"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 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.

22 June 2017


CHIMACUM joins her Olympic class mates
TOKITAE and SAMISH now in active service.
SUQUAMISH is under construction
 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

Author's home port of 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. 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.

05 May 2017

❖ MAGGIE Steaming into May for Opening Day ❖

Babs Cameron at the helm of her 60th birthday present,
S.L. MAGGIE, photo dated 1964.
Photos by Wally Howland of Shaw Island, WA and San Francisco.

Click to enlarge.

Text by Skip Bold, 
Wasp Passage, Shaw Island, WA.
submitted to Saltwater People Historical Society Log
5 May 2017

"Babs and Coonie Cameron were interested in marine steam before they moved to the San Juans in 1961. She and Coonie found MAGGIE, a 16' Poulsbo salmon troller in Port Townsend in the 1940s or early 1950s. She was built by Ron Young.
      The previous owner had installed an awkward plywood box for a cabin. Coonie, with his sensitive architect's eye, toned this down with a visor and radiused window corners. He took out the loud 9-HP Wisconsin inboard and had Cliff Blackstaffe, of Victoria BC, build MAGGIE a 2-HP steeple compound engine and an oil fired horizontal water-tube boiler.
      Blackstaffe personally delivered the steam plant to Shaw Island in early 1964 and instructed Coonie on the installation and use.
Malcolm 'Coonie' and Margaret 'Babs' Cameron
aboard their restored S. L. MAGGIE,
near Shirttail Reef, San Juan Archipelago, WA.

Click to enlarge.
      Some of MAGGIE's touches crafted by Coonie were lovely teak and bronze handmade cleats and handsome teak steam valve handles to prevent burnt hands.
      Coonie was on the San Juan County Planning Commission at the time and usually took MAGGIE to Friday Harbor for meetings, a unique mode of commuting in the mid 20th century!
      They enjoyed MAGGIE for several years and eventually sold her to an Orcas Island friend.
      Their next maritime adventure was PIAVE, a 60 year old tug/fish boat found in San Pedro, rebuilt over a winter in Sausalito and brought up the coast to Shaw. That's another story." 

02 May 2017



"Paddle, paddle, GEORGE E. STARR
How we wonder where you are!
You left Seattle at half-past ten
And will get to Bellingham God knows when.
As you creep across the bight
We can see your masthead light
Out upon the bay so far...
Paddle, paddle, GEORGE E. STARR."

The gallant GEORGE E. STARR, once the speed queen of the Sound, had slowed down in old age until she had become the butt of waterfront humorists, one of whom composed the above bit of verse, that remains enshrined in steamboat history.
      The STARR, as one of Joshua Green's old LaConner T & T fleet, was a favorite of his and he did his best to view her infirmities optimistically. When the old paddler was even later than usual getting into Colman Dock he would glance hopefully out his office window, consult his gold pocket watch and then say, "My, the STARR is certainly late tonight. She must have picked up a real fine load of freight this trip."
      The first of the new Seattle-built steamers, KULSHAN, was launched on the evening of 21 July 1910. The occasion was described by the Seattle Times as taking place 'amid ideal surroundings and before a multitude of representatives of the wealth, commerce and fashion of Seattle and other ports in Puget Sound.'
Launching, December 1910,

