"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.

20 November 2017

❖ MOSQUITO MERWIN––Hauling the Gold Rushers ❖

(Left) W. K. MERWIN 1883-1900
ON 80959
On the Snohomish River.
108' x 22.5' x 4.2'
G.t. 229.08, N.t. 165.04
MAY QUEEN on right. 

Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Photographer unknown; 

this image appears in several PNW maritime books.

"The W. K. MERWIN was built in Seattle in 1883, for Captain W. K. Merwin, who then sold her to the Washington Steamboat Co. She was assigned to the Olympia-Seattle run for a short time and then was switched to run the Skagit River, which served the rich agricultural towns of the region, under the command of Capt. Merwin. A disastrous collision with the railroad bridge in Mt. Vernon, 19 January 1896, wiped out all the upper works, including the pilothouse and Texas deck, which was reduced to kindling back to the smokestack.
      Repairs were made to the superstructure, after the accident, and the W.K. MERWIN was used for a few months on Puget Sound––then the old vessel was laid up to rot on the Snohomish River.
      The gold rush days of the Klondike brought on a demand for anything that would float so the MERWIN was prepared for a tow up the coast to St. Michael by the Moran Shipyards in 1897. One of the noticeable changes made in the vessel was the installation of public toilets the entire width of the upper deck abaft of the glass-enclosed saloon. She was encased from bow to stern in a wooden jacket to protect her against possible high seas en route. The stack and the wheel were removed and stowed on deck. 
      The steam tug RICHARD HOLYOKE took the W. K. MERWIN, the POLITKOFSKY, an old vessel which was filled with coal, and a small yacht, the BRYANT, and headed for Alaska with 16 passengers boarded up inside. These people were willing to do anything to reach the gold fields. The MERWIN's towline parted once en route when she encountered a terrific storm but the tug succeeded in getting a second line aboard. Capt. Tom Lyle was in charge of the MERWIN and eventually started her up the Yukon. They were forced into winter quarters in a blind slough at the Indian village of Nanook. Here they spent nine months icebound and still hundreds of miles from the gold fields.
      The MERWIN arrived in Dawson the end of June 1898, taking ten months and 20 days to make the trip from Seattle. On her next trip, she left Dawson on 4 July 1898, for a trip to St. Michael. Late in the season she again reached Dawson and was credited with bringing 50 tons of freight into the city on each trip.
      The Columbia Navigation & Trading Co was shown as her owners and as far back as 25 December 1897, that company was listing the name of the W. K. MERWIN as one of their boats in Seattle P-I ads soliciting freight and passengers for the trip up the Yukon to Dawson. 
      The W. K. MERWIN was then assigned to the upriver run, making a trip to White Horse Rapids before coming back down to Hootalinqua to lay up for the winter. This trip was almost her downfall as on her way back down river from the rapids she was trying to get by the sunken steamer JAMES DOMVILLE in Thirty Mile River and was driven against the hull almost wrecking the MERWIN. 
      She delivered 200 tons of freight to Dawson the following spring from her winter quarters. While wintering at this location, the Messrs. Hamilton, LeBlank and McGrade bought the vessel. 
      The new owners elected to withdraw her from the upriver run because of the hazards of Five Finger Rapids and removed her steam capstan.
       The new owners had a change of heart about the need for a steam capstan because on 15 July 1899, they sent outside for a replacement. That year the MERWIN wintered in Dawson in 1900, where Alex McDonald chartered her to make a trip to Nome and arranged to have her fitted for ocean travel. By this time the excitement of the Dawson strike had died down and the new find of gold in Nome was the news of the day.
      The  W.K. MERWIN was poorly stocked with food for the trip and her 200 passengers soon lowered the supply to the danger point. The boat and her barge were so crowded that people had to stand up on the way, and they were forced to eat in shifts. At Circle City, they tried to stock up with provisions but the town had nothing to sell except whiskey so they took a 40-gallon keg aboard for the bar. Captain R. A. Talbot disappeared at this point and the crews refused to work as they had not been paid. Finally, the MERWIN got on the way again and stopped at every trading post from then on but found not a thing for sale. The trip had started from Dawson on 31 May 1899, without replenishing the stock cleaned out the previous winter. The food shortage became so acute that the MERWIN resorted to stopping occasionally so passengers could try their luck at shooting ducks and geese and to gather eggs on the shore. Upon reaching St. Michael they found plenty of food.
      The W. K. MERWIN was wrecked on the beach at Nome during a storm on 2 August 1900. She was declared a total loss which was a sad ending for the oldest boat to be taken over the ocean route to the Yukon River. 
      As a special note of interest, Capt. Jack Green showed up in history for the first time as pilot of the W. K. MERWIN in June of 1899. Capt. Green went on to other vessels and was captain of the second steamer YUKON when its ill-fated crew lost their lives in the fall of 1918. They had finished a successful season on the river and were on their way to their homes on the outside, aboard the steamship PRINCESS SOPHIA which hit a rock south of Skagway and sank with all hands." Arthur E. Knutson. The Sea Chest journal of the Puget Sound Maritime; Seattle, WA.  March 1988. 

