"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

About Us

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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

31 March 2018

❖ HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY ❖

On 31 March 2000, along with the calm arrival of a new century came the delivery of a new fish boat built on Shaw Island. A fish boat who wouldn't go fishing.
      Here's a little historical background of what pre-dated that launch day.
The first retired reefnet boat donated to
the Shaw Island Library and Historical Society.
Delivered on this day of 20 November 1968.
Men by the boat are Henry Hoffman and Malcolm Cameron.
The crane was operated by Wayne Fowler.
 Margaret "Babs" Cameron captured this photo.
Photograph by Wally Howland
c. 1970.
      The official logo adopted by the Shaw Island Library and Historical Society in the 1960s is a graphic design of a reefnet boat by the much-loved artist Malcolm Cameron. It honors the local fishing method, featuring the distinctive design of the indigenous craft that were fished as a pair. The Cameron artwork was to be the logo for the classy gray stationery so didn't this mean the Society should have a boat worked into their small garden with the library and museum buildings still on the drafting board?
      The Society's first "retired" reefnet boat, as shown in the top photos, did come to be with a donation by local fisherman Lloyd Lillie, hauled up cemetery hill before the little private museum and library were even open for business. Malcolm, Wayne Fowler, and Henry Hoffman moved the reefnet boat on site in November 1968. 
Shaw Island Library and Historical Society
Postcard photo by summer islander, Wally Howland.
Published in the early 1970s.



       The boat lived a long, lazy life while being featured on the above SILHS photo postcard until the old vessel dissolved away from the effects of decades of drizzly winter rain.
      After much discussion of the Society trustees off and on over several years and a few inspections of potential replacements, the next candidate was chosen for the front garden. Their choices had dwindled to a scant few. 
     Unfortunately, it was decided the next retiree was a little out of scale for the site; a vessel still wearing her colorful red bottom paint and green freeboard, this more evident after it was carefully installed. Some Islanders were a little agitated about the new behemoth moored on the high-traffic corner; some jokester adorned her with graffiti on a name board inscribed SS Feng Shui, for all passersby to view. The vessel was proud on her throne at the corner but catching some unkind remarks.
Retired reefnet boat No. 2
Escorted off-site.
March 2000.
      In order to preserve this link to our island's maritime history, to the rescue came supportive local history boosters Gwendolyn Yansen and Frances Hilen. They commissioned boatbuilder Peter Christensen to build a new reefnet boat to travel directly past the traditional fishing sites at Squaw Bay and be lifted up over the antique split-rail fence to her new home, high and dry on the Library/Museum corner. She was constructed of Western Red Cedar to authentic dimensions of one of the slightly smaller vessels. 




      
Reefnet boat number 3.
Delivery day 31 March 2000
One reefnet boat ready to climb the hill to home.
Click image to enlarge.

She was not filled with styrofoam flotation like the boats that were afloat and fishing outside Squaw Bay, sadly her ladder steps were removed from the watchtower for insurance reasons, and there are no crew initials hand-carved in the gunwales. 



From across the street came
the Lynnette Trucco-Baier class of school kids
over to investigate and, of course,
climb the tower.
Delivery day of 31 March 2000

   
31 March 2000
No fish scales but she's settling in well.

      There were a few comments afloat about the boat not being an "authentic" reefnet boat that had actually been fishing––but take a look around the past winter haul-out areas and see if any of those old-timers are above ground level. Long gone.
      Thanks to charter members Gwen and Fran, our benefactors, the on-site reefnet boat logo was secured for a few more years; a fine example of islanders pulling together for the benefit of their community. Eighteen birthdays and counting.
      Data for this essay was extracted from "Log of the Reefnet Boat" a historical timeline compiled by C. Christensen, containing Shaw Island Library and Historical Society board minutes (1994-2000), one page of a 1968 private diary, collected photographs for the three reefnet boats that have been parked on the grounds, as well as construction photos from Christensen's Blind Bay Boatshop. 


21 March 2018

❖ ANNA AND HER CHIEF ❖ 1948

Mrs. Anna G. Grimison
SKAGIT CHIEF,
10 January 1939.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The Pacific Northwest has had a big year for tourists. Although the weather was not as warm and sunny as it normally is in summer, the highways were dotted with cars from other state and sight-seeing tour entrepreneurs were more than busy. As the No. 3 industry of this part of the country, next to lumber and fishing, the tourist business did well. Of course, while they were here, many out-of-staters took to the water, one of the most beautiful attributes of the Evergreen Playground. Charter boat operators had a good trade to the San Juan Island area and on north along the Inside Passage. Tom Hamilton reported a busy season at his swank Malibu Club at the mouth of picturesque Princess Louisa Inlet.
      Tourists in Seattle waterfront gazed with interest at the modern steel freighters and mighty Army transports moving in and out of Elliott Bay. But the vessel they went home talking about was the SKAGIT CHIEF.
SKAGIT CHIEF
1935-1956
502 tons
165' x 40' x 6.4'

Original photo by James A. Turner
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

