- Saltwater People Historical Society
- 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.
31 December 2016
27 December 2016
Litho by M. Reilly
Deep Sea Stories from the Thermopylae Club
Edited by Ursula Jupp.
Published by author. Victoria, BC. 1971.
This story written by F. Walter Hearle.
Mr. Hearle was born in the Cornish village of St. Constantine, he apprenticed on the barque PENRHYN CASTLE and finished his maritime career in Victoria, BC, preparing huge warps for tugs towing great booms to the mills and making nets for the life-saving Carley floats during WW II. Several of Hearle's valuable stories were archived by the Thermopylae Club, Victoria, BC.
A Heavy Gale––1902
"This is an account of one of the heaviest gales I was ever in at sea. I do not say that it was worse than the other shipmates of the THERMOPYLAE have been through, for everyone who goes to sea gets into real bad weather sometime.
The time of which I am writing was the year 1902. We were bound from Tacoma to Durban, South Africa with a cargo of flour and canned fruit. We left Tacoma on 17 March. The run down to the Horn was uneventful. We rounded the Horn on 13 May with a westerly gale behind us.
It never left us till we were off the Cape of Good Hope.
For nearly two weeks we ran before it with the seas getting heavier all the time. They would come rolling up astern looking like hills with the wind blowing spray from their crests and just when it looked as if they were going to bury the ship she would rise to them, though they generally broke on board from both sides and filled the decks to the rail.
It became a common occurrence for seas to break on board all the way from poop to the forecastle head and often they would break right over the top of the deck-house and fill the boats, bursting in the covers.
There were life-lines stretched along on deck on each side and the fore braces were led along to the bitts on the fore deck as it was impossible to stand amidships and brace the yards.
There was no fresh water to drink as the pumps were continually under water. We used water out of a barrel in the life-boat but it was so bad we could hardly drink it.
One evening in the second dog watch I was returning some mess tins to the galley. It was quite dark at the time. I worked my way along the deck on the port side and just as I came around the corer of the deck house I saw a tremendous sea roll up to the rail on the starboard side, shining with phosphorous. I should imagine it was about twenty feet high where it broke over the side.
I dropped the mess tins, which I never saw again, and grabbed the life-line. My feet were swept from under me and I was in solid green water like one drowning.
The same sea broke in the two-inch teak galley door and washed away the winch abaft the main hatch, breaking the castings just above the deck.The winch went into the scuppers, the broken castings plowing up the deck as it went. It took about half the next watch to get it lashed; it was under water most of the time. One man stood in the main rigging with a lantern while the rest of us lashed it to the bulwark stanchions.
Just at seven bells in the 4 to 8 watch the next morning she took the biggest sea of all. I had just gone into the half-deck to call the watch below and had no sooner closed the door than it came on board with a roar. I felt the ship tremble and then she seemed to go dead as if she had settled down. It was daylight at the time and for several seconds the solid green water stood against the porthole and squirted in all around the door––and that was a deck house!
The second mate, who was on watch, said that as far as he could see there was nothing but the three masts out of water. The only damage it did was to flood the cabin, every room there was awash.
That evening the captain decided to try to heave to despite the risk. We got her around all right but she still continued to keep the decks full of water. The green seas came over the bows so bad that we had to keep look out from the roof of the deckhouse. We could tell that the side lights were burning by watching the reflection against the water every time she took a sea. It was no use to strike the bells as the bell was tolling continuously with the motion of the ship.
I was on the roof of the deckhouse on the look out from ten to midnight. Just before eight bells she shipped a sea. It must have broken exactly as it met her for she shook as if she had struck something solid. I don't know how high that sea mounted but in the distance it looked as if it was coming over the foreyard.
The main topmast staysail was stowed at my feet and when the sea struck me the clew of the sail dragged me off my feet and I seemed to go away in a solid body of water. I didn't know where I was. When I got hold of something solid I found I was on the main deck amidships, jammed between the deck spar and the bulwarks.
The next day we found that the bulwarks were bent where that sea had struck her, several stanchions were started and the door of the wash port was gone.
The half deck was never clear of water for weeks. Our chests were afloat most of the time and were moored at both ends like ships at a wharf. The bunks got so wet that we had to sleep in the sail locker.