Soon to be named Seattle Construction and Drydock Co.
Photo print from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      In late December, the second of the new steel steamers, SIOUX, was launched from the Moran yard amid gala christening ceremonies similar to those held for the KULSHAN. Like the KULSHAN, she was practically ready to begin steaming when she left the building shed, and a few days later she ran her trials under her newly assigned skipper, Captain John "Red Jack" Ellsmore. The 152-ft SIOUX, fitted with a 4-cylinder triple-expansion engine of 1,000 HP, displayed a slightly better turn of speed than the KULSHAN. 
      The christening of the SIOUX took place in the best and most gallant tradition of Joshua Green and the Puget Sound Navigation Co. 
      Much of the steel used in constructing the SIOUX, Seattle newspapers proudly pointed out, was rolled by the Irondale, WA., mill, this being the first steamship ever built of Washington-made metal. So it was eminently fitting that this fine craft should take over the run to the booming steel town where she had had her beginnings. 
      The SIOUX ran only briefly, on the route for which she had been built. After running to Tacoma and Hood Canal excursions, she was shifted to the Seattle-Edmonds-Everett service, in which she remained for many years. 
      Captain Ellsmore was proud of the SIOUX and kept a watchful eye on the itinerant loggers who wandered from camp to camp with their belongings rolled up in blankets slung over their shoulders. There independent and highly individualistic workers wore caulked boots, chewed 'snoose' and had a fondness for high-proof whiskey, all of which attributes were hard on the steamboats on which they migrated from job to job.
      Joshua Green had learned of this problem early in his career as a working steamboat man. The old LaConner T & T boats were a favorite means of getting from Seattle to the logging camps of the upper Skagit and he recalls that 'After big holidays you couldn't walk through the cabins for loggers sleeping off their holiday drunks with their heads on their blanket rolls. Would I have a time collecting fares!'
      Sleeping loggers were bad enough, but when they were awake and in the mood for mischief they could pretty well demolish a steamboat unless its officers and crew were alert and equally aggressive. Upon one occasion, four of five of the 'ladies of pleasure' of the river town of Mt. Vernon boarded the HENRY BAILEY to spend the Fourth of July in Seattle. The loggers who had decided to stay in town had already gotten their celebration well under way when they got word of this outrage and went down to the landing to take the women ashore. Green still shudders at the recollection: 'They were fighting drunk and we couldn't get them off the boat. One of them bit a whiskey glass in two. It was a riot! As fast as we'd get 'em ashore they'd come back again. We finally had to cross the river and tie up to the bank until the tide came in and we could get out of there.'
      Red Jack Ellsmore had few such problems on the SIOUX. He kept a big brass fire hose nozzle close at hand, and if the loggers traveling with him showed signs of becoming obstreperous, he didn't hesitate to use the nozzle to beat a spirited tattoo upon their heads. Word of his rough-and-ready method of maintaining decorum aboard the SIOUX soon spread among the loggers, and she suffered little damage at their hands. 
The Green Years. Newell, Gordon. Seattle, WA. Superior Publishing. (1969)

25 April 2017


Federal prohibition chief Roy T. Lyle,
with part of a shipment of "salt fish" liquor
seized in a Seattle shed.
Scan from an original photo from the S.P.H.S.©

Rum Running Through the Islands

Recalled by Harry W. Patton

"Joe Patton was not a rumrunner, or a bootlegger. For a loss of exact descriptive words, I would describe him as a 'fringe facilitator.' He never did drive a rum boat in the dark of night, nor load or off load any booze.
      Soon after WW I ended, the use of alcoholic beverages increased markedly. On payday a large number of workers would shoot their paychecks on booze before they even got home. People felt that something should be done. Backed by many church groups, the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), a national amendment, the 18th Amendment was finally passed and was put into effect in 1920, prohibiting the distillation, importing or consumption of alcoholic beverages. This was the beginning of what is called the Prohibition period (1920-1933.)
      Many men were extremely put out about this situation and started to find ways around it. Some made gin in bathtubs that got to be known as 'bathtub gin.' Others brewed beer in huge vats in hidden warehouses. But those vats were often found and destroyed by the Feds. Some other source had to be determined.
      Canada was free from our Amendment 18. Many of our entrepreneurs quickly fell upon the idea of importing whiskey from Canada and soon midnight clandestine smugglers arrived with cases of whiskey at the border into the US. The border between the US and Canada is more than 3,000 miles long, most of it unpatrolled. Even so, the Feds, due to tips and payoffs, were able to intercept many of the transfers and much booze was apprehended and destroyed.
      The northwest bootleggers then decided to go to 'Plan B.' Why not bring the whiskey by boat, on black nights, down Rosario Strait and through the San Juans, drop it off on the dark shores, south of Anacortes and points south. The shore was very thinly populated during that period. The Revenuers wouldn't be able to see them in the dark or fog, and radar had not been invented yet.

