"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

About Us

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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.

27 April 2013

❖ Scientist-Educators ❖ Recall Early Institution in Friday Harbor

As the only major marine institution of its kind in the continental US on waters of the Northeast Pacific, the island establishment has gained eminence in the world of research.
 
Professors Trevor Kincaid (L)
 and Thomas C. Frye

original photo 1961, by Roy Scully.
from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society.
Two men who now are professors emeritus comprised the entire faculty of the laboratories when they opened in 1904 as the Puget Sound Marine Biological Station. They find the present highly specialized program for graduate students vastly removed from the summer natural-history courses they conducted at Friday Harbor.    
      ‘Instead of studying all about a sea cucumber, someone studies its blood supply’, said Prof. Trevor Kincaid, zoologist. ‘There is a shift in emphasis. Biological science has become an adjunct of physics and chemistry.'
     Dr. T. C. Frye, Kincaid's partner in the original enterprise, remembers how the pair divided studies so that one took all marine animals and the other, all marine plants. They also divided administration matters, Kincaid planning and scheduling expeditions, and Frye keeping the accounts.
     Kincaid, 88, was here at the inception of the Friday Harbor project. Dr. Frye, 91, who still keeps office hours in the botany department at the university, joined the faculty after the site had been chosen. He was in time to initiate the first season's work.
     The two men alternated as director for a number of summers, to permit each to engage in other fieldwork. 
     The staff is recruited from the departments of botany, meteorology and climatology, microbiology, oceanography, zoology, and the College of Fisheries. 
     Speaking of the laboratories' long incubation period, Kincaid said that when he arrived in Seattle as a student in 1894, a member of the Young Naturalists Society, Philip P. Randolph, took him on a weekend expeditions to dredge for specimens in Puget Sound. They used a two-handled windlass rigged to a small tugboat, the MOTH, which was fueled with driftwood.
     For two summers Columbia University maintained a temporary marine laboratory on a wharf at Port Townsend. The presence of this New York contingent stimulated the desire of the U of WA faculty to have similar facilities.
     Kincaid who meanwhile had attained teaching status, and N. I. Gardner, a graduate student in biology went to Friday Harbor about 1899 on a collecting trip and were entranced by what they found.
     When the Board of Regents of the university was won over to the idea of a marine laboratory, I opposed going as far away as the San Juans. Kincaid and H. R. Foster, botany professor, were instructed to find a site nearer Seattle, such as the old camping place at Rocky Bay or the abandoned Columbia University site, which Port Townsend had offered.
     ‘I had it in my head that either move was merely temporizing to satisfy the authorities and that we would make no mistake at Friday Harbor where opportunities for marine studies were exceptional’, Kincaid said.
     In the spring of 1904, the university announced opening of the station with an enrollment fee of $10 and $3 for lab charges. The entire cost of fees, board, laundry, and incidentals, for a season was no more than $45.
     Classes began 23 June in a cottage rented from Edward G. Warbass, on the south side of the harbor. The 19 students and two faculty members lived in tents. They built their own kitchen, dining, and lab tables.
      
University students and their tents on "campus"
at the Puget Sound Marine Biological Station 

Friday Harbor, WA., 

undated original photos from 
the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
      Opening day, breakfast was served at 4 am so students could be on their way by launch to Minnesota Reef to gather specimens on an extreme low tide. In the next 6 weeks, the rented craft that carried them on trips to Lopez, Stewart, Waldron, Orcas, Shaw, Sucia Islands, and several smaller ones.
      At other times, parties walked along the coast of San Juan or crossed the island by lumber wagon to tramp in mud over their shoe tops, gathering mollusks and seaweed at Kanaka Bay and other shallow bays. It was Dr. Frye’s first experience at the seashore—he was from Illinois—and he has not forgotten the day the dredge brought up a fighting eight-ft shark.
      The next summer, classes moved into the unoccupied Pacific American Fisheries cannery, using the ‘China house’ for kitchen and mess hall and the main building for laboratory. Tents were scattered behind the establishment. 
      These facilities were available until cannery operations were resumed in 1905. Boat transportation in this period was furnished by a shrimp-dredger *.
      Kincaid in this interval, had established a cooperative plan of studies, attracting professors and their students from Oregon, Iowa, Kansas, and the normal school at Bellingham, now Western Washington College of Education.
Washington State College opened a marine-studies camp at Olga, on Orcas Island, and in 1909, the two schools arranged for students to spend three weeks there and three weeks in the old facilities at Friday Hbr. The university temporarily reoccupied the Warbass cottage, then owned by Andrew Newhall.
Early Warbass/Newhall estate, Friday Harbor, WA.
Original photo from the archives of S. P. H. S.©

