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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.

01 March 2015

❖ OFF TO ALASKA ON THE ARK ❖ Tacoma 1940 ❖

Paul and Molly Satko family
Launch day for the ARK OF JUNEAU
Tacoma, WA., 1940.

Two elder sons were left behind in Richmond, VA.
and two children were born later in AK.
Scan of original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Onto the national news scene came the story of Paul and Molly Satko and their crew of children, shown in this striking photo taken in Tacoma. So many on-lookers had suggested the 40' boat resembled an ark, so that became her chosen name, the ARK OF JUNEAU.     
         Paul was an unemployed machinist/welder living in Richmond, VA, who had dreams for a better life. His plans led the man and his family on a long path, trailering his unfinished, home-built boat across the country to the west coast. Boat work is never done, so they were stuck on shore for three years prior to launching.
Authorities inspecting the ARK OF JUNEAU
Owner, Paul Satko on right.
Seattle, WA. 27 April 1940
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Paul Satko with daughter Betty,
their journey interrupted by court action.
Their ARK, in background, is being viewed
by Seattle spectators.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Satko was encouraged to hear of federal homestead land still available in the Eagle River valley, near Juneau, AK. His scheme got bogged down in Seattle when the US Coast Guard and the Puget Sound Pilots said the trip couldn't be done safely in the awkward vessel. Following this stranding, the underage children were taken into protective custody for a time and Paul Satko was escorted off to jail.
Away but 
stranded on a sandbar 
near foggy Vashon Island.
After five hours Satko accepted a Coast Guard tow
and they were off with more troubles ahead.

Photo by Acme dated 30 April 1940
Scan of original photo from archives of S.P.H.S.

Paul Satko
In jail for resisting arrest.
Original photo dated April 1940,
From the archives of S.P.H.S.©
The people of Seattle were not helpful; surrounded with difficult days, the Satkos cruised along the coast to Anacortes, Fidalgo Island, Skagit County.
         It was in this port that the family found friendship. The well-known civic leader, Paul Luvera, welcomed them, energized the townsfolk to help provision the boat for the long trip ahead, and with his legal skills, helped Satko acquire Customs clearance papers.
         To avoid any difficulties from waterborne officials, they left quietly under cover of darkness, casting off from the island, a quick passage through the San Juan Islands (being noted in the local Friday Harbor Journal), past any resident US Coast Guard cutters, and safely into BC waters.
         The Satkos arrived at their northern destination just in time to welcome another baby, Northsea Meridians Satko, their tenth child.
         The story goes that they did find AK land to homestead but failed to file their claim within the time limit, so they did not achieve a patent deed. They farmed for a few years, with only a little success, some of the children married and settled in AK, but late in the 1940s, records show the parents had returned to VA., without the ARK.
Paul and Molly Satko Return.
The Satkos and six of their ten children were preparing
to drive this station wagon found in Seattle,   

to seek a new home in Arkansas.
Satko said he was through with 
homesteading in Alaska.
Original photo back dated 13 June 1946.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      Other details of the Fidalgo Islanders support, with follow-up on the family's adventure, can be viewed here

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