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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.

17 April 2015


Submitted to Piling Busters Writing Contest 1950
Published by Jack P. Shipley
Tacoma, WA
This story typed verbatim, is written by Capt. Carl M. Hansen, Seattle, WA.

"This story may be of some interest to my many friends among the yachting and tugboat world and others of the seafaring fraternity.
Amundsen's expedition on three-master Norwegian MAUD
Leaving with Carl M. Hansen,

 Seattle, June 1922.
Photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
       It was in the year 1922 that I joined Capt. Roald Amundsen's North Pole Expedition as Chief Mate and Ice Pilot. The expedition left Seattle in June of that year. I remember the day very well, for on the eve of departure the members of the crew pooled all the money we could lay our hands on, and we threw a party at the old Butler Hotel in Seattle. Memories of that party lasted us a long time, for we spent 42 months in the Arctic and we saw no land for 30 months.
      After we got up north, we discovered that some rats had shipped out with us and we knew we had to get rid of them fast, for our fur clothing and other gear, was in great danger.
      The Captain offered a bounty of one cigar for every rat turned in, alive or dead, and every man set out his own trapline and tended it zealously. 'Every man for himself' was the slogan of the day, and when we smelled the aroma of cigar smoke we sought out the lucky owner of the cigar to enjoy his good fortune, second hand, of course.
      As I was working on some gear one morning in the little shop, I heard a snap in the sail room nearby, that was part of my own trap line. I rushed in to see the victim, gloating in advance over my less fortunate shipmates who still had to taste their first cigars.
      I wasn't prepared for the sight I was about to see, and my astonishment is understandable when I tell you that in the trap––deader than a marlinespike, was the largest rat I ever saw. It was so huge that I didn't believe my eyes.
L-R: N. Olonkin, engineer
Prof H. U. Sverdrup, scientist
Capt. Oscar Wisting, master of MAUD and 
Commander in absence of Amundsen,
N. Syvertsen, Asst. engineer and radio operator.
Original photo dated 29 May 1922
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      My surprise didn't last long, for I was eager to smack my lips over one of the Captain's good cigars, so I bent down to pick up the trap and release the rat. I placed the animal on a dustpan and surveyed it. It certainly was a whopper. Then the truth dawned on me. Here, up in the Arctic, I was face to face with the facts of life. I could not ignore them.
      So I opened my jackknife and performed the neatest operation ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle. When it was over, I marched into the officers quarters with my trophy. What yells of dismay and despair greeted me. The men gathered around and looked with unbelieving eyes as the Captain reached for the cigar box. He methodically counted them into my eager hands––'one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.' Then he snapped the lid shut and steeled himself to the protest that came instantly. 'No fair!' was the mildest I heard that day, but the Captain quieted them all when he announced that 'a rat is a rat.' Solomon couldn't have ruled any better, for how could I know in advance there was a big rat on board that was 'expecting."

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