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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.

01 January 2016

❖ WRECKS ❖ SHIPS C-D (10) ❖ ❖

O.N. 209157
192 G.t., 110 N.t.
117' x 22' x 5.8' Passenger/Frt. Vessel
Blt at Dockton, WA. 1911.
Designer/project manager, Capt. Howard Bentley Lovejoy.
Master this day: son Capt. Bart Lovejoy.
Wrecked: Off West Point in Elliott Bay.
27 July 1922.
Lives lost: none.
Little steamer JUANITA being overtaken by CALISTA
Original, undated photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Click image to enlarge.

The CALISTA had a mail contract and on weekdays, loaded mail at Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Langley, and Clinton. She delivered mail to the same towns on her return trip.

The Day the CALISTA Went Down
by Wilbur Sherman
for the Whidbey News-Times,
23 July 1986.

"I can see Capt. Bart Lovejoy on the after-well deck of the HAWAII MARU as if it was yesterday. Tears streaming down his face. He had just lost his father's ship through no fault of his own.
      I was aboard that day with my mother, father, sisters, and boyhood sweetheart, Alice Powell. We were going to see the 'Wayfarer', a big production that was being shown in the UW stadium.
      I loved this ship. I had gone down into the engine room and found the chief engineer who was willing to talk to a boy. I was thrilled to see the triple-expansion reciprocating steam engine that had been salvaged from the WHIDBY, a steamer that had burned at the Oak Harbor dock in 1911. While talking to the engineer, the bell to slow and stop the ship came down from the wheelhouse, and as I knew that we were still a ways from Seattle, I left to see what was happening. I went up on the boat deck and there to my horror appeared out of a dense fog, the bow of the HAWAII MARU. It was immediately obvious that we were going to be sunk. We were only a few yards away and there was considerable bow wave which would indicate speed. At that point I remember hearing the bell from our Captain for full ahead. The bell was never answered.
      Afterward, while talking to the engineer of the CALISTA, I learned that the only thing that saved us from being cut in two was that the bow of the MARU crashed into the boiler and actually moved it five or six feet to one side of the hull. No steam escaped which was bound to have scalded many people and cut off their ability to get to the lifeboats and over on to the HAWAII MARU.
      The Japanese sailors put a rope ladder over the bow and quite a few passengers escaped this way. The purser of the CALISTA was assisting the passengers up onto the rope ladder. Capt. Arnold [on board as a passenger] was very involved in getting life jackets on as many people as possible.
      The ship was rapidly sinking. The deck of the CALISTA sunk to where no more could get on the ladder. At this point all left on the ship had to get into the lifeboats. Those people completely filled the ship's two lifeboats-- which were never launched--they just simply floated out of their chocks.
      My family was in one of the lifeboats that had not been released from the CALISTA. The lifeboat was starting to go down. A deckhand sitting on the bow of the lifeboat with feet hanging outside, as he was unable to get into the boat, saw what was happening and called, 'does anyone have a knife?' My dad produced a sharp knife and with one swift slice the boat was released from the CALISTA; it came back up and didn't even take on water. A tugboat in the vicinity backed into position and took one person off. The engineer escaped on the overturned workboat of the CALISTA. It was still upside down as he paddled with his hands to safety.
      I was on the bow of the MARU, watching the lifeboats clear the CALISTA. As I looked over the port side I could see the vessel was completely below water. A few minutes later she was gone.
Original photo from the 
James A. Turner Collection,
Saltwater People Historical Society©

We were only a few minutes on the Japanese ship when a small steamer, the HYAK from Seattle, came and took us on board and on to Seattle. By wireless, the Port of Seattle had been informed of the CALISTA's sinking and the steamer was sent to get the passengers. So we arrived, but what a day! We got to see the 'Wayfarer', but with the earlier excitement, I can't say that I recall too much of the pageant.
      Tribute should be paid to the captain, pilot, and crew of the HAWAII MARU. We just have to realize a masterful job of handling the big ship had to be done to see that the passengers and crew from the CALISTA were all saved in a tragic, no-fault situation. After this was over and I was in Seattle, I went down to the waterfront to see the HAWAII MARU in berth, to see if she had sustained any damage. She had a scratch in her paint across the bow. The difference between a wooden ship and a steel ship! One was in the berth and one was at the bottom of the bay."