      Roy Olmstead, according to Norm Blanchard, has been described as the leader, and most instrumental person setting up this seagoing rum running scheme. He recruited a group of nefarious, but opportunistic, willing, experienced boat handlers. Then he located several existing boats and put them into operations from Canada to the US. His movements south were so successful that he realized he needed more boats. And faster boats, as the slow ones were being apprehended.
      Olmstead allegedly approached Joe Patton's good friend, N. J. Blanchard Sr, and placed orders for several new high speed boats. Money wasn't flowing in the boat building business in the mid '20s, and certainly not following the Depression. It was legal for a buyer to purchase a boat, even though the government knew it probably would be used for rum running. Anyone with money could buy a boat even though it might be used later for nefarious purposes. There was no proof of that. The Feds could watch it being built, but could not attach the vessel. They had to let it be driven up to Canada, and then search for the loaded boat when it returned south, in the dark of night at high speed, into the US waters, to deliver the booze. Olmstead paid N. J. in cash; nothing illegal about any of the operation.
      Olmstead was in business. Patton and N. J. could feed their families...
      On a hot summer morning in June, c. 1928, Dad got a phone call from N. J. Dad said to me, 'Blanchard has one of his new boats out in Lake Union for a test run. It's got one of my engines in it. Test about to be finished, I'd like to see how it performs, would you like to come with me over to the east Queen Anne look-out bluff and see the demonstration?'
      I was pretty young at the time, so didn't know too much about boats. This one was painted black, narrow, c. 20-22' high-chine, enormous open runabout, with a covered foredeck. Certainly not good looking, compared to the beautiful, varnished mahogany Gar-Wood high-speed runabout loaned to my dad. But it was going like hell, and fun to watch! Full Bore! I said, 'Dad, it is sure a a funny looking boat. Why doesn't it look like a Gar-Wood?' He said, 'Well, the buyer just wants it to be this way––cheaper.'
      How many runners did N. J. build? We can find no records. Norm Jr relates, and we quote: 'During the mid 1920s Dad built four runners. I'm sure that he made good money on them. I remember the last one was just one enormous open runabout. All those places on the water were just naturals to get involved in bootlegging because you could always find a way to offload the booze at night. Every cabbie in town knew that for the right price, a customer could get a bottle of bootleg whiskey at the Seattle YC. It's funny, but I didn't find out until years later that dad provided bootleg boats all through Prohibition. I remember once that dad took the family in the car out to a new housing development, that had a lot of little colored flags flying everywhere. Dad parked at the sales office and a dapper gentleman came out and greeted him like an old friend. Well, this dapper gentleman was none other than Roy Olmstead, the biggest bootlegger in the whole PNW. Years later I asked my cousin, 'Do you think my father was a bootlegger?' 'Hell, yes,' she said, 'What do you think kept the doors open at the Blanchard Boat Company during the Depression?'

