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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.

29 September 2012

❖ The Canadian in Deception Pass ❖ My Experiences in a Flood Tide

By Capt. Ray Quinn
 Deception Pass, 1938.
Original photo from archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"This is a story about takin' off through Deception Pass. We picked up a tow out of Skapna on DOUGLAS, and we'd picked up a tow in Olympia and gone for Anacortes. We'd got to Coronet Bay, which is a little bay inside of Deception Pass where you can tie up your tow  and wait for weather and tides. So we was in there for four or five days, and the weather was bad outside, so we couldn't go out. The other tugs had come in and tied up too, so when we did get good weather, we was all gonna go out at once, on the same tide.
      The Gilkey Brothers' tug SOUND, she was a tug of about 280-hp. She had a tow, and she was gonna be the first boat out. So she pulled away from the moorings in Coronet Bay. Then there was two little boats had a 12-section raft, they went around in back of the island in Coronet Bay, and they were gonna come out and go second. DOLLY C. was gonna be the third boat. Then our turn come--we's gonna be the fourth boat. We had three sections of logs. There was two little ones from Gilkey Bros., they had eight sections apiece, so they doubled their raft up. One of 'em was gonna tow the logs through the pass, and the other one was gonna tail his raft out. Then there was a coupla other little boats there that had eight sections apiece. They were gonna be the last ones out.
       So we all started out, and the tide was floodin' pretty good yet. SOUND, he got right up into the Pass pretty close to the entrance to the Pass, and he looked out, and so did I--I happened to see it , too. Here come a Canadian tug with 32 sections of cedar logs, comin' in on the last of the flood, somethin' that was unheard of. You couldn't judge the tides along there enough to do that. Anyhow, in he come, and SOUND, he pulled over behind Pass Island and got out of the way. These two little boats stayed behind the island. They were in the clear, but DOLLY C. was right off Strawberry Island. He was in the main channel, and he had a double raft of about 16 sections. So in this guy come. The Rogers brothers, they saw him too, comin', so they run out and got on the tail end of his raft and tried to help him steer it, but the last of the flood was settin' on what we call Gobbler's Knob, a point of rock on the Whidbey Island side of the Pass. The bridge pier sets on it now, comes down on the Gobbler's Knob. But anyhow, the last section hit that and spilled some logs, and he kept vomin' in. The cedar raft, the logs were floatin' pretty high in the raft, and the tow that DOLLY C. had, it was hemlock and it was pretty low in the water. The cedar raft hit DOLLY C.'s raft, and the cedar went right over the top of the hemlock logs and knocked the lantern jack down about a third of the way in on the section, and they were kind of locked together. I was right behind DOLLY C. so I could see what happened. We let our tow line run up against this Canadian raft, and he pushes off of the top of DOLLY C.'s raft and over towards Strawberry Island, but the tide was runnin' pretty hard yet, so he got clear. He hollered at me as he went by, he says, 'Where can I go? Where can I go?' I told 'im, 'You can go to hell, as far as I'm concerned!' But anyhow, we got this cedar raft off of DOLLY C.'s hemlock.
      So then we took our towline in again and started pullin'. So then SOUND, he come back in, and the tide and started to change, so he went out, and these two little boats behind--I can't remember the name of that island--they come out of the hole and went on out, then DOLLY C. went, and then it was our turn. By that time the tide was ebbin' like hell, but the Rogers brothers, they had two little tugs, and they were tailin' every tow that went out. So we cleared everything, and soon as we got outside the narrowest place, the tail end of the raft was still in the fast current, and the front end of it was in the less currrent. We's pullin' on that anyhow, but then the raft tried to tie knots in itself. Everything went all right--the gear all held. We got clear and went on up into Burrows Bay and caught the next tide in to Anacortes. Everybody did. The last two guys out, they only had a single raft apiece, about eight sections, and they really got a ride. The Rogers brothers done an excellent job of tailin' everybody and this Canadian tied up to the dolphin moorings in Coronet Bay. They told him when to leave and everything. I guess he was goin' to Seattle with them. I don't know. I don't know where he went, but nobody hit 'im.
Tugs with tails, 
towing through Deception Pass.
Date unknown.

      One guy tried years ago. He went out on the last of the ebb in Deception Pass. He got out to where the stake light is, the entrance to the place. He got that far, and the tide started to flood, and he started goin' backwards, he couldn't hold 'em, and he dropped his anchor, and the anchor finally fetched up, and it jerked the twin' machine off of the deck, and the towin' machine acted as an anchor and kinda held the raft in a straight line, and it went through the Pass backwards by itself. Nobody ever tried it after that, goin' out on the last of the tide."
By Captain Ray Quinn
Transcribed to Jean Burrows,
Courtesy of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society
The Sea Chest
March 2008

The late Captain Ray Quinn was a well-known master mariner and tugboat captain. In 1954 he joined the Puget Sound Pilots and served in that capacity for 20 years. Many of his stories have appeared in The Sea Chest, a journal for members of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Seattle, WA.
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