"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

My photo
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.

21 July 2017


Schooner GRACIE S. 
Sailing Lake Washington, 17 April 1949.

Original photo by Ken Ollar from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Seattle acquired another picturesque pleasure craft in the GRACIE S, a 96-ft power schooner, built in 1893 for the San Francisco Pilots Association. For 40 years she was in that service, standing about 15 miles off Golden Gate and contacting incoming and outgoing ships. Six pilots made their headquarters on her. The vessel owned at this time (1949) by Edison Kennell, Jr was rebuilt and re-rigged. Beginning 20 June 1949 she cruised between Seattle and the north end of Vancouver Island carrying a crew of 12 boys who were taught the seafaring art." Text from the Seattle Times, April 1949.
Schooner GRACIE S
Looking aft from the starboard bow, with master rigger 

and sailmaker, Rupert Broom, at work on deck.
 The schooner carried 
3,900 sq ft of new canvas.

Dated 17 April 1949.
Click to enlarge.
Original photo by Ken Ollar from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Schooner GRACIE S.
Out on Lake Washington, with all hands heaving on the main 
throat halyard. The vessel is built of teak and Douglas fir and 
was the largest privately owned craft of her type in the PNW 
in 1949. Kennell brought the boat to Seattle under
her own power and has been reconditioning her,
guided by the old original blueprints.

Click to enlarge. 
Also dated 17 April 1949.
Original photo by Ken Ollar from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
GRACIE S. has another chapter under the name of WANDERER with another owner––for another day.

16 July 2017


Flattie sailing in 1931, Seattle, WA.
Roy W. Corbett at the helm.

Click to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
FLATTIES (Geary-18s)

The flattie was originally not a one-design class but rather a boat that kids built to sail. These little floaters were all cross-planked on the bottom and all flat bottomed, thus the name. They were gaff-rigged and had bowsprits. Ted Geary designed the first one-designed flattie in 1927. It carried a jib that added sail power forward, as well as a Marconi main, an improvement of the balance over the jibless catboat.
      In January 1928 leading spirits among members of the Seattle Yacht Club realized the need for an inexpensive sailing class to create interest on the part of the younger generation in yachting. A city-wide meeting was called at the Clubhouse with a request for plans and suggestions. Over seventy young folks and their parents attended. After much discussion of at least a dozen different plans, the flattie, as designed by Ted Geary, was accepted and orders for five were placed that evening. N. J. Blanchard promised to deliver the first ten at a cost of $150 each. After that the cost would be $200.
      The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club also began assembling a fleet of flatties in 1928. Newspaper headlines right after the above meeting said "Here's a Flattie––unsinkable sailboat provided for junior yachtsmen this year." The sail plan of the flattie was prominently pictured with comments: "Fourteen youthful enthusiasts, one of these a girl, announced their intention of securing the flattie as designed L. E. Ted Geary." They were Mary Helen Corbett, Douglas Stansbury, Dan Trefethen, Jr., Chester Dawson, Al Peterson, Jim Wilson, Roy Tierlon, Swift Baker, Bert Davis, James F. Griffiths, Fenton Radford, Fred Harley, Potter Strong Harley, and Norman Blanchard, Jr. 

Text by C. Fred Harley, Binnacle, Dec. 1962.
      Seattle newspapers generously provided coverage of flattie events, as did Pacific Motor Boat, predecessor to Sea Magazine. The SYC sponsored and supported the flattie racing fraternity all through the early years. Printed programs of these days show the flattie activities in full detail.
      Geary and others quickly introduced the flattie to the South Pacific Coast, Lake Arrowhead, Los Angeles Harbor, Balboa, and Acapulco. Portland and Astoria had flattie owners interested in sailing and racing on an organized basis.

Racing flatties on Lake Washington
Seattle, 6 October 1935.
Click to enlarge.
Original photo signed by photographer A.N. Nickols
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"It was in the year of 1935, after flatties from all over the Northwest had been sailing at Pacific International Yachting Assoc. regattas, that Sid and Phil Miller of Vancouver, BC with others there, challenged Seattle skippers to a series of three boat team races on Lake WA.
      On 22 Oct 1935, at the SYC, Fred Harley as chairman pro-tem, Sidney Miller, Dick Griffiths, met to form the International Flattie Yacht Racing Assoc. Fred Harley was chosen commodore.
      In the days around 1935––we had an active flattie fleet of about 15 boats, all sailing under the SYC burgee, and racing regularly. We either sailed or paddled to races on Lake WA, but for salt water events needed a tow. The Coast Guard in those days worked on a more liberal budget, I guess, as they provided tows through the canal and locks and to destinations in the Sound. They also gave us tows to the PIYA Regattas––long trips to Victoria and Vancouver.
      The Harley Cup, presented by Clinton S. Harley and Laura Potter Harley "emblematic of the flattie championship of the junior members of SYC" was the first flattie trophy presented anywhere in the world. The Sunde and d'Evers Co also provided a trophy in 1928. Ted Geary had a trophy in mind and provided $30 for an International Championship Cup to bear his name.
      A most spectacular trophy than one $30 could buy was needed so we borrowed a scale model of Bob and Otis Lamson's flattie and took it to the foundry where we cast an aluminum hull, using the model as a pattern. Barbara Nettleton molded some clay waves from which we cast the sea supporting the hull. Dick Griffiths and his uncle machined the sails, mast, rigging, tiller and trim. N. J. Blanchard Boat Co contributed a mahogany base, and so from all of this came the famous L.E. (Ted) Geary International Flattie Championship Trophy."
 C. Fred Harley, Binncale, SYC. 1962.
Flatties are still used today as Geary––18s. The newer models are made of fiberglass.
Warren, James R. Seattle Yacht Club, 1892-1992.

