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

About Us

My photo
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 700, 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.

26 January 2020


According to Gordy Fox and Bob Schoen
Islands' Sounder November 1986

Cutter MIA
enjoying a winter cruise
With Bob & Mary Schoen
of West Sound, Orcas Is.
No date inscribed but they secured a
Christmas tree to the top of the mast
and away they sailed.
Photo courtesy of Steve McKenna
for the archives of Saltwater People Log©


"Two years ago [1984] Gordy Fox had to chip away the ice from his 32-ft Grand Banks to go on a cruise. Bob Schoen goes sailing all the time, all year, and prefers cruising in the San Juans in the WINTER.
      Both Fox and Schoen are part of an increasing number of boaters who during the past 10 years have begun using their vessels year-round.
      To winterize their boats, people ake a variety of actions. Some treat their boats for moisture to avoid mildew, taking care of the 'brightwork,' of varnished and metal surfaces, draining outside hose bibs so water does not freeze, and covering them with tarps until summer. 
Others simply pull their boat up to a dock and leave the winterizing to someone else.
      'Most of them just leave a note and say, 'Winterize my boat,' said Ian Wareham, of West Sound Marina. 
      Schoen changes his oil every winter, to prevent sludge and the buildup of moisture, and puts antifreeze in the engine. When you're on top of the water a lot, the biggest thing to look out for during winter is the danger posed by water inside the boat, avid boaters say.
      Schoen, a boater for 55+ years and a San Juan Islands boater for 40, said that for decades he had to drain the engine before water-cooled engines became widespread. Back then, he had cart wood––on board his boat to warm up the cabin, now he has an oil stove.
      'You can get this thing warmed up pretty cozy,' said Schoen, pointing to the stove as he walked through the lower deck. He and his wife, Mary, have taken their single-masted auxiliary cutter to Alaska. 'We usually go north in the summer, there are so many people here,' Schoen said. He estimated traffic cuts down in the winter to about 30 percent of what it is in the summer.
      Most people who cruise in the winter have some source of heat. People use oil or propane or some combination; Schoen's 40-HP diesel engine uses the same oil as his stove.
       In addition to pleasure boaters, fishermen make the San Juans a frequent destination in the winter. That's when the fishing is best, Schoen noted.
      Both he and Fox, and scores of other boaters in the San Juans, have carried forward the tradition of a New Year's Day sail, an enduring wintertime event––ice, cold, and all. 
      On New Year's Day two years ago the door on Fox's boat was sealed shut.
      'I chipped the ice away from the door, fired it up, and went for a cruise,' Fox said. The Orcas Island Yacht Club has two destinations on its New Year's Day sail––Reid Harbor on Stuart Island and Roche Harbor. That winter, Fox extended his expedition, spending a week cruising around the San Juans, visiting Cypress, Guemes, and places he couldn't in the summer because the waterways were too busy. 
      'There was a week of crystal-clear weather,' Fox recalled. The only winterization measure he's taken so far has been to drain his outside hose bibs.
      'Winterization can encompass many things, from the vessel itself to the mechanical components on board.' Moored at West Sound, he can keep heat going on board to avoid freezing by connecting to a dock outlet. 
      During winter, he said, everybody watches out for everybody else. Sometimes a boat owner is not around when mooring lines are loose.
      'In general with the boating public, there's kind of a buddy boating system,' Fox said. 'Everybody pretty much watches out for each other. If there's a problem with mooring lines, you use one of your own lines to secure the boat until the owner gets to take care of it.'
      There's always the danger of getting stranded, a plight that Fox has avoided. But once on a trip to Stuart, Schoen was stranded by a northeaster 'that blew and blew. We just had to wait it out,' he recalled.
      But 10 years ago, with the increasing interest in winter boating and the increasing efficiency of onboard heating, one tradition died.
      Schoen, who grew up in Seattle, ran around with kids who 'were boat nuts like I was.' That same spirit of fun influenced a New Year's Eve party he and his friends would have at Port Ludlow. A former Orcas Island landowner, G.M. Lynes, loaned a trophy to the Essex County Country Club Cruising Society, which sponsored the New Year's Eve celebration.
      The trophy was a three-handed cup that Lyons won at a freestyle skating contest.
      Everyone would sail to the party through waters that were hardly icy, but surely cold. It was a booby prize, of sorts, but awarded in fun to some quirky or ridiculous event that occurred. Other times, it was given in jest for a serious act that members wanted to poke fun at.
      One person was awarded the trophy for losing his mast. One winter, a former bachelor received the trophy for getting married.
      Enthusiasm for the Port Ludlow New Year's Eve sail was great. But eventually, the trophy was retired. Too many people spoiled the fun, Schoen, recalled."
Paul Gottlieb for the Islands' Sounder, November 1986.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.
Sea trials for cutter MIA
after launching, England, 1960.
With owners Frederick and Marilyn Ellis.
Detail from a Beken of Cowes© original photograph.
Tap image to enlarge.

