't try. Of one room, it is spacious, colorful, simply beautiful and fully as utile as any pioneer cabin ever was. You can't say that humans aren't adding to the beauty of this corner of earth."
June.
      


01 May 2015

❖ LADY GRACE OPENING DAY 1950 ❖

History of Opening Day 
"As far back as 1879, a Seattle yacht club was sponsoring regattas, but the first mention we could find of the term, "Opening Day" was in 1909 when the Elliott Bay Yacht Club opened the boating season on May 1. That day the club featured a contest for its three fastest yachts. Later that year, the Elliott Bay and Seattle yacht clubs merged, taking the name of the latter.
      News releases in 1914 mention an "annual opening day," that occurred on 16 May. In 1915, Opening Day was shifted back to May 1.
Flagship LADY GRACE 
The 38-ft Kettenburg is ceremoniously dipping the flag
as she passes the LADY GRACE during the
Seattle Yacht Club's opening day regatta
on Lake Washington, Seattle, WA. 3 May 1950
Original photo by Acme from the S.P.H.S.©
      ...In the 1950s a more organized parade format was instituted. The proposal to include other yacht clubs was promoted, and the clubs responded. In the mid-1950s, a flag-raising ceremony and a few short speeches were added to the day's events. A military band, the hoisting of the burgees of visiting clubs and the honoring of their commodores became part of the ritual. 
      As the ceremonies became more complex, the starting time for boats to assemble on Portage Bay was gradually moved from noon to 9:30 AM. Over the years the competition for the best-decorated boat, selection of parade themes, assigning judges, and awarding prizes became part of the day. In 1970, crew racing was added to the festivities."
Above text from" Seattle Yacht Club 1892-1992; Warren, James R. 1992.

A post of 1961 Opening Day with the Freeman steamboat MOHAI can be seen here