This gale continued till we were off the African coast. We arrived at Durban on 10 June, 28 days from Cape Horn and 85 from Tacoma."
24 December 2016
|All best of the season to the many Log |
readers and those who have aided in
maritime archiving this past year!
There is a Wikipedia page about
Capt. Irving (1905-1991,) professional sailor,
survivor of Pearl Harbor, and Exy Johnson,
7 time circumnavigators, writers, teachers.
Undated photo card mailed from Cape Town, S.A.
home to the USA by a crew member 'Fenton.'
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.
23 December 2016
|SAN JUAN II |
on her rounds with passengers, mail and freight
in the San Juan Islands.
Courtesy of Charles Torgerson family.
Fancy going into the galley of a big boat––even of the SOLDUC––and preparing one's own breakfast! Every time I travel on a small island-boat I teeter between delight at the friendly, informal, unbusinesslike atmosphere on it and fear that it won't last. If ever the islands become so populous that big, important, immaculate, impersonal boats fill their waters I shall join that throng of people who bewail the passing of the good old days. When I begin to sigh and whine that the golden island days are over and travel on the boats no longer any fun, you'll know I've grown old, too. For, of course, the golden days of every person is when he is most keenly aware of the romance and adventure and delights about him.
I think John Burroughs began at 20 to live with zest; he lived all his life long as if things were all right in his world. I know a woman who used to live in the San Juan Islands. She is 72, now. White her hair is and not very robust her body. But 'Cousin Polly' Butterworth enjoys every single day of her life nor has ever been heard to speak with a shade of criticism of the maligned younger generation. She loves codfish now as if it were a special thrilling adventure to catch and cook and eat one. Still enjoys the boats and the leisurely ways of the islands.
She is gone now from the gray farmhouse like a seagull perched in its little bay, and lonely the farm looks without her and her white-headed fat little 'Fayther,' as she called her husband in quaint Lancashire dialect, both of them full of fun and vitality. We used to row over there two or three times a week, partly for the cheer of their friendship, partly for the delicious canned veal and fresh vegetables and homemade bread and butter we had there, for our homesteading days were lean days of real hunger. It isn't so nice to come back home and find great holes where friends used to fit so warmly!
Down, and down, and down the passes, the world of islands flowing off toward the horizon all around. Nowhere else, surely, is there so magnificent a sea freckled with such beautiful verdant islands! Nowhere else in America. Where, then?
Mr. Gamwell, reminiscing one day, said that in 'the good old days' of sailing boats they used to go all the way around Shaw Island without wind. The tide would take them half around and the backwash around the corners would carry them the rest of the way around, though one wonders what they wanted to go all the way around for, anyhow!
There are very few deciduous trees in the islands. Here all is green. Great soft madronas in masses, their red bark glistening, their brittle limbs heavy with orange and tan berries. Firs six feet through and an occasional ancient cedar, tall and straight and beautiful. A world of alder and willow and on some of the islands a great many hoary old oaks with twisted moss-hung limbs.
Such a swarm of islands as there are! On the chart they look few enough with wide waters between. But when one is among them, they crowd in close, the channels 'scrunching'' up to give them room. Through Pole Pass between Crane and Orcas islands. Charlie Hammond, an old friend, lived on Crane in our homesteading days. He is gone now and his old crony, Mr. Crafts, gone too. Mr. Crafts lived on Orcas on his own little place that he sold before his death to Mr. Brehms. Now it is well groomed and fair. But I miss the old log house at whose fireplace I've sat and talked of 'far things and philosophies.' Over that fireplace the old fellow had nailed aluminum letters fashioning the phrase: 'Oh what fools these mortals be,' that of course placed him in the ranks of the aged. A cantankerous, lovable, learned old man was Mr. Crafts. We loved him well and mourn his passing. For he was the first friend we made in the islands.
On up into Deer Harbor with Turtleback rising behind. Mrs. Norton's flock of cottages on the hill grows every season. How I'd love to stop and have dinner with her today! Hard-working, brave, cheery Mrs. Norton, the leader and backbone of her tribe.
Up the channel between Jones Island and Orcas to the steep walls of Waldron. George says that every man on the island comes to meet all the boats and that if one is missing they know he is sick. Then across the wide level acres to Prevost on Stewart Island. I cooked dinner of spuds, corn on the cob, canned beans, steak and gravy. How good things taste from a high narrow shelf-like table in a tiny galley on a little boat, the marvelous fresh sea winds whetting the appetite even as you appease it––we are at Prevost––almost home!
