"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

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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.

04 April 2015

❖ SEVEN KNOTS BY MOONLIGHT ❖ by June Burn

Day 64 of 100 Days in the San Juans. June Burn, 
Author of Living High and former San Juan County islander, June Burn, on contract with the Seattle P-I in summer of 1946.
We don't need any photographs with words by June Burn.
Stuart Island: Named by Wilkes for Frederick D. Stuart, captain's clerk of the expedition.
Detail of Chart 3450
East Point to Sand Heads
Corrected through notices to mariners to July 1968.
Published by Canadian Hydrographic Services.
Max Kuner Co. dealer stamp, Seattle ,WA.

Click to enlarge.
Out of date chart from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

     "A raw, windy Sunday morning beside a comfortable fire, breakfast just over, a seagull winging over the tidy little Stuart Island dock, swallows dipping, our smoke blowing towards this incredible bluff, picoted, scalloped, braided and neatly stitched in tight waves of paper-thin layers of rock.
     Last night as we came in under the light of an almost full moon at 10 PM this bluff looked like a smooth cement bulwark, man-made. There were bridges and viaducts along it and if we hadn't a mast, we could surely have rowed under one of the fine arches made, we see this morning, with shadows.
     It took us four hours to get across this wind-swept meeting of San Juan Channel with Haro Strait from Sandy Point to Prevost. The tide divides somewhere in this broad triangle, half going towards Canada, the other half towards Friday Harbor. We got caught in the half that goes toward Canada and I wanted just to go on with it. We had never been there at all. But Farrar is a more law abiding citizen and he wouldn't. So we rowed and we rowed and we sailed and went backwards and we rowed again. We went to Canada and back a time or two, in actual mileage––or knotage–I think, wind-driven, tide-ripped and moonlit. It was wonderful.
     This little Prevost Harbor of Stuart looked like a sailor's heaven when we finally got here, though. We had seen the sun set in a clear yellow sea of sky above South Pender Island and, at the same moment, the almost invisible face of the nearly full moon rise in clean blue over Orcas.
     We had seen Mt. Baker white at first, a rich saffron in the sunset, blue white in the moonshine, and at last nothing. Cascades, Canadian Coast Range, Olympics stood quietly while the day and sunset and moonrise and night colors washed over them.
     At 7:30 I saw the first star. I said my wish––that we'd be there in half an hour––and it began to come true at 9:30.
     We saw big ships being towed by the International Boundary line past Saturna Light on up to Vancouver. Our sails were up and we were both rowing at the same time. I thought what a funny silhouette we must have made if anybody on a ship had happened to be looking down the wide moon path, just as we crossed it.
     Island shapes look different at night. Stuart, Johns, the Cactus Islands, Spieden, even distant San Juan would suddenly look strangely near and then discouragingly far. We were watching familiar outlines, as people do, completely un-noticing of the Canadian Gulf islands just as near-by. Then I did glance over that way and said: "Why, we're in Canada!"
     "Darned if we're not,," Farrar said and lit out from there, his arms just stepping it off! Heigh ho! I guess we'll be amateurs at everything until we die. Here we've boated in these waters longer than you're old, likely, and we still blithely imagine that as long as we've got our bow pointed in a certain direction, we're going that way. We rowed on back to America.
     At last we rattled and bumped over the kelp bed in Prevost Harbor and began to draw near to the dock with the little white warehouse perched on top. Two people were standing there.
     'Ship, ahoy!' they said.
     'Land, ahoy!"'we said and told them who we were.
     'We're the Ericksons,' they said and guided us to the ladder, took our line, helped us up, gave us the city fathers' permission to sleep in the warehouse that night. That was the most comfortable floor!
     It was late, for us, as we stood there on the dock talking to young Ralph and Florence Erickson but they have always been story book people to us, like the Lofoten fishermen of Norway. We began to ask them about fishing and they began a story of the shark and halibut and tuna and salmon season that ran on into the next day.
     This is the next day, as I write. I'm sitting on a log on the Lofgren beach where we had permission to make a fire. Farrar has just gone up onto the dock to get the sleeping bags and make the boat shipshape for the day. I look at him as he moves down the dock against a background of high blue-green hills and think how he becomes this country! He's going along thinking about man and the earth, likely. He's always thinking about that. In the middle of any task he will look up and say what I always expect to be something like,' I can't get the egg off this damn plate!' and instead it will be, 'you know, man can't have any more than this. The earth, this sea, a beach, food, companionship. This is all any man can get. And when he dies, he simply gets it more completely. He becomes part of it, when he dies. What else could a man want?"



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