This boat was named for Calista Kinney (1837-1920), daughter of Capt. Simeon Bartlett Kinney, who came to Whidbey Island on her father's ship the BURNHAM in 1854. Calista married Captain Howard Lovejoy on board his ship the CHALCEDONY in 1855, under sail to the Russian village of Sitka, AK.
      They later settled on Whidbey Island at Lovejoy's Point, which is now part of Coupeville. Their eldest son, Howard B. Lovejoy was an early steamboat master who became manager of the Island Transportation Co. The Lovejoys were a large, salty family--more another day.
      Thank you to author/mariner Roger M. Sherman of Coupeville, WA for permission to steal this piece from his book:
The Sinking of the CALISTA; Part I of A Maritime History of Central Whidbey Island, author published, 1998.

Wrecked, 1 August 1921
Willapa Harbor, WA.
1 August 1921

Heavy fog was the cause of the grounding and loss of the Canadian Merchant Marine freighter CANADIAN EXPORTER at the Willapa Harbor entrance on 1 Aug. 1921. En route for Portland from Vancouver to complete a lumber cargo for the Orient, she struck the beach and efforts to back her off were unsuccessful, as were later attempts to free her by the bar tug WALLULA and the BC salvage steamer ALGERINE. Heavy surf caused her to work heavily in the sand and her back was soon broken. The crews of the salvage vessels were convinced of ghostly doings when the steam whistle of the deserted wreck suddenly began a series of eerie blasts. Investigation showed that the apparently supernatural occurrence was the result of the sagging of the severed forward section of the vessel, which alternately tightened and slackened the whistle cord. The underwriters sold the wreck to H. R. MacMillan and Percy Sills of Vancouver, who made arrangements with Hugh Delanty of the Grays Harbor Stevedoring Co for skilled workers to assist in salvaging fittings and cargo. Although the considerable material was recovered, the costs of the operation were high and the salvage efforts were not a financial success."
From: H. W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, Newell; Superior, 1966.

672 G.t. 135' x 33' x 12.1'
Built by Edward Heath Shipyard, Tacoma.
Value: $80,000.
Christened 15 April 1903.
Wrecked; 8 Jan. 1904.
Capt. George Roberts
Lost: 51-56,
Between Smith Island and San Juan Island, WA.
8 January 1904.
 "A sinister jinx followed the Puget Sound Navigation Company's steamer CLALLAM from her cradle to the grave. When she was launched at Tacoma in 1903, a young lady swung a bottle of champagne at her bow at the christening and missed. The vessel slid down the ways with the American flag flying at her masthead upside down, the conventional signal of a dying ship.
      Among her early passengers was an old bell sheep, which made nearly every round-trip from Seattle to Victoria. It would lure sheep aboard at Seattle and off at Victoria for the market there.
      The old sheep always had fulfilled the mission cheerfully and seemed to enjoy it, but one day it balked at the gangway and no persuasion could induce it to go aboard, and she watched the ship steam out of Elliott Bay with sorrowful eyes.
      The CLALLAM, then queen of the mosquito fleet, set out across the straits from Port Townsend in a stiff southwest wind, with storm signals flying. Little did those who saw her disappear in the storm dream that they were seeing the last of the proud CLALLAM.
      The following morning this dispatch appeared in the morning papers.
      'Victoria, B.C. 8 Jan. 1904 --The steamer CLALLAM got within half an hour of port this afternoon, and since then, Victoria has been wondering what became of her.
      She was seen rolling in the heavy seas until about four miles east of Clover Point, making no headway, and seemingly in distress.
      An hour later, with her jib set forward, she was seen running before a heavy southward gale on a flood tide, her engines seemingly disabled and drifting before the wind.'
      The agent at Clover Point sighted her, but could not induce the little harbor tugs to go out. The Canadian steamer IROQUOIS set out from Sydney and the RICHARD HOLYOKE and the SEA LION set out from the American side.
      It later developed that the CLALLAM's chief engineer, Scott A. de Launay had reported a sprung deadlight, but nothing had been done about it. She doubtless was overwhelmed by the great seas that smashed her deadlights and filled the hold.
      Capt. Roberts launched the boats and put the women and children in them. All were lost. One young mother floated by holding up her baby. A man came over the side of the CLALLAM on a rope and had a tenuous hold on the baby when a great wave washed it away.
      Capt. Roberts set the crew to bailing and then the tugs appeared, got lines aboard and began towing the CLALLAM to Pt. Townsend. Roberts felt the CLALLAM sinking and signaled the tugs to cut loose and stand by to rescue the passengers. The signal was misunderstood and the CLALLAM went down.
      More than 50 of the 90 people aboard were lost, the most tragic marine catastrophe in the history of Puget Sound.
      An investigation showed that the CLALLAM carried no rockets or flares to signal for help. Her owners were fined, as were the owners of most of the other Puget Sound steamers, for operating without fog horns, flares, fire axes, or proper lifeboat equipment".
C. T. Conover, The Seattle Times.
2 March 1952
Tugboat crews rescued c. 34 survivors; they were transported to Seattle by the Alaska Steamship Co. steamer SS DIRIGO.
Bits and pieces of wreckage was sold at auction for $296.

