"The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down." A. Whitney Brown.

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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 750, 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.

30 July 2022

MEMORIES OF MADRONA INN :::::: ON A SMALL ROCKY SPIT :::::: Orcas Island, WA., 1950s.

 


MADRONA INN
in the center of this photo of 
Madrona Point, Eastsound, WA.
The first cottages were built by 
Dr. I.M. Harrison and managed later by 
his widow Dr. Agnes A. Harrson and 
their son, Max. 
postmarked Eastsound, 1924.
Click the image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the 
Saltwater People Historical Society©

"The thoughts of those summers working at Madrona Inn are filled with warm and nostalgic memories.

The location of Madrona Inn was on a small rocky spit that went out into the waters of Eastsound, Orcas Island. It was surrounded by tall firs and native Madrona trees. The small self-contained cabins were tucked along winding trails, craggy boulders, and trees at various places. The main lodge housed the dining room, kitchen, lobby, office, and sitting /library room. The style of the main lodge was rustic comfort having a large stone fireplace (usually lit,) solid homey chairs, and exposed dark oak ceiling rafters. Many window views overlooked the grounds and pristine water. The dining room tables always had tablecloths and flowers. Fresh water, tea, and coffee were available in the library. Although there were other inns and lodges on Orcas Island, Madrona Inn was considered unique and was usually well booked all summer. This was true until the privately owned Rosario Estate (near Eastsound) was sold and turned into a high-end resort.

The guests came year after year often for months at a time. They came from the cities in Washington, California, and other states. Meals were served three times a day with a set menu that rotated over a couple of weeks; some menu variations were also enjoyed–– such as a guest sharing a self-caught salmon. There were 12-14 college students who worked various jobs to fulfill the needs of the guests at the Inn. The jobs were housekeeping, waitress, dishwasher, hostess, laundry, pots and pans washer, building and grounds maintenance, etc. Seven to eight girls were selected as waitresses' they wore yellow uniforms and were assigned tables. Two people were in housekeeping; one was a rover covering those who had days off; one was a dishwasher, and one was a hostess. We, as employees, came from a variety of colleges in Washington, and other states and island residents were also part of the team. A two-story house was the home for the girls. Our meals were at the lodge and showers were at the bathhouse by the laundry. I remember the night some bats flew in through the open upstairs window. Some girls shrieked with fear and put towels over their heads. After that, there was always an open window check and often the lights were left on all night. 

I worked as a dishwasher, waitress, and hostess over three summers. I remember serving meals to Mark Toby, a renowned artist, with some of his artist friends from Seattle and around the world. At the time I did not recognize his fame as an artist with work in the Louver in Paris. I also remember serving an evening meal to the Harrison family one Sunday night. Mr. Harrson's son, a distinguished and decorated U.S Army General from WA, D.C., and his family were visiting. I set a plate of bread on the table; my finger caught the edge of a slice of bread and the slice flipped over the flower arrangement into his soup. I was mortified!!! Many distinguished guests had their names on the sign-in roster. Mr. Max Harrison was an amiable proprietor––always wore a sports coat, usually had a cigar in his hand, and often cleared his throat with a "harrumph." Mrs. Harrison, a frail and gracious lady usually stayed in their private quarters.


The Orcas Islander newspaper
26 July 1951

Always a front page source of information
about the many resorts on Orcas Island,
the guests, and the reports of the
salmon being landed.

By mid-summer, much of the produce came from local growers. Other groceries bought in bulk, came from the mainland by ferry or from the local grocery store. The boys often made grocery runs to the ferry or the store. As a kitchen helper, I remember shelling peas, washing lettuce, and strawberries, or helping with salads. On days when the kitchen was hot, it was good to step into the large walk-in refrigerator and rearrange things. As a waitress or cabin worker, you got to keep your tip money, therefore you tried to do your best to serve your people well.

On Saturday nights we rushed to get our work done because there was always the Island dance to attend. The dances were alternately held at the Eastsound Grange Hall or Deer Harbor on the other side of the island. The dances were attended by vacationers, visiting people from their yachts, the young men who worked at Camp Orkila, and many island residents. At about 11 P.M. food would be offered; it was usually a generous and welcome spread. The band played music from the 40s and 50s with some polkas and schottisches included. What fun we had as did most anyone there. When the dance at Eastsound ended we girls walked home amid giggles, teasing, and singing. Without street lights, the road was very dark and a bit scarey. As a postcard from Orcas Island claimed, "there was never a place as dark at night as Eastshoud on Orcas Island.