 
      The joint arrangement was impractical, as tent floors and kitchen equipment were cumbersome to transfer from one island to another.
The State Legislature had appropriated $6,000 for a lab building and the university tried to obtain federal land on which to erect it. To keep the establishment at Friday Hbr, Newhall donated a four-acre site with 1,000 yards of waterfront, adjoining the old cottage.
      The lab, standing several stories high, still can be seen, overhanging the water. It stood partly on cement piers, with a landing float anchored in front.
Again students slept in tents scattered up the slope. Toward the end there were 61 tents.
‘We needed to expand, Kincaid said, ‘and Mr. Newhall asked a high price for additional land. A highway had been run across the property, taking out a large part of it, making an escarpment on the upper side of the road and furnishing a perpetual source of dust. It was becoming very uncomfortable.
‘We decided to try again to obtain a portion of the idle military reservation on the north shore of Friday Hbr. An act of Congress was required to get it for us.
  
U of W Marine Labs, Friday Harbor, WA.
Undated photos from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
top photo by Ferd Brady.

       The land was secured in 1921, and construction of new buildings was started two years later. The government retains ownership of the property in emergencies; in wartime, this was a Coast Guard station.
The year Dr. Thompson became director, the oceanography department got funds for the laboratories from the Rockefeller Foundation.
      ‘Dr. Thompson was a chemist who specialized in sea water, a dynamic person who was bound to make the institution go places,’ said Kincaid. ‘Under him, the type of studies expanded and changed.’
The work at Friday Hbr has broadened to such an extent that the labs have attracted foreign experts in their special marine fields and the station has been the scene of international conferences. So much has been accomplished in studies of worldwide impact that the humble beginning of the place has been lost.
Today’s work runs to parasitology, behavior of certain sea creatures, endocrinology, the physiology of reproduction, the electric, chemical, and mechanical aspects of a crustacean’s neuromuscular inhibition, the distribution of an enzyme, and the mechanism of uptake of radioactive phosphate from seawater, by an embryo sea urchin.
The research now is all highly refined and far-reaching in results compared to light-hearted students of nature who roamed the islands with buckets in those early years."


Above text by journalist/historian/author Lucile McDonald (1898-1992)
Seattle Times, February 1961.
McDonald authored or co-authored 28 books. From 1932, except for 3 years absence, she lived in Washington State. She and later, her son, donated her papers to the University of Washington Library.

*A post on the beginning shrimp fishery in Washington State with images of the early boats, some built in San Juan County, can be viewed here



21 April 2013

❖ AN EPIC OF THE PACIFIC ❖

Inscribed by well-known professional photographer
Charley Fitzpatrick, who also mailed this card in 1937 from
his home area of Ocean Park, WA.
"Japanese motor fish boat RYO YEI MARU, left Misaki,
Japan, 5 Dec. 1926. Picked up off Cape Flattery, WA,
by the S.S. Margaret Dollar, 31 Oct. 1927.
Crew of 11 men and 1 woman, perished.
Vessel burned by request of owners, March 1928."
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

