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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.

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.

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