One memory stands out for me. In August of 1955 six of us girls were invited to be the guest of Mr. Donald Rheem at his Rosario estate. He and his wife purchased the estate in 1938 from the original owner Mr. Robert Moran. Rheem made extensive improvements to the estate property as well as building dock moorings for some of his well-known friends from California. John Wayne regularly visited each summer as did other celebrities. We  (6 Madrona girls) were photographed for the Seattle Times as Rheem showed us the property. The photographer was the well-known Joseph  Scaylea. It was a spectacular mansion on a wonderful site. Later, after it was sold, additions and other amenities were added to make it into an upscale resort; it lost some of its uniqueness and character.

Guest use of the Madrona Inn started to close down after Labor Day. Coed workers headed back to college of jobs; the cook, Mrs. Tharp went back to cook for the "Figi" fraternity at the U of W. Mr. and Mrs. Twedt continued as resident caretakers of the property and handled the off-season use of the property.

I think of the time spent there with fondness. At times I am reminded of the fresh air smell of the warm fir boughs. I hear the rustle of fallen leaves on the trails to the cabins. The boulders held the sun's summer warmth long after sundown. The night darkness, the brilliant stars, and at times the Aurora Borealis, are not forgotten.

Madrona Inn was a place where one could renew and refresh themselves––let the breezes wipe worries and care away. Guests came to write, paint, read, and reconnect with nature. With its comfortable and rustic setting, it provided a haven of rest for the patrons. It was a wonderful place for a college student to earn a wage, and find adventure while getting ready for the year ahead. There were so many things to do in the natural surroundings of the island––hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, and a visit to a local pottery shop or the store in Eastsound. 

The views of Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, the Cascades, all the islands of Puget Sound, Vancouver Island, and so much more were and are always spectacular unless surrounded by fog. After hiking the trails we often stopped for a refreshing swim in Lake Moran at Moran State Park. 

On one of my days off, my father met me at Buckhorn Lodge on the north side of the island and drove us in his 16-ft boat to Lummi Island where we had a cabin. In the middle of the Straits, I heard a swishing noise and all of a sudden about 20 Orcas came under and around our boat. As the boat rocked, I was filled with fear. Dad kept his cool and as quick as they came, the Orca pod continued on its way to hunt for food. What an experience to be so close to nature. I will not forget how much they need their freedom 
in the sea just as we need ours on land."
Above words by Kathy Parker, September 2010.

The author of this letter mentions Dr. Agnes Harrison of Madrona Inn. There is more posted about this amazing woman here on this site.

Notices in the San Juan Islander newspaper promoting summer resorts and camping on Orcas Island in the 19th century:

2 August 1894
"Camping sites set up by Smith Stowers and other citizens. Platforms for tents and bathhouses near the beach improve natural facilities and make it the most popular resort on the sound. Civil rights and property must be respected, good order and decent behavior maintained!"

13 September 1894
"Orcas is overrun with campers from all over the Sound. This island has become an attractive summer resort and accommodations will be made for people who desire to spend the summer here." 



22 July 2022

AT WOODMEN HALL AND AROUND LOPEZ ISLAND with June ::: May 1930

 


Lopez Island, 
San Juan Archipelago, WA.

"We didn't arrive at the big Woodmen hall, standing alone in the middle of the woods, until along about 9:30 p.m.

It was exactly like going to meeting in the South. The meetinghouse was a lodge hall and we were going to play five hundred instead of sing and pray. But the feeling was the same. The same quiet assembling of buggies, one after the other coming in out of the night, finding their places between the trees. Except that they were all automobiles instead of buggies. The same leisurely goings and comings to and out of the meetinghouse. The same low talking. And when we get inside, the meeting had started so that we felt a little embarrassed at being late, exactly as if the friendly preacher was about to scold us!

It was a delightful evening and I almost learned how to play five hundred. 

Esther is coming to drive me over the island. What a prosperous, beautiful island it is! The  New England farms look no mellower, no healthier than these big Lopez farms reclaimed in the last seventy-odd years ago. they look like generations of people, of cattle, of crops had grown up here.