11 July 2017

❖ 83483 ❖ Mother Hen of the Islands in 1946 ❖ Written by June Burn

San Juan Island, 1946.
United States Coast Guard 83483
Standing by in Friday Harbor,
the county seat of San Juan County.

Click to enlarge.
Original photo by Webber from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
"The Friday Harbor waterfront would look snaggle-toothed without a long blue-gray ship that lies along one of its docks year in, year out.
     The San Juan Islands would wander around lost in the wet grass, like young turkeys after a rain, if it wasn't for that same boat.
     Coast Guard boat, 83483, is the very mother of the San Juans. She's our ambulance: when you are sick, call the Coast Guard and they will rush you to a doctor. She's our rescuer: when you get stuck on an uncharted reef, don't worry; get in your dinghy, row for shore and telephone the Coast Guard, though chances are someone on shore has seen you and done it already.
     The Coast Guard will take the county nurse around to the islands, or the county superintendent of schools, or any government official who needs to get somewhere fast. They patrol the islands for lost boats, patrol the international regatta races, answer calls from the lighthouses, occasionally hunt somebody on vacation who is wanted quickly back home.
     One day Farrar and I were standing on the dock above the the float where we had our boat, looking around at this amazing, busy scene of the Friday Harbor waterfront. (The water was just as still, Mt. Baker was still and white, the boats tiptoed in and out of the harbor.)
     A nice looking fellow in faded, spotless jeans came up to us and asked if we'd like to come aboard the Coast Guard ship lying off that dock.
     We would! All week we had wanted to, hadn't got up the nerve to ask.
     The tide was low. We climbed down the sturdy ladder onto that lean, spacious deck, met the crew of three and went below for coffee.
     Charlie Novak of Nebraska, 20 years in the CG, is the skipper. Roy Rosensier, also of Nebraska, is seaman first class and Gene Carrigan of Missouri is the machinist mate. These three keep a boat normally meant for a nine-man crew and they keep it in apple pie order, too.
     Inside the pilot house we are allowed to look through the eyepiece into the radar machine, which takes a miraculous moving picture of whatever is around. 
     Day or night, in fog or sunshine, this contraption can find a lost boat or show the way through the islands. Radar beats a cat for seeing in the dark.
     Below deck, two big 1,200 HP engines start with a push on a button, shove the big boat along at racing speed. This tall blond machinist mate loves these horses.
     How lovingly he brushes and curries them till their coats shine! How neat his stable where the tools are all in their places––no curry combs, but monkey wrenches and pliers.
     Below deck, forward, we see the galley with its electric range and refrigerator––the ship generates its own electricity. The captain's quarters are behind this, the crew's quarters still farther forward, all clean as pins. They can sleep 14.
     The first two numbers of a CG boat tell its length; the next three, its class number. This ship is 83 feet long and is the 483rd in that size. This ship is copper sheathed, fast, utile, powerful and handsome.
     We sit in the galley having coffee. The skipper gets down his report for this month to show what kind of calls they go out on.
     The boat took a land office inspector from Friday Harbor to Waldron to see some land a man had built on without knowing that it belonged to the government. (It came out all right. I guessed it was young Ethan Allen from the description of the location. He had written the land office, telling what he had done; they appraised the land, gave him a chance to pay for it and that was that.)
     Governor Wallgren came up, was taken around on 83483.
     They searched for a missing plane. Found it on Waldron Island with a missing propeller. Transported a bomb disposal officer to Lopez Island––found it was nothing.
     Searched for the Malibu Steelhead.
     Looking after smaller boats seems to be the main job of the Coast Guard. Fishermen are pretty good, the boys say. They take care of themselves. Yachtsmen who go in herds are okay, too. But when they go singly they're forever getting into trouble. And hunting for lost boats in all the nooks and crannies of these islands is nobody's idea of a picnic.
     The Friday Harbor CG boat serves all the islands from Smith Island north, from Bellingham west––the whole archipelago. But when it isn't out on some call, the big gray ship lies here against the dock reserved for it.
      The tide is not so low as we leave. The ship has climbed up part of the ladder for us. As we step out onto the dock we turn to look again at the slender ship that is the guardian angel of the islands."
Burn, June.
Day 91.
One Hundred Days In the San Juans.
First published by the Seattle-Times. Summer 1946.