"On the last day of October 1927, as the big freighter MARGARET DOLLAR, Seattle-bound from San Francisco, approached Cape Flattery, a small two-masted, weather-beaten craft, with tattered remnants of sails blowing in the breeze, was sighted off the mouth of Quillayute R. rolling in the long ocean swell and steadily drifting toward the shore, six or seven miles away. The hoarse whistle of the big boat stirred no evidence of life on the drifter, so a boat was lowered and pushed off to investigate.
      As the boarding party approached the small craft, the characters on her stern identified her as Japanese, and her hull, encrusted 4-inches deep with barnacles, and seaweed 2-ft long waving to and fro in the heaving waters, proclaimed a vessel long in salt water, while the damaged rigging and sail tatters, told of fierce struggles with the elements.
      When the boarders climbed her side they were greeted by bleaching bones scattered about the deck, but not a sign of life. Empty fish holds, fore and aft, and fishing gear carefully coiled in baskets on top of the cabin, showed the derelict to have been a fishing boat, and a dismantled gas engine revealed the cause of its plight; while huddled in a corner of the little cabin, the mummified bodies of two men showed the fate of the crew.
     Disabled engine, sails carried away, empty water casks, absence of every trace of food, weed and barnacle loaded hull, and shriveled human forms, told plainly a story of terrific tragedy--accident, struggle, drifting for months, and thousands of miles, starvation, and death.
       But where were the rest of the crew? Clothing scattered about indicated the presence of a number of men. The small boat was gone. Had those two figures in the corner been abandoned by the others? And what were those bones on deck--so many, and all so clean?
      Search furnished no information. Letters and papers in a rattan basked in the cabin were in Japanese, as were the inscriptions painted on a cedar board in the cabin, they could not be read without an interpreter.
RYO YEI MARU
"Japanese fishing schooner, 10 Nov. 1927,
after her 4,000 mile voyage across the Pacific Ocean."
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      The freighter towed the boat into Puget sound and left it at quarantine at Pt. Townsend, but carried the papers and the painted board to Seattle, where the captain turned them over to the Japanese consul for the information they might contain.
       The message painted by the captain of the ill-fated boat on the piece of board revealed the name of the boat to be RYO YEI MARU, meaning 'good and prosperous', and that, with a crew of twelve men, she had sailed from the village of Misaka, Japan, for the tuna fishing grounds on 5 Dec 1926, 11-months before. While fishing, the engine had broken beyond repair, a fierce hurricane had driven them off the banks, and in time their store of food, eight bushes of rice, was consumed. All hope was gone when the captain painted his message on that piece of board on 6 March 1927, and death was awaited by the despairing men.
      A tragic story with all the details to be read between the lines.
      A later and more careful search by the US Customs officials, after the boat had been towed to Seattle, added much to the story, for a diary was discovered in the effects of, presumable, the last survivor, which detailed the whole harrowing tale from the time the little craft sailed from Japan, until the date of the last entry 11 May.
       The staunch little boat, 86-ft L x 15-ft B x 12-ft D, was powered with a 2-cyl gas engine, supplemented by the sails characteristic of the native boats.
      The diary told of its departure from Misaki and that five days later an engine valve broke, leaving the boat at the mercy of the hurricane. On 13 Dec a Japanese fishing boat was sighted, on the 16th, another fishing boat and a big Japanese liner were sighted, but none of them paid heed to their signals of distress, it they saw them, and even a fire built on the deck, failed to attract. Those were the only boats sighted during all the terrible months of starvation and mental agony.
      Friends and relatives of the members of the crew in San Fran and Seattle, have furnished information that when all the other fishing boats had found their way back to port after the storm the RYO YEI MARU was given up as lost, and on 16 Dec. services were held for the dead. Not long afterwards, insurance on the craft was paid by the underwriters to some thirty stockholders in Japan and in CA and WA. The same informants have told that boat was ill-fated from the first. She was an innovation from the old Nippon construction in many respects. It was the first 'great ship' to be built in the village of Wabuka, was five times the tonnage of the native boats, and was considered a palatial affair. She was also the first 'company' ship to be floated in that locality; the first to carry ice for the preservation of her catch; and the first to be equipped with an engine.
       Sutyi Izawa, the cook, started the diary in lead pencil in a little water-stained book, and it is a wonderful revelation of physical suffering and mental agony--click on "read more" button below--

18 April 2013

❖ INTERNATIONAL FREE TRADE ❖ by Skip Bold

When I was in my teens, in the late 1950s to early 1960s, I spent a fair amount of time in Deer Harbor. Deer Harbor and the closest grocery store, post office, shower, laundry, gas for my boat, and in my late teens, girls, and the Deer Harbor Dance Hall. What a hoot that place was! Two of the more colorful locals I recall were Sherman Thompson who had the saw mill at the lagoon, and 'Mississip' who had a  work boat and who specialised in such water front activities as log salvage.
      The story I am about to relate likely took place in the later fall of 1958.
Drawing by author.