11 November 2017


ON 66840
She sailed under names: USRC BEAR, USCGC BEAR,
flags of 3 nations, U. K., U. S., and Canada.
The BEAR had a career of 89 years in Polar Seas
as a Revenue cutter, rescue vessel, war hero,
humanitarian, movie star, and floating museum.


When the dews and damps of a deep-laid hull
Have rotted my body and soul,
When the seas have washed atop of my rigging
And no more will I reach for the pole,
When the men who go down to the sea in ships
Have seen me no more in southland slips,
When the northland people have looked off to sea 
In vain o'er the floes for a sight of me
Only then is my voyaging done.

When the barking of seal in the sea of the mists
Is echoed by bulwarks of steel,
When the bowheaded monsters of Akutan Bay 
Dive low under the grey iron keel.
When my mainsail and jib and topgallant sheer
Are furled forever from wind and from sleet,
When the men of my crews are phantom-like men
Who will only walk when the dead come again,
Only then are my glories all won.

While the lay of my lines is trim with the sea 
And my freeboard is handsomely high,
While there's coal in my bunkers and sail on my spars
And my helm will steer full and by,
While the pole-seeking hunters each year sally forth
To battle the tides and packs of the north,
While they creak in the nips and freeze in the air,
On I must sail to relieve their despair
Ere my voyaging's done.

I am old I am mellowed with near hundred years
Since my cutwater turned to the sea,
And the sealer and whaler, Aleut, Esquimaux
Signalled or waited in anguish for me.
But now through my timbers there sighs age's breath
And soon I must sail to the cold port of death.
For I have a promise I know I must keep 
And it's waiting for me in the still, silent deep 
Now that my glories are won.

Courtesy, Comdr.  M. A. Ransom (USCG, ret.)
One of the most famous ships ever to work in the 
North Pacific, seen here in Seattle, WA.
Among the Seattle men who served aboard in the 
Arctic was Rear Adm. F. A. Zeusler.
Photograph by James A. Turner, Seattle, WA.
Undated original from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
(L-R) Captain Francis Tuttle with close
friend Robert Moran fishing on Orcas Island, WA.
Tuttle took command of the USRC BEAR in 1896-1898
during the difficult pelagic sealing years in the North Pacific.
He had just brought the BEAR home to Seattle when a
request came from Pres. McKinley to head back north
to try & save 265 whalers trapped in their boats
in the ice near Pt. Barrow. It was specified that only
volunteers should sign on because of the high danger involved.

Tuttle also commanded her 1900-1902 and 1906-1907.
The story of the lengthy Overland Relief Expedition can be found in
The Great Ice Ship BEAR by Polly Burroughs.

A model of the BEAR is on exhibit at the Coast Guard Museum
in Seattle, WA. A post to honor that builder can be seen on 
this site here
There is also another post on the BEAR written by journalist 
R.H. Calkins see here
The above photograph by James McCormick
is from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

aboard U.S.R.C. BEAR
Capt. Cochran served on the vessel
1914-1916, 1921-1924, and in 1926.

Original photo from the archives of 
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

06 November 2017


Moored at the Lk. Washington Shipyards at Houghton,
near Kirkland, was a fleet of forgotten ships,
once a prominent part of transportation on Puget Sound.
In this group are the old ferry WEST SEATTLE,
the HYAK, the MOHAWK, the TACOMA,
sternwheeler TOURIST, and the tug SEAL,
all veterans of Puget Sound routes.
The MOHAWK escaped the ship breaker's torch to
lead another short chapter as a tug on the Columbia River.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Scty.©
Click image to enlarge.

"What became of the ships of yesteryear?
      To what haven have disappeared the pleasure vessels that residents of Puget Sound country used to board for their Sunday excursions in the days before the automobile?
      One answer was at the Lake Washington Shipyards at Houghton, which became almost a graveyard for an obsolete or obsolescent craft that formerly proudly plied the waters of Puget Sound in a day that is gone.
     Victims of men's changing habits, changing whims, and political views and of mechanical progress, these once gay ships, formerly brightly painted and kept spic and span, were tied up, many of them apparently for the last time, with a few that were still in good condition, waiting new uses for which they were still fit.
      Not only the coming of the automobile, the motor truck, the new streamlined ferry and modern freight boat, has helped to consign these once fine ships to oblivion.
      The passing away of such social and economic theories as prohibition has also helped to put an end to the usefulness of some of the old steamers.
      Such was the City of Victoria, which in its heyday plied between Edmonds and Victoria, to carry thirsty passengers beyond the boundaries of the USA for week-end revelries where bootleggers did not flourish.
      Built in the gay nineties––in 1893 to be exact––at Sparrow Point, MD, the Victoria ran up and down the Chesapeake Bay for many years, until she was brought to Puget Sound for the Victoria run. Many a Seattleite will remember her and will recall pleasant voyages to a more liberal environment during the days before repeal in this steamer's elaborately decorated salons, with their scrolled woodwork and carved finishing, reminiscent of the period when she was first built. Now the City of Victoria wastes away in the wind and weather among her sister ships of another day. 
     The Indianapolis, which once cut the waves between Seattle and Tacoma, and came around the Horn from the Great Lakes before the Panama Canal was completed and before the AYP Exposition in Seattle, was tied up not far from the City of Victoria.
      Built in 1904 in Toledo, Ohio, the Indianapolis piled between Seattle and Tacoma for many years. She was converted later into a ferry and served on other Sound runs until the new diesel ferries put her in her place at last.
      There is the old Sol Duc, built in Seattle in 1912 for the run to Port Angeles. She was retired from service in 1935 after the Sound ferry strike, and after the motor truck had replaced her as a freight carrier, and the modern ferry boat had made her obsolete for the passenger trade.
      Others are the Hyak, once familiar to travelers across the Sound to Poulsbo and Liberty Bay, and the Kulshan, built in 1920 for the service between Seattle and Bellingham.
      Still serviceable for many purposes, but awaiting a buyer, was the sturdy little ship Mohawk (ex-Islander) that used to run from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. She was tied up at the shipyards since the ferry strike of 1935. In the similar case was the Atalanta, built in Tacoma in 1913 for service between that city and North Bay, Case Inlet and Longbranch, later familiar on the run to Whidbey Island. 
       Ghostliest of all the boats at the yard was the old Morning Star, a mere shell waiting for final disintegration. She was out of service for at least 20 years, but in her more prosperous times ran between Seattle and British Columbia points in the service of Frank Waterhouse.
      Others at the Lake WA yards include the old West Seattle ferry, the Oregon, once in the Alaska service, the Beeline and Airline, Quilcene, Comanche, the Washington of Everett, and the Einar Beyer of Wrangell." From the Seattle Times, 1938.


