"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 June 2018

❖ LASTING LOVE OF THE SALTCHUCK: Ballard to the San Juan Islands. ❖

Captain Norman L. Driggs.
"Norman pioneered transportation over
the route from Friday Harbor to Anacortes
& to Bellingham. His first boat was the
SPEEDER. After competing for some time with
Capt. Kasch & the ALVERENE, Capt. Driggs was
identified with the U.S. Shipping Board & was
stricken while bringing an oil-tanker to port in
Seattle, WA."

Above words by his sister, Marguerite Driggs Murray.
This scan is courtesy of Jan Anderson.
Click image to enlarge.
"Captain Norman L. Driggs was born at Seattle 14 May 1886. He was the son of Granville B. and Fanny Lake Driggs.
      For many years his grandfather, T. W. LAKE, owned and operated a shipyard at Ballard, WA and Norman's play days were divided between this shipyard and the shores of the San Juan Islands where he developed a lasting love for ships of the sea.
      At the tender age of sixteen, the lad shipped on the schooner NELLIE JENSEN. Later he tried working ashore in a concrete works, but, Norman said, he 'almost starved to death' and the work was not at all to his liking. So he shipped again, this time on the tug MESSENGER, doing a deck watch for a while, then standing watch in the engine room.
      At this time Norman had an opportunity to enter college so he left the sea for a few long homesick watches, graduating from Pullman about 1907.
Freight and passenger boat 66' x 12'
with a 65 HP Troyer-Fox engine.
Built in 1909 at Reed's Shipyard, Decatur Island, WA.
Capt. Robert Fullerton and engineer Griggs were
principal owners of the Co. Later she was taken over
by the well-known Capt. Kasch.
Original photo with time-table inset from the archives of
the Saltwater People Log.©
It was the happiest day of his life when he arrived back on the saltchuck again. 
     To start with he purchased a half interest in the CONCORDIA and established the first round trip schedule from the Islands––Friday Harbor, Lopez, Decatur, and Anacortes. 
Later he built the CITY OF ANACORTES at Decatur and put her on the Roche Harbor, Waldron, Friday Harbor, Lopez and Anacortes route. Times were good and the rock quarry at Waldron was running full swing, shipping the rock to Grays Harbor to build the breakwater and jetty. And when things began to slow down, Norman bought the boats, equipment, and floating machine shop at Bremerton and started a ferry business between Bremerton and the Washington Veterans Home at Annapolis (Retsil.) He sold out later and went into the general towing business with the CONCORDIA and CITY OF ANACORTES, also chartered the FREDDIE, SKIDDOO, BUFFALO, VAGABOND, TAKU, and RAKU II. A year or so he started the Inter-Island Navigation Co, using the BAINBRIDGE, CITY OF ANACORTES, YANKEE-DOODLE, and GEORGIA.
      Norman carried the mail through the San Juan Islands for 8 years and encouraged the idea of the Anacortes-Sidney Ferry with Capt. Harry Crosby. He did not follow up the operation due to other interests, but Crosby did. 

From the archives of the Saltwater People Log©
It was at this time that Capt. Driggs chartered the CARLISLE II and started the Gooseberry-Orcas ferry run, and a year later sold out and built the 87-ft SPEEDER. Signed as mate on a shipping board boat during WW II; before she sailed the armistice was signed and the war was over.
      So Norman set out to work on everything afloat and didn't miss it very far at that. Among his commands of the last two decades are ROSARIO, COLUMBIA, SEA KING, TYEE, IROQUOIS, INTREPID, WALOLA, MOHAWK, MARVIN, BARNEY JR., and many others. 
Built at Jensen's Shipyard
Friday Harbor, WA. 
From the archives of the Saltwater People Log©

Next came the tugs MARTHA FOSS, ANDREW FOSS, PATRICIA FOSS and ANNA FOSS––and when you make out the KATHERINE FOSS in the offing, rest assured it will be Captain Norman L. Driggs at the wheel, with that cheery smile which has won him a million friends and almost that many boats."  
Above text from the Marine Digest of Jan. 1944.

09 June 2018


Fishing grounds of Bristol Bay, Alaska.
From a report compiled by the
Bristol Bay Regional Planning Team
For State of Alaska Fish and Game, 1988.
click image to enlarge.

"Fishing being an ancient industry, it is only natural that certain fishing grounds should have become famous. One of them is Bristol Bay, AK.
      These waters form the southeastern corner of the Bering Sea and include the area from Cape Newenham to Cape Menshikoff. Of the six salmon rivers in this territory, five are open for commercial fishing: The Nushagak, the Naknek, the Egegik, and the Ugashik rivers. The sixth river, the Togiak, is fished for 'personal use' only, by the inhabitants of that watershed.

Schooner WAWONA
Captain Charlie Foss.
"In 1914, she cleared Anacortes, WA. 31 March and
arrived at Unimak Pass on 8 April with 23 fishermen.
The largest vessel of the fleet caught 240,000 fish 
(550 tons) almost all were caught from 32-45
fathoms deep." McCurdy's Marine History/Newell
Cod schooner WILLIAM H. SMITH
full of dories sailing north from
 San Francisco, 31 March 1933
for the Alaska fishing grounds. 

      Bristol Bay’s claim to fame rests upon the very solid foundation that from the beginning of commercial fishing in America, it has been the largest producer of red—or sockeye—salmon in the world. Yearly catch has reached into the millions of salmon and the yield to the canners of millions of dollars in one year. Some wonder then that the name “Bristol Bay” has a magic sound in a fisherman’s ear and is spoken with wonder and respect when fishermen get together.
Dories sailing to the fishing grounds
Bristol Bay, Alaska.
On Bristol Bay fishing grounds showing a gillnet
being set and a fresh caught salmon breaking water.
June 1938

From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society ©

Cod fisherman in the 1940s got their food
from scows anchored in the Bay.
Bristol Bay, Alaska.
"Fishermen going ashore Bristol Bay, AK."
As inscribed verso.