      Friday.     
      That weekend dad and I took the KLICKITAT to Shaw late that night.
      Saturday. 
      The next morning I was amazed to discover that half the cove, in which the Neck Point float resides, was filled with logs. That is to say that there was a large, fresh, log boom moored to the trees along the rocky western shore of the cove. I can't remember how many sections the boom had, but it was all of 200-ft long. I do remember the whole cove being fragrant with the scent of fresh cut timber. There were no boats nor anyone around to explain the boom's presence.
      Sunday.    
      The net morning dawned bright & sunny with a light NW breeze.
Tug drawing by author.

 Soon after daylight, a tug approached rapidly from Deer Harbor. The tug identity remains a mystery.¹ In a life time of messing with boats I can remember the names and sheer lines of nearly every vessel that held any meaning for me. The name of this tug, however, has always drawn a blank. I suspect now, 52-years later, that the name and port of hail had been painted out.
      The tug roared right up to the boom, made up alongside, set up a bridal and towline, sent a couple of guys ashore to cast off from the trees, and got underway with the tow, for Deer Harbor. I don't think the tug was in the cove here for more than ten minutes. It was a very focused and rapid retrieval.
      Later that spring I learned more about the mysterious log boom when I related my story to Jack Tusler on Coon Island. He laughed and said 'Well, that would have been 'Mississip & Sherman', and then proceeded with the local scuttlebutt--
      It seems a tug in BC waters had gotten in trouble and had to abandon her tow.²
      The Deer Harbor boys heard of the drifting tow on the Marine radio³, and thought this might be a fine entrepreneurial opportunity.
      They got someone with a tug involved and went up to BC at night, found the log boom and brought it back across the line to the San Juans. They had ditched the boom at Neck Point while they figured the next move.
      I don't know where the tow went from here, but I did hear that various authorities took a very dim view of the Deer Harbor boys' experiment in International Free Trade. I don't believe anyone was incarcerated, but it is likely that substantial fines were levied.
      I never saw that mystery tug again.

      ¹ Mystery Tug: Small for a top house tug, 70-ft LOA or less. Two old style masts w/boom. Boat deck too small for standard lifeboat on davits. Fairly flat sheer w/low free board. Modern high speed diesel, surely not the original machine.
      ² Abandoning a tow. Dirty weather had something to do with this because the logs had recently lost a lot of bark. Possibly fuel got stirred up in dirty tanks and caused injector problems. Another possibility would be stuffing box or sea chest problems, necessitating a convenient beach, without delay.
      ³ Marine Radio. In those days, Victoria or Vancouver Coast Guard (BC) would give scheduled notice to mariners broadcast on the radio. Deadheads, missing buoys, drifting tows, and other unexpected navigational hazards would be described with reported locations, thus aiding our friends discovery process.
Above submitted by 
Skip Bold, Wasp Passage, San Juan Archipelago.
2013.