01 November 2017


ON 3270
Full-rigged, 2,156 G.t.–– 2,013 N. t.
244.2' x 43.2' x 18.2'
Crew of 25.
Built by Goss, Sawyer & Packard at Bath, ME, in 1883.

Photo back-dated 18 March 1925
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.©
Paul C. Morris, A Portrait of a Ship. Lower Cape Publishing Co., Orleans, Massachusetts, 1987.
Bibliography, index, 180 photographs, including four color images, 16 pen-and-ink drawings executed by the author as well as a painting of the BENJAMIN F. PACKARD on the dust jacket, book size 9 x 12.5-inches, 200 pages.

      "This fine book is one-of-a-kind for sailing ship historians, model builders, and armchair readers. One reason is that it contains probably the most complete set of photographs ever published about any full-rigged American sailing ship. The vessel is the 'Down easter' BENJAMIN F. PACKARD, that spent 17 years registered on Puget Sound. Morris' book is the life account of a true 'hell ship', one of the latter-day sailing ships, that did not have a good name among Cape Horn sailing ship men, primarily because of the way many of the captains and 'bucko' officers treated them.
      The PACKARD was a well-known vessel on Puget Sound, first as a lumber carrier, sailing from such ports as Port Blakely, Port Townsend, Bellingham, and Tacoma, and later as an Alaska salmon cannery ship sailing out of Seattle.
      The brutalities practiced aboard the PACKARD are recounted by the author from eye-witness accounts and presents a different picture of the days of 'wooden ships and iron men' than some of the romanticized accounts about the days of sail. Shanghaiing, deaths at sea, etc., are all documented in this well-written history of the BENJAMIN F. PACKARD.
      As a thorough photographic record of one of the last down-east square-riggers, A Portrait of a Ship is a must for readers of northwest maritime history covering the period of approximately 189- to 1925. Moreover, direct quotes from the detailed correspondence of Sewall Company, the PACKARD's owners from 1887-1908, give an insight into the commercial aspects of operating a sailing ship."

The above review was written by historian Michael Jay Mjelde for The Sea Chest, quarterly membership journal of the Puget Sound Maritime Society, Seattle, WA. March 1988.
1925: BENJAMIN F. PACKARD was retired from cannery service of Booth Fisheries Co. 
      She was sold to Hansen & Nieder Lumber Co of Seattle & dispatched to the east coast where it was planned to use her as a coal barge. She was taken over by Theodore Roosevelt Pell of New York, who hoped to keep her afloat as a museum, and for a time she was moored at the foot of 129th Street, New York. 
      One of her longtime masters was Capt. A. A. Aas.