Capt. N.E. Cousins
Owner: Pacific Coast Steamship Co.
Burned: 14 September 1916.
Three miles off Coos Bay, OR.

"There were all the makings of a terrible marine tragedy on that 14th day of Sept 1916. The $2,000,000 liner CONGRESS of the Pacific Coast Steamship Co was afire 3 miles off Coos Bay, with 423 souls aboard.
      The liner was out of San Francisco, Seattle-bound when the fire was reported in the after hold.
      It grew in intensity, spread among the general cargo, and ate its way through the hatch coves. The officers attempted to play down the situation but on board, nothing remains a secret for long. Passengers began evacuating their cabins, the saloon was emptied, the deck games ceased, and conversation became low and whispering in all sections of the ship.
1916, Oregon Coast.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

The purser was hounded as were the stewards. A mask of grave concern had now come over the captain's face and he conveniently avoided the passengers.
      Fire at sea can be a terrible thing. If allowed to go unchecked it can result in a terrible ordeal. Thus no stone was left unturned by the ship's master.
      When all reports were in, he was convinced that the fire was out of control. He headed directly for the wireless room. 'Sparks!' Get out an urgent call for assistance.'
      The anxious passengers under the all-seeing eye of the crew were herded to their lifeboat stations, clad in the jackets. As they went, the ship's whistle blasted its weird warnings. Outside of some emotional women, the operation went like clockwork.
      Both excitement and fear prevailed among the passengers. None among them had ever been forced to take to lifeboats while on the high seas. Fortunately, the water was calm. One after another the boats were lowered from the davits until a sizable fleet hovered about the liner like ducklings turned away from their sick mother.
      The fire blazed hotter and hotter as the breeze fanned it. The liner was like a blast furnace. So enthralled were the survivors with the fire that many were unaware of the arrival of the rescue lifeboat from Coos Bay.
      Other ships including the government dredge OL. P.S. MITCHIE arrived on the scene. The lifesaving craft flitted like a water-bug transferring survivors to the larger vessels. Soon all of the passengers and crew of the CONGRESS had been evacuated from the lifeboats.
Now the CONGRESS was aflame from stem to stern. The salvage tug SALVOR arrived and tried to get near the liner. The heat raised paint blisters on the tug and she retreated, content to let the fire run its course.
      Never did a ship burn more thoroughly and not sink. Everything above the waterline was consumed except the steel hull and superstructure that was seared and scorched into a smutty black. The liner got so hot that witnesses said it actually glowed red through its steel plates. No living thing could get within 50-ft of her.
      The blackened ghost was towed to Seattle and rebuilt for the China Mail Steamship Co at a cost of $2,000,000, the amount for which she was originally constructed. It required 14 months to complete the job.
      Renamed NANKING she entered service to the Orient. But shadows of opium smuggling and white slavery crept into the life of the liner. Several times on arrival at San Fran she was libeled for $1,000,000. For this and other reasons, her owners folded financially.
      Next, the ship reverted to her original owners as the EMMA ALEXANDER and again entered coastwise passenger service. She was laid up in the late 30s, and not restored to service until WW II. The British took her over as the transport EMPIRE WOODLARKS, and she weathered the ravages of the hostilities. In a half-century of service, the fire off the Oregon coast in 1916 was her only serious setback."
From: Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast. Gibbs, James A., Jr. Binfords & Mort. 1957.p 1950-52.