See you tomorrow. June."
Text from Puget Soundings by June Burn 1929.
19 December 2016
|Sidewheeler ELIZA ANDERSON|
Built by Samuel Farnum at Portland, OR.
Launched 27 Nov. 1859.
134' R.L x 25' x 8'
276.42 g.t., 197.49 n.t.
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
A few very old-timers along the Northwest waterfronts remember the Old ANDERSON in her later years and delight in the legends that grew up around her and her doughty masters:
'Do you mind the time Cap'n McAllep was on the ANDERSON?' the yarn begins. 'I was with him one night and it was blowin' great guns. We were making a desperate try to get into Deception Pass. The old packet had on a big load of freight and quite a passel of passengers. Included in the freight were seven pianos, eight head of cattle, and a dozen barrels of whiskey.
'The first thing we knew the steamer was getting water into her faster than we could get it out. 'Over with the cattle, the Old Man bellers. Into the water they went. Next came the order to dump the pianos. We held onto the whiskey until we got into Seattle. There the agent came around. He heard our tale of woe, looked at the Old Man and the whiskey.
'Cap,' he sez, 'don't you think you acted a might hasty in getting those pianos overboard and saving this whiskey?'
'The Old Man turned on him disgusted like, 'You don't drink pianos, man! You can't drink pianos,' he roared.
'Another time we were caught in the pass in the tide. To save us we couldn't buck our way through. The Old Man was handlin' the steamer from amidships, standing on the hurricane deck like he was on the bridge of an ocean liner. You remember the ANDERSON had a walking-beam and her galley was just below where the Old Man was standing. From the galley the smell of hot coffee came up to him. It was pourin' rain and colder'n a witch's bottom and that coffee smelled might delightful.
So through the narrow opening where the connecting rod came up to the walking-beam and makin' his first voyage and he was used to the ways of the loggin' camps. So he roared back, tellin' the Old Man to come and get his coffee if he wanted it.
'I'm comin,' you belly-robbin' son of a bitch!' the Old Man screamed down through the opening. 'I'm comin' right down through this hole and when I get there you're going t' know it!' You could hear the pans below rattle when the Old Man let out that screech.
'Well, sir, that cook was topside with a steamin' mug o'coffee before the walking-beam had time to nod more'n twice and the passengers, who'd been hangin' on the deck below and lookin' worried, like t' died of laughter. Even the old ANDERSON seemed t' be impressed by the skipper's beller and went right ahead and butted her way through the pass with no more trouble.
The ELIZA ANDERSON wasn't the first West Coast steamboat, but she is numbered among the pioneers. She moved slowly but made money fast. She ended her days at Dutch Harbor, AK, at age 40." [And that is another story.]
Text from: Pacific Steamboats from Sidewheeler to Motor Ferry by Gordon Newell and Joe Williamson. Bonanza Books. New York.
13 December 2016
09 December 2016
05 December 2016
|S. S. ALAMEDA|
Alaska Steamship Co.
After she wrestled with the Colman Dock
and sunk the sternwheeler TELEGRAPH
25 April 1912, Seattle, WA.
Original photo by O.T. Frasch from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
|Destruction left from the S. S. ALAMEDA|
Colman Dock, Seattle, WA.
Photo by Evans P & A Shop, original from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.
The TELEGRAPH was almost cut in two and sunk at her Colman Dock berth in Seattle on the night of 25 April when a remarkable blunder in the engine room of the Alaska Steamship Co liner ALAMEDA sent the heavy iron steamship crashing through the dock, demolishing the tall clock tower and smashing the outer end of the dock to splinters.
|Colman Dock with the S.S. TELEGRAPH on the bottom|
Original photo by O.T. Frasch from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
|Colman Dock splinters|
Click to enlarge.