Grassy pastures and orchards in blossom on the Strafford farm. Berries and cattle, green fields, and a tractor plowing on the neat Erb place. Rolling green slopes and dozens of gorgeous apple trees in fragrant bloom on the Kilpatrick farm.

Down the road along the backbone of the island, beautiful farms fell away into pleasant valleys on both sides. Sheep in the pastures, chickens cackling from modern hen-houses. Loganberries on Joe Ender's place. The McCloud house, low and brown, nestled on a big rock.Strait of Juan de Fuca. 

A very tiny loghouse with a very big ivy cluster nearly hiding it, a cloud of pear blossoms hovering over it. Somebody lived in that diminutive picturesque house once and enjoyed its charm, enjoyed the sweep of pastoral beauty on the slopes below it.

Pheasants and mountain quail in gardens. the McCauley farm is lush and lovely on both sides of the road. 

Down the dim cathedral woods to McKay harbor. Hemlock, white fir, and cedar. Long, curving beach washed by gentle surf. Crows on a fence. The pretty white Tralness house above the beach and a lavender-pink mass of starry flowers on the edge of the road. Out in the harbor, a gray slick rock tipped with seagulls.

In Barlow's Bay a great flower-covered rock. Lacy yellow blooms. Sedum is about to burst into fragrant blossoms. Dark blue verbena-like flowers, bell-like flowers. Crane's bill. A creamy white bell-like flower––how tantalizing not to know the names of these sweets! You would not live here so long without knowing all the flowers by their real and common names, would you? Well, I knew them once. And I shall know them again!

We climb up into the woods and around the outer bluff of the island to find Washington's profile. 


Washington's profile
A rock formation on Lopez Island
that went by several names.
June Burn mentions the
landmark in this essay.
Click image to enlarge.


We find the bluff where the face used to be, but something seems to have happened to the nose, or else we have not come to the right place.

But we find dark blue camas in bloom. And against an old abandoned house a gorgeous lilac heavy with purple flowers. The woods are full of wildflowers. Lady slippers, Oregon grape, starflower. Soapalalee will be along presently. From these berries, the Natives make a bitter foam which some call Native ice cream.

Across the island, is John Thompson's big lonely house where the white-headed old mariner lives alone. He promises to take us with him to Smith's island next Monday. 

The Mud Bay schoolhouse and Eaton's pretty home. On up and around to the Vogt loghouse built a half-century ago of alder logs mind you. Inside, an old square piano, hooked rugs in original designs, and handsome ship models made by the son while tending fishtraps. Outside, flowers and blossoming fruit trees and green meadows and the forest not a hundred yards away. A lovely place.

Well, you needn't think I can go all over the whole island in one letter! See you tomorrow. June"

June Burn. Puget Soundings May 1930


28 June 2022

IN A CLASS BY HERSELF :::::: 12-meter WEATHERLY

 


12-meter WEATHERLY 
Underway on Commencement Bay.
Click image to enlarge.
Photo by Josef Scaylea 
from the archives of the 
Saltwater People Historical Society©

Steve Scalzo, Alan Buchan, and Lynn Sommers, are three guys who should know the 12-meter sailboat Weatherly is in a class by herself. The 1962 America's Cup winner over Australia's Gretel was berthed at the Tacoma Yacht Club and owned by Buchan and Sommers, both Tacomans.
          
Scalzo, a former midshipman at the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., and then assistant to the vice president of operations of the Foss Launch & Tug Co., spent four years aboard the Weatherly at the academy.
          "The Weatherly is the prettiest and most durable 12-meter ever built. She's also the fastest 12-meter ever raced in light air. I saw several others during my four years at the academy and none compares with 
this boat."
          Scalzo was also involved in two winters (1968-1969) of experimental stress and durability testing on the boat by the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.
          "
It's the only time a sailboat has been put to such a stern test. Most of the runs were made on Long Island Sound and designed to determine
the stress and strain on all the primary hull and rigging locations.

           The society had many elaborate computers and pieces of electrical equipment in key areas. In one, a tugboat ran across the projected path of the Weatherly to create heavy water conditions."
          Buchan and Sommers use the converted 67-footer as a family boat and for weekend races in the Pacific Northwest.
          "Although we've had the Weatherly less than a year, we've found her to be durable, fast, and maneuverable," Buchan said.