12 April 2013

❖ Island Built Tug KLATAWA ❖ Home Port, Friday Harbor

Tug KLATAWA (O.N. 210245)
Photographer, date, and location, unknown.
Scan purchased from the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society©
Please see P.S.M.H.S. if you'd like to purchase a copy.
This gal's name was spelled CLATAWA when her documentation papers were sent to the US Department of Commerce and Labor, but when the Master Carpenter's Certificate arrived home, the 'C' was struck and her name was KLATAWA.
      The gas screw KLATAWA was built by Delbert E. Hoffman (1870-1915), when he operated his boat shop adjacent to what we now know as the Shaw Island ferry landing in San Juan County. 
      Mr. Will Jakle,* a businessman from Friday Harbor, had come to Hoffman with a design he found in a magazine. The builder tried to convince Jakle that it was not a suitable design for a vessel carrying a lot of weight, as for the intended purpose of hauling fish. The builder knew she needed more freeboard aft and his grandson, Henry, remembers hearing that grandpa quietly snuck on approximately 8 more inches of freeboard; the vessel was launched in 1912. 
      The tonnage admeasurement papers include more measurements that you might care to read; her registered length was listed as 50.2' x 15.8' B x 4.8' D; tonnage was 23 G. tons and 15 N. tons burden.
      The year after launching, Captain Jakle was mentioned in the local news for hauling hay and produce from homeport to Pt. Townsend. In 1914, KLATAWA towed Scow IPC-No. 1 with 100 head of young sheep sold by Ed Chevalier of Spieden Island to a farmer in Sydney, B.C. A few years later she was hauling two new Ford cars for Ed Allen who sold them to N. P. Tuck and Walter Arends, both of Roche Harbor. In 1917, Jakle sailed to Seattle to have a new engine installed, a new 60-HP heavy duty Troyer-Fox. According to the supportive local news reporter, she was promoted as the equal of any tug, of her dimensions, on the Sound.
      We can view an early photo of KLATAWA in the local history book by Beryl Troxell Mason, John Troxell, the Fish Trap Man. That was a play day for the hardworking tug to transport some Lopez folks off to a picnic. Most of her career was spent pulling as a towboat in Puget Sound. 
      At one time she was owned by the well known, 'Doc' Freeman, of Seattle. 
      Later, tugboat operator, Mr. Ken Thibert of Anacortes, had KLATAWA towing log booms to the Morrison Mill in Bellingham and to a mill in Stanwood. In 1955, KLATAWA tossed Thibert overboard; he almost drowned as a cable tightened while they were towing boom sticks off the beach. That was the last towboat he owned; afterwards he went into fish boats. 
      KLATAWA was still in registery in 1981.
      You might possibly understand some boats are deserving of special status. When the boatbuilder's great grandson, Michael, located KLATAWA in the 1990s, he made arrangements for the native born boat to follow him home to Shaw Island. There were some serious dreams of restoration but all KLATAWA needed was a haul up above the shore, to enjoy the royal view of Hix Bay. A fitting, final, resting place for one of the family.
KLATAWA
Home to Hix Bay, Shaw Island.

Photo by C. Christensen.

     * William Jakle (1874-1955) was born at Cattle Point, San Juan Island, son of early pioneer residents. His father was a soldier stationed at American Camp and his mother was one of the first Euro-American women on the island. 
     Well-known mariner and marine artist Steve Mayo of Bellingham, painted a beautiful watercolor of KLATAWA working in her home waters, for the Jakle family. He generously agreed to let the Shaw Island Historical Museum have professional copies made for the museum collection and also for the Henry Hoffman family. Thank you Steve.

06 April 2013

❖ SEA SCOUTS ON ORCAS ISLAND ❖

Sea Scout Group Formed on Orcas Island,
March 1945.
SEA SCOUTS ACTIVIAN, 1945.
Possibly at their camp on Cypress Island, WA.
Photo purchased from the Whatcom Museum of History and Art©
Please contact them if a copy of this image is needed.
The S. S. S. MORAN was launched Saturday, 24 February 1945, in the dining room of Norton's Inn, Deer Harbor, with a chowder feed and appropriate and impressive ceremonies. Until the day when the organization can secure an actual sea-going vessel, the S. S. S. MORAN will be a land-ship in scout terminology.
      Officers as commissioned are: Skipper, Rev. Harvey Robinson; mates, Mr. Burt Winne, and Dr. W. C. Adams. The ship's company is made up of Jim Hendron, Richard Phillips, Dan White, Jack Coffelt, Dever Cunningham, Ed Coffelt, Bill Kelton, and Verne Coffelt. The launching of the MORAN marks the beginning of a Senior Scouting program on Orcas Island. Boys eligible for membership are those 15 to 18 years of age.
      The evening's program was carried on through the cooperation of people from every community of the Island.
      The Sea Scout ships ACTIVIAN and FLYING CLIPPER from Bellingham, and the VIKING from Mount Vernon brought 64 Sea Scouts and officers to carry out the Bridge of Honor and the launching ceremony.
      The boats were tied up in Deer Harbor Saturday, and on Sunday morning sailed to East Sound where the boys from the Bellingham ships and the Orcas Island group attended the church service. In the afternoon many interested persons were taken aboard the ships for refreshments and a cruise around the bay. The boats departed about 3:00 o'clock, leaving on Orcas Island, an organized and active Sea Scout Ship.
Text from the Friday Harbor Journal, 8 March 1945.  