ON 207806
Capt. and owner John Courage of Seattle, WA
3 m gas schooner built by Hall Bros in 1883 at Port Blakely, WA.
394.36 G.t./ 374.65 N.t. burden
142.6' x 34.6' x 11.3'
Wrecked; 15-mi WSW of Noyes Island, AK.
The crew of 11 saved by TORDENSKOLD.
20 August 1929.
All crew saved.
Value $23,000 + 2,500 lbs of halibut. Vessel insurance $10,000. Cargo insurance none.

ON 215145
Blt 1917, 
by St. Helens Shipbuilding Co. , 
St. Helens, OR.
190' x 43' x 15.4' Steam Sch.
Owned by E. H Stahlbahm, S.F.
Wrecked 10 February 1937 
Location: N 42° 44.589 W 124° 29.568
Battle Rock, 
Port Orford, OR.
Lives lost: none. 
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
A number of well-known PNW vessels vanished from the maritime scene in 1937, both through accident and at the hands of shipbreakers. The steam schooner COTTONEVA, purchased only a week earlier at a foreclosure sale by Charles R. Ayers of San Fran, stranded off Port Orford, OR on the night of 10 Feb 1917 during a 75-mile-an-hour gale. The 26 crew members were removed safely by breeches buoy, but the wooden vessel became a total loss. The COTTONEVA had been bound for Grays Harbor from L.A., at the time of her stranding.
Text from H. W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW; Gordon Newell, editor. Superior. 
Pacific Coast Steamship Co.
Capt. C.P. McCarthy of Seattle, WA.
A steam schooner built at Hall Bros. Shipyard, WA. 1906.
Lost: 18 Jan. 1915
Steam schooner DELHI,
Lost 18 January 1915.
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
The DELHI hit an uncharted rock and stranded at Straits Island reef, AK. Salvagers towed her to Prince Rupert, BC where she was rendered worthless with a huge hole torn out of the bottom timbers. Loss set at $140,000. The crew of 27 survived. Text: H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW. Newell, Gordon, editor. 

for the CLARKSDALE VICTORY tragedy
Alaska Steamship Company
Captain Ben Aspen
US Army Transport
Captain: Gerald Laugeson
Location: Hippa Island, BC.
24 November 1947.
Victims: 49 crew reported lost.
Rescue attempt from the crew of
DENALI at scene of the wreck of the
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Nine men whom death brushed terribly close, when they launched a lifeboat in tempestuous seas in a heroic but futile effort to take aid to survivors of the wrecked CLARKSDALE VICTORY on Hippa Island, landed at Pier 42 yesterday afternoon aboard the Alaska passenger vessel DENALI.
      “We were mighty lucky to get back alive,” said big Chris Nilsen, first mate of the DENALI, an Alaska Steamship Co vessel.
      Forty-nine men––all but four of the crew were lost when the CLARKSDALE VICTORY, an Army transport, piled up on a reef of Hippa Island, off the Northern B.C. coast.
      Nilsen had command of the lifeboat, and eight of the crew went with him. They could see the severed bow section of the transport hanging on the reef, but huge breakers made it impossible to approach it.
      As the only possible alternative, the lifeboat crew attempted to row around to the opposite side of the island, the northeast side, where there was calmer water. They planned to land there and make their way across the steep little hump of an island to the wreck scene, where coast guardsmen in a plane had seen three survivors.
      The lifeboat crew fought waves in an attempt to skirt the island, but it was not long before they saw there was no chance––human strength just could not do it.
      They had been swept within 100 yards of the reef which held the CLARKSDALE VICTORY bow when they gave in.
      “There wasn’t a chance of making it around the island. We started back to our ship. We rowed for a full hour before we could make any headway,” Nilsen said.
      Capt. Ben Aspen, the master of the DENALI, saw the plight of his men and put his ship about, to return for them. He had moved the DENALI about a mile offshore, but now he swung her in closer and got the lifeboat in her lee.
      “We couldn’t save the boat, but we felt pretty lucky just to get back to our ship and lucky again to get aboard. The deck crew threw us a line and put nets over and we cut the lifeboat loose and clambered up the side.”
      Nilsen praised his lifeboat crew as “good men,” and said it was fortunate they were all huskies” or they would not have been able to row their boat away from the island, once in the grip of the current and waves.
      Third Officer William M. Rasmussen, and Clair E. Driscoll were flown in a Coast Guard plane to Ketchikan and Second Mate Henry H. Wolfe, was flown to Annette Island and taken by boat to the hospital.
      The fourth survivor, Carlos Sanabria, of Honduras, was aboard the cutter WACHUSETTS, that continued the search for bodies.
      With Nilsen in the lifeboat were Boatswain Jack Adams, Quarter-masters Ed Rod and James Nelson, and Martin Carlson, John Totland, Cecil Longacre, Ralph Erlandson and Reino Ross, able seamen.
      Capt. Aspen said he could not understand how the CLARKSDALE got so far off course as to hit Hippa Island. He showed a sketch that he had made of the island, that showed Hippa as a small, steep hump in the sea.
      A second landing party was set ashore on the island this forenoon in a final search for missing crewmen.
      A party was to go aboard the bow section of the wreck as soon as winds and seas abate.
Text from the Seattle-Times Nov. 1947.