      (H.W.P.): I really don't like to hear N. J. labelled as a bootlegger. It's not an accurate description of him. Bootlegging connotes moving and delivering the booze. N. J. was, as I suggested, a facilitator, like Joe Patton, just building boats, but not operating them. Nothing illegal. I knew him very well.
Bill Boyer owned and managed the resort on Orcas Island, from 1920 until 1944. In those days Doe Bay was a quiet, unobtrusive little hamlet, with a County Dock, a Post Office, and small string of floats for visiting boats. The OSAGE, a small steamer, used to depart Bellingham at 6:30 A.M., headed west, stopping to drop mail and supplies at Sinclair, Doe Bay, Olga, Eastsound, Deer Harbor and Friday Harbor. Then in the afternoon, make the trip back. We lived in a log cabin. In the early days, at 8:00 AM, Mother would hand me 25 cents, 15 for milk, and 10 for bread, and send me down the trail to Doe Bay, to await the OSAGE. 
The steamer OSAGE,
Launched on Decatur Island in 1930.
      After many years of hard work and little income Dad finally finished his wooden 38-ft cruiser, BARNACLE. During the depression, N. J. didn't have much boatbuilding work, and this allowed Dad to fabricate the BARNACLE on his ways. He did most of the work himself, but occasionally out-of-work Blanchard employees, and Norm Jr, would help him, no charge, just to keep their talented hands on. The boat was launched in 1932. My mother christened it with a bottle of champagne provided by Roy Olmstead.
      Now, having the BARNACLE, my dad, Joe, every year entered the International Predicted Log Constant Speed cruiser race from Seattle to Nanaimo, BC (1933-1938.) Heading back to Seattle we always stopped and moored to the floats overnight at the Doe Bay Resort, and talk with friend Bill Boyer.
      Also, to check Dad's nearby Vista del Mar Orcas beach front property. My grandfather, Harry W. Patton, (the 'Major') was managing editor of the Bellingham daily paper (1904-1910.) Vista del Mar contained some 36 acres, and 2,000 feet of waterfront. 
Coast of Orcas Island, San Juan Archipelago. 
Photo by James McCormick, an early photographer working 
in San Juan County, and often on Orcas Island.
Low res scan of an original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      The jewel in this stark stone beachfront is a wonderful 90-ft long protected beach, composed of small gravel, nestled neatly between two long high bedrock fingers, that point straight out, that restrict visibility and provide privacy. Patton Cove––yes, Patton Cove. About 15-ft up is a natural spring fresh water outlet. 
      Dad took me with him from the boat, tied to the float, up to talk several times, several years (1933-1936) with Bill Boyer. He gave me a nickel for Crackerjacks. 
      Bill: 'Joe, we're talking 1920 to 1932, I can't recall, year by year, but prolly starting in the area of 1922, cause they had to get in business really soon. Rumor had it that the runners had started to sped south from BC on dark nights. Some black nights I could hear the high speed boats, prolly runners, and occasionally the Revenuers, way out in the Strait, and sometimes 'tween the Middle Pod and the south Pod, really charging, with no lights on. Couldn't see 'em. Occasional gun fire!'
      Bellingham papers continually reported runner hide-out stop points en route had been hard to find, and the Feds were becoming frustrated. Suddenly, the Revvies reported that they found the runners had occasionally, while en route south, been found hidden in narrow inlets on Patos Island, Active Cove on the west, and Toe Inlet, a perfect hideout, on the east. Several shootouts and confiscations had occurred.
      'Forced out, the runners then decided to hide in inlets on Sucia Island. Echo Bay was too large and hard to escape from, but Fossil Bay was more narrow, secluded. Also, an inlet on Matia. The Revenuers closed in and they got caught. No use, Clark and Barnes, have no inlets and also too close to Matia. So, what next safe haven could they find? 
      Bill continues: 'How about down the east coast of Orcas?
      One sunny day a friendly boat crew came up to my store from the floats, with a jug of Canadian whiskey, very friendly, and waited to talk. One look at the boat and I know what it was designed for. We both knew what was going on, and talked without beating around the bush. We could talk freely as Doe Bay is way out in the boonies, and no one to bother us.
Rum runner Roy Olmstead and wife Elsie.
He was brought down with wiretapping of his 
home phone & phones of his conspirators,
in 1924. He fought the charges all the way to
the US Supreme Court, but lost. He did earn 
a pardon from President Roosevelt.
He is seen here being released from prison in 1931.

Scan of an original from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
      The driver said he was working for Roy. We all knew who Roy was, as his name had been in the papers as a suspect. We all knew what the program was; getting booze from Canada down into the U.S. He pointed out that many runners had been caught and cargoes confiscated, and that wasn't making Roy any money, not satisfying the distributors down in Seattle. And, especially, the thirsty customers. He had to come up with a new, workable plan of operations. Soon.
      He sounded me out for a long time, asking me many questions. He had to be very careful. Finally, he figured he could trust me. He had a plan and hoped I would help him with it.
      He said they had located a small cove about a mile north of here. I told him that was the Joe Patton property. That Major Patton used to bring his wife, and children over for a coupla weeks in the summer time, but it has been abandoned since 1914, so you could all go down to the University. The War came and no one has been back since.
      He said his crews had started using it as a stop point and hiding place. To keep from losing booze from each apprehended boat, and cut their losses, the boss would send a big 22-footer, fully loaded, quickly to your cove, unload everything and stash it in the thick underbrush and Devil's Club, then race back north. If apprehended, the revenuers would find an empty boat and have to release them.
      On the next dark night a single runner would go to your cove, load half of the cases, and race south to the offload point. On the next dark night a second boat would pick up the remaining cases and head south. Being lighter, each boat could move faster. 
      He asked if I thought you would blow the whistle on him, and I said no, you never come up here, and wouldn't know anything about the operation anyway. We don't write letters, only Christmas cards.
      He said if I heard any rumors about his operation would I go to the cove and leave a note hidden under a big rock, next to the spring? He would make it worth my while, and he certainly did!
      About a month later a big black limousine pulled up in front of my store. Two men in black suits got out and said they were federal agents, and did I know where the Patton place was. I said I wasn't sure as I had just arrived and purchased the store in 1920, two years ago, and have never seen any Pattons. But I had heard, I think, from some of the locals, that it was back in the direction they had come from, way back toward Olga. They jumped in their car and quickly drove off––toward Olga [on Orcas Island]...
      It was almost dark. I jumped in my leaky 16-ft boat, started the old five-HP outboard, and headed north, trying to stay out of the kelp. Coming very quickly into the cove, I saw a runner boat pulled up on the beach. Surprised, two men stood up and grabbed their rifles. The driver recognized me and said, 'It's OK, that's Boyer!'
      Bill continues, I told them about the Feds in the big black car, and suggested they get the hell out! They were pretty scared! The two quickly grabbed the hidden cases of hootch, scratching their hands badly on the Devil's Club, and loaded them into the speedboat. They handed me two bottles of Canadian whiskey, said thanks, started the engine and raced out into the darkening evening, full speed!I never saw them again."
      As far as I know, Boyer never knew that Dad's friend, N. J. had built those rum running boats, and that Dad had provided the engines. And, of course, at that time, neither did I. Everything was on the Q.T." 
Kindly submitted to the Saltwater People Log by Harry W. Patton, Orcas Island, WA.
The Blanchard Boat Co is mentioned throughout this Log. Here is a chapter from Knee Deep in Shavings written by Norman C. Blanchard, the son of the founder of the yard, "Cruising in the San Juan Islands with a Shell Motor Oil Road Map." 