23 October 2017


Halibut steamer SAN JUAN
San Juan Fish and Packing Co, Seattle, WA.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Days of the smoke boats on the halibut banks, of record catches in pea soup fog, of roaring gales in the Gulf of Alaska, and experiences of men against the sea, were recalled by waterfront veterans as two former vessels of the North Pacific fleet, the NEW ENGLAND and the SAN JUAN were moored at the yards of steamship breakers waiting to be scrapped.
      The smoke boats, as fishing vessels propelled by steam were called, were years ago crowded off the banks by the more efficient and less expensive diesel-powered schooners which now comprise the halibut fleet.
      Down at the Deep Sea Fishermen's Union Hall, veterans of smoke boat days in the North Pacific were telling about experiences in the halibut industry.
      'Do you remember the old NEW ENGLAND?' asked Harold Grotle. 'Sure, I do, said John Hayden, a smile lighting up his face. 'I fished in her during her last two years, 1926 and 1927. She was a fine vessel.'
Dumping a sling of halibut from the fishing vessel
onto the wharf of the
San Juan Fish and Packing Co.
Back stamp-dated 1934.
Original photo from the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      'Well, I fished in the NEW ENGLAND in 1915 and 1916 off Kodiak Island and in Hecate Strait,' said Grotle. She operated out of Vancouver, B.C., but came to Seattle quite frequently in the old days. She was owned and operated by the New England Fish Co and had a capacity of 220,000 pounds of halibut.
      'And I also was in the old SAN JUAN which fished out of Seattle for the San Juan Fishing and Packing Co, making trips to the banks from 1906 to 1909. Capt. Hans Olson, now a ship commander in the employ of the Alaska Steamship Co, was her master.'
      The NEW ENGLAND nearly foundered in a heavy gale in which the British Columbia Packers' steamship ONWARD HO, was lost with all hands in the winter of 1916. The NEW ENGLAND was iced down and the crew kept the vessel afloat by chopping her free with axes. They saw the ONWARD HO in a sinking condition during the storm but were unable to aid her.
      'The NEW ENGLAND was built in Cramp Shipyards in Camden, N.J. in 1897, and came to the Pacific Northwest in 1898. Among the masters who commanded her were Captains A. Freeman, Ben Joyce, John A. Gott, Wilmer Johnson, George Whelan, Herbert Churchill, P. Keough, John Kolseth and M.B. Scott. The vessel carried a crew of thirty-four men, including 22 fishermen.
      The SAN JUAN, built in Seattle in 1904, was operated from this port c. 14 years by the San Juan Fishing & Packing Co. She made many voyages to the Yakutat Banks and other Alaska fishing grounds. After being retired by the San Juan Co, the vessel was sold to Libby, McNeill & Libby, 13 February 1920, and became a salmon cannery tender. 'There were other smoke boats in the halibut fishing industry besides the NEW ENGLAND and the SAN JUAN,' said Capt. O. A. Johansen, veteran of the waterfront. 'I was master of the wooden steamship ZAPORA, converted into a diesel tug, lost in Southeastern AK. 
Capt. Johansen
on deck of the halibut steamer CHICAGO

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S©
"Smoke boat" CHICAGO
ON 204943
Built Seattle-1908
139' x 24.6' x 15.6'
600 indicated HP
Crew of 50
Photo from the Carl Weber coll; S.P.H.S.©

'For about six years, I was master of the steamship CHICAGO and fished the North Pacific all the way from Cape Flattery to Unimak Pass, the entrance to the Bering Sea. The CHICAGO, a steel vessel, was built in Seattle in 1910 and had a capacity of more than 400,000 pounds of halibut. She was a heavy ship for her size and rode deep in the water. She later towed logs in B.C. Other smoke boats were the INDEPENDENT of the San Juan Co and WEIDING BROTHERS, owned by the Weiding family. They were widely known fishing vessels of other days on the bank.'
Published in the Seattle Times in 1939 and later included in Fish and Ships by Ralph W. Andrews and A.K. Larssen. Bonanza Publishing. 1957.
Cleaning halibut at sea.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Landing halibut at home in Seattle.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
425 pounds of Halibut
8-ft 6-inches x 4-ft 3-inches
Caught by the crew of the fishing schooner VENTURE
on the Portlock Banks in the Gulf of Alaska.
Original photo date-stamped April 1934.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Cutting off the halibut heads
Weiding Bros and Independent Fisheries Co
Seattle, WA.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Seattle halibut boats return to off-season moorage.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

19 October 2017

❖ TUG HENRY FOSS (1900-1959) ❖ Seattle to Saltspring Island

ON 13610
Low res scan of an Official Photograph 
dated 16 June 1943
Click image to enlarge. 

From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The Klondike strike pulled the entire Northwest out of the doldrums following the 1893 hard times––it was not referred to as a depression in those days. But of more immediate interest to the five water girt counties bordering on the Straits and the Gulf of Georgia, was the arrival at Fairhaven of Roland Onffroy in 1897. Onffroy, a professional promoter, scented the latent possibilities of the salmon canning industry. Hieing back to Chicago he got the interest of big figures in the meat packing trade. The next year his newly formed Franco-American Packing Co. became the cornerstone of the giant Pacific-American Fisheries Co which took over all available trap sites at heretofore unheard of prices.
      D'ye mind the original P.A.F. fleet, the Eclipse, Michigan, Susie, Lady Agnes, Victor, Little Giant, and the twin screw Ernest A. Hamill? the latter was a light draft iron tug intended for the Yukon River under the command of John "Crazy" Anderson and left a wide swath of damage in her clumsy wake. In addition, the Elk, Union, and Beaver were chartered. Onffroy, ever the one to demand the best in floating equipment, commissioned H.B. Kirby to build the finest pair of tugs ever to be set afloat for cannery tender duty. Bearing the name of Chicago stockholders, they were launched at Ballard in 1900 as the Charles Counselman and the John Cudahy. The unlamented Hamill was sold to Spreckles and spent many years on San Francisco Bay as the Crolona. But the new craft, while 16-ft shorter and full powered with a compound engine and 13 and 28-inch bore by 24-inch stroke, were still too bulky for effective trap broiling. Carrying a crew of thirteen, the Cudahy went into commission with Edward Masny, master.
      Three years service convinced the management that still smaller craft were better suited to their needs and the splendid tugs were sold––the Counselman to Honolulu and the Cudahy to the Grays Harbor Stevedoring Co for bar work on that Harbor.
      Most noted of the Cudahy's masters was "Draw Bucket" Johnson, who for a long term of years escorted sail and steam lumber carriers over Willapa and Grays Harbor Bars. One of her few appearances on the Sound was in 1907 when she and the Daring brought the dismasted and water-logged square rigger William H. Smith to Seattle.
      When Merrill & Ring purchased the boat for log towing on the Straits. Captains, Wm. Spooner and Miles Bolenbaugh handled her in this trade. She went back to her former owners in 1920 and in addition to her house forward was cut down to the former dimensions. Allman-Hubbs Co., of Hoquiam succeeded to ownership and in the mid-30s laid the venerable Cudahy aside in Hoquiam River boneyard. It looked like finis for the faithful ship, but the Foss Co of Tacoma, who have an eye for sound design and honest construction, took over in 1943 and rebuilt her at their own yards. [photo above dated 1943.]
      Henry Foss was the name give the powerful re-born Cudahy, a 750-HP Enterprise diesel, supercharged to provide an additional 250-HP, furnishing the push. Taken into government war duty almost before the paint was dry, the Henry Foss was sent to the Aleutians. One of the first to be released, the tug has since operated from Port Angeles. Scutt* has been unable to credit the long list of engineers who have faded from memory. Even the present competent occupant of the berth who sails with Capt. Arnold Tweter must go unrecorded."
Above text by Osborn, Stewart C. for Pacific Motor Boat. September 1946.