10 July 2017


The USCG Cutter patrolling the northernmost
US waters. This photo was taken in the summer 
of 1932 during a cruise in the Arctic.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Loaded with an unusually large cargo of freight,  
the cutter is shown as she left Seattle in May 1938,
for the Aleutian Islands and other Alaska points.
The NORTHLAND, under command of Capt. Zeusler,
was expected to continue the search for the Russian pilot,
Sigismund Levaneffsky and his crew, who disappeared the
previous August while attempting a transpolar flight from
Moscow to Fairbanks.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.© 

06 July 2017


Hey-Ho, away we go––Lance Douglas of Blakely Island, San Juan Archipelago, sends in this interesting traffic cruising past his home early this morning. A perfect day for "moving house."
Towing past Blakely Island, San Juan Islands, WA.
Three photos by Lance Douglas
to Saltwater People Log
this day of 6 July 2017
Click images to enlarge.

29 June 2017

❖ WITH A BONE IN HER TEETH ❖ Schooner Gertrude L. Thebaud 1930-1948

Schooner GERTRUDE L. THEBAUD of Gloucester.
The BLUENOSE of Lunenburg defeated the THEBAUD  
by 3 minutes, 50 seconds to win the
International Fishermen's Trophy, 26 October 1938. 
Here the THEBAUD is seen with young Sterling Hayden
up the main mast just before the final race, 
near the Coast Guard Cutter CHELAN.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Summer, 1948. It was learned from official and reliable sources that the erstwhile Queen of the Gloucester Fishing Fleet and Last of the Flying Fishermen, had been abandoned as a total loss. The famous craft, the Gertrude L. Thebaud, was shipwrecked on the Venezuelan Coast and all hope of conducting salvage operations had been given up as too costly.
      While at anchor in a storm, the 18-year-old craft was rammed by another vessel, parted her moorings, collided with a seawall and subsequently foundered. She laid half-submerged in a seaport called La Guaira, on the Venezuelan Coast. Very little chance was seen of the black-hulled, magnificent white-winged racer ever again spreading her lofty white wings, as of old, in her glorious racing and fishing days, as a fisherman out of Gloucester, MA. 
      At the time of her tragic and untimely loss the craft was owned by Mr. William H. Hoeffner of New York, flew the flag of Venezuela, was equipped with a powerful Diesel engine and carried a reduced rig, a three-sailed, stem head rig and a modified top hamper. The magnificent, grand old stager has left her bones on a hard lee shore, on a distant foreign strand, far from her native Gloucester home.
      The Thebaud was one of the most famous of all Gloucester fishing schooners, having been, in her time, a participant in the International Fishermen's Races in 1930, 1931, 1938, and, in 1933, carried the official representatives of the Gloucester fishing industry to Washington, DC, for a meeting with President Roosevelt. In the summer of the same year, the vessel voyaged to the World's Fair at Chicago as the rep and proud exhibit of the Bay State. In 1937 she voyaged to the far north, under the supervision of Capt. Donald B. MacMillan, the arctic explorer, and on the expedition west to Frobisher Bay. During WW II, the Thebaud saw active service as flagship of the Corsair Fleet of the US Coast Guard. 
      In 1944 the schooner was sold by her first owner, Capt. Ben Pine of Gloucester, to William H. Hoeffner of New York. She was converted to freighting and sent to the West Indies waters.
      We must now, although reluctantly, set down the final word of the picturesque, historic saga of a famous deeply mourned sailing craft, that has come and gone in our time. For the beautiful, 18-year-old craft has found her grave in Venezuelan waters. The sea has claimed her. The Thebaud has crossed the finish line for the last time; Gloucester's queen will never wet her bobstay again. She was the scion of a once large fleet of splendid, redoubtable American fishing schooners and with her passing we sadly note the absolute vanishing point of a long line of speedy schooners of the engineless era and the T Wharf days; also the end, perforce, of International Fishing Schooner Racing. She represented the last vestiges of the era of the sailing fishermen. 
      In the spring of 1921, the drawing board of Mr. William J. Roue of Halifax, NS, produced the phenomenally speedy, extremely able, engineless Canadian fishing schooner Bluenose. Lofty and black-hulled, the Bluenose was an indescribably handsome craft. From the first day she spread her symmetrical white wings on the waters off her quaint old home port, Lunenburg, NS, the Bluenose proved herself a work-boater and met and defeated many fine schooners. The rise of her reputation was meteoric and she became known as the Flying Nova Scotian and The Pride of Lunenburg
      Yankees decided to build a suitable opponent for the Nova Scotia speed king, and the schooner Gertrude L. Thebaud was built. The craft was expressly designed by Frank C. Paine of Boston and constructed from selected material at the Arthur Dana Shipyard, Essex, MA. She bore on her bow, inscribed in golden letters, the name of her sponsor's wife, and across her shapely transom, the name of her home port, Gloucester, MA.
      To those present at her launching, 17 March 1930, the shapely semi-knockabout presented an unforgettable appearance, for the general sharpness of hull design and long knifelike underbody suggested great potential driving power. She represented an investment of approximately $80,000. The following were her principal measurements; 135' LOA, 98' L on sailing waterline; 25' beam and 14.8' draft.
      The vessel proved to be a true sailing champion in her own right as well as a bona fide fishing schooner. She carried a tremendous spread of sail and when in racing ballast hoisted eight sails, namely the four lowers, jib, jumbo fores'l and mains'l, as well as four light sails. These later were called balloon, fore gaff tops'l, fisherman's flying stays'l and main gaff tops'l. Under a billowing cloud of new, thrumming canvas she flew through the water with the speed of a torpedo and displayed prowess as a prospective challenger for the tall-sparred racer from Lunenburg.
The famous skipper of schooner
was splicing a rope after lack of wind forced
postponement of the second race in the
Championship Series with the
Schooner BLUENOSE.
13 October 1938.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      In her many tussles on the open sea, under the command of Capt Ben Pine and against Capt Angus Walter's Bluenose, she proved herself a sailing champion in her own right. These two superlative craft staged many a spectacular contest.
      The Thebaud will be remembered by all who knew her as she appeared in the last of her racing days, sailing a fine race in all weathers, from a gentle zephyr to a whole sail breeze and in a four lower breeze and a genuine snorter, real fishermen's weather, as we say. When ghosting in light winds, with the wind dead aft and her fores'l and mains'l swung out, with their sheets out to the knots, she carried her stays'l "scandalized" (changed about throat for clew), and with its sheet led to the end of the long man boom. The tops'ls were "sheeted home" to the gaff ends and the head sheets flowing, the working canvas distributed in a matter reminiscent of the double-jointed wings of an albatross.
      When sailing with started sheets and the wind quarterly, Thebaud sailed magnificently as this was her best point of sailing. Aye, she carried a bone in her teeth and churned the water at the forefoot to a smother of foam. 
      The Thebaud has tragically terminated her unique, eventful and dramatic 18-yr life and has seen the last of her glorious sailing days. Who knows what ghosts of the bygone crews who once manned her may revisit the grand old stager's tradition-shrouded grave, on languorous tropical nights, when gentle zephyrs whisper along the shore and the harbor lights shimmer on the peaceful, starlit waters?"
Text by Edward F. Moran, an essay from––Yankees Under Sail. Heckman, Richard, editor. Yankee, Inc. 1968.


