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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.

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.

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