Click image to enlarge.

      The gillnet is the only legal fishing gear in Bristol Bay. It may be used as a drift net, or as a set net—also called “stake net” or “beach net.” Set nets may be used by the local people only, and one must be a resident for a certain time period to operate this in any of the rivers. From the beginning of commercial fishing in Bristol Bay and for some 60-odd years thereafter the fishing was done with open boats, using sails and oars as propulsion, the use of motorboats having been prohibited by law.
      The reasons for this prohibition were not quite clear, it seemed. Some said that it was for the sake of conservation, as powerboats would be so much more efficient than the sailboats. Others again insisted that motor boats were prohibited at the request of the canning companies, as motors cost big money, and had to be repaired and replaced when worn, whereas Squarehead, Finn, and Italian fishermen could be thrown away when worn out, and replaced at no extra cost. Whatever the reason the law was there and had to be obeyed.
      The law prohibiting powerboats was changed finally, and the fishing season of 1951 brought the first power fishing boats to the Bay. They began to take over the field completely and the old sailboat is seen no more on the rivers of Bristol Bay.

      The history of early Bristol Bay fishing is a proud and terrible record of grueling work, privations, sufferings; of heroism and skullduggery, of foresight and initiative. Bristol Bay boasts what is perhaps the most “un-navigable navigable” waters in North America, with dangerous sandbars and banks extending miles out to open sea. The tidal difference is the third largest in the world, creating dry land where, only five hours earlier, there was a navigable channel with twenty feet of water. The currents are unusually strong and erratic—storms are frequent and violent. Such are the waters fished by small, open sailboats—a testing ground that served to divide the 'men from the boys.'
      The rivers of Bristol Bay took their toll, year after year; boats were capsized, sunk, stuck on a sandbar and broken to pieces by the tide when a sudden storm came up. No statistics have been compiled but is common knowledge that hundreds of fishermen found their grave in the sands of wide river mouths.
Bark BERLIN (3223) and others
stuck in the ice of Bristol Bay
One hundred years ago.
Dated May 1918.

Click image to enlarge.
BERLIN escaped back to Oregon...

But in May 1922, BERLIN, age 46 years,
went aground at Ugagak, Capt. E. Wendt of
Portland, OR., and was a total wreck.
She was bringing salmon to Naknek Cannery.
Vessel value $25,000 and Cargo $111,000.
All crew members were saved.
Naknek River, Bristol Bay, Alaska.

In the early transportation to and from the Bristol, fishing grounds was by sailing ships, each canning company operating its own fleet of vessels. The trip from “stateside” —Astoria, Seattle, San Francisco, and other ports—often had unpleasant surprises in store for the fishermen—who, during the voyage, also served as sailors. The Gulf of Alaska is known as rather a rough piece of water, especially in the time of winter and early spring, and the sailing vessels had to take a lashing from wind and waves before reaching the Pass—Unimak Pass, the gateway from the Pacific Ocean to the Bering Sea. And then the sailor might find—drifting ice in the Bering.
      Days and weeks might go by fighting the way to the anchorage at the mouth of the river. A 40-day voyage from stateside to Bristol Bay was far from uncommon and it often happened that as many as 63 days were spent underway.
      The working requirements? Here are excerpts from ‘Articles of Agreements and Wage Scale for the season of 1907 between the various AK Salmon Packers and Fishermen’s Union.’
      ‘...They agree to give their whole time and energy to the business and interests to said Company, and to work day and night (Sundays and holidays, not excepted), according to the lawful orders of the Captain, Superintendent, or whoever may be in charge for the Company, and for the compensation provided, but shall not be required to work for outside parties.’
      ‘...While preparing for fishing or after fishing has closed, the men shall not be required to work on Sundays as a rule, and if they are required to work any time on Sundays, such time shall be given to them during the week. In case of an emergency such as safety of ship or company’s property is in danger, such work to be done at any and all times without giving time back.
Heading home and leaving the ice behind.
Vessel unidentified.
Click image to enlarge.

A cosmopolitan bunch they were, the Bristol fishermen. Italians, Finns, Norwegians, Swedes, constituted the main force, with a sprinkling of Danes, Irishmen, Scots, Germans, Hollanders—men of many races, creeds, and color of hair.
Bark BERLIN crew
homebound September 1918
Bering Sea to Portland, OR.
Click image to enlarge.

Fourteen photos from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Peaceful and easy going, as a rule, disagreements were slow to arise, tempers to flare. Such things did happen —there were black eyes or bloody noses now and again. By and large, peace and good fellowship were the rules of the fishing camps.
       The actual canning work was done by the ‘China gang’, under the command of the ‘China Boss.’ In due time the Iron Chink replaced the Chinese cannery worker. Later still the Filipinos were replaced by natives from the area adjacent to Bristol Bay, Aleuts, and Aleut-Eskimos.”

Above text from Fish and Ships, This was Fishing from the Columbia to Bristol Bay. Ralph Andrews and A.K.Larssen. Bonanza Books.

01 June 2018


If these sea lions don't look big enough,
click the image to enlarge.

