"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.

About Us

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San Juan Archipelago, 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 650, 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 February 2016


Built 1881
Undated, original photo collected by J. Williamson,

photographer unknown.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"While hijacking an ocean liner is theoretically more practicable than trying to divert a passenger train from its ordained course, it poses many problems. Several thousand tons of very solid steel make a much less vulnerable target for gun or bomb than does or a thin-skinned airliner, and there is a crew of from fifty to several hundred widely dispersed and horny-fisted seamen and engineers to contend with. For these and other reasons, hijackings were rare on the coastwise sea lanes. The few which were attempted were not successful.
      Some were farcial from beginning to end. Back in 1903 the old Pacific Coast Steamship liner, UMATILLA, set out from Seattle on her regular run to San Francisco. Along the way a passenger, either mentally deranged or overcome by the liberal service of the UMATILLA's bar, became convinced that he was the ship's captain and the only man aboard who could save her from disaster.
      Mounting to the bridge, he began issuing orders to the crew, much to the amazement of Capt. Louis Nopander, the steamer's veteran skipper. Finding the uninvited guest to be harmless, Capt. Nopander decided to humor him. The self-appointed navigator remained on the bridge all the way down the coast, periodically bellowing orders that he felt essential to the safety of the ship. The crew responded politely with "Aye, aye, sirs" and went on about their business.
       At San Francisco the deluded passenger politely turned the bridge back over to Capt. Nopander before being escorted ashore by several men in white coats."
Above text from the Sea Rogues' Gallery. Newell, Gordon. Superior Publishing Co. 1971.
1918, 5 March
One of the best known of the Pacific coastwise fleet and the survivor of many a stranding during her years of service, finally became an apparent total loss in the offshore service of Admiral Oriental Line. The UMATILLA, the old iron steamship, stranded off the coast of Japan this day. All of the 55 persons aboard were removed safely, but the veteran steamship, built in 1881, was considered to be a hopeless wreck and was abandoned. In subsequent months a sandbar gradually built up between the wreck and the shore and the Japanese took advantage of this development to dismantle the UMATILLA plate by plate. They later reassembled the vessel from plans obtained from the original builders, and this remarkable and virtually indestructible craft was subsequently operated for many years as a Japanese steamship.  
The H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the PNW. Newell, Gordon. Seattle. (1966)    

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