She is a broad-beamed dowager, pushed around the bay by a large paddle-wheel slapping at her stern, and she is the only sternwheeler still in action in the harbor. Oddly enough though, she is no sentimental hangover from the good old days of steamboating on Puget Sound. She was built at Lake Union Drydock & Machines in 1935 for the Skagit River Navigation Company and specifically for service on the Skagit River. This river, if seen from the air can easily be distinguished by its meandering course and muddy channel as it flows into Puget Sound near Mt. Vernon. The shallow draft and stern-wheel propulsion of the SKAGIT CHIEF are made to order for skimming over the snags and flats of this wide but shallow river run.
      Normally sightseers would have seen her younger sister, the SKAGIT BELLE, around the Sound too, but she was temporarily out of service this summer. "Head man" of the Skagit River Navigation Co is a woman, efficient Mrs. Anna Grimison, who has been at the helm since 1924. She has always loved ships but makes it clear that she does not want to be typed as a waterfront character or a "Tugboat Annie!"
For another post including the salty Anna and her company please click HERE
The above text was published in Motor Boating Nov. 1948


10 March 2018

❖ WEST, WEST, WEST, the Westernmost Point of the USA ❖

A sign at the fork in the road two miles west of 
 Sekiu points to Cape Alava, 25 miles by road 
 and three more by trail to the westernmost point
in the United States. Photo dated, July 1954.
Original photo by Eric Wahleen from the archives
of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Indian Island, Washington, off Cape Alava, 1954,
is connected with the mainland by a sandspit
which is under water only at very high tides.
Tiny islets are offshore. The island is the north end 
of a 50-mile ocean strip added to the Olympic Nat'l Park in 1953.
Click image to enlarge.

Original photo by Eric Wahleen,
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Elephant Rock
A natural formation on the Olympic Peninsula, WA.

Photo by Eric Wahleen for Smith's Scenic Views, Tacoma, WA.
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Rapids on the Quinault River,
Olympic National Park, Washington State.

Card from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

The Olympic National Park, a World Heritage Site since 1981, features spectacular Pacific Ocean coastline, scenic lakes, mountains and glaciers, and magnificent temperate rainforest. These diverse ecosystems are like visiting three different parks in one. To learn more about the modern-day fees and regulations for this beautiful home to very clever animals looking for your camp food, and visited by guests from all over the world here is a link to the Olympic National Park site. 

01 March 2018

❖ SKIDDOO, DECATUR ISLAND TO SHAW ❖

SKIDDOO
Here she is seen along Blind Bay Rd, Shaw Island, for a photo by
the family matriarch, Lilie Marold Bruns in 1920.

The family lived on the island c. 1901-1945.
(Actually, Eber's mother, Lilie, arrived with a married sister 
before Statehood and taught at the first Shaw Island School.)
The gas screw was built at Reed's Shipyard on Decatur Is., WA.
She was launched in 1912 for Henry Cayou, his first power boat.
32' L x 10' W  x 4' D.
She had a 16 HP 2-cyl, 4-cyl Frisco-Standard, turning
a 28 x 28 Coolidge wheel. 330 RPM.
Click image to enlarge.

Some words from long-time mariner Eberhardt Bruns (1902-1982) from San Juan County, who was born on Lopez Island, went to grade school and married Atlanta Berg on Shaw Island, and then moved off to Orcas Island for an engineering job.
      "We put the new wheel on her at Fish Creek [SJIs.] Speed about 8 knots. We bought her at Reeds in 1918 for $500 from a Mr. Peterson of Anacortes. She had been pulled up for over a year. We had Joe Reed recaulk her. I got the engine going and we ran her home to Shaw, late 1918 or early 1919. We cut off about 8' of after cabin, installed a fish hold and a fishing cockpit aft.
      Emil Wickstrom, Shaw Island, helped us in buying and fixing her up for fishing. He had fished at the Cape for years. Dad & I fished off Cape Flattery 1919. Dad didn't like boating and fishing but I did. Started out for the Cape 1920. Got storm bound west of Race Rocks. I came down sick so Dad brought us back to Shaw. Called the Doctor from Friday Harbor. He came over to Shaw and diagnosed appendicitis. Took me to Bellingham. I was not taken off the boat from Race Rocks to Bellingham. After about 10 days they operated. I survived. That is another story.
We sold SKIDDOO in 1922 to a Mr. McTavish of Orcas Lime Co, Mosquito Pass, San Juan Island. He later put in a 4-cyl Fordson-Marine about 40-HP. Later she burnt up in Mitchell Bay. The 16-HP Frisco Standard was sold to a man on Sinclair Is. He installed it in a 30' troller, DAPHNE. Many memories, Eber Bruns."
Eber Bruns to his son, 20 March 1985.
      Eber's young brother, J. Lee, is standing near cabin, aft deck. "My face is in the window. Mother took the picture standing on the rock in front of the cabin. I had put the boat there just to have our picture took. Float in the background. Old [Morrison] barn on the bank."

      This SKIDDOO photo was shared by Lee Bruns and also by his daughter, Nancy Bruns; the essay was shared by Eber's daughter, Ellen Bruns Madan. All helpful extended family contributing to the local history archives.
      Eber Bruns, as he said, did enjoy the boats, and if you would like more written by the man, click  Chief Engineer without an Engine

1907:  County Commissioner Henry T. Cayou took a party from Deer Harbor in his fine launch SKIDDOO to attend the dance given at West Sound, Friday Evening. They report a good time.
San Juan Islander. 30 Nov. 1907

Archived Log Entries