25 June 2017


sailing here under her movie name RIVER QUEEN
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

1901: Built as the M.F. HENDERSON by Shaver Transportation Co, Portland, OR. She was used as a freight boat as well as a towboat.
1911: In an overhaul she lost her initials "M.F." and became HENDERSON.
The M.F. HENDERSON, towing a Standard Oil Co barge from Astoria toward Portland, was run down by the well-known steam tug DANIEL KERN towing rock barges to the jetty. The M.F. HENDERSON capsized and sank in shallow water, lying on her side. No lives were lost. She was afterward righted by five sternwheelers pulling on her at once, and was then taken to the Portland Shipbuilding Co where she was dismantled and her engines and other equipment, except the boiler, installed in the new HENDERSON the following year. 
H. W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW.
1912: This year the HENDERSON was built by the Portland Shipbuilding Co for Shaver Trans. Co receiving most of the machinery and fittings from the wreck, but receiving a new locomotive boiler built by James Monk, having twice the capacity of the old boiler. 
1952: An old-time Columbia River sternwheeler she played an important part as the River Queen, in the historical movie the Bend of the River, based on a novel Bend of the Snake by Bill Gulick. The movie starred Jimmy Stewart and Rock Hudson, released 13 February. When first released, the film received poor reviews but since then gained more critical acclaim and is recognized as a great western.


In 1952, to promote the release of the new movie, the Henderson participated in the last sternwheeler race on the Columbia River, commanded by Capt. Sidney J. "Happy" Harris.  The filming was done in Mt. Hood, Sandy River and Timberline, OR. Although favored to beat the new steel-hulled sternwheeler, the Portland, commanded by Capt. Bob Williamson, the Henderson fell behind early in the race when she lost steam. The engine crew quickly shunted live steam into her low pressure cylinder until the paddlewheel approached 30 rpm. Actor Jimmy Stewart and other cast members of the film Bend in the River were on board to cheer the vessel on––the Henderson came from behind to beat the Portland in the 3.6-mile race.
      Trivia on imdb.com––some of the river scenes were filmed on the Sacramento River in CA.
Sternwheeler PORTLAND
Her last day of duty helping to move the 930-ft
for the Port of Portland.
PORTLAND was the last remaining vessel of its kind
in commercial service in the world.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo dated 27 October 1981
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
1956: In December, with a grain ship in tow, the Henderson encountered heavy swells near the mouth of the Columbia River. Declared a "constructive total loss," she rested on shore until she was burned for scrap in 1964.
In 1981: After almost 30 years of service in and around the Portland harbor, the stately Portland yielded the harbor to Diesel-powered youngsters. The Port of Portland faced economic realities, and decided to retire the labor-intensive steam tugboat in 1981. 
      She sat some years at Terminal One, quietly rusting. Her wheelhouse and Texas were removed and rested on the dock. Her wooden super structure rotted away down to the steel housing of her machinery space. The powerful sternwheel dried and cracked where exposed; the underwater surface grew long tendrils of marine plants.
      In 1991, the sad remains of the Portland were deeded to the Oregon Maritime Museum. With funds from Meyer Memorial Trust, Murdock Trust, and the Port of Portland, a group of dedicated volunteers began restoration of the last steam powered sternwheel tug. The work is never ending; the results are well worth the effort. Today the Portland gleams inside and out. 
1997: She was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.