          Sailing a 12-meter is quite an experience. In fact, it's virtually impossible to compare with any other smaller racing lass."
        Sommers added:
          "There's no question the Weatherly has a sound design and strength. Even with our novice crew, largely family members, she responds favorably."
          Built in 1958 by the Luders Marine Construction Co of Stamford, Conn., for the Henry D. Mercer Syndicate, the Weatherly campaigned that 

year in America's Cup trials.
          Skippered by Arthur Knapp Jr., she won a match race with the Easterner, lost to the Vim, finished last in a three-boat race, and broke down before the start of another. The Columbia went on to defend America's Cup for the United States.
          The Weatherly performed well off the wind and in light going during the trials but proved tender in moderate breezes.

          The Weatherly of 1962 was a different boat, however. A defective keel casting in 1953 resulted in her having less ballast down low than intended. Also, 4,000 pounds of lead were stowed in her bilges. In 1962 she ran a two-ton-heavier keel casting, developed through the cooperation of Phil Rhodes, a boat designer, and Luders, following tests in a model tank. Also, almost two feet were lopped off her stern.
          The result was that instead of lying down and wallowing when the breeze increased to 12 knots, Weatherly stood up and raced windward with the best of her foes in winds up to 18-20 knots.
          Between 1958 and '61, Knapp, one of the country's top skippers, sailed the Weatherly but gradually lost confidence in her as an America's Cup candidate. So the Mercer Syndicate signed Bus Mosbacher, a master helmsman.
          In the 1962 American's Cup nine-race trials, the Weatherly and the Columbia each started with two wins––one each over the other two contenders, the Nefertiti and the Easterner. But eventually, it was narrowed to the Weatherly and the Nefertiti, with the former taking four of five 

races.
           Following the Weatherly's selection as the Cup defender, Mercer, the owner, said:
           "I guess this proves it takes four years to get a 12-meter tuned up."
          The cup duel between the Weatherly and the Gretel ranks as one of the premier contests in the 125-year history of the sailing classic.
          In many quarters, the Gretel was favored––marking the first time in decades a foreigner was picked to capture the cup that has remained in this country since 1851.
          But the Weatherly won, 4-1, in the best-of-seven event.
          Mercer decided to forego the 1964 America's Cup and in 1965 

donated the Weatherly to the academy.
          During the summer months, the Weatherly was used for sail training by the midshipmen," Scalzo said. "In 1967 she was pulled out as a sparring partner for the Columbia in the Cup trials. She was sailed by a combination crew of midshipmen and a spare skipper from the Columbia.
          "She performed well in light air but tended to 'hobby-horse' in the chop.
          "From 1967 to '71, the academy utilized her for training, in addition to the winter experimental stress tests. Again, in 1970, she became an American's Cup trials sparring mate, this time for the Valiant of the Bob McCullough Syndicate. The crew was composed of half midshipmen, and half syndicate members."
          In 1971, the Weatherly was purchased by Douglas Jones of Menominee, Mich., who converted her for offshore racing. He continued to use the boat until his death in the summer of 1974. Thereafter, she was stored in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., until Buchan and Sommers successfully bid for her.
          The Weatherly became the talk of Puget Sound. She dwarfed all other sailboats around her. It's not simply her size that wowed fellow mariners, it's her rich history, too.


Words by Ranny Green for The Seattle Times, 7 March 1976. 

 

21 June 2022

Get on the Bottom Paint -- SUMMER is Here!!

 


M.V. WANDERER
Inscribed verso with vessel name
& date 1929

Tacoma West Waterway, WA.

The folks are finishing up with the 
bottom paint and Gramps
on the foredeck has the ground tackle
all shipshape. 
Do we know this crew almost 
ready for their summer holidays?
Click the image to enlarge.
Gelatin-silver photograph from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Happy summer everyone. 