18 April 2017


Flags flying for her 1917 launch day at 
Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Co yard, Seattle, WA;
She was a Norwegian owned schooner
who got her photo in Jim Gibbs' West Coast Windjammers 
but that is the extent of our knowledge on this gal.

If you have any history on this schooner, please let us know, thank you.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Co was established in 1898 on Elliott Bay, Seattle. They built Harbor Island in Seattle in 1909; until 1938, it was the largest artificial island in the world.
PSB&DC also built the harbor of Pt. Townsend in 1931 and the first Lake WA floating bridge and Husky Stadium. 

10 April 2017


The below undated original photos are from one collection just archived from descendants of mariner, Harry D. Wilkins, who worked on the GOLIAH. No story came with the images other than a few short inscriptions on the back, but included below are some GOLIAH words from the historian/author Gordon Newell.  
ON 204800
414 G.t./221 N.t.
500 Ind. HP.
Owned at this time by Puget Sound Tug Boat Company.
ON 204801
414 G.t./ 221 N.t.
500 Ind. HP.
Built 1907, Camden, N.J.
According to Pacific Tugboats,
 she is GOLIAH'S sister ship who
towed her around Cape Horn from the east coast to CA.

"In many ways, Puget Sound's second GOLIAH was typical of the Northwest's big deep-water steam tugs, both in appearance and in the work she did. Built in 1907 by John Dialogue of Camden, N.J., the GOLIAH and her sister tug, HERCULES, were massive, powerful steel steamers, 151' long, 27.1' beam and 15.2' depth, with a speed of better than 13 knots.
      The two boats came to the West Coast, via Cape Horn, the HERCULES towing the GOLIAH, which was loaded with extra fuel for the HERCULES' boilers. In San Francisco they went to work for the Shipowners' and Merchants Tugboat Co, but in 1909 the Puget Sound Tug Boat Co sent Capt. Buck Bailey and port engineer J.F. Primrose to the Bay to have a look at the GOLIAH. Their report was enthusiastic and the PSCo bought her. Capt. T.H. Cann piloted her north from San Fran.
      Shortly after WW I, the GOLIAH returned to the East Coast, having been sold as the sailing-ship trade of the PSTBC diminished. During the years she operated in the Northwest she had the comfortable reputation of a 'lucky ship.' This in spite of the many hazardous exploits in which she engaged.
      In 1916, skippered by Capt. T. Nielsen, the GOLIAH snatched the disabled Norwegian freighter NIELS NIELSEN from almost certain destruction on the lee shore of Vancouver Island, a feat which has been vividly described by R.H. "Skipper" Calkins, in his book High Tide (1952.)
Photo inscribed:
"Ship REUCE in tow of tug GOLIAH,
bound for Chignik, AK.
A slight list to starboard;
in smooth water after 3 days of pounding.
If there is such thing as a 'Hoo-doo Ship',
this is it."

ON 110498
1,924 G.t./ 1,601 N.t. 
Built 1881 in Kennebunk, ME.
      One of the GOLIAH's specialties was the towing of big Cape Horn windjammers up the coast when they had a deadline charter to meet on the Sound. In January of 1914, the GOLIAH set a new speed record for herself by towing the big American square-rigged ship ARYAN from the Golden Gate to Victoria in 89 hours and 30 minutes. The ARYAN, last wooden square-rigger built in America, was a heavy-hulled cargo carrier due to load nearly two million feet of timber for south Africa, and tugboat men agreed that her fast trip north was quite an accomplishment, even for the GOLIAH.
Text on verso from this Wilkins collection:
"A more treacherous body
of water does not exist."