22 June 2017


CHIMACUM joins her Olympic class mates
TOKITAE and SAMISH now in active service.
Under construction is SUQUAMISH
 at Vigor's Harbor Island Shipyard,

 The shipyard history can be traced back to
the Moran Bros Shipyard, operating in 1906.

Live music, refreshments, tours.
She goes into service 23 June 2017
6:20 a.m. from Bremerton to Seattle.
Safe sailing to the M.V. Chimacum.

15 June 2017


Broadside view of SS RAINBOW
Steaming the islands with her owner.
All photos courtesy of J. M. Campbell, Orcas Island.
Power plant for steamer Rainbow.
See owner's description below.
Steamer Rainbow
Orcas Island, WA.  
Steamer Rainbow with guest Maura O'Neill,
and Lois & John aboard
Opening day of yachting season,
Orcas Island, WA.

Originally built in 1953, at the Oxford Boatyard, Oxford, Maryland, Rainbow was a 26' US Navy Mark II Motor Whaleboat. In 1973, she was sold at Mare Island & converted to steam with a Semple 5 and Semple VFT boiler. In 1995, the VFT boiler was replaced with a horizontal Scotch boiler to great advantage.
      Over the years Rainbow cruised San Francisco, Sacramento River Delta, Columbia River, Puget Sound and north out of Port Hardy into Seymour and Smith inlets. 
      In about 2005, the old hull burned and was entirely rebuilt, all new from the keel up, by Peter Christensen of Shaw Island. Materials were Yellow Cedar on Black Locust frames with bronze fastenings. Rainbow was an entirely new boat except for the original bronze breasthooks and propeller shaft/rudder skeg. During this time, the power plant was replaced with a Burleigh 3+5x4 compound engine. She presently steams 5 miles at 6 knots on each 12" diameter bundle of firewood.
      The owner is no longer seaworthy and Rainbow needs a new owner to take her cruising again. The Mark II motor whaleboat was the Navy's all round utility boat, both the 'liberty' boat and launched in all weather to pick up a man overboard or downed pilots.
      The dual axle trailer is nearly new and comes with spare dinghy propellers, curtains, anchors, firewood, and watertanks, etc, all included for $20,000. 
Location: Orcas Island.
Submitted by John M. Campbell

12 June 2017

❖ THE ART OF WINDING DOWN ❖ by John Dustrude

Friday Harbor, WA. on the
day of the San Juan Rendezvous.

The scene of the annual giant salmon barbecues for 
many summers beginning in 1948, hosted by the Chamber 
of Commerce. Supportive local canneries and fishermen
donated the fish. In 1953, an estimated 3,000

people were served 2,500 pounds of free salmon, salad,
rolls, and hot coffee. An unusually large number 
of yachts were present, including Bob Schoen and his 
loaded ferry Nordland, a big hit upon arrival from Orcas.
The Tacoma Outboard Association came up 18 strong
in small boats with Anacortes Outboard group
organizing scheduled races. Jack Fairweather led a
very successful dance with live music by the
"Harmony Boys" to wind down a perfect day.

