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and the extent of our care of them marks the
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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 2014

❖ STEAMER MOHAI ❖

Steamer MOHAI, 1961.
L-R, Murrey Amon, Mark Freeman, "Capt." Jim Vallentyne,
A touch of the past as they chugged through the
Montlake Cut in the rebuilt steamboat MOHAI
also known as AFRICAN QUEEN.
Photo by Johnny Closs for The Seattle Times.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.
"This little boat had been one of two sister work boats carried by the Bureau of Indian Affairs supply ship NORTH STAR to carry goods ashore in Alaska at places without docks. When they came up for bid, Dad (Doc Freeman) bought one and Lloyd Frank bought the other. Lloyd built her into a small tug and installed a 165-HP gas engine. Today she is known as TWOBITTS and I think Elwood Avery still owns her as a pleasure boat. 
      They were both open boats; ours had a 115-HP Chrysler Crown and we used her just the way she came for shifting all the big boats Dad had at Northlake Boat Sales. 
      Our friend and employee, Jim Vallentyne ran her for me as an assist boat. Jim and Dad got to talking about making her into a steam boat. Frank Prothero donated a Model K Navy engine c. 1900 and Jim rebuilt it. They found a real Scotch Marine Boiler that would burn coal or wood. They installed the engine and boiler and fitted a rebuilt 24-inch diameter propeller and had the wheel repitched to 40" and it was just the right combination. We still used her as a tug but you had to build up steam before you could shift––we all had a lot of fun with her. We even took her to opening day in 1961 disguised as the AFRICAN QUEEN with empty cases of Gilbey's gin stacked on the aft deck just like Humphrey Bogart would have done.
      Dad died in December of 1963; mother and I gave the steamboat to Jim Vallentyne and his wife Loretta. Jim and our old engineer, Edmund Anderson, built a house on her and renamed her the DAVID T. DENNY. 
      Jim drowned on the Columbia River Bar tying to deliver a 50-ft Chris Craft [NUNY II] from San Diego to Seattle when a huge Pacific storm caught him [in October 1967.]
      The steamboat was sold and ended up in our moorage at Fremont Boat; I understand it was shipped to Europe to do the canals and now is somewhere in the Eastern US."
Text written by Mark Freeman of Freemont Tugboat Co.

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