Maybe we'll do a little fishing in the kelp beds.
Photos by L.A. Douglas.
It's breeding season and the California sea lions are beginning to appear in the northern Sound. 
      The males who grow up to 8' and c. 800 pounds and the females typically reaching 5' and 250 pounds––are quite a load for the docks in Pt. Townsend where they have been observed hauling themselves out. One was flashing a  brand 'X101' indicating it is from a colony on the Columbia River. 
      The sea lions in these beautiful photos were cavorting in Cattle Pass, San Juan Archipelago, WA and shared by boater Lance Douglas of Blakely Island. Thanks for these shots, Lance.
      For more news on these mammals, Jeannie McMacken reported today in the Peninsula Daily News.

26 May 2018


Captain Louis Knaflich
Schooner RUBY 
Low res scan of an original dated Mar. 1941
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Determined to aid the United Nations in their war against the Axis powers, four members of the Knaflich family of Seattle are serving America on widely separated fronts.
      Capt. Louis Knaflich, veteran Alaska mariner, and the trader is sailing in Army Transports carrying troops, supplies munitions to the northern battlefront. 
      Louis Knaflich, Jr. 23 years old, a graduate of the YMCA navigation school in Seattle, is the second mate of a War Shipping Administration ocean-going tug.
      Hanley Knaflich, 21 years old, a graduate of the Maritime Service Officers' Training Schoo at Alameda, CA, is the third mate of a Maritime Commission freighter sailing to the South Pacific war zone.
      Miss Donna Knaflich, 18 years old, the pretty daughter of the colorful Alaska mariner, is employed in the offices of a Los Angeles architect and recently made all of the blueprints for a Navy tug, built in southern CA.
      "Hanley graduated from the Alameda officers' school with high honors before he was 21 years old and now has second mate's papers for any ocean." Captain Knaflich said.
      "Donna attended the drafting school of the Seattle YMCA, where she laid the foundation for a career as an architect. She went to Los Angeles a year ago.
      The Sea Takes Hold
From the time they were quite small, the Knaflich children hard their father tell of his adventures while making cruises to Siberia, Banks Land and to Herschel Island, far to the eastward in the Arctic, and it was not surprising that they were determined to follow a maritime career when they grew up.
      Donna loved her father's ships, the sturdy schooners that carried him to remote districts, including the storied Kuskokwim River of AK, where she was born. In Seattle, she received instruction in mechanical drawing, preliminary to a course in ship drafting. In L.A., she has been working on plans for Maritime Commission tugs and hops to be able someday to design a deep-sea ship.
      Capt. Knaflich opened the Kuskokwim River trade with Seattle in 1911 while operating the schooner DUXBURY. At that time there were no charts and he threaded his vessel up the river by making constant soundings. He also operated the schooners BENDER BROTHERS and ANVIL to the Kuskokwim, but his most famous vessel was the schooner RUBY, a trim, white three-mast vessel in which he made a voyage from Seattle to Maracaibo, Venezuela, with a cargo of lumber in 1926.
Auxiliary Schooner RUBY, 1941
Seattle, loading up for Mexico.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People©
Offered $100,000.
Capt. Knaflich was offered $100,000 for the RUBY in Callao, Peru, while on his way to Maracaibo, but refused it as the vessel was one of the most successful schooners of her rig and type operated in off-shore trade.
      The RUBY made voyages to Banks Land, Herschel Island and Beatty Island, far to the eastward in the ARCTIC, to Siberia, Valparaiso, Chile, and Callao, Peru, and in 1941 she was sold to Productos Maginos and went from Seattle to Guaymas, Mex., flying the Mexican flag and manned by a Mexican crew.
      In the service of the Productos Marinos of Guaymas, the RUBY became the mother ship of shrimp fishing fleet operating off the coast of Mexico.
Above text, The Seattle Times. Nov. 1943.


22 May 2018


AMELIE, 1933.
Built at Pt. Blakely, WA in 1925 as a tender for
Sunny Point Packing Co.
81.1' x 18.7' x 8.8', 99 G.t. 67 N.t.
165 HP.
Then she went exploring with the
Father Bernard Hubbard expeditions in Alaska.
Click image to enlarge.
She is in documentation in 2018 at Ketchikan.

AP photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.©

Text with this photo states, "Father Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J., famous 'Glacier Priest,' led an exploration party through the wild and remote regions of the Alaska Peninsula last summer, checking geological changes in the volcanic region and discovering a new harbor in the crater of Bogoslov, a marine volcano known as "the Disappearing Island of the Bering Sea." When his ship AMELIE visited the harbor it was the first time a ship had ever entered the crater of a volcano, Father Hubbard said. The exploration party returned to Seattle on 9 October 1933, after taking 100,000 feet of motion picture film, much of which was 'shot' in spots never before seen by human eyes. The party spent six months in the region known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes."