Photo by Bob and Ira Spring of Seattle, WA.
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Yes, well, there you are, eight full days of vacation ahead of you. Should you spend it in the Cascades or on the beaches in the San Juans?
      Figure it takes the other guy about two days to wind down from the pressures of the fast lane. So give yourself two hours on the ferry, from Anacortes to Friday Harbor [1984.] You'll be there in plenty of time to grab some groceries and find your little sailboat.
      Stoke your boilers at any of the local eateries, and head out. Early afternoon ought to find you bucking the flood from Turn Island––so go with it instead and drift to Jones Island. Either of these marine parks is all you need for a couple of days' cruising (close by), good hiking and scenery, rocky bluffs and gravelly beaches, birds galore, and good fishing around the kelp and rock piles. Deer, too––some calico––native and exotic crosses from those that used to be on Safari (Spieden) Island only a two-hour swim away.
Sucia Island Group, 1940s.
Photograph by Clyde Banks Studio
Click to enlarge.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Well, that about does it as far as where to spend the first couple of nights. Now, if your sailboat had a motor you could stretch your range as tight as a drumhead; see more but enjoy less, having to be more organized with your time. Forget it. Stay on one island for a couple of days and get to know the place, and save the rest for another trip.      
      While you're lying in the moss you're wondering where those other boats out there are going. Well, unlike you, they're late, making up for lost time, maybe headed for Sucia for the night and then over to Sidney or Bedwell Harbour, and then to Nanaimo or Telegraph Harbour. Tighter than a drumhead. Hurry, hurry.
      Meantime, you begin wondering what kind of moss you're lying in. Kind of spongy and aromatic; close up it looks like a tiny jungle. The more you gaze into it the more you see––about a dozen different kinds in this one little spot. And mushrooms, lichens, and algae, the place is alive with stuff you never noticed before. There must be books about this that you can read to find out more. You resolve then and there to learn more about this natural world around you.
      The sun goes behind the clouds. A breeze makes the firs sigh, and it gets cooler. It makes you hungry, so go check the boat, gather some firewood, and cook up some soup.
      The boat's okay, high enough up on the beach to be there when you want it tomorrow. The high tide will just wet the transom, judging from the last high tide's line of drift. Not that you're in a hurry to leave. You might just figure on staying put for a few days. Besides, there's more to see and do right here underfoot than you really ever imagined. Amazing, what you miss when you're not in tune with where you are.
      You begin to wonder if with a little help from books and experience you could learn to live out here in the open. Off the land, so to speak. Maybe try it for a few weeks in the summer, just for openers.
Cruising in the San Juan Islands, WA.
Click image to enlarge.
Undated original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Maybe get a boat of your own. How big? Someone once said, "well, you either want one big enough to ride out our storms or small enough to beach it." Hmm, possibilities. Low cost, low maintenance, low stress. Protected water, quiet coves, mossy outcrops, grassy flats, kelp beds and bottom fish, fair currents, clear water, clean air, and freedom.
       If the wind dies how far could you go with the tide? Now you're getting into it. Maybe to Turn Island, six miles away; six hours with a knot of current, even sooner with a little tail wind.
      How about that? Turn Island in time for sunset!" 
 Dustrude, John, happy mariner of the San Juan Island Archipelago, with home port of Friday Harbor.
 The Art of Winding Down. San Juan Islands Almanac. Vol. 11, 1984.

05 June 2017

❖ Mosquito Fleet Monday ❖ CHESTER

Sternwheeler CHESTER, left.
ON 127201
Built in 1897 by Joseph Supple, Portland, OR.
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

The 101-ft CHESTER was built for the Cowlitz River operations of Captains Orin, Ed, and Joseph Kellogg. Working upstream from Kelso she was able to navigate in a channel a foot deep. At many stops along the river, customers simply drove their wagons alongside the steamer to transfer freight and passengers. 
      The design of the CHESTER was subsequently widely copied in building light draft steamers for gold rush river service in the north. 
      According to Jim Faber in Steamer's Wake, the steamer was noted for her flexible hull, supported by hog chains and planked with cedar. Her planking constantly being replaced  due to the fact she literally sand-papered her bottom as she slid over the Cowlitz River sandbars. 
      Owners liked to boast she "floated like a shingle on a pond."

31 May 2017


Purse Seiner UMATILLA
Lying in the mud at Neah Bay, WA, where she was towed
after being rammed 26 July 1934, near Cape Flattery, WA.
She was cut in two by the USS ARIZONA.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
The USS ARIZONA was en route from Bremerton, WA to San Pedro, CA on a clear, moonlit night when she rammed the 52-ft purse-seiner UMATILLA, Capt Lucas Plancich,  off Cape Flattery, 26 July 1934. Two fishermen, Lauritz Halsan and John Urosac, were lost from the purse seiner. 
      ARIZONA, Capt. MacGillivray Milne, did not stop to render assistance, but proceeded on to San Pedro. The fishermen, including 7 survivors were pulled from the water by another fishing vessel. 

Schenechtady Gazette. 13 November 1934.
"Navy officials disclosed that the loss of 3 grade numbers on the active list was punishment given Capt. MacGillivray Milne as a result of the collision between the battleship ARIZONA and the fishing vessel UMATILLA, off Neah Bay, WA."

The USS ARIZONA was sunk by Japanese bombers 7 December 1941.
The UMATILLA, owned by Peter Petrich of Dockton, Maury Island, WA  was restored to continue a long life of fishing in Alaska.

25 May 2017


Helder, Holland.
Extraordinary lifeboat captain.