Below a short bio on the above author from Pacific Tugboats. Newell, Gordon and Joe Williamson. Superior Publishing. 1957.
"Stewart C. Osborn of Port Orchard, WA, wrote for Pacific Motorboat magazine for many years under the pen name "Scuttlebutt Pete." Although terribly crippled by arthritis, 'Old Scut' knew the NW workboat fleet and the men who operate it because the tugboat men were his friends. He couldn't go to them, so they brought the news to him. He wrote it up in a salty, sunny style that was all his own. In the early 1950s, the "Piling Busters" tugboat men threw a party for Scut. They brought him a short-wave radio and after that he got his news hot off the airwaves, listening to the news and gossip of the 'tugboat band.'
      In April 1954, Pacific Motorboat reported, "Aye lads, Ol' Scut passed on a bit of a tide ago." Thet's the way Stewart Osborn would have written it. He was mourned by tugboat men from Cape Blanco to Nome."

Launched 1900
Designed by L.H. Coolidge
Built by E.H. McAllister in the record time of six months,
for Pacific American Fisheries of Bellingham, WA.
Power plant: 450-HP Vulcan steam engine.
Primary service, Puget Sound. 
1905: Pacific American Fisheries sold her to Grays Harbor Stevedoring Co of Aberdeen.
1919: Sold to Merrill & Ring Logging Co for towing log rafts from the Pysht River log dump on the Straits to Port Angeles.
1922: CUDAHY bought by Allman Hubble Tug Co of Hoquiam.
1930: (mid): She was sold to Knappton Towboat Co for general towing on the Columbia R. 
1941: Foss Co purchased the boat on 19 June 1941 and towed her to the Foss Shipyard in Tacoma where she underwent one year of repair and received a 1,000-HP Enterprise diesel. 
1942: On 26 May the pride of the Foss yard was christened HENRY FOSS, shortly before Henry Foss joined the navy. Capt. Walt Stark in command for two week's running before she was requisitioned for military duty in WW II and assigned to the US Army Engineers. She served them for 18 months and then returned to Foss in good condition.
1944: In September there was a tragic accident with the loss of Capt. Norm Carlsen, and the Mate Mr. Talbert at Port Towsend, WA. 
1959: Friday 13 Feb. In command of Capt. Warren Waterman the HENRY came to a "grinding and abrupt stop on a rock near Beaver Point on Saltspring Island. There was a 50-knot gale blowing and the seas extremely rough. The HENRY FOSS overturned and sank in 150-ft of water, throwing all seven men into the cold and rough water of Swanson Channel." Two men were pulled from the water. The Chief Engineer survived the exposure but deckhand Richard Lothian died of exposure after reaching the hospital. The loss of the HENRY's six men was the most painful calamity in the Foss' long history of tug boating; the tug was not salvaged.
Capt. Warren Waterman
Chief Mate Lawrence Berg
Assistant Engineer, Martin Gullstein
Deckhand, Oswald H. Sorenson
Cook, Erick W. Danielson.
Richard Lothian
Notes in this timeline section are courtesy of Michael Skalley's Foss; Ninety Years of Towboating. Superior Publishing. 1981. 


