The essay listed below was solicited by curators of the Shaw Island Historical Society for their archive-building work in the 1990s.
This respected, and usually law-abiding resident mariner, Skip Bold, has been messing with boats and beaches for decades. He offered to read his piece aloud to the annual membership meeting during that time period; it is an interesting bit of salty folklife emanating from the geographical center of the archipelago. With Skip's permission, please view the story below.
"I won't go into the politics of the log patrol. It will be sufficient to say that it was a state institution under which a beachcomber could become very unpopular with locals while at the same time failing to make a living. The system primarily served timber companies at the expense of both the taxpayer and the log patrolman.
I had only one run-in with the log patrol and that was on a Saturday in July 1977 or 1978.
|The area of which Skip Bold writes for this essay on log affairs.|
Click to enlarge image.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
The beginnings of this story occurred the previous spring. Late one evening I saw a Canadian log tow in trouble on Bird Rock off Coon Island, in the San Juan Archipelago. There was much searchlight activity and revving of engines, but the tow was well hung-up.
The next morning the tug and tow were gone but they left behind a fair number of lovely Alaska Cedar logs.
Alaska Yellow Cedar is known as "yellow gold" by boat builders and other wood workers who need rot-resistant wood; some are even addicted to its unique smell.
Five of these logs drifted right onto my dad's point. I tied them up immediately. Others fell into the hands of a an unnamed poultry farmer. He had a boom truck and got them out of the water without delay. Two prime specimens floated onto Broken Point where Clayton and Eve Shaw lived. They tied them up at once.
|Captain Clayton R. Shaw (1908-2001)|
HIs whole career was spent "on the water".
A calm, quiet, respected gentleman at home on Broken Point.
Dated 1958. Photographer unknown.
Original photo from the S. P. H. S. ©
Clayton [1908-2001] was raised on the Shaw family farm on Broken Point, but spent most of his working career in Alaska, where for many years he was the highly regarded Fleet Captain for Nakat Packers. He would have been acutely aware of the virtues of Alaska Cedar. After Captain Shaw retired, he married Eve and they moved back to the Shaw farm for many years.
Eve was a big, strong--willed Southern woman. Captain Shaw was no lightweight either, and I suspect the two of them would look mighty intimidating if they were mad at you.
The first to test the Shaws' resolve to hang onto their yellow cedar was a local lad. We'll call him Smitty. I actually saw most of this while dining at the Orcas Hotel that evening. Smitty went to Broken Point in his outboard, untied the two logs, and towed them into Blind Bay. Not a half-hour later Smitty reappeared, towing what looked to be the same logs back to Broken Point. A very puzzling performance. I happened to see Smitty the next day and was told that an enraged Eve Shaw met him at the beach in Blind Bay. She told him in no uncertain terms what she expected him to do, and NOW! He did.
Well, getting back to July. Almost at dusk the Friday evening before the run-in with Eve, a light plane appeared flying very low and obviously scouting the beaches. It occurred to me at the time that this might be the harbinger of the log patrol.
I was living in a cabin in the woods, and my parents were staying on the point for the summer. Sure enough, that Saturday afternoon I got a call from my mother that there were some men, off a boat ashore on our beach, about to make off with my logs. Taking an old exposed-hammer 12-gauge off the wall, I called my Springer, 'Schooner', and set off to repel boarders.
When we arrived at the point, there was a log patrol boat in the bay (LCVP-Anacortes), a skiff on the beach, two guys working on my logs, and one up on the point checking out my red cedar shake-bolt pile.
I might have looked threatening but to my amazement, 'Schooner' took control of the situation by fixing these guys with a glare and snarling at them. We didn't waste any words, I just kept repeating, 'Get back in your boat and leave.' They did, after hurriedly pointing out their legal rights.
'Schooner' and I retied the logs and went home. That night the logs were taken to Squaw Bay lagoon and hidden up the creek under the trees. Later they were milled to become part of the kitchen addition and parts of many boat remodel projects.
Anyway, I thought that would be the last I heard of the log patrol. It was not.
The next day, I had a formal visit by Sheriff Deputy Tom Gray. It seems there had been a complaint of threatening behavior emanating from Shaw Island. Either Tom or another deputy had actually met with the log patrol guys near Jones Island to get their story.
Tom sternly asked me what in hell I had in mind by threatening people with a shotgun. I explained:
1. I wanted to keep my logs.
2. The shotgun wasn't loaded.
3. It obviously had no firing pins.
4. It was 'Schooner' that did the effective threatening.
Tom relaxed a bit after that and said, 'Well, it really wasn't you that frightened them, it was the lady with the axe'.
Lady with the axe! What ware you talking about, Tom?
It seems that the log patrol had stopped at Broken Point just before they met 'Schooner' and me. After untying Shaws' logs, they met the impressive couple and a high-volume exchange took place. When they refused to leave the logs, Eve ran to the chopping-block, extracted a double-bitted axe and plunged into the water brandishing the axe. Her intent was to cut the towrope. As far as the log patrol guys were concerned, she was after them with the axe.
I doubt that any of those guys will ever forget the image of Eve Shaw wading in up to her bosom wearing a house dress and swinging that axe.
We haven't seen the log patrol on the north side of Shaw since."
Neck Point, San Juan Archipelago and Anacortes, WA.
We could possibly find an image of the 12-gauge and 'Schooner' but we are missing one with Eve Shaw and her axe.