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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.

08 January 2016

❖ A REMARKABLE HORN PASSAGE ❖

EDWARD SEWALL, Seattle.
136762
322' x 45.3' x 25.5'
Built in 1899, Bath, ME.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Donated by Skip Bold.
Click to enlarge.
      "The American four-masted bark EDWARD SEWALL arrived at Seattle, WA, on 6 August 1914, after a passage of 293 days from Philadelphia. This was the last westward passage of the Horn by an American ship. In addition to this distinction, the SEWALL's passage (one of the longest in recent times) is noteworthy in the history of the Cape Horn trade on account of accident and a run of head winds exceeding the usual experience of vessels in negotiating that difficult corner.
      
STAR OF SHETLAND 
(ex-EDWARD SEWALL)
by artist/author  W.S. STEPHENSON, USN.
 SHIPS, A Collection of Marine Illustrations.
Ben Kreis Agency, Vancouver, WA. 1947

Archived S.P.H.S. Library.
The EDWARD SEWALL, under command of Capt. R. Quick, sailed from Philadelphia, 18 October 1913, for Seattle. While in the South Atlantic her bowsprit broke, and she was compelled to put back to Bahia Blanca. After repairs she sailed from the latter port on 9 Jan. 1914. A few days later the bowsprit again gave trouble, necessitating a second return to port. On 1 March she again set sail from Bahia Blanca, after a loss of about two months' time.
      On 10 March, the SEWALL passed through the Strait of Le Maire. Four days later she had reached a position west of Cape Horn. On the 15th she was within three miles of the beach. At this moment the wind hauled ahead. During the next five days the vessel made a course almost due south, arriving on the 19th at a point 68 W., 60.20 S., or about 300 miles south of her position on the 14th.
      During the next three days a number of tacks were made, resulting in a net loss of westing. Between 22 and 26 March, the vessel made about 300 miles of westing and reached a point 79.09 W., 60.40 S. This was the farthest south made during the struggle to weather the Cape.

      Two days later (28 Mar.) the SEWALL's position was 80.05 W. 60.10 S. This was the best westing so far made since 13 Mar. During the next nineteen days a number of tacks were made, the net result of which carried the vessel to a position 67.26 W., 56.09 S. Thus, all the westing which had been gained since 13 Mar was lost, and the vessel was now about 35 miles due east of Cape Horn. A whole month's work had gone for nothing!

      During the next three days (16-19 April) the vessel made about 250 miles of westing. Between 19 April and 4 May, many tacks were made. At one time (26 April) the SEWALL reached a point 76.57 W., which longitude had been reached a month previously. She was driven back, and on 4 May had arrived at the longitude of 71.47 W.
      The latter date marks the turning of the corner, the end of a fight which had lasted without intermission for two months. Between 4 and 6 May the SEWALL made a course nearly due west. At midnight on the 6th she crossed the meridian of 76 W., which position she had previously reached on two occasions (28 Mar and 26 April.) From this time the course lay north and west. On 8-9 May the position was about 79 W., 55 S. Cape Horn had been weathered. The hard-fought battle had been won.
      
Courses made by American Ship
EDWARD SEWALL (1914)
From Last Days of Sail on the West Coast,
Walter MacArthur. (1929)



     The full period occupied in making the passage from 55 S. in the Atlantic to 55 S. in the Pacific (10 Mar-8 May) was 59 days. Estimating the net distance in westing at 15 degrees (or 500 miles), the average gain was about eight miles a day. During the entire period the ship traversed fifty-four courses and crossed her own tracks twenty-five times. The distance sailed on the numerous courses aggregated 3,564 miles. During the entire passage from Philadelphia to Seattle the SEWALL traversed a distance of 23,407 miles. Excluding the time occupied in returning to Bahia Blanca and making repairs, the actual sailing time was 216 days.


     Then follows many ship log notes...
     The EDWARD SEWALL loaded at Seattle for Dublin and made the eastward passage by way of Cape Horn. Between 1915 and 1920 she made several voyages to S. American ports and to the Orient with case-oil under the ownership of the Texas Oil Co. In 1922, while lying at New Orleans, she was bought by the Alaska Packers Assoc; her name was changed to STAR OF SHETLAND. She made the passage to San Francisco by way of the Panama Canal and was then employed in the AK salmon fisheries."
 Above text from; Last Days of Sail on the West Coast. MacArthur, Walter.
 Press of The James H. Barry Co. San Francisco. (1929)
     This ship made numerous calls in Puget Sound and Alaskan waters during her active career.
     Wilfred S. Stephenson, was born in Vancouver, BC, in 1912. Later a Washington artist, who formerly did commercial drawings for a Vancouver, WA printing firm. He joined the Navy where he had leisure hours at sea and mailed drawings in one at a time. The pen sketches and wash drawings, gathered together by his former employer, Ben Kreis, were reproduced in the book mentioned. Especially noteworthy are the nine old sailing ships of the Alaska Packers fleet.
     During the war, Stephenson was stationed at Bremerton and Friday Harbor, later being attached to the Asiatic Fleet, stationed in China and the Philippines. He visited nearly every port in the Orient, from Japan and Russia, to India. During WW II he was promoted from enlisted status to that of commissioned officer. 
     

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