15 October 2017

❖ OCTOBERS With June Burn ❖

Vancouver's Discovery of Puget Sound
Professor E.S. Meany

"October ain't like it u-sta be,' said the old fisherman, as he spat out his cabin window over the gunwhale of the boat. 'I cun remember falls in Puget Sound as warm and fair as June. The winds u-sta hold off longer and the winters were milder. I reckon it's cuttin' the timber that makes the difference.' 
      Which is how I came to be digging into Vancouver's diary to find out how the Octobers were behaving back in 1792. Just [225] years ago this month, Vancouver was getting ready to leave Puget Sound, where he had spent the summer of 1792 exploring 'this pleasant land.'
      In his interesting journal, so carefully kept, he says: 'The very unsettled state of the weather much retarded our reequipment and the appearance of winter having already commenced indicated the whole year to be divided here into two seasons only. The month of September had been delightfully pleasant and the same sort of weather, with little interruption, had prevailed ever since the arrival of Senor Quadra in the spring; during which period of settled weather the day was always attended with a refreshing gale from the ocean and a gentle breeze prevailed through the night from the land, which not only renders the climate of this country extremely pleasant, but the access and egress to and from its ports very easy and commodious.'
✪    ✪    ✪

It was on 12 October 1792, that Capt. Vancouver, with his fleet of three vessels––Discovery, Chatham, and Daedalus sailed out of Nootka Sound and headed for the Spanish ports in California. On the way, the Daedalus was to stop and survey Grays Harbor, and the Chatham the Columbia River. From Vancouver's Discovery of Puget Sound, by Prof. Meany, of the U of WA. A fascinating book. 
      It was in October 1846 that the discussion over the boundary line between the U.S. and Canada first began when certain British subjects desired to settle on San Juan Island. 
      But it was not until October 1872––twenty-six years later that the matter was settled by arbitration, the German Kaiser Wilhelm I decided that the International Boundary line should run through the Canal de Haro instead of through Rosario Straits.
      And it was in October 1904 that monuments were erected on San Juan Island [Washington State] in the memory of the American and English Camps which had enjoyed themselves so much during the mild dispute. These tablets may still be seen.
      October is perhaps the finest month of the year, anyhow. A month of color and zest and new beginnings. Or new endings. A month of big winds and blowing rains. A month to sit beside fires and tell fishing stories. Any excuse to get out into the colorful woods will do in October.
      In Puget Sound October brings color, but the evergreens keep things lively and fresh so that no one has any excuse to be 'blue.' Things are forever beginning in this land of green delight."  Burn, June.  Published in October 1929 for Puget Soundings by the former San Juan County homesteader, journalist, and author of Living High


07 October 2017


Wooden oil screw 224220
Launched in 1884 for a US Coast & Geodetic Survey ship.
Here she is in service as an Arctic Trader
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
September 1938:


      With a cargo of furs, ivory, curios, and strange Eskimo ceremonial apparel, the motorship PATTERSON was in Seattle yesterday after a trading cruise to the Arctic. 
      After an eventful voyage to Point Barrow, the famous Arctic trader PATTERSON was in Seattle with a cargo obtained from Eskimos who swarmed out to meet the vessel in skin boats as she approached their villages on the far-flung coast of Northern Alaska.
      The two-master, of a picturesque rig and large crow's nest, used when she was operated as a whaler, was dogged by heavy weather during most of her cruise along the Arctic Coast.
      At Wainwright, on the northbound voyage, her master, Capt. Walter Tinn, a veteran of the northern seas, became seriously ill and Capt. A.J. Hartland, chief officer, took command of the vessel. At Nome, Capt. Tinn was placed in a hospital and later brought to Seattle in the Alaska Steamship Co liner DENALI, which was returning from a cruise to Arctic Siberia. 
      The cargo of the PATTERSON included Eskimo ceremonial maks, mukluks, bows and arrows, spears, snowshoes, carved ivory, native baskets, Eskimo combs, fossil ivory, parkas, miniature kayaks, and a bright red reindeer coat. 
      The PATTERSON was at Point Barrow three days putting ashore 400 tons of supplies needed for the long winter. There was much ice in the roadstead and along the shore. She was the only commercial vessel to call at Point Barrow this year. 
      With her arrival in Seattle, the PATTERSON completed her first voyage for Motorship Patterson, Inc, a new company organized to operate the trader. She was purchased recently in San Francisco from Capt. C. T. Pedersen, a veteran of the Far North.
      Officers of the new company are Charles Gilkey, president; Walter Gilkey, vice president; George T. Stickney, secretary-treasurer, and Elmer Leader, assistant secretary-treasurer."
Above text: Seattle Times news clip. September 1938.

1883: Ordered at the yard of James D. Leary, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Cost: $100,000.
Installed Power: Cross compound vertical steam engine, cylinders 17 and 31 inches x 28-inch stroke, 215 HP, replaced by 325 HP diesel in 1924.
Propulsion: 8-ft screw.
Sail Plan: Barkentine
Boats & landing craft carried: 7
Crew: 12-13 officers, 40-46 crewmen.

1884, 15 January: Launched and named for Carlile P. Patterson, Superintendent of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey. 
1918: Renamed FORWARD and transferred to US Navy for a patrol ship during last months of WW I.
Sold back to the US Coast & Geodetic Survey because she was no longer strong enough for offshore use and regained her original name. She was out of service for several years and finally sold by WA tug & Barge Co to C.K. West of Portland.
Owned by Northern Whaling & Trading Co. When the motor ship PATTERSON arrived in San Francisco in 1931, with Capt. C. T. Pedersen in command, her cargo of white fox, ivory, and whalebone was valued at $300,000. (1931 prices.)
Sold to Alaska Patterson Co.