23 January 2020


Native canoe maker
Theodore Hudson uses adze to finish traditional
dugout canoe made by hand from one cedar log. 
Photo by Ruth Kirk
From the archives of Saltwater People Log©
"Washington Dugout Canoe
Cross-section and Sheer Plan.
Tap image to enlarge.
1890 Bulletin from the
US Fish Commission," included below.
Native canoe at sea.
Traditional Swinomish Native racing canoe, 10-man.1895, LaConner, WA.

From the writings of James G. Swan, Washington State author, historian.
From the 1890 Bulletin of the US Fish Commission.

"A canoe-maker's stock of tools is quite small, consisting only of an axe, a stone hammer, some wooden wedges, a chisel, a knife, and a gimlet. Those so fortunate as to possess a saw will use it occasionally, but the common method of cutting off a piece of wood or board is with the axe or chisel. And yet with these simple and primitive tools, they contrive to do all the carpenter work required. Canoes of the medium and small sizes are made by the Makahs from cedar procured a short distance up the strait or on the Tsuess River. After the tree is cut down and the bark stripped, the log is cut at the length required for the canoe, and the upper portion removed by splitting it off with wedges until the greatest width is attained. 
      The two ends are then roughly hewed to a tapering form and a portion of the inside dugout. The log is next turned over and properly shaped for a bottom, then turned back and more chopped from the inside, until enough has been removed from both inside and out to permit it to be easily handled when it is slid into the water and taken to the lodge of the maker, where he finishes it as this leisure. In some cases, they finish a canoe in the woods, but generally, it is brought home as soon as they can haul it to the stream.
      Before the introduction of iron tools, the making of a canoe was a work of many difficulties. Their hatchets were made of stone, and their chisels of mussel shells ground to a sharp edge by rubbing them on a piece of sandstone. It required much time and extreme labor to cut down a large cedar and it was only the chiefs who had a number of slaves at their disposal who attempted such large operations. Their method was to gather around a tree as many as could work, and these chipped away with their stone hatchets until the tree was literally gnawed down, after the fashion of beavers. Then to shape it and to hollow it out was also a tedious job, and many a month would intervene between the times of commencing to fell the tree and finishing the canoe. The implements they use at present are axes to do the rough hewing and chisels fitted to handles; these last are used like a cooper's adze and remove the wood in small chips.
      The process of finishing is very slow. A white carpenter could smooth off the hull of a canoe with a plane, and do more in two hours than the Native Indian with his chisel can do in a week. The outside, when it is completed, serves as a guide for finishing the inside, the workman gauging the requisite thickness by placing one hand on the outside and the other on the inside and passing them over the work. He is guided in modeling by the eye, seldom if ever using a measure of any kind; and some are so expert in this that they make lines as true as the most skillful mechanic can. If the tree is not sufficiently thick to give the required width, they spring the top of the sides apart, in the middle of the canoes, by steaming the wood. The inside is fitted with water which is heated by means of red-hot stones, and a slow fire is made on the outside by rows of bark laid on the ground a short distance off, but near enough to warm the cedar without burning it. This renders the wood very flexible in a short time so that the sides can be opened from 6 to 12 inches.
      The canoe is now straightened and kept in form by sticks or stretchers similar to a boat's thwarts. The ends of these stretchers are fastened with withes made from tapering cedar limbs, twisted and used instead of cords, and the water is then emptied out; this process is not often employed, however, the log is usually sufficiently wide in the first instance. As the projections for the head and stern pieces cannot be cut from the log, they are carved from separate pieces and fastened on by means of withes and wooden pegs. A very neat and peculiar scarf is used in joining these pieces to the body of the canoe, and the parts are fitted together in a simple and effectual manner. First, the scarf is made on the canoe; this is rubbed over with grease and charcoal; next, the piece to be fitted is hewn as nearly like the scarf as the eye can build, and applied to the part which has the grease on it. It is then removed, and the inequalities being at once discovered, and chopped off with the chisel, the process is repeated until the whole of the scarf or the piece to be fitted is uniformly marked with the blackened grease. The joints are by this method perfectly matched, and so neat as to be water-tight without any caulking.
Native fisherman and his family