Father Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J.
courtesy of Santa Cruz University.
Hubbards's King Island Expedition:
In 1937 and 1938 Father Hubbard lived on King Island with his boats, dogs, expedition members, and more than 100 tons of supplies and equipment. During this expedition, he continued his glacier research and captured the King Island people on film. The King Islanders took him on a 2,000-mile open-water by umiak in his attempt to prove that the Eskimos, from Nome to Barter Island, shared a common language.
      Hubbard's arrival on the Island had an impact on the community. Among his supplies were powerful electric generators and engines to power his moving picture equipment and light the hall he constructed to show his films, as well as to give power to other parts of the village. He constructed buildings for the villagers and introduced oil burning stoves to replace the dirtier and less efficient coal-burning units they had been using.
      Hubbard made several long documentary films and took thousands of still pictures of almost every aspect of King Island life, including native funerals and the celebration dance of success at bear hunting. Bogojaviensky and Robert W. Fuller, who published a number of Hubbard's still photographs in 1973 in Polar Bears, Walrus Hides, and Social Solidarity, praised their high quality. "The ethnographic and historical significance of these photographs is enormous––To our knowledge, there exists no comparable photographic record of an aboriginal sovereign state in all of Arctic ethnology."
      Hubbard's stay on the island generated controversy. After his party left, Joseph McElmeel, the General Superior of the Alaska mission, wrote "Just at present Father Lafortune has the task of overcoming the bad influence of the Hubbard party on the island last winter. The seculars with Father Hubbard should never have been taken there. Father Hubbard has admitted to me that he can no longer control them as he used to. Even non-Catholics in Nome spoke to me about the danger that the King Islanders would be affected by the stay of the Hubbard party. The too frequent moving pictures developed a craze for pictures in the Islanders. On their visit to Nome this summer it was observed by seculars that they were no longer as simple as they used to be. Father Hubbard is a hard-working man, but he should not be permitted to come to the missions with the type of men he brought this year." The accusations, however, apparently were not very serious because Hubbard and four others, including Edgar Levin, were welcomed back in the summer of 1940 for more photographic work, and to make further improvements to the village." Santa Clara University archives.

      "One of the more colorful personalities of former years was Fr. Bernard Hubbard, S.J., the 'Glacier Priest.' He came to Santa Clara in 1926 and was assigned to teach mineralogy and geology but his heart was not in the classroom. It was in Alaska. There he explored volcanoes in the Aleutians and, for some months, lived among and studied the culture of the King Islanders. Each summer he enlisted a few friends to join him in these expeditions. Finally, in 1995 a stroke limited his activity but did not discourage him from his annual trip to AK. When at Santa Clara he spent his time editing films and preparing for his popular lecture tours.
      Financial help came from his lectures, friends, and advertisements which he inserted in his motion pictures. Some advertisers also gave him fishing gear, rowboats, camping equipment, cameras, and film.
      In some respects, he was like a little boy. He had a charm and an uncanny way of wresting permissions from his religious superiors. Because he didn't drive a car he appointed me to drive his Chrysler station wagon. Once we stopped at a fruit stand and he drank so much cider that he had to stay at home near a bathroom the next day. But once he decided to drive to the campus of Montezuma school in the Santa Cruz mountains. A 'No trespassing' sign was posted but he told me to ignore it. We were promptly stopped. To persuade the guard to allow us to enter, he informed him that he was Father Hubbard. The guard replied that he had never heard of him. We later enjoyed a good laugh and never allowed Father to forget this. Toward the end of his life, he received a Christmas card from a local mortician. He laughed and said: 'Those buzzards are really waiting for me!' Fr. Hubbard remains in my memory as a good friend, a unique personality and a man with an undying love for Alaska." Carl H. Hayn, S.J., Professor of Physics. 1962.

For further study, please see The Legacy of the "Glacier Priest," Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J. Scarborough, C.M. and D. Kingston. Santa Clara Univ. Dept of Anthropology and Sociology. 2001. LINK

20 May 2018


The able seaman from the
American Mail Line's  President Madison,
who swam a line ashore to the rocky
 shore of Amatignak, AK to rescue
 3 survivors of the wreck of
the freighter SS NEVADA.
He is shown after arriving Seattle,
8 October 1932.

Photo by Acme News
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Heroes of a North Pacific disaster from
This photo shows members of the lifeboat crew who rescued
James Thorsen, Lucena Decaney & Fritz Dewall,
survivors of the freighter NEVADA.
arrived in Seattle, 5 Oct. 1932.
The third officer, E.J. Stull who commanded the lifeboat,
is seen standing in uniform.
Eddie Blomberg is seen in the center of the back row
without a life preserver.

Click image to enlarge.
Photo by Acme News

from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

The American Mail Liner PRESIDENT MADISON arrived in Seattle on 5 October 1932 with three survivors and the lifeboat crew who rescued James Thorsen, Lucena Decaney, and Fritz Dewall. They were the only survivors of the ill-fated freighter NEVADA, wrecked on the rocky shores of Amatignak Island in the Aleutians. Thirty-four were lost.
      The steel steam screw NEVADA, Master T. W. Johanson had stranded at Amatignak, AK. She departed Longview, WA, 15 Sept. 1932 bound Yokohama, Japan. Carrying a 6,648-ton cargo of lumber, flour, and general merchandise. 
      SS OREGON MARU responded to radio distress signal; proceeded to wreck but the seas prevented the rescue of men who had washed ashore. SS PRESIDENT MADISON arrived 29 Sept and rescued 3 crew members from Amatignak Island. The USCG HAIDA arrived on scene 4 Oct. and continued the search of vicinity without results. The NEVADA and cargo were total losses. Value of cargo unknown. Vessel value was $255,000.

S.S. NEVADA (219522)
Lost, 27 September 1932
Location, 51 16 N 179 06 W
Chart, 16460
Tonnage, 5,645 G. 3517 N. 
Age, 12 yrs.
Owner, States Steamship Co of Portland

Source, USCG Report 18 October 1932 at Portland, OR;
AlaskaShipwreck.com; and Saltwater People Historical Society.

16 May 2018


Built at Thomaston, ME. 1878
by Thomas Watts.
Date of photo unknown.
Originally a full-rigged ship, then a bark, and finally rerigged as a 5-masted schooner, long in Pacific Coast lumber and coal trades.
5-masted schooner.
Date estimate by UW of c. 1900.
Location: Port Blakely, WA.
Under Capt. P. Martensen.

Photo by Wilhelm Hester
from the U of W Collections.