Captain H.H. Bune, Seattle, WA.
Wrecked 11 December 1938
Near Cape Fairweather, AK.
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
1938, December 11:   
"The most serious loss of life during 1938 resulted from the stranding of motorship PATTERSON, owned by Alaska Patterson, Inc. on the surf-lashed shore at Cape Fairweather, near Sea Otter Creek, Gulf of Alaska. Capt. Gustaf F. Swanson, first mate, was washed overboard and lost trying to launch a lifeboat. James Moore, winchman, was drowned in a swollen creek while attempting to rig a lifeline to get the crew ashore. The other 18 survivors were marooned on the rugged shore for some time, supplies were dropped to them by air. 
      Sheldon Simmons, "mercy flier" rescued two crew who arrived in Seattle in time for Christmas. Two USN planes from Sitka flew out seven crew and USCG HAIDA the remaining men. Both groups were rescued at Lituya Bay where the men hiked 30 miles through storms with guide Nels Ludwinson, left by Simmons' plane. Ludwinson was a local trapper who had been jailed for drunkenness and let out early for the job. 
The vessel had been bound from Kodiak for Seattle, was pounded to pieces in the surf."
Wreck notes from the N.Y. Times published 25 December 1938 
H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW. Newell, Gordon, editor. 

29 September 2017

❖ ❖ OUT TO SEA ❖ SCHOONER TANGO (1904-1948)

Six-masted schooner TANGO (ex-HANS)
later named CIDADE do PORTO
 into the sunset and out to sea.

The tug assisting her out of the Columbia River
stayed near until her sails filled.
The original photo by Laurence Barber who was
aboard the Columbia Bar Pilot's schooner

is backdated April 1944.

Click to enlarge.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

The Story of the Last US Sailing Ship Around Cape Horn.
Larry Barber. 1989.
(Barber was a marine reporter for the Oregonian from 1938 to 1962.)
254 pages & 35 Illustrations. 
Published by the Oregon Maritime Center and Museum.
Book review.

"The sailing ship era ended on the US west coast in the 1920s, but windjammers returned to action after WW II began in Europe, driven by the demand for lumber for the mines in South Africa. A handful of neglected sailing ships were saved from the scrap yard, over-loaded with lumber, and sent out with crews of young Americans who were completely unprepared for the hazardous voyage that lay ahead.
      In the 1990s, there were still a few old sailors alive who had shipped out under sail at that time and could remember when the need for work, any kind of work, drove them to sign on for a long voyage under harsh conditions. The last American-flagged sailing ship to depart the Columbia River and round Cape Horn was called the TANGO, and her history was preserved by a remarkable local writer, Larry Barber, who was by then in his late 80s.
      The book about the ship is called Tango Around the Horn––the WW II voyage of America's last windjammer from the Columbia River to South Africa. The fascinating history of the 396' German bark HANS that was interned in Mexico 1914-21, turned into a gambling barge anchored in Santa Monica Bay 1935-39, then finally re-rigged as a six-masted lumber schooner in 1941.
      Luckily, the early years of the TANGO had been preserved by two authors who were captains under sail, and understood the importance of preserving the history of one of the last, great sailing ships. The TANGO began life in 1904 in the yard of William Hamilton & Co, Port Glasgow, Scotland as the HANS. By this time, European shipbuilders had perfected the construction of steel sailing ships, six of which are still afloat in the US. The HANS and her sister ship the KURT were completed to the highest classification of Germanischer Lloyd. The cost was about $2 million each. They were the last sailing vessels Hamiltons launched before turning exclusively to steamers. 
      When WW I began, the HANS was interned in Santa Rosalia, Baja, Mexico, where a whole fleet of German ships was waiting to load copper ore. Life for the sailors was hard. Captain Harold Huycke of Edmonds, an expert on this period and the author of the definitive book To Santa Rosalia, Further and Back, quoted able seaman Alvin Arlom about those years: 'Maggots! We soaked our hardtack in the evening and in the morning you fished out the maggots. You took a little lard and you covered up the holes so you wouldn't see where the maggots were. Then we had the hardtack like a horseshoe. I don't know if it was rye or whatever but I hated them; they were bitter. The had a weevil or something in them––not a maggot. Yes, that was rough.'
      After 61/2 years of idleness, the HANS was moved into the hands of the first of seven more owners––Captain Robert Dollar, who had acquired the entire fleet for a bid of $350,000. 
      There was a brief flurry of activity in 1927, which emptied Dollar's moorage. When he died in 1932 his family sold off the HANS. But these were the Depression years and there were no takers. They offered it as a gift to the State of Washington as a school ship––it was turned down. Finally, a Captain Charles Watts of Berkeley took it off their hands, reputedly for $3,500. He soon turned the ship around and sold it to a Nevada gambling syndicate. 
      It was towed to Wilmington, CA where the towering masts were lifted out and scrapped. The deck was cleared and an imposing, warehouse-like building, 280' x 60', was erected. Strings of lights were hung around the ship to create a festive atmosphere. The TANGO was ready to begin its new career as an offshore gambling ship. The single cabin, almost a hundred yards long, was soon filled with gamblers. In 1939, the courts re-drew the three-mile limit and the gambling days were over. 
      Some east coast investors, incorporated as the Transatlantic Navigation Co and bought the TANGO for $25,000 after a quick inspection. The big gambling house was torn off, 2,500 tons of ballast removed from the bilges. The ship was hauled at the LA Shipbuilding drydock 4 Sept 1941. It had been afloat for 27 years and some 40 tons of barnacles were scaped off. the TANGO became a six-masted schooner.
      Larry Barber had visited and reported on the TANGO for the Oregonian. For the next 40 years, Larry had assumed the subject was closed. Then in 1985, he learned that two of the crew were still alive, and living nearby. He met with them, heard their stories and resolved to turn this material into a book. Larry ultimately succeeded, and the book was published by the Oregon Maritime Center and Museum in 1989.
      Watching the TANGO raise sail and disappear over the western horizon made a powerful impression on Barber, and he never forgot this episode. He was also not one to give up on a story and he wrote short pieces for his newspaper in 1954 and 1975. He tells of a motley crew, a shifting deck cargo, a fire in the hold, and a sale to Portugal made under tow, and her last journey to the breakers in 1948."
This is an abridged version of 8 pages of a review courtesy of  "Marsh's Maritime Musings; Sea Stories, Travel Tales and Opinions from the mouth of the Columbia."


