"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.

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San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 650, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

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.

Halibut schooner NEW ENGLAND
as mentioned below.
According to Andrews and Larssen she outlasted
all her fellow halibut schooners and made her
last trip in 1930.
Capt Freeman was her first skipper and
Capt Michael Scott was her last.
She carried a crew of 36 with twelve dories.

Built 1897 in Camden, N.J.
230 G.t., 70 N.t.
121' x  23.8' x 12'

Low res scan of an original photo from the
archives of the Saltwater People Historical Societ
'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©
Unloading halibut at a Seattle pier
Original photo backdated 28 July 1935.
FEARLESS, built 1912 for Henry Cayou, Deer Harbor,
at Reed's Shipyard, Decatur Island.WA.
Lost near Kodiak, AK, with 4 crew in 1960
loaded with king crab.

Original photo 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©

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