These photos were taken before Ripple Rock was
successfully drilled and blasted with dynamite in 1958.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      In June of the same year the GOLIAH set a new Alaska towing record, beating the one she had set two years earlier. Towing the barge JAMES DRUMMOND northbound and the barge ST. JAMES southbound, she completed the round trip between Seattle and Gypsum, AK.––1,900 miles––in 10 days and 12 hours. 
GYPSUM, Chichagof Island, near Iyoukeen Cove, AK.
A destination for part of GOLIAH'S work, as mentioned
in this piece by author Gordon Newell.
From the GOLIAH photo collection from the family of
mariner Harry D. Wilkins.

Original, undated photos from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Both barges were loaded to capacity, but in their younger days they had been noted clipper ships, their fine-lined hulls helping the powerful GOLIAH to set another towing record.      

      In October 1910, GOLIAH ran into bad luck while engaged in towing a big barge, with tragic results. At the time the tug was hauling rock from Waldron Island, in the San Juans, to Grays Harbor, where it was used in the construction of the jetties at Westport. A fleet of nine seagoing barges was used to transport the rock, all of them tripped-down sailing ships like the PALMYRA, BIG BONANZA, CORONDOLET, JAMES DRUMMOND, and ST. JAMES, all of the staunch and seaworthy, and all of well over a thousand tons register. The smallest of the fleet was the ex-schooner WALLACUT, built at Portland, OR, in 1898, and rated at 798 gross tons. This was the barge that GOLIAH was towing to Grays Harbor. The story of what happened is contained in a shipping bulletin datelined Port Townsend, 5 Oct. 1910:

      "The loss at sea of Andrew Henderson, aged 24, and Hans Christensen, aged 25, from the rock barge WALLACUT is the latest of the long list of casualties due to the gale in the North Pacific Sunday. The men were swept from the barge while it was in tow of the tug GOLIAH at six o'clock in the morning off Destruction Island, while the craft, deep-laden with stone for Grays Harbor jetty work, was contending against a sea so furious it seemed almost certain to cost the lives of the five men constituting the barge's crew.
      A report of the tragedy was brought here by Capt. John Jarman, master of the barge, whose command was forced to return to Neah Bay after vainly trying for 30 hours to cross the bar into Grays Harbor.
      A point near Grays Harbor Bar was eventually reached, the barge leaking badly, and under weather conditions that prevented making an effort to pass into Aberdeen. With this plan frustrated, the tug turned for a return course to the Sound. While Henderson was about to relieve Christensen at the wheel, a wave more furious than any of the others that had threatened to send the barge to the bottom, broke in a big curling comber over the weather rail, sending both men clear of the ship and into the sea. The accident was witnessed by Capt. Jarman and his two other sailors, but no aid could be given. 
      Capt. Jarman is a veteran on the North Pacific and describes the storm through which he passed as the most severe experienced in these waters."

      Capt. Buck Bailey, who was skipper of the GOLIAH that trip, was noted for laughing in the teeth of the North Pacific when it was in its worst moods, frequently taking whatever big PSTBC craft he was piloting into danger which kept all other deep-sea towboats safe at anchor. If he mis-calculated that time, at the cost of two lives, he made it up many times over in daring rescue operations which made him famous the whole length of the Pacific Coast. 

      At the termination of the Waldron Island rock-towing contract, the GOLIAH steamed down the coast to take her station off the Columbia River mouth. 
From the GOLIAH collection.
Possibly preparing for a pilot from the GOLIAH,
when the big tug was stationed off the Columbia Bar.

Undated original from the S.P.H.S.©
The Puget Sound Co. had decided to set up a pilotage and towing service there in opposition to the established bar tugs. The GOLIAH, with ample accommodations and oil tanks capable of stowing a month's supply of fuel, was well designed for such service, and she spent most of her time cruising off the lightship day and night, with her bar pilots aboard." Pacific Tugboats. Newell, Gordon. Superior Publishing. Pg 116-119.
Aboard the tug GOLIAH.
Unidentified mariner.
If you can identify this man, please let us know his name

for our history files.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

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