24 September 2017


Waterfall Cannery,
 Prince of Wales Island, AK.

Click image to enlarge.
Scan of original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
Waterfall Cannery,
This slightly different view with some descriptive text
added by the previous owner.
Click image to enlarge.
Scan from an original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Commercial fishing pioneers founded Waterfall Cannery near a natural waterfall amid 52 acres of rugged wilderness on Prince of Wales Island, AK. They chose this location, on the island's craggy western shore, because the surrounding waters were known for phenomenal fishing and epic salmon runs.
      The cannery went on to make a major name for itself in seafood production. Salmon were caught in fish traps or aboard seiners, brine-cured, packed in handmade cans, and shipped off to New York and throughout Europe. Like most canneries in Alaska of the day, this frontier outpost was a self-sufficient community of seasonal workers.
    At season's end, the bulk of the crew departed and Waterfall Cannery shut down until the next summer's salmon migration. 
Alaska Fish Co, the first to pack salmon on a ship, starts a floating cannery aboard the 42-year old clipper Glory of the Seas. The venture proved so successful that the company tows the vessel to the west coast of Prince of Wales Island, where Seattle-based Oceanic Packing Co builds a shoreside facility.
1912: Alaska Fish and Oceanic Packing merge, establishing Waterfall Cannery.
1923: Waterfall Cannery is sold to Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co, owner of the nationwide chain of A & P stores.
1925: Nakat Packing Corp, a subsidiary of A&P, is formed to operate the cannery for the next half-century.
1932: A major expansion begins that adds a warehouse, marine way, oil dock, dam, power lines, cable house, machine shop, storage room, mess hall, bunkhouses, four seiners, and the fish tender Quaker Maid. 
1936: Waterfall Cannery produces 220,000 cases of silver salmon for the year, setting a record for a single Alaska cannery.
1937: The cannery's new $145,000 outbuildings are considered the finest in SE Alaska. The company adds five additional canning lines.
1939-1945: During WW II, Waterfall Cannery supplies canned salmon to support the Allied forces.
1946: Waterfall Cannery's output is 80% silver salmon, 20% halibut and lingcod.
'At Ketchikan, we chartered a plane and flew here to Waterfall. It is one of the most beautiful trips I have ever been on, and I hope you will have an opportunity to make it.' C.F. Bradford, bookkeeper, Waterfall Cannery, 23 June 1946.
1969: New England Fish purchases the assets of Nakat Packing Co, including Waterfall Cannery. 
1971: Restrictions on commercial fishing techniques cause the harvest to become too unpredictable to gear up for the summer pack and Waterfall Cannery closes its doors.
1973: New England Fish sells Waterfall Cannery's buildings and land to Edward 'Des' Moore and family, who convert the bygone operation into a sport-fishing lodge.
1980: The Ketchikan-based Waterfall Group purchases the property. The historic clapboard buildings and cabins that once housed cannery crew are carefully renovated to host sport-fishing fans from around the world." From the Waterfall Resort

The Waterfall Cannery connections to the PNW would have been many but this day let us honor Capt. Clayton R. Shaw, a descendant of a pioneer family in the San Juan Archipelago. The gentle giant was committed to the fishing industry his whole career.
Captain Clayton R. Shaw (1908-2001)
Fleet Captain for Nakat Packing Co.
The highly regarded Capt. Shaw is
  documented as fishing summers in 
Alaska from 1928 to 1970.
When he retired––he got married and 
lived on the Shaw family farm
 on Broken Point,
Shaw Island, WA.
Photo dated 1958 at Broken Pt., Shaw Island.  
HAZEL ROBB, Capt. Clayton Shaw,
at winter haulout, Seattle, WA. Dated 1935.
The tender (210409) was built in Ketchikan in 1912.
50 G.t. 34 N.t.
67.4' x 16.4' x 5.8'
 Photographer unknown.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

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