04 April 2013

❖ Lopez Island Dock and Ferry Recollections ❖

Ralph HItchcock's route from Anacortes to Lopez Island, WA.
Click to enlarge.

Small detail from Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands
Revised 4th edition, 1989, not for navigational use, 

R. O. Malin copyright. Courtesy of Sobay Maps, Olympia, WA. ©
Please don't copy; these artistically drawn maps are available
from retailers and from their website, here.

The c. 53"x30" copy shows numerous WA. State Parks, shipwrecks, 
ranging from Olympia, WA, up north to Saltspring Island, B. C.
it also depicts the area near Cypress Island 
where Capt. Vancouver lost his anchor in 1792.

"These memories start in 1955 when we acquired waterfront acreage on Swift's Bay, Lopez Island, two miles from the Upright Head ferry dock. In 1923 the original ferry dock was at Port Stanley when the steam ferry CITY OF ANGELES was serving the San Juan Islands and Sidney.
CITY OF ANGELES
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

      In the 1950s the daily mail came to the Lopez ferry dock and the other San Juan islands by the mail boat BRISTOL until she was sunk in a collision (apparently while on automatic pilot). Her successors included the DENNY M, MACARD, and finally the WATER BABY. After that the mail was flown to and from Lopez.
      Starting about 1957, the Lopez dock attendant was Robert Frederickson, whose wife Mary operated the restaurant they built adjacent to the dock. One of the favorites was Mary's lemon pie, ordered by most customers until it was gone. Which leads to an anecdote about the ferry VASHON.
      On summer weekends in the late '50s and early '60s, the VASHON was the Sunday 'cleanup' boat.
The darling VASHON
Pre 1960.
both original photos from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