1902, 5 September: Capt A. H. Sorenson and wife Marie welcomed a baby girl, Burgess in the middle of the Pacific hundreds of miles west of Central America.
"Ship at San Pedro.
The five-masted schooner SNOW & BURGESS arrived in port late this evening and dropped her anchor in the outer harbor, just off the end of the government breakwater. The arrival of this vessel is of particular note from the fact that she is the only five-master ever entering the port. The SNOW & BURGESS has had a varied and interesting career, such a history as few vessels can boast. Built in 1878, she was full-rigged ship and for fifteen years sailed the seas and visited nearly every port of importance on the globe. For ten years, or until 1903, this barque was under canvass; then she was brought into San Francisco and transferred to her present owner, J. L. Larsen, and was placed on the dry dock at Boole's shipyard. Her rig was again changed, her cabins were rebuilt, and she was turned out of the shops, good as new, and one of the first five masters ever floated. She is 228' long, 41' beam and 24.7' depth of hold. Her tonnage total net is 1548 tons. She carries approximately two million feet of lumber." From the Los Angeles Herald
Text verso: 1911
Crossing the Columbia River Bar.

2 photos from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

1922: Capt. Dan "Black" Martin was her last skipper. On her last voyage home from Manilla, she was badly hogged and leaked constantly. She had lumber lashing chains around her stern, set up with turnbuckles to keep her together. She did not sail again but was sold for $3,000, despite her appraisal of $200,000 during the shipping boom 2 years earlier. She was burned on the beach at Pt. Townsend. According to the H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, edited by Gordon Newell, H. W. McCurdy was involved in the scrapping and her bell was subsequently saved for his yacht.

11 May 2018

❖ Tugboater CAPT. MARK FREEMAN and his lottery ticket ❖

Washington State's First $1 million Lottery

Captain Mark H. Freeman
Freemont Tugster

b. 15 Mar. 1934, Lake Union
d. 26 Jan. 2017, Seattle, WA.
Photo date, 12 Dec. 1982
by Matt McVay
low res scan of an original photo from
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

click image to enlarge.

"Charles E. Davis, a machinist who's been unemployed since June, was hurting for the money.
      Mark Freeman, the owner of a tugboat company and lots of pricey Lake Union moorage, wasn't.
      The two illustrated the spread between the poor and the rich among the 10 finalists for the first $1 million WA. state lottery drawing next Friday.
      The 10––a mix of Washingtonians that ranged from a nurse to a smelter superintendent to a truck driver––beat out 6,190 other $100 instant-lottery winners who were competing in yesterday's semi-final draw for the Big Win.
      Saturday is Mark Freeman's day for working on his tugboats, and he was out early at Lake Union, dressed in his thick work boots, jeans, flannel shirt and the 'loggers'  suspenders sporting a 'Ballard Bridge Passport––Copenhagen Snuff' button.
      But instead of working, he spent the day posing for news photographers, enjoying good-natured barbs aimed his way by customers and friends who dropped by the Northlake Way tugboat office and gloating.
      Freeman owns moorage for 90 pleasure and commercial craft, and moorage off Fairview and Westlake for 65 houseboats, as well as five tugboats.
      Being a finalist means he has won at least $10,000. If he gets second place in the drawing it's $50,000.
      'I'm not wealthy,' he protested. His company property 'just means you've got a lot of hard work keeping all that together.'
      Besides, he says, he probably works more than just about anyone. 'We open at 6 every morning and shut down at 10 at night. I'm here for a good share of that.'
      His tugboat company office is filled with photographs and memorabilia of boats, newspaper clippings of tugboat races he has competed in.
      The $10,000 will go into fixing up the tugboats, Freeman said. If he wins the $1 million, he said, he's got his eye on a sweet little tugboat.
      'I wouldn't change my style of living or anything else. I'm having a good time––especially today,' he said. It's not every day you win $10,000. Usually, you've got to work your a__ off.'
      He'll continue to live in his Lake Union houseboat, commuting to work in his mini-tugboat 'Barf...'
      There were nine other people who had chances to be a millionaire in this draw. They were, C.P. Oefler, Jana D. Page, Christa Maiuri, Warren Harvey, Phyllis D. O'Hair, Darleen J. Garwood, Charles Davis, Robert Swanson, Clyde Overman."
Carey Quan Gelernter & William Gough. The Seattle Times

      The next week the drawing was made. The million dollar winner was the registered nurse, Jana D. Page, making about $15,000 per year and had just had surgery to remove half her kidney.
      The famous mariner, Capt. Mark Freeman, was in second place to take home $50,000.
For a glimpse of Capt. Freeman steaming along click HERE

30 April 2018



Charles Chevalier snapped the starting cord on his outboard motor.
      "It looks like a great day for fishing," he said.
      At 10:00 AM, the sun was already bright in the clear blue sky over the San Juan Islands and a light breeze ruffled the water.
Fisherman Charles Chevalier
Photo by the late great Josef Scaylea.
Date stamped verso 1978

