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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.

23 January 2016

❖ CHIEF ENGINEER without an engine


Schooner AZALEA
ON 106787
Built 1890, Fairhaven, CA.
344 G.t. 327 N.t. 
150' x 35' x 11'
This photo hung in the office of Rich Exton for many years.
Photo kindly donated by Miles McCoy of Orcas Island.
"About 1914, the AZALEA went into the Bering Sea long line cod fishing. I heard she carried 24 dories for Robinson Fisheries of Anacortes. About 1920, Robinson remodeled her, put a full deck house on and installed a one-line, one-pound, tall-can salmon fish cannery. They didn't make any money.
SCHOONER AZALEA, Seattle
Leaving for the Bering.

Click to enlarge.
A little later than Eber Bruns employment.
Undated, original photo by James A. Turner of Seattle.

 From the archives of S.P.H.S.©
In 1924 I went up on her. That year we all signed on before a shipping commissioner. When he asked the skipper my duties he said 'chief engineer.' So I was chief engineer of a full rigged schooner with no power.
Eber Bruns, the highest in the rigging.
Image shared by his daughter, Ellen.
      My job with the cannery was to try and keep all engines workable, cannery boat, beach seine winches, outboards and any other thing that needed doing. That included running the cannery for about 10 days when the foreman got sick. I went back again in 1925. Long hours when the fish were running good, but fun in lots of ways.
      I was furnished a boat the first year, a 32-ft troller with a 16-HP. The second year, a 44-ft seiner with 40-HP. We used to run her up and down the coastline so I could check the winches the fishermen used on the beach for pulling seine.
      The schooner was anchored out from shore about 1/2-mile in the middle of the long bay. We had to bring water from shore in a scow, out to the cannery. We had a chute fixed up at a creek to fill the scow, then pumped it aboard.
      The AZALEA was towed from Seattle to off Cape Flattery. They sailed across the Gulf. We were met by one of our power boats and towed into Zacher Bay, Kodiak Island, AK."
Above text by Eber Bruns  (1902-1982). Shared with web admin by his daughter Ellen Madan.

1939: SOPHIE CHRISTENSON, AZALEA, and WAWONA made up the Bering Sea codfishing fleet this year, making a combined catch of 863,263 fish.

1946: Robinson Fisheries received WAWONA back from the government, succeeded in refitting her, but the AZALEA was hard-used by the Army as a barge and was not returned to service by Robinsons. AZALEA ended up in Sausalito Harbor where she sunk, stern to the old schooner BEULAH of 1882.


❖ Eber was born on Lopez Island, raised on Blind Bay, Shaw Island and then later moved with his wife, to raise their children on Orcas Island. 

      Bruns worked on the mailboat SAN JUAN II, under ownership of San Juan Transportation Company out of Bellingham, the work boat CALCITE of Roche Harbor, towing scows of lime rock to paper mills down sound, as an engineer on SALMONERO for Henry Cayou of Deer Harbor, as engineer on the ARTHUR FOSS, and on the M.V. FEARLESS, buying fish for Capt. Jones for the Deer Harbor Cannery. 
      After his time as a well-known commercial boatman on Puget Sound, the Orcas Power and Light Company hired Eber as chief engineer and operations superintendent, where he kept things running for almost thirty years.
Schooner AZALEA 
Winter moorage tucked in behind

her big friend WAWONA.
Undated photograph by James A. Turner, Seattle. 
Original from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

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