"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.

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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 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.

15 April 2011


Salt Spring Island, Gulf Island Group, B.C.
Undated photo postcard from the archives of the S.P.H.S.
Copyright by Western Canada Airlines©
"It was on 13 July 1960, just outside Bedwell Harbour, when disaster struck and a 25-day drama began to run its course. There was no inkling of the coming events when H.A. "Buster" Horel loaded his bulldozer on Asa Douglas' barge for a routine towing job from Pender Island to Salt Spring Island. It happened quickly and no one really knows how, but it is theorized that the barge struck a deadhead, filled with water, tilted, and dumped the "cat" into 200-feet of water.
      Everyone but Buster thought the 'cat' was gone for good. Everyone, including the insurance company. The insurance company paid off and with almost a snicker gave Buster the salvage rights for $50. He and Asa began dragging operations. He hired the services of two scuba-divers from Chemainus.
       It was 16 days later before they hooked the 'cat' for the first time. The divers went down 204-feet, and working in the dark, attached a line. A storm came up and the rope slipped off.
       It was another five days before they hooked it again. This time they were successful––the line stayed on. The dredge, that is currently widening the canal between North and South Pender, was brought into the fray. The dredge, with its boom, and a tug, worked for five hours before swinging the 'cat' upon the beach. It was the 6 August. It was not the end of the saga.
       The action of the sea water had turned the pot metal parts of the 'cat' into the consistency of cookies. The metal crumbled at the touch. Buster, who had stripped his old 'cat' of parts, began to work on the water-soaked machine. He changed the parts and pumped diesel fuel through the system. Two hours after beaching, the bulldozer was running again!
       Divers working in complete darkness at 204-feet is a rarity, and indeed, this salvage operation may well be a record. Buster Horel is to be commended for tackling this almost hopeless job and succeeding.
       Maybe a 'cat' has nine lives after all."
Mrs. Etta Egeland late of Friday Harbor, had a relative living on Salt Spring Island who mailed her the above column. 
The story had been written up in the weekly paper, Driftwood.  
The Friday Harbor Journal received permission from the editor, Mr. W. Fisher, of Salt Spring, to reprint it in the Journal in 1960.

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