Photo by O.T. Frasch from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Capt. John Johnson, the regular master of the ALAMEDA was ashore at the time and Capt. John A. "Dynamite" O'Brien, acting as port pilot, was in charge. The vessel took on bunker oil at the Standard Oil Dock on the East Waterway, leaving at 9:45 PM and arriving off Pier 2 (now Pier 51) at 10:15. Capt. O'Brien planned to berth the steamer at the south slip and already had her moving under a dead slow bell toward that location when the man in charge on the dock shouted instructions to tie up on the north side. The ALAMEDA was then about 200 yards off the pier-head. The helm was put hard to starboard, but the vessel did not respond. Capt. O'Brien then rang for slow ahead and, as she began to swing, half speed astern and then full speed astern. Third Assistant Engineer Guy Van Winter was taking the signals from the bridge and relaying them verbally to Second Assistant Robert Bunton at the throttle. In some manner the last signal was misunderstood and the engine was set at full ahead rather than full astern. As he felt the powerful surge of the engines driving the steamer toward the busy passenger terminal, O'Brien shouted to the chief officer on the forecastle to get the anchors over. With the whistle cord tied down, the big ALAMEDA tore through the Colman Dock about 150-ft fro the outer end, emerging on the north side to smash into the TELEGRAPH amidships, driving the wooden stern-wheeler hard against the neighboring Grand Trunk Dock. Although the TELEGRAPH sank in less than 15 minutes, no lives were lost. John Frye, a fireman, was in the stern-wheeler's engine room working on a condensor when the bow of the ALAMEDA crashed through, grazing the spot where he was working. Water poured in like a flood, and although the engineer started the pumps, the TELEGRAPH was soon resting on the bottom in 40-ft of water.
|S.S. ALAMEDA lifeboat|
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
The damage to the ALAMEDA was so slight that she sailed the next evening for Prince William Sound, only 12 hours behind schedule. The Colman Dock clock tower, a landmark on the Seattle waterfront, had rolled from the deck of the ALAMEDA and was found floating the next day in the harbor. It was taken in tow by the tug ATLAS and beached at West Seattle, the hands pointing to 10:23, apparently fixing the exact time of the accident. Maritime men were unanimous in their praise of the prompt action of Capt. O'Brien, particularly in regard to the quick lowering of the anchors, it having been found that the starboard anchor had caught and stopped the destructive course of the steamer after 125 fathoms of chain were out, undoubtedly preventing from continuing her rampage through the GT Dock.
The recent loss of the White Star Liner TITANIC was still fresh in the public mind, and Capt. Howard Bullene, master of the steamer SANTA ANA used that tragedy as an example in commenting on Capt. O'Brien's action. 'If the navigator of the wrecked TITANIC had exhibited one half the presence of mind of Capt. O'Brien, the most frightful disaster in maritime history would have been averted. With the same promptness the TITANIC could have been turned bow-on to the ice berg when it was reported a quarter of a mile ahead, and her bulkheads would have saved her.'
|S. S. TELEGRAPH|
Blt by Portland Shipbuilding Co, Everett, WA.
She was placed in service between Everett and Seattle
along with the CITY OF EVERETT.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S©
The TELEGRAPH had been thoroughly overhauled the previous year, including the installation of a new port engine, main steam pipe and crosshead, and on her trials in charge of Capt. Charles Brydsen had attained a speed of 20 miles an hour. The Puget Sound Navigation Co. turned her over to the underwriters following her sinking, asking damages of $55,000 from the Alaska Steamship Co. The US Commissioner conducting the hearing awarded damages of $45,000, the amount being reduced to $25,000 by the US Court of Appeals at San Francisco, that stated the market for stern-wheelers had suffered a slump since the TELEGRAPH was built and that to fix the value on a basis of depreciation from her original cost through wear was a wrong hypothesis. The steamer was subsequently raised and repaired by the underwriters and sold to the newly organized Independent Navigation Co., with Mitchell & Lonseth, Seattle shipwrights the principal owners. Her single-cylinder engines (28 1/2 x 72) were compounded to 15 1/2, 28 1/2 x 72 and she was renamed OLYMPIAN, being placed on a daily schedule between Seattle and Olympia via Vashon Island points and Tacoma. She was not successful, in this service and was subsequently transferred to the Columbia River."
Above text from: H. W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW. Editor, Newell, Gordon. Superior Publishing. Seattle. 1965.