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

      Charles Chevalier is a part-Indian, sixth-generation reefnetter. His comment about the fish conditions was based partly on instinct, inner knowledge. It proved to be accurate.
      A grebe, floating in front of him, took a dive deep into the water to avoid Charles' boat as it headed out of Friday Harbor around the bay bound for Stuart Island. Chevalier was in a hurry. He wished to meet his crew at the reefnet site well before high tide at noon.
      Though bare-foot, Charles had tossed his tennis shoes into the seat in front of him, together with a light jacket and a sack lunch. He would not be home until dinner, and the late afternoon wind on the cold waters of the San Juans could be chilly.
      Charles passed a few gillnetters coming in late from their night's fishing off the salmon banks. Purse seiners, their huge nets wrapped around hydraulic drums, beat past him.
      And all around him, first in one direction and then the other, a quick eye could catch the flash of silver spray as the beautiful sockeye jumped out of the water to take a look around.
      Stuart, the most westerly of the San Juan Island group, is close to the Canadian boundary. Here off a kelp bed near the entrance to Reid Harbor, Charles came upon his reefnet rafts. His crew was already there cleaning drift out of the lines.
      This reefnet location has been fished continuously by members of Charles family for six generations. It is licensed by the State––one of 71 stationary sites still being fished commercially in Puget Sound waters. [1978]
      Reefnet gear includes two canoes or rafts anchored parallel to each other 200' from shore in a spot where the ebb tide and floodtide currents will carry salmon into the 50' square net spread between the canoes or rafts.
      Setting out the net was the job Charles and his crew set about doing. The net was heavy; its four-inch mesh had been dipped in black tar so that the fish wouldn't 'tangle up in it.'
      The crew pulled one side of the net tightly between two rafts, the line stretched taut on the surface of the water. The opposite side of the net, secured to anchor lines, was held down in the water by weights.
      A few salmon, running ahead of the tide, evaded Charles' net. The current was not yet strong enough to make the net 'bag back.'
      "Fish traps blocked most of the reefnet sites by 1890, and many of the native owners of the locations were forced out. But in 1934 fish traps were outlawed and some of the old locations were reclaimed.
      Our spot at Stuart has been fished continuously for as many years as we can search back. I've fished it myself since I was 12––some 35 years."
      "Grandpa Bill Chevalier and his partner, Al Drouillard, started fishing this site in 1905," Marge went on. "Grandpa made a ceremony out of setting the anchors for the nets.
      He would pick the huge rocks carefully for their shape, wrap cedar-branch cables around them, lash them to the canoe and wait for the tides to float the rocks to the reefnet location."
      Charles' father, Alfred Chevalier, and his uncle Louie (like their ancestors) used to 'call' fish to the net. They learned the call from Charles' Great-Great Uncle Ned, a medicine man.

Marge Chevalier Workman
Cousin to Charles Chevalier.
Photo by Josef Scaylea.
Original print from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Charles and Marge also occasionally use the call to coax fish into their nets and describe it as a soft, rather high-pitched cry not unlike that of an owl.
      "You have to feel it, they say. You have to be in tune with the fish. It's almost a spiritual thing."
      Traditionally, the first salmon caught is accorded special respect.
      "In days long ago," Charles says, "our people believed that the salmon had come to feed the people with their own flesh. So the first sockeye of the season (sockeye being the most powerful of all fish) received the special rite."
      Charles and Marge recall that no one would ever step across the first fish caught and that as the fish was cut, people would give thanks for the survival of the fish and the related survival of the people.
      Marge's father, Bill Chevalier, who is 81 and still living on San Juan Island, followed another custom which may have been unique to the area. He always took his first salmon of the season and laid it out for the yellow jackets, knowing that when there were lots of yellow jackets, there were also good salmon runs.
      Although Marge and Charles, being three-eighths and one-fourth Indian, respectively, no longer follow many of the ceremonies of their Indian ancestors, they say that descendants of the tribe on San Juan Island would like to get together and teach their children the traditions they've learned.
      But it was time to go back to work.
      Chugging down Speiden Channel was the 50' fish packer PRIMO, skippered by Clarence Meads. Clarence is the fish buyer for Whitney-Fidalgo at Anacortes, and it is he who makes the rounds of the reefnet positions daily during sockeye season.
      He maneuvered the PRIMO close to the rafts and the crew put off the salmon, using dip nets called 'brailers' to throw them aboard the fish packer for weighing.
      Clarence passed down a fish ticket indicating how much money would be credited to Charles for his day's catch.
      Is reefnetting a profitable venture? Both Marge and Charles laughed.
      "It varies," they agreed.
      "I remember one year," Marge said, "when I made $25 total. It was during WW II when all the boys were in the service. Grandpa asked me to come on up to Stuart and help him fish.
      Financially, no, it wasn't rewarding, but I love these islands and I love being here."
      Marge was born on Waldron Island, lived on John's Island and went to school on Stuart, rowing across the bay and walking three miles through the woods to the little one-room schoolhouse. She played on Henry Island and visited her grandmother often on Speiden Island, which the family owned.
      In the late afternoon sunshine, rocking gently on the reefnet raft, the two cousins reminisced.
      They remembered their grandmother's cousin Sara who used to fish from a canoe with a three-pronged spear.
      They repeated tales told to them of their great-great-grandmother who was from the Songish tribe and lived to be almost 100 years old in a little cedar-shake shed on the north end of Speiden Island. She always sat on a little box by her fire in the shed, never wore shoes and never learned to speak English.
      Their great-grandfather, Robert Smith, was a British marine stationed at English Camp on San Juan Island during the Pig War. He bought his way out of the Marines for $20 and married the old Granny's daughter, Lucy, establishing a homestead there that would be occupied by the family for many years.
      The Smith's daughter, Mary, (Charles and Marge's grandmother) was a beautiful woman who married Ed Chevalier, and together they 'ruled' for many years what became known as their 'island kingdom.'
      According to the book, Pig War Islands, Ed and Mary Chevalier were as widely known and loved as anyone in the San Juans. With their family of five children, they raised turkeys for market, tended a fruit orchard, grew all their own produce, kept sheep and horses, milked two cows, logged and cut wood. In addition, Ed built boats and held down a full-time job at Roche Harbor, rowing the two miles or so to work and back each day in fair weather or storm.
      He also fished commercially, and did so well at developing the technique that 'islanders looked on him as the local father of reefnet fishing.'
      "Grandmother," Marge says, passed down many of the Indian ways to our generation.
      She had regal bearing and a very gracious manner. I remember Sam Buck, Sr.. saying that he would like to take her to WA, DC, to present her to the President. She knew so much about the history of these islands."
      A maternal great-uncle of Marge's, Prosper Graignic, was "reputedly the most successful rum-runner on the Puget Sound." His father was a French sailor who jumped ship in Victoria in the 18870s, marrying an Indian girl from LaConner and settling on Waldron. "The large family they reared on Waldron grew up, it would seem, with sea water instead of blood in their veins. One of Prosper's brothers is said to have sailed the family sloop to Victoria and back at the age of 7. Another, although deaf, earned his way as a fisherman. His knowledge of local tides and currents is described by island people as uncanny. Even the girls in the family learned, early on, to be as much at home afloat as on dry land."
      While they were talking, Charles had pulled the reefnet out of the water and stowed it away, tying it down, and securing the lines.
      Their day's work was over now, in their ancestors' "gentle way to fish."
Above text was written by Patricia Latourette Lucas
For The Seattle-Times, 1978.

