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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.

20 March 2013

✪ ✪ ✪ THE Steam Tug MARY C Born on Decatur Island ✪ ✪ ✪

Steam tug MARY C with tow.
Undated photo copy courtesy of Cliff Thompson.


















"MARY C was in many ways typical of the steam tugs that operated in Northwest waters in the earlier days. Her detailed history is furnished by Albert W. Giles, who made many voyages on her under Captain Hugh Gilmore who commanded her for 22 years.
      
      'It has been said that Henry Cayou had only the best in mind when he ordered a new tug built for the then booming salmon fisheries. In 1903 he ordered the MARY C, named after his wife, from the Reed Brothers Yard at Decatur Island. He insisted upon and got wonderful construction, the stem being a natural crook that ran fifteen feet along the keel. The first five planks above the keel were said to be full length and edge drift bolted. The rest of her construction was of like quality and only the very best of materials went into her.
      Her Heffernan-built engine was a fore-and-aft compound of 12" and 23" bore and 23" stroke, taking steam from a Fairhaven Boiler Works Scotch boiler at 165 lbs pressure.
      Shortly after her completion, Mr. Cayou turned her over to the E. K. Wood Lumber Co. of Bellingham, WA, where she went into log towing for that firm, under command of Capt. Zura B. Murry. After two years of this, and a year on charter towing to Skagway, the boat passed to the American Tug Boat Co of Everett. Her first master there was Angus Fife, followed by Frank Perkins, and by Hugh Gilmore, in 1910. For the rest of her life her work was the usual Puget Sound combination of log and barge towing with an occasional ship docking, or a sailing vessel pick-up and escort to sea. Her range was from Olympia to Comox, B. C.
      As her design made her one of the best pulling boats for her power, it also compelled her to keep clear of shallow ports and tidal race-ways, as she was of sharp design, and would lay way over if beached on a flat beach. This caused her some embarrassment one time in Big Skookum, Hammersly Inlet, as she grounded at Cape Horn, and layed so far over that she filled before rising on the next incoming tide. From then on she was never sent into the Skookum. She drafted at 12.5' and had a long, easy run, all aft ahead of her wheel, which gave her good water to the screw and resulted in her exceptional pulling abilities.
      She originally burned coal but was changed over to oil in 1916. She was a dependable, successful, boat all of her life and was in steady use until 1932, when she was tied up, primarily due to the depression. She was idle for some years and she was finally stripped and the hull abandoned on the jetty at Everett. Her excessive draft caused her owners to forego converting her to diesel power. It is said that her pilot house still sits on the bank of the Snohomish River [1965] where some beachcomber hauled it out.'
      Capt. Hugh Gilmore served as her master steadily from 1910 until her lay-up in 1932."

Text from: The H. W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, Gordon Newell, editor, Superior, 1965.
Photo courtesy of Cliff Thompson, Deer Harbor, WA.
    
According to the federal Master Carpenter's Certificate on file, The MARY C (O.N. 93374) was 70.7' x 18.3' x 8.8', 92.52 G. t. and 47 N. tons burden. 
      Builder was listed as William H. F. Reed (born 1869, Blakely Island--died 1935, Anacortes).
      The first boat that William built at the Reed Shipyard was this steam tug, listed as owned by himself and Henry Cayou, each owning one-half interest. 
      Reed had earlier been employed building boats at Dawson during the Klondike gold rush where he personally knew many of the noted characters of that time and region.
      Next he was employed by the Pacific American Fisheries in Alaska, as foreman in their shipyards.                  
      Closer to home he was a shipbuilder for three or four years for Skinner & Eddy, Seattle.
      He was known as a most conscientious, honest shipbuilder, never putting out inferior work, or using inferior materials. A scale model he built was entered at the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, where he won a prize.
Friday Harbor Journal, Jan. 1935.
From the archives of the S. P. H. S.  
      

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