Gordon Newell in SOS North Pacific reminds us that the safety record, rather than the disaster toll "is the most remarkable thing about the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet." He writes:
The little ships carried their millions of people to and from a hundred harbors along the shores of the inland sea. They carried them somewhat slower than the modern automobile, but they carried them safely. Puget Sound steamboats could probably boast of a lower death rate than any other transportation system in modern history, but this is an age of Progress and they are all gone now. Faber, Jim. Steamer's Wake.
01 December 2016
The text below is typed verbatim from the San Juan Islander newspaper 21 Jan. 1904:
"The Tacoma Sunday Ledger of 10 January  devotes over eight columns of space to an illustrated article on Capt. Dorr F. Tozier, of the Revenue Cutter GRANT, and his great collection of northwestern Indian curios, the largest private collection of the kind in the United States, now stored in the Ferry Museum at Tacoma.
|Revenue Cutter GRANT|
courtesy of Capt. Davis (USCG) ret,
Coast Guard Museum Northwest, Seattle, WA.
Quite a number of baskets and other specimens of Indian handiwork in Capt. Tozier's great collection were obtained in this county. The Ledger says of the collection as a whole that 'these records of the aborigines of the northwest will be known and valued by scientists and scholars and the name of their collector preserved when all trace of the GRANT and the people she cruised among shall have passed away.
'Over 4,000 baskets, representing the best weaving of the northwest tribes, are to many the most interesting part of the collection, but for the student of ethnology, to the one interested in race history, there is an inexhaustible mine of information ready to his hand. There are twelve old tribal totems of different designs gracing the large room in awesome majesty. There are dozens of carvings, grave figures, feast bowls, tamanawas, emblems of every description. There are all kinds of hunting and fighting implements, kayaks of skin, and canoes of several varieties. A wonderful collection of ancient stone implements has been given close attention by the captain, who has sought particularly to make this collection educational in character. He is constantly adding new treasures received from the agents he has employed in the interior of Washington and Alaska to secure rare and interesting articles. On his last visit he brought to the museum a quantity of carved pieces of black slate-stone, the treasured work of a worthy member of the Chilkat tribe, very rare and very beautiful, even in the aesthetic, rather than the scientific sense. This work is exceedingly rare, and was purchased at a great price. It adds enormously to the collection, showing the high artistic development of some of the western tribes, and, an interesting point, the similarity of their ideas and workmanship to that of Asiatic peoples."
The GRANT, Capt. Tozier, normally cruising the islands from Pt. Townsend, was in drydock at Quartermaster Harbor to have barnacles scraped from her hull––120 bushels of them. Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Capt. D.F. Tozier has been placed on the retired list, having reached the age limit of active service. For several years past he has been assistant superintendent of the 13th Lighthouse District, with headquarters in Portland. He is a native of Maine, and has spent forty years in the government service, twenty of them on the Atlantic and then each on the Great Lakes and the Pacific Coast. He was in command of the GRANT when she came around the Horn from New York and for a time, had been master of New York Harbor. He has one of the greatest collections of Indian baskets and curios in America, most of them gathered during his service on the Puget Sound and Alaska. He is now in San Francisco. San Juan Islander newspaper.
1912, January 26 :
According to the San Juan Islander newspaper––"Capt. Tozier was in Seattle this past week to visit friends in Seattle and was a guest of the Washington Art Association who purchased his great collection of Indian curios.*
Capt. Tozier was often here [Friday Harbor] in the GRANT and had many acquaintances in this county. The old cutter that was condemned a few years ago and sold to a Seattle fish company, was recently wrecked on the coast of Vancouver Island. Capt. Tozier intends leaving soon for an extended trip to Egypt and European countries."
* There is more to the story of the art collection leaving Washington State and ending up in New York and then Washington DC. I suspect there will be another post on the heist, to follow soon.
Archived Log Entries
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- ❖ HAPPY NEW YEAR ❖ 2017
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- ❖ MERRY CHRISTMAS ❖ 2016
- ❖ THROUGH A SWARM OF ISLANDS ❖ 1929 with June Bu...
- ❖ MOSQUITO FLEET MONDAY ❖ The ELIZA ANDERSON and C...
- ❖ BIG TOW FLEET on the WILLIAMETTE ❖ 1953
- ❖ THEY WERE GOOD SEA BOATS ❖
- ❖ MISFORTUNE IN THE MOSQUITO FLEET ❖ 1912
- ❖ CAPT. TOZIER'S INDIAN CURIOS ❖
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