"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
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and the extent of our care of them marks the
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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.

23 December 2012

✪ ✪ ✪ Whale "Satchelmouth" ✪ ✪ ✪

September 1945
 Resort brochure  
from vintage ephemera files,
Saltwater People Historical Society.


"West Beach is back to normal; President Channel is itself again; 'Old Satchelmouth' returned to his summer haunts last week. As everybody knows 'Old Satchelmouth' is the friendly whale that comes to President Channel each summer when the salmon are running. This year when the salmon were late in arriving and few when they did come, his old friends thought the whale had either become disgusted with Orcas waters or had got too intimate with a Japanese depth bomb.
      When Stacy Meyers of Tacoma reported sighting him between Cramer & Kertis' West Beach resort and Waldron Island everybody was happy. The old fellow didn't come close inshore, as he sometimes does, and he kept his distance from fishing boats, but plenty of people got a glimpse of him. Even Butch, the Cramer dog that gets as much fun out of playing around with vacationists as he does in scaring up pheasants or fighting raccoons, got a watchful eye on him, and whined his joy and relief.
      Maybe all this means that September is going to be a good month for salmon fishing in President Channel. Maybe Old Satchelmouth shows up when he knows that there are going to be a lot of silvers around. And maybe he is just slack in his habits and hasn't any regular schedule. But, anyway, this is the fifth successive year that he has shown himself off West Beach."
Friday Harbor Journal
6 September 1945

We don't have a photograph of 'Satchelmouth' but thanks to a longtime island friend we have  his memories of his salty friend. Corkey thinks "Old Satchelmouth" was a Fin Whale (Balenaeoptera physalus) which have a lifespan of 80-90 years. The relatively solitary creature, seldom found in groups, is the 2nd largest mammal on earth; see NOAA/ Finwhales here
"The old whale 'Satchelmouth' was an old buddy of mine. When I got up at five or six in the morning to run the NORDLAND down to Friday Harbor, he would show up and travel with me for awhile. He'd get pretty close at times.
      On one occasion, I had taken Dr. Cook's outboard boat from West Beach to Deer Harbor to do some work on it at Dad's shop. On the return trip in light rain at about the lime kiln, doing maybe fifteen miles an hour, there suddenly was a big black object right under by bow. It went down and I went another way but I got a close up view of 'Old Satchelmouth's' back without any scraping of Doc's boat. I think we were both surprised and undamaged."
L. W. 'Corkey' North
Deer Harbor, Orcas Island, WA.
Letter to web admin. SPHS, Dec. 2012.

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