Photo date 1927 celebrating his 80th birthday.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.© 
Theodorus "Dorus" Rijkers (1847-1928) was a famous Dutch lifeboat captain and folk hero, most famous for his sea rescues of 511 shipwrecked victims over a total of 42 rescue operations, and at least 25 before joining the lifeboat-service.
      'Opa' Dorus received his nickname Grandpa (Dutch: Opa) while still a young man; he had married a fisherman's widow who already had 6 children. The nickname began as a joke, Dorus soon started acting and looking like a grandpa, and from that time on he became primarily known by his nickname.
      Dorus gained most of his fame as a result of his service to the Noord-en-Zuid-Hollandsche Redding Maatschappij (NZHRM) one of the two main Dutch lifeboat-societies at the time. 
      However his life-saving career began in 1872 before he joined the NZHRM, while acting as captain of his own boat. While at sea, he saved all 25 crew members of the barque Australia from drowning at sea. Because of this incident, Dorus gained a reputation as a rescuer, that preceded his joining the NZHRM as a volunteer. On the basis of his reputation, he was granted the position of coxswain upon joining the NZHRM without having to prove his qualifications. His rank of coxswain entitled him to immediately command his own boat and crew.
      Although Dorus joined the NZHRM as a volunteer, he worked so many hours that it precluded him from taking on other paid work. Dorus and all of his crew members received a sum for each trial and each service.
      During his nearly 30 years service, Dorus saved hundreds of people from drowning at sea,  becoming legendary long before his retirement. In the waters where he served, he saved such a large number of people with such effectiveness that the survival statistics increased dramatically. At the end of his career, although he remained active, his role became more symbolic in nature.
      In 1888: Dorus Rijkers met King William III of the Netherlands after rescuing sailors from the German barque Renown. The King gave Dorus a gold medal of honor and smoked a pipe with him.
      1911: Dorus retired at age 64, after which he received only a very small pension. He struggled to make ends meet by eating simple food and living plainly.
      1922: During an interview with Dr. L.A. Rademaker, editor of the Hague newspaper Het Vaderland, Dorus complained about his situation. He claimed that he had been forced to sell the gold medal of honor in order to buy himself a bicycle. The Dorus Rijkers Fund for the Heroes of the Sea was created after Dorus' plight and that of other retired life-savers.
      1928: Dorus Rijkers died at the age of 81. He was given a funeral that was so grand that it resembled a state funeral in size and style. There was music, a big parade, thousands who came to pay their last respects including a large number of Marine Officers, also high ranking government officials, among them representatives of the Ministry of the Navy. The grandeur of his funeral showed the great public esteem in which Dorus was held at the time. Rijkers had become a national hero and was by far the most popular Dutchman of those years (according to a poll that surveyed many people in the Netherlands during the 1920s.
      1935: There is a huge statue erected in honor of all the Netherlands sea-rescuers. This statue is sometimes mistakenly assumed to be in honor of Dorus. In fact, a separate, smaller statue of Dorus was erected in 1939. One of the rescue boats of the KNRM still carries his name with pride. Dorus is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest rescuers of all time. 
A photo of that vessel named for the hero,can be viewed here

22 May 2017


The Flyer
ON 120876

"The most faithful old boat,
not in Seattle, not in the state of Washington,
not in the US, but the most 
faithful old boat in the whole 
wide, wide world, 
was that old Flyer––day in and day out."
Joshua Green 1869-1975

"The trade magazine Railway and Marine News in 1908 termed her 'the most remarkable steamer in the world.' Scaling off the exaggeration, the slender hulled Flyer was indeed one for the record book.
      The Flyer was built in Portland of Douglas fir by Capt. U.B. Scott, a Midwest transplant with a unique savvy for extracting the maximum speed from a steamboat. His Columbia River sternwheeler Telephone was a consistent winner in races between Portland and Astoria. Later he designed the aptly named propellor, Fleetwood, again winning the broom for speed. In 1898 the steamer made a record run from Tacoma to Seattle rushing a fire engine to join the battle against the Great Fire.
      So finely drawn were the lines of the knife-nosed Flyer that when launched in 1891, sans equipment, she rolled over. The hull was then sponsoned out; in other words a second hull was wrapped around the original. This second hull was improperly sealed, allowing tons of water to enter and remain sloshing around inside the hulls. Despite the handicap, the Flyer emerged fleet and dependable; a skinny upstart outrunning just about everything moving on Puget Sound.
      Along with speed, the Flyer became as dependable as the tides. 'Citizens of Seattle,' vowed the Railway and Marine News, 'used the Flyer whistle instead of clocks.' At the time of the magazine's accolade, the 170-ft Flyer had voyaged the equivalent of 51 times around the world, largely on the Seattle-Tacoma route (running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes), carrying more than three million passengers.
      Unlike any of her sisters, the Flyer boasted a dining room. Entertainment was provided by a viewing of her flashing engine, with its symphony of thuds and hisses seasoned with the smell of steam and hot oil. The triple-expansion engine, a duplicate of one designed for J.P. Morgan's Corsair, was capable of 2,000 horsepower, but due to boiler limitations never operated at more than 1,200. Despite a cruising speed of 16 knots, the Flyer created no more wake than a Mallard." 
Steamer's Wake. Jim Faber; Seattle, Enetai Press.(1985)
The Washington (ex-Flyer)
Friday Harbor, San Juan Archipelago,
dated 1924.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