     She was to be in the islands in the afternoon to take overload cars off Orcas and Lopez to Anacortes on the mainland. Her crew was very fond of homemade lemon pie. So the VASHON would arrive at the Lopez ferry dock early just about every Sunday afternoon, tie up, and send a few crew members to the restaurant for lemon pie. After they'd eaten, they would undock and cruise toward Orcas to pick up at least part of the overload.
      After we had erected a simple cabin and acquired electrical power in 1959, we spent many weekends at 'Driftide' on Swift's Bay, avoiding Friday and Sunday ferry overloads by leaving our car at Anacortes. Our principal supplies (mostly food) were neatly packaged in a big, canvas, tote bag. Upon arrival at Lopez, we walked up the dock to the restaurant where we kept a two-wheeled cart into which the tote bag closely fit. The road beyond Odlin Park and past Swift's Bay had recently been blacktopped, so it was a very pleasant two-mile walk to the cabin. On Sunday afternoons, we reversed the process, walking back to the ferry dock past scores of waiting cars in the lineup. We dropped off our cart and walked aboard the ferry. 
      We recall one sunny Sunday afternoon returning to Anacortes on the VASHON. Because of the noisey crowd on the passenger deck, we decided to stay on the car deck, seating ourselves at the foot of the stairway with our backs against the stair trunk sides. It was one of those days when the swells from the west on the Strait of Juan de Fuca were rounding Colville Point and coming north on Rosario Strait parallel to the ferry's course. After coming out from Thatcher Pass and past James Island we were astonished to feel the stair trunk sides flexing as the ferry gently rolled in the swells. It became quickly obvious that the whole ferry house was swaying on the deck as she rolled. We concluded we didn't want to travel on the VASHON during a southeast storm when it gets really lumpy in Rosario Strait. We wonder if the passenger deck beams were ever reinforced with heavier gussets to the sides of the house.
      The VASHON had only manual steering--no power boost--and the quartermaster had to work hard, especially when docking.
      One weekday, with Capt. Snart in command of the VASHON, we were in our car with friends next to the VASHON's bow at the starboard bulwark. It was a morning trip--very foggy. Either the radar wasn't functioning or had not yet been installed. Soon after departure from Anacortes, two of us left the car to bring coffee and doughnuts to the ladies, saying to them jokingly, 'We'll be right back in case there's any trouble.' We quickly returned with the food and were eating when a great indefinable shadow loomed up on the starboard bow. Then the VASHON's engine shut down and we glided toward that nearing threat. I said, 'let's get out of the car!'
      The VASHON's engine went into reverse. We realized that thankfully, the unknown shape was not a ship but rocky land, now dead ahead.
      Within a ferry's length of a steep rocky cliff, the VASHON stopped and very slowly commenced moving away. We had almost landed on the southern end of James Island, more than a mile off course. To our knowledge, that was the closest a ferry had come to landing there. We slowly moved north, past James Island and into Thatcher Pass where the fog in the Strait cleared. Soon we were docking at Lopez. There is a manually controlled siren at the Lopez dock to assist ferry captains in locating the dock in dense fog. Fortunately, it wasn't needed by Capt. Snart for that particular trip.
      Another time we were on the KLICKITAT eastbound to Anacortes on a cloudy day. A strong southeast wind was blowing. The captain elected to hold course toward Guemes Channel. The KLICK was occasionally slamming into the heavier seas and rolling considerably--enough so that the unoccupied observation cabin chairs slid back and forth from side to side on the linoleum deck.
     
Lopez Ferry Landing
both images from the S. P. H. S.©
       
In the summer of 1964, the ferry system started work on a new ferry dock at Lopez. One September day, a floating crane lifted the old dock bridge out, and lifted the new dock bridge in. The next morning the KLICKITAT was dispatched on a special trip (no car or passengers) to Lopez to act as a tugboat and pull out the old ferry dock wing walls.
      On a few occasions, we had breakfast on the ferry while travelling from Anacortes to Lopez. We particularly remember getting good pancakes and coffee in the KLICKITAT's galley, which, in her old arrangement, was at the opposite end of the passenger cabin from the observation room. 
      
Washington State ferry EVERGREEN STATE
Photo by Bernie McNeil
Published by Smith Western Co., Inc., Tacoma.
from the archives of the S. P. H. S. ©

      Our most enjoyable ferry trips to and from Lopez were on the EVERGREEN STATE when Capt. Cecil Weyrich's crew were on duty. We had good camaraderie with Ted Gagner, the mate, Vic Bottoms, an able seaman and sometime quartermaster, and Sam Kerris, ordinary seaman. Captain Weyrich was easy to talk to, and welcomed us in the pilothouse after undocking and before docking, on several occasions."
Text by Ralph Hitchcock
Published by the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society
Quarterly journal, The Sea Chest, September 1994.
      The present day, dedicated editors of the publication, volunteers Ron and Connie Burke, have led their team to a highly regarded, first class publication, now with touches of color added. The Sea Chest, going into its 45th year, is a benefit of membership. Here's a link.
Ralph Hitchcock, 1965.
Former Lopezian & author of this essay.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S. ©

   Mr. Hitchcock and his wife Eva were both life members of the PSMHS, with keen maritime interests. 
      After Ralph retired as a Boeing engineer for 27 years, he expanded on his avocation, to become a professional model builder for 25 more years, producing 22 models, most all of museum quality. There are three donated to the Lopez Island Historical Museum. In retirement the Hitchcocks lived on Lopez Island for a dozen years.
      There is another log entry written by model maker Mr. Hitchcock, which can be viewed here

Archived Log Entries