Charles R. Chevalier (1930-2015)

28 April 2018


The Greeter Ship

Vancouver, BC.

Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library

"A miserable old sailing bark known as the ROBERT KERR that ended her days in ignominy as a coaling barge on the Vancouver, BC waterfront, once won a humanitarian reprieve. But let us go back to the start. 
      The ROBERT KERR was built in Quebec City in 1866. Unfortunately, her sailing days ended prematurely. On 6 September 1885, in a heavy fog, she hit the outcroppings of San Juan Island, seriously damaging her forefoot on the rocks, ending a troublesome ocean voyage that started in Liverpool, 30 Sept 1884. Pummeled by one storm after another, sickness, plague and quarrelsome, almost mutinous hands, the vessel was jinxed from the start of that voyage. Her rigging and hull badly damaged by the heavy seas that constantly swept her decks. Much of her canvas was ripped to shreds and then to make matters worse, her master, Capt. Edward Edwards died at sea after the ship had rounded the Horn en route to British Columbia.
      First officer John Richardson then took command, and with his responsibilities inherited the crew troubles. The most unsavory crewman was William Anderson who was involved in arguments or fights with nearly every man aboard. For these assaults, he was marked in the log-book almost as much as the weather. Once he stuck a cotton hook deep in the cheek of his shipmate Seraphim Fortes. (Fortes was a genial colored man who later became one of Vancouver, BC's most beloved personalities as the lifeguard of English Bay.) Till his death, he always said he was glad when the KERR struck San Juan Island for he felt the vessel was jinxed.
      Getting back to that last voyage; the slow-to-anger Richardson finally had all he could take and must have barged into the troublesome AB with a vengeance, as the log lists Anderson as being confined to Sick Bay for an indefinite period.
      The ill-fated ROBERT KERR after her stranding was towed to Vancouver Harbor and was at anchor there when the great Vancouver fire of June 1886 broke out. "Joe" Seraphim Fortes, the deep scar still in his cheek and still attached to the vessel, emerged as a hero, alone responsible for saving scores of lives in that disaster by directing people to the ship.
      When Fortes died in 1922 he was highly honored, and a drinking fountain stands in his memory today in the park at English Bay.
      Shortly after the fire, Captain William Soule purchased and beached the KERR alongside the Hastings Mill and there careened and repaired her. Having lost his family home in the fire, the Soules took up residence on the ship until a time when a charter could be secured and the vessel sent back to sea.
      When Vancouver was incorporated as a city, the old bark, then a waterfront landmark, was gayly decorated with all of her flags flying. Her role in the great fire had gained her a place of prominence in the hearts of the local citizenry.
      Canadian history writer B.A. McKelvie further relates the vessel's role in the great fire.
      "When the residents of Vancouver fled from the red holocaust that was sweeping down upon them that Sunday in June of 1886, many of them turned towards a battered old sailing ship that was anchored off the burning community. It was the ROBERT KERR, damaged on the rocks of San Juan Island, brought to Vancouver and sold by the underwriters to Captain William Soule, who superintended the loading of ships at Hastings Mill.
      The ROBERT KERR was invaded by men and women in rowboats, in Indian canoes and on rafts and logs, seeking sanctuary from the flames. At first, the watchman hesitated to allow them aboard, but all objections were overcome and some 15 to 200 persons found safety on the decks."
      Captain Soule and his family took refuge on the German bark VON MOLTKE loading at Hastings Mill during the fire. After the ROBERT KERR became the Soule's home, the joy of living aboard a sailing vessel never diminished for the two children. But Mrs. Soule had to call upon her reserve many times to keep her floating home 'Shipshape and Bristol fashion.' One dark, stormy night while she and her children were left alone on the vessel, it began to drag anchor and was in grave danger of slamming into other vessels at the Mill. She and her children, in a herculean effort, readied the second anchor and managed to get it over the side, which was just the grip needed to prevent a collision.
      The ROBERT KERR became known as the 'greeter ship' in the harbor and the skippers and officers of vessels calling at the mill often came aboard to dine or to take afternoon tea much to the credit of the gracious Mrs. Soule.
      When the Soules decided that shoreside living might be more convenient, Capt. Soule decided to get rid of his charge in a unique way. He sold chances on her at $100 each in the local saloons and waterfront establishments. Tickets were printed and circulated with the words, 'Grand Raffle of the good ship ROBERT KERR.' The response was amazing. He sold 80 shares, but whether by law or by chance, the raffle failed to come off. Instead, the ship was sold to Canadian Pacific Steamship Co, then in dire need of a coal tender to supply its great Empress liner fleet in Transpacific service. The Kerr was the only hull around large enough and strong enough to meet their needs. She measured 190.5' and was rated at 1,123 tons. Her holds were spacious and she could more than pack her weight in coal. Thus the vessel was purchased for $7,000 on 3 October 1888 and reduce to the role of a coal hulk. She, however, played a vital role in supplying the celebrated liners that put Vancouver Harbour on world maps everywhere.
      After hard usage, the ROBERT KERR was placed in drydock to tighten up the seams in her wooden hull, and in 1891 was sold by CPS to Canadian Pacific Railroad. For 20 years she carried coal between Ladysmith and Burrard Inlet, at the far end of a towline.
      It was a sad day for the maritime community of Vancouver, BC when word reached the city that the familiar grubby humanitarian ship would no longer be seen traveling through Canadian waters. In a heavy fog, under tow of the tug COUTLI, the KERR slammed into Danger Reef off Thetis Island on 4 March 1911, with 1,800 tons of coal and there stuck fast.
      She died hard, however, and for years, her bones lay bleached in dismal disarray for all to see. Termed by man a 'black drudge' she nevertheless had kept company with Empresses. As late as 1927, the KERR's bell was presented to the Vancouver City Museum and still tolls the memories of the past.
Gibbs, Jim. Pacific Square Riggers, Pictorial History of the Great Windships of Yesteryear. 1987. Revised edition by Shiffer Publishing.