11 May 2017

❖ TUG TYEE TO CLALLAM ❖ With June Burn 1930

Bellingham Tug and Barge, including tug TYEE 
Standing by at home port of Bellingham, WA.
Scan of photo purchased from Whatcom Museum of History.
Please contact them if you'd like a copy of TYEE and friends.
Click to enlarge

What a mysteriously fascinating place is the waterfront at night! Lights twinkling on the wet blackness. Invisible men shouting, weird whistles going, shadowy figures moving about on the decks of boats, cigarettes blinking trains ringing bells up on the railroad tracks nearby.
      "All ready, Cap'n," a voice calls out. A signal is given. The little tug Ketchikan comes alongside, throws us a line, pulls our nose slowly around as if we were a stubborn old bull, heads us down-bay and we are off. It is 6 o'clock, Tuesday night, as we leave Citizen's dock. 
      I am standing in the pilot house of the big tug TYEE, bound for Clallam Bay, which is away out yonder nearly to Cape Flattery, on the Olympic peninsula. Two hours ago I hadn't the least notion that I'd be riding the swells of Fuca tonight, but Mr. Donovan said I might get to Clallam Bay by way of one of Mr. Barney Jones' tugboats, and Mr. Barney Jones* said that the TYEE was leaving tonight at 6 o'clock and Mr. Bert Butts, captain of the TYEE, said I might come along and so here I am.
      We'll stop down here and pick up a tow, the captain says, "see that red light over there? It is a storm warning. We'll likely have it rough in the Straits." But I don't mind, do you? I love to feel the waves or two come prancing across the bow. Nothing is finer than a well behaved storm on a staunch small boat.
Clallam Bay 

      Three men stand aft as we draw alongside six of the hundred-feet long, three-feet-thick boomsticks which are to be returned to the camps. One holds the looped end of a big wire cable in one hand and an axe in the other. Another wields a pikestaff. A third goes trotting off down to the far end of the floating logs as if they were an island and secure. The captain stands on deck to manipulate the searchlight for the three men who wrangle those stiff, clumsy logs about as if they had intelligence. The logs, I mean! In half an hour or less we are off again, our "light tow" behind us, a dark reef awash with the surf of its own making.
Clallam Bay log boom yard
with unidentified tug and barge,
click to enlarge. 
Photo by Ellis from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Save for the lights of boats and the glow of the dome of the sawdust burner, the edge of Bellingham is dark as we leave the town behind. But how bright the hills set out in twinkling rows of lights! What brave scallops those light-rimmed hills scoop out of a stormy sky! I am thinking of you there, reading by the lights, or working, or dancing, or maybe watching your sick beside a light turned low.
       Almost before I know we have got out of the bay, Cypress Island rises close on the starboard bow, if that is proper seaman's language. Anyhow, there she is and a single light far down on the tail of her growing lighter as we thump off the knots, our noiseless steam engine shoving us along at a good clip. I wanted to see an engine whose only sound was this soft thump-a-thump. I had forgotten steam was such quiet power.
      And so I go below in the tow of Robert Blake Jr., first assistant engineer of the TYEE. Here, two great crankshafts go over and over in a curiously haphazard fashion as if they come very near missing the rhythm each time, but they never do. Up and down, slick, square metal bars they go, the slick round piston rode plunging up and down into the cylinder, where the steam is compressed, waiting to give power to them. That power turns the crankshafts which turn the great leisurely shaft running out to the back of the boat to turn the great hurrying propeller.
      Deeper down at the very bottom of the boat, four or six or maybe ten inches of hoary old boards separating them from the water under the boat, lies the two boilers. Oil burns whitely under the boilers to heat the water that makes the steam that runs the boat that––well, who did build it?
      TYEE means big chief and twenty years ago she was the most powerful tug on the Pacific Coast. The TYEE was built in 1884 at Port Ludlow, WA. In the early days she piloted sailing vessels in and out of Seattle's harbor, sometimes bringing in three or four  old square rigged, dingy-winged birds at once, strung along one behind the other.
      She is 141-ft long this sturdy, low-slung drawer of burdens, with a gross tonnage of 316. The Bellingham Tug and Barge Co bought her in 1925 and Capt Butts has run her for over two years, losing nary a crib of logs in all that time in the storms he must have weathered. Every once in a while, he says, that if he only had a million dollars he would ditch the old girl, though, or at least take a two weeks' layoff. But then you never can believe what a boatman tells you when he is looking unusually serious.
Puget Soundings by author June Burn. 11 Feb. 1930.
1944: "Barney" Jones, founder and president of Bellingham Tug and Barge Co died in 1944. At the time of his death, his firm operated a fleet of 10 steam, Diesel and gasoline tugs and a number of scows and barges.
      *He left a portion of his stock in the company to 14 veteran employees.
H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Newell, Gordon editor. Superior Pub.

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