Capt. C.J. Dugan
Lost 12 January 1913
Coos Bay, OR.
Lost: 24 seamen

"The most disastrous shipwreck from the standpoint of loss of life in the Coos Bay area occurred in 1910. The CZARINA crossed out over the Coos Bay Bar, bound for San Francisco with coal, cement, and lumber. 
      As she crossed the bar tremendous breakers mounted to great summits, crashing and foaming. Pitching like a pump handle, the ship poked its nose into one, hoisted it aside and tackled the next. It was a touchy game and one that might have been victorious for the steamer had not its steering apparatus become disabled.
      It took only seconds for the seas to move in for the kill. The CZARINA was literally thrown on the north spit, an open target for the laughing tempest. The steamer scraped over the shelves of sand, each breaker wedging her tighter than the last. When she became immobile the seas really settled down to business. Gray, gruesome, liquid acclivities bore down on the imperiled ship. Holes were opened in her decks, the boats were torn from their davits, the cowls, railings, and fittings carried overboard. Water scudded through the superstructure, down the passageways, into the holds. The onslaught was indescribable.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      The nearby lifesaving station was alerted, but the seas were so savage that rescue was a virtual impossibility. Beach equipment was rushed to the scene but even as it was assembled the desperate men on the CZARINA were already in the rigging of the foremast trying desperately to escape. The 220' iron vessel was foundering amidst the breakers and her heavy cargo fastened her to the bottom.
      By this time hundreds had gathered on the beach. All wanted to render aid but were completely helpless. In the sea mist far out in the breakers, beyond the reach of the line-throwing gun, they could see the helpless seamen clinging for their very existence. Few can imagine their agony in their last precious minutes. Numbed by the chill air and soaked by driving salt spray, their cries for help froze in their mouths. One by one they were swept from their perch. After each rolling sea, the numbers would lessen. They appeared like spiders being spun from a web. Before the brief but terrible ordeal had ended the rigging was void of all life--24 men were carried to their deaths. There was but one survivor, the chief engineer who miraculously reached shore.
      The CZARINA wreck became a silent one. People had little desire to discuss it. It is a torment to watch men die before one's very eyes and yet be unable to do anything about it.
      The CZARINA was valued at $75,000 and was a staunch iron-hulled vessel, an 1883 product of Sunderland, England."
Text from: Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast. Gibbs, James A. Jr.
Binfords & Mort,1957.

ON 81534
Capt. Charles Stanley
Built Hoquiam 1896
Wrecked: 20 July 1910
Marrowstone Point, WA.
DODE (ex- Schooner WILLIAM J. BRYANT.)
Her 300 HP engine was salvaged for tug FOREST CROSBY.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

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