The wreck of the Robert Kerr is listed as a dive site HERE

15 April 2018


Washington State Ferry CHELAN (643291)
Washington State Ferry TILLIKUM (D278437)
Harney Channel, San Juan Archipelago
On this day fifteen April 2018
Looking west down Harney Channel
one week previous; April 2018.
Both images were taken from Blakely Island, WA.
Courtesy of photographer Lance Douglas©

09 April 2018

❖ POINT ROBERTS COUNTRY ❖ with June Burn 1930

Copyright of Thos. C. Metsker
"Metsker the Map Man."

This map is for convenience not for navigation.
Click image to enlarge for viewing Pt. Roberts.

"The village of Point Roberts is called West Point Roberts. It stands down in the lower lefthand corner of the peninsula. Here are two or three stores, gas stations, a big fish cannery. Behind one of the new stores, there stands a thirty or forty-year-old building with "Bureau Salon" in big letters across its false front. There are several houses, of course, one little hotel called the Green Lantern, another restaurant, a schoolhouse and nameless relics of houses whose uses I do not know.
      Jutting out into Georgia Strait from the beach is the long dock. The daily boat, TULIP, from Bellingham, stands off here to discharge mail and freight. Beyond the beach a mile or so, fishtraps look like centipedes floating on the water. The high derrick affair up northward is one of the boundary monuments set there to let fishermen know when they are on their side of the fence.
      It stands over a mile from shore, I believe; 5,500-ft to be exact. I suppose there is a light atop as there is on the one ashore. The international boundary makes a sharp bend two or three miles out from Pt. Roberts and turns southeasterly down Georgia to Haro Strait when it bends again through Haro to Juan de Fuca and so on out to sea. It really is too bad that it doesn't turn southwesterly from Boundary Bay and so avoid this bit of peninsula altogether. It must be a great bother keeping up customs and boundary patrol for six square miles or less of country. Though it does add interest to our map to see Pt. Roberts away up there at our northwesternmost corner separated from us by both land and sea. It is more than an island, surrounded as it is on three sides by water, and on the fourth by an alien country.
      Summer people, week-ending visitors, are already trickling down to all the long, sandy beaches of the Point. They look very carefree, walking like Pippa on her one holiday of the year. Very jaunty and satisfied they look, as if they had achieved some private victory of their own.
      At the village, I found Mr. Culp just ready to go home. He brought me back to the cottage in the woods, and this evening after supper all of us crowded into the coupe.
      Down to Boundary Bay, we went past Baker's new charming log cabin, past the Russell place, along the narrow graveled road with shrubs pressing in from both sides, past the Ellis Johnson place. Honeysuckle in bloom in the woods. Mrs. Culp told of the effort that their local Grange made to stop the vandalism of wildflowers and shrubs in the summertime. They wrote Olympia about it, learned that tree stealing could be prosecuted, but apparently not other forms of the ruthless gathering of wildflowers.

      Leghorn Heights on our left, and the Solomon ranch. Crystal Waters beach. Is it not a lovely name? Thorstenson Ranch and the Goodman place deep in the woods. Down to White Lily Point, which is a high bluff overlooking the bay. Here, in March, the little white six-petaled Easter lily droops her sweet head under every salal shrub, every frond of Oregon
grape. In bloom now are vetch, wild roses, Indian Paintbrush, honeysuckle, fritillaria or rice-root, and many little things whose names I do not know.
Eight photographs from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Across Boundary Bay the lights of Blaine, below the bluff fifteen fishtraps with long curved leads. Far down across the Strait, Lummi Island, and Orcas. The big P.A.F. fish cannery at the foot of the high bluff has not run for years. Mr. Arni Myrdal is in charge of fishing operations down there. Wise in Icelandic lore he is, they say. But I did not meet him on this trip. See you tomorrow. June."
Above text by June Burn. Puget Soundings. May 1930.

Archived Log Entries