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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.

02 May 2011

Steam Launch OCTOO ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ From the Quarterdeck

"World War l was just barely over-- it was 1919 and as usual I was busy at my favorite occupation which was bumming around the waterfront in Olympia. One of my waterfront idols was a young chap who had just returned from Naval duty as an Ensign. My respect for him, however, was greatly enhanced by the simple fact that he owned and skippered a steam tugboat. The boat was named OCTOO. He was Delta V. Smyth and a more considerate man never walked a deck.
         Being short-handed one day Del asked me if I would like to go along to pick up a tow. Right there he acquired a deckhand, age twelve.
         The engineer was Jonas Wheeler who wore his hat pointed at the top like 'Smokey the Bear'. One eye was more than slightly off course but it came in handy as he could watch the gauge glass and steam pressure at the same time. He smoked a little pipe which was apparently synchronized with the main engine. Del swore he could get the correct RPMs by counting Jonas' puffs.
         Del was the cook as well as the skipper so at noon I finally got my itchy fingers on that steering wheel. Right then I was in love for the first time -- steamboating on Puget Sound!
         I spent all my waking hours for years on any steamboat I could get on whether it was underway or not. Due to the days I had to waste in school it was sometime before I began to 'deck' for Hill Davis on the LUMBERMAN.
        Hill taught me how to splice lines, lay a course, to read a Mercator's chart, variation and deviation, that there were three norths and why some markers were red and others black, and why they were shaped differently. Also, he taught me how to handle a boat. The best days were when I got to blow that big, beautiful steam whistle! Man, that was living!"
By Ken Ayers, President
Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society
Quarterly Journal The Sea Chest

The 38-ft  OCTOO was launched at Reed's, Decatur Is.,
San Juan Archipelago, 
 for the Seattle Oyster and Fish Company in the fall of 1908.
Miss Irene Van Moorhem broke the customary bottle 
of wine over the bow.
At the start of OCTOO's career, she worked as a shrimper 
both "down sound" and in San Juan County, as reported 
in the early San Juan Islander newspaper
Photo courtesy of J. Robin Paterson ©.

Shrimper ORLOU (right), sister ship to OCTOO,
also built at the Reed Shipyard,
 Decatur Island in 1909.
Photo courtesy of J. Robin Paterson©.

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