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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.

03 March 2012

❖ STEAM TUG BRICK––Capt. James W. Tarte ❖ by June Burn

Steam tug BRICK
with captain/owner Jim Tarte, on rail on right.
C. C. Fisher is standing on the pilot house.
Location, Bellingham, WA, after a return from B.C.
The houses behind were known as "Captains Row",
along the Boulevard on the waterfront. Undated.
Photo purchased from Whatcom Museum of History and Art.©
This image for non-commercial purposes only.
For a copy of this image,
please contact the W.M.H.A. in Bellingham, WA.
"How, before there were docks, did the passengers get from ship to land in the old days? I asked my captain that and he replied that when the tide was high, rowboats or light-draft scows took them in. But when the tide was out and several hundred yards of mud lay between ship an shore, the passengers waited for the return of the tide or were taken to land pig-back.
      'I've carried many a squealing woman on my back, her squeals getting me so tickled I'd all but drop her into the oozy mud. When the ship would anchor, every man in the crew would shoulder his passenger, set her down on the beach, return for another until passengers and their luggage were all safe ashore. I never dropped a passenger, but after carrying a few through soft mud I've nearly dropped, myself, with fatigue.'
      During the years of 1881 and 1882 Captain Tarte (1849-1932) piloted, first the HOPE, and then the EVANGEL, the latter the first passenger boat between Seattle, Vancouver, and New Westminster.
      The EVANGEL was owned by a Mr. Ludlow of Seattle. One time the pilot was taking a boatload of passengers to Victoria for a May 24 celebration. There was a storm and everybody got seasick. On board was the owner's daughter, Miss Ludlow. She was seasick, too. But she must have been pretty plucky about it. Or maybe seasickness was becoming to her. At any rate the confirmed bachelor pilot of the EVANGEL fell in love with her then and there, and nine days later was betrothed to a girl who wouldn't marry an Englishman under any consideration. They were married a year later.
      In 1883 Captain Tarte bought one of the first tugboats ever to run on the Sound––the 55.6-ft steam tug BRICK which was later lengthened several feet. He carried freight and towed all manner of things with his little boat. He was one of the first to tow logbooms for the first big sawmill. It was owned by Eldridge & Bartlett and was on site of the old E. K. Wood mill, which burned a few years ago. In storms the captain of the BRICK used to pour oil on the troubled waters, calm his stampeding logs, and so bring them safely to the mill.
      It was a custom of Captain Tarte––one of the earliest and most popular mariners on Puget Sound––to treat 20 school children from the Fairhaven and Sehome schools every Saturday to trips to the islands free of charge. One day Captain Tarte was surprised on his arrival to see a great crowd of people, most of whom were children, at the dock, under the escort of the principal of the Fairhaven school. In recognition of his kindness in giving free outings to the kiddies the skipper was presented with a set of silverware.
      The captain ran the BRICK for nine years, later as a passenger vessel around this part of the Sound. But at last he lost her, never having made enough money to pay more than the interest on the money he stilled owed on her.
      Tarte's last active service was as mate on the tug DANIEL KERN during two trips to Clallam Bay at 80-years of age."
Text above by June Burn,
Bellingham Herald, April 1930
With notes added from:

Lewis & Dryden's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest
E.W. Wright, editor. Antiquarian Press Ltd., 1961


Below:
Island Sounder, April 1896
"The steamer BRICK came into port [Friday Harbor] with a scow loaded with 24,000-feet of lumber from the Whatcom Falls Mill Co., of Whatcom, for Mr. J. L. Farnsworth. This is part of an order for 100,000-feet to be used in the construction of the new cannery buildings and also for the new scows for the Island Packing Company."

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