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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.

1987 ❖ DYNAMITE BLOWS IN FRIDAY HARBOR (Updated)

Postcard view of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA.

A blast of dynamite sent a plume of water 100 feet in the air when 700 pounds of explosives were detonated in the middle of Friday Harbor. It was the biggest in a series of explosions aimed at leveling a shoal that posed a hazard for ferries.
      The top of the rock was originally 15 feet five inches, said diver Mike Wheatley of C & M Diving Co. of Seattle, the firm in town Saturday to finish off the dynamiting of a part of the reef that had not blown as planned. The blast Saturday went off without a hitch but many people were not aware what was happening.
      Two divers off the Washington State Labs were seen at the last minute and warned to get out of the water.
      Percy Washington, Washington Fisheries biologist to the Port said he was surprised at the length of the blast. He will recommend to the State Department of Fisheries that they never allow it to happen again.
      "It was devastating," said Washington, who estimated 70% of the herring in the water and some shiner perch had died in the blast.
      "The height of the water blown into the air indicates to me that most of the energy went through the water and not into the rocks. I think the fish suffered from it," he said.
      Washington said the exact figures won't be released for several days, but that an estimated 3,500 pounds of fish were killed in the three blasts. Most were herring.
      "Five minutes after the blast there was a line of herring so thick you could reach down and grab hands full, about a half a mile long of dead fish," he said.
      However, Washington said nothing is going to be wasted. the lingcod and the seagulls and even some killer whales were in the harbor feasting on the remains.
      One of the charter sports-fishing captains went out after the blast and scooped up a good portion of the herring that floated up, to use as bait.
      "There was more herring killed during this blast than in any of the previous blasts due to the size of the shot, but no salmon, no ling cod and no seals," said Wheatley, who dove in the area afterward.
      It doesn't look like a barren, flat piece of rock anymore; the rock is broken up from pea-gravel to two-foot chunks, he said.
Above text by Ilene Anderson for the Friday Harbor Journal of 18 November 1987.

Two weeks later, candidates for a Darwin Award.
Hazardous rock now hazardous mound of muck.

A rock in the middle of Friday Harbor was drilled, blasted, scooped up so that ferries could pass safely through the harbor. Then it apparently was accidentally reassembled a few steps to the side.
      American Construction pulled its work barge from the islands during the weekend. They were called Monday by the Port engineer, Tom Metke, and agreed to come back to scrape away the mound.
      The construction company informed the state ferry system of the new hazard in the harbor, that could be high enough to reach the bottom of a ferry boat during a low tide.
      Depth soundings taken revealed what appears to be a mound of muck and rubble reaching to within 16 to 18 feet of the surface at zero tide and at a place charts show as deep water.
      "It's uncharted, unmarked and pretty high," said Metke.
      The construction crew dredged rubble left after blasts and dumped in nearby deep water. So much was dumped that a mound was built.
      The new mound is nearly the level of the former rock and at least six feet higher than the 24 feet being sought.
      Construction costs are being paid by the State.
Friday Harbor Journal, pg. 1-B, December 1987
Courtesy of research by Mary Jean Cahail, Friday Harbor, WA. The Port of Friday Harbor no longer had a record of the event on file, so museum volunteer, Mary Jean, dove into the past issues of the Journal. 
Two of two articles found to date; now archived by the Saltwater People Historical Society, San Juan Archipelago.

July 2015:
As a subscriber to the paper version of The Journal of the San Juan Islands, I noticed in the issue dated 17 June 2015, the reprint of the Ilene Anderson article of 18 November 1987. Typed verbatim but the editor forgot to inform us that the news was 28 years old. Just so you know.

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful picture! What year was it taken?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pete, thanks for reading the Log and writing.
      Not sure the year of this undated image.

      Delete

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