15 June 2022

SOME CANADIAN CHARACTERS I HAVE KNOWN with Boatbuilder N. C. Blanchard

 


Harold A. Jones
Royal Vancouver Yacht Club
Commodore 1939, 1944-1947.
He was elected to an honorary
life membership in 1953.
Photo courtesy of the RVYC



"Harold A. Jones was a Canadian who lived in Vancouver, B.C., where he was in the towboat business. As I recall he had between seven and twelve tugs in his fleet, all with their uniformly painted stacks, and he was pretty much the Foss of Vancouver. You'd see his tugs pulling logs, helping ships get away from the pier, those sorts of things. He was a damned good fleet operator, and everybody knew his boats.
        One of my early trips to Vancouver to visit Harold must have been around 1936. Harold had a daughter--his only child--who was around 16 at the time but thought she was 25, and of course, she could do no wrong. Harold was likable and always very popular on both sides of the line.
        Harold Jones was a preeminent member of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, and for a long time, he owned a boat that my father built, the Gwendolyn II, which was previously owned by Fritz Hellenthal. Although I never had an opportunity to sail with him, Harold was a very good competitor until WW II came along, and all racing stopped. Well, shortly after the cessation of hostilities Harold phoned me and said he needed to meet with me––something about Princess Louisa Inlet. I said that that would be OK, so we arranged a date, and I drove up to Vancouver.
        When I got to Harold's house he was down in his playroom, I was highly surprised to find that in the space of the octagonal foundation in his basement he had built, with his own hands, a light diorama of Vancouver from the water, and he had his Lionel model railway running through it.
        Harold continued with the Gwen for quite a few years, and then around 1946, he got Ed Monk to design him a new boat, a big sloop, about 65 feet with a nice teak house. He told Ed he wanted to build her skookum, and Ed designed it plenty skookum, and then Harold went and doubled all the dimensions. The frames were steam-bent oak and four inches square --really crazy. The result was that she floated about eight or ten inches below her designed waterline, but that didn't cut down on Harold's pride. He was very decent about how it came out, and always said, 'It was my own damned fault.'
        On his cruise down to Seattle Harold never came alone. He would always come through the locks with a helper. Of course, he could always pull a deckhand off his list to go along with him. The most memorable thing about his coming through the Lake Washington Ship Canal was that he would stand on the foredeck of his boat and play his trumpet. He always had his trumpet with him, and you could hear him coming. If we were planning to have lunch at the Seattle Yacht Club I'd leave the shop as soon as I heard his trumpet. I'd walk out on the dock at the club and here he'd come, with somebody else steering the boat, and Harold still on the foredeck playing his trumpet. You know, in those days very few adult men could play an instrument of any kind unless they were professionals.

        Harold Jones was a character, and that reminds me of the five old Canadian gentlemen who owned the Minerva. She was still gaff-rigged, but she was a big, powerful yawl, about 50 feet long. She belonged to these five old gentlemen, and they always kept a hired 'boy' on her––he was only 65!
        When the old boys finished their race they would sail right up to their mooring––they'd come in under full sail and pick up their buoy––and there was no sign of a breakwater near the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club like there is now. They always kept their dinghy on the mooring buoy. It was a pretty good dinghy, too, about 11 or 12 feet, because their hired boy would use it to row all of them together into the club float.


Yacht MINERVA
"Jones was also an exacting and
dominant skipper of Spirit II. His
pride and joy was Spirit which he built 
from an Ed Monk design in 1946."
Courtesy of the Royal Vancouver YC.
        

These gentlemen always imported their Scotch in the barrel from Scotland, and the barrel sat with a spigot in it between the berths in the after stateroom. As soon as the first one came into the cockpit in his white flannels after a race, the 65-year-old boat boy would show up with a water server, but it was full of Scotch whisky. One by one each of them would show up in the cockpit in his white flannels, and then everybody knew it was an open house on the Minerva. If you were aboard you were immediately offered a drink, and one of them would start pouring, and if you didn't stop him he'd fill that tumbler right up to the top with Scotch whisky.

Everybody always liked to talk about these guys, and they were a popular topic of conversation. They had an agreement among them that as they died off, the last survivor would own the Minerva outright. Of course, once they began to die there were only a couple of years before all five of them were gone."

Words by: Norman C. Blanchard (1911-2009) with Stephen Wilen. Knee-Deep in Shavings, Memories of Early Yachting and Boatbuilding on the West Coast. Victoria, B.C., Canada. Horsdal & Schubart Publishers Ltd. 1999. 

From the library of the Saltwater People Historical Society.

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