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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.

1971-1972 ❖ Hudson's Bay Replica NONSUCH SAILING THROUGH

NONSUCH
Hudson's Bay Company replica

and Jan Pearce at North Bend, WA,
heading for Marco and then to Puget Sound.
November 1971
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Westbound motorists on Interstate 90 through Snoqualmie Pass gaped when they passed this visitor. She looked like a ghost from the days of the Jolly Roger and Captain Kidd.
      No nonsense about it––she was the NONSUCH, built in 1968, a replica––except for a propeller––of the original NONSUCH built in England in 1650 and destined to become a keystone for the founding of the Hudson's Bay in 1670. 
      The replica was built in Appledore, Devon, England and after a year of sailing in the United Kingdom waters she was transported to Canada. Her "voyage on wheels" has covered some 3,000 miles from Duluth to Seattle over highway through Minnesota, Canada, Idaho, and Washington. 
      The 53-ft ketch arrived here 22 November 1971 for re-stepping of her masts and replacing of her keel, water tanks and galley equipment. The refitting took place at Marco's Shipyard in the winter.
      As we can see in the photos below she sailed on Puget Sound the following summer. She is owned by the Hudson's Bay Co., and helped mark the firm's 300th anniversary.
Hudson's Bay Co. replica NONSUCH
Goodwill tour stop, Friday Harbor, 1972.
Photo by Gordon Keith, Orcas Island, WA.

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


      In August of 1972, the ketch NONSUCH, a replica of the original 17th c. vessel, docked at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, another in her two-year port of calls which had included over two dozen English and French sea ports as well as those in the Great Lakes area.
      For yachtsmen and landlubbers alike such an event is of major importance, even in the San Juans.
      Upon telephoning Captain Adrian Small of the NONSUCH to arrange an interview with him I was informed that on the following day he was taking members of the islands' press on a short cruise and that I was invited to join them if I wished.
      The day was sunny and cloudless, the water calm, as I drove off the ferry at Friday Harbor. I parked overlooking the harbor at the foot of Spring Street. A glance at my watch showed there was still fifteen minutes until sailing time. The crew, which was made up of six young men from England and six from America, was busy readying the ketch for departure.
      Captain Adrian Small gave me a friendly smile and handshake as I boarded. In just a matter of minutes we would be under sail to Roche Harbor eleven nautical miles away on the NW side of San Juan Island.
NONSUCH 
Capt. Adrian Small 
Sailing Puget Sound, 1972.
Photographer unknown. 
Original photo from the S.P.H.S. ©


 Brief Background of the Original 17th C. NONSUCH.
      In 1668 the little ketch, NONSUCH, having been purchased from Sir William Warren for 290 pounds by a group of merchants, scientists, and financiers, sailed from Gravesend, England.
      On 20 September 1668, 118 days after her departure from England, the 37-foot ketch anchored off the mouth of a river which the crew named 'Rupert' after Prince Rupert, one of the financial backers of the expedition.
      After carrying their provisions ashore the men began immediately to build a house. They called it Charles Fort to honor King Charles. Following a long, cold winter the Cree Indians began coming to the Bay to trade their furs. In Capt. Gillam's journal he wrote that they had traded with some 300 Cree Indians and by June they were ready to depart. However, because of ice in Hudson Bay, it wasn't until late August that the NONSUCH began her return trip to England.
      Upon her arrival in England The London Gazette dated 11 Oct 1669 reported: "This last night came in here the NONSUCH KETCH, which having endeavored to make out a passage by the North West, was in those seas environed with ice, which opposing her progress, the men were forced to bade her on shoar and to provide against the ensuing cold of a long winter, which ending they returned with a considerable quantity of Beaver, which made them some recompense for their cold confinement."
      The voyage was unsuccessful financially and the NONSUCH was sold in June 1670 for 152 pounds 10 shillings. But despite the financial loss the expedition had proved to its backers that a profitable fur trade could be established by trading directly with the friendly Cree Indians. Previously the Cree had gathered the furs and traded them to the Hurons and Ottawas who, in turn, delivered the pelts to French settlements. By circumventing the St. Lawrence route for the shores of Hudson Bay the furs could be shipped direct to Europe. With this knowledge the investors approached King Charles for a Royal Charter which was granted 2 May 1670 and resulted in the founding of the Hudson's Bay Company (H.B.C.).
      Some 300-years later, July 1967, the H.B.C. announced construction of a full-sized replica of the NONSUCH to commemorate the company's 300th anniversary in 1970.
 J. Hinks and Son, of Appledore, Devon, England, was commissioned to build the ship which experts agree is the finest replica ship ever built by modern day man. Sticklers for authenticity, the H.B.C. insisted that maximum authentic details be adhered to in the building of the NONSUCH. To make the 15-inch wooden pegs, or more correctly, trunnels, which fasten the planking to the ships frame, a 'trunnel mate' had to be fashioned from a pattern furnished by the National Maritime Museum. Wood used in the ships hull is solid English Oak, masts are of Scotch Pine and her keel is laid of Elm. 
      Although no plans exist of the original NONSUCH, naval records show she was 37-ft long on the keel or 50-ft overall, with a beam of 15-ft and a 45-t. burden. 
      Rodney Warrington Smyth, designer of the present NONSUCH, and his partner Peter M. Wood, spent 5 arduous months pouring over the archives of the National Mar. Museum and those of the H.B.C. in London. Paintings of the 17th c. sailing vessel were also studied in detail and from this research the replica was designed and built.
NONSUCH, 
Captain Adrian Small
Stern carvings by craftsman Jack Whitehead, 
from Isle of Wight, UK.
Original Photo from the S.P.H.S. archives©


The 2000 sq. ft. of canvas sails are all hand sewn and hemp rigging is used throughout.
      After 10-months under construction, at a cost of $175,000, the NONSUCH was launched 26 August 1968 in the river Torridge.
      Epilogue:
      Upon completion of her goodwill tour of the Pacific Northwest coast the NONSUCH was transported to her permanent home in Winnepeg, Manitoba, where, as a gift from the H.B.C., she is presently [1982] anchored at the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature". 
Keith, Gordon. Voices from the Islands, Chapter Nine, (abridged,) 0-8323-0358-5, Orcas Island; Binford & Mort, Portland, OR., 1982.

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