The head and stern pieces being fastened on, the whole of the inside is then chipped over again, and the smaller and more indistinct the chisel marks are, the better the workmanship is considered. Until very recently it was the custom to ornament all canoes, except the small ones, with rows of the pearly valve of a species of sea snail. These shells are procured in large quantities at Nittinat and Clayoquot and formerly were in great demand as an article of traffic. They are inserted in the inside of the edge of the canoe by driving them into holes bored to receive them. But at present, they are not used much by the Makahs, for the reason, that they are continually trading off their canoes, and find that they bring quite a good a price without these ornaments as with them. I have noticed among some of the Clallams, who are apt to keep a canoe much longer than the Makahs, that the shell ornaments are still used. When the canoe is finished it is painted inside with a mixture of oil and red ocher. Sometimes charcoal and oil are rubbed on the outside, but more commonly it is simply charred by means of long fagots of cedar splints, set on fire at one end like a torch, and held against the side of the canoe. The surface is then rubbed smooth with a wisp of grass or a branch of cedar twigs. When the bottom of a canoe gets foul from long use, it is dried out and charred by the same process.
      The paddles are made of yew and are usually procured by barter with the Clayoquot Nation. The blade is broad like an oar blade, and the end rounded in an oval or lanceolate form. The handle is a separate piece fitted transversely with the length of the paddle, and sufficiently long to afford a good hold for the hand. These paddles when new are blackened by slightly charring them in the fire, and then rubbed smooth and slightly polished.

Canoes up above the tide and covered from the
hot sun during a clam bake at Neah Bay, 1920.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

      In cruising on the Strait they usually keep well inshore, unless they intend to cross to the opposite side; and if the canoe is large and heavily laden they always anchor at night, and for this purpose use a large stone tied to a stout line. Sometimes they moor for the night by tying the canoe to the kelp. When the craft is not heavily burdened it is invariably hauled on the beach whenever the object is to encamp. If the wind is fair, or they have white men om board, they will travel all night but on their trading excursions, they usually encamp, which causes much delay in a long journey. I have been seven days, in the winter season, making the passage between Neah Bay and Port Townsend, about 100 miles, and in the summer have made the same trip in but little over 24 hours. The average passage is about three days for the distance named, which includes camping two nights.

      Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, who visited the Northwest in 1841, seems to have been much impressed with the canoes he saw there, and particularly so with the ingenious manner in which the natives repaired their boats. He makes the following statements:

      The canoes of this region [Oregon] differ from anything we had seen on the voyage. They were made from a single trunk and have a shape that may be considered elegant, and which is preserved from change from stretching or warping by means of thwarts. The sides are exceedingly thin, seldom exceeding three-fourths of an inch, and they are preserved with great care, being never suffered to lie exposed to the sun for fear of rents and cracks. When these do occur, the canoe is mended in a very ingenious manner: holes are made to the sides, through which withes are passed and pegged in such a way that the strain will draw it tighter; the withe is then crossed and the end secured in the same manner. When the tying is finished, the whole is pitched with the gum of the pine. This is neatly done, and answers the purpose well."

16 January 2020


... when the coffee pot is on;

Tusler Summer Camp
Coon Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
This photo is a year or two after Margaret Exton's
written piece from 1944. Rich Exton comes flying in
with his 1947 Piper Super Cruiser.
Photo courtesy of their son,

Norm Exton, Orcas Island, WA.

“...In the summer of 1944, we went ashore and found Jack and Harriet Tusler, late of Carmel, living on their beach without the benefit of housing, bundling into sleeping bags at night.
      Things have changed. Now on the unbelievably sheltered beach is the Tusler-built wickiup, guaranteed to fit any form comfortably, and firmly planted in front of the open-air fireplace. Nor is this the only furniture. There are easy chairs of peeled saplings hung with vari-colored canvas, handsome, sturdy driftwood tables, and smaller driftwood chairs, all examples of Jack’s ingenuity.
      Crowning the scene is the headquarters of the Coon Island Yacht Club. There are still a few cedar shakes to be put on, but there isn’t a more picturesque building in these San Juan Islands. It’s a small, low building with spacious windows across the front, tree-framed. A neat gravel walk leads up to the door which bears that emblem of hospitality and fine living, island-style, coon couchant with coffee pot superimposed, and the lettering, 'Coon Island Yacht Club.'

      In the cedar-scented interior are moss-filled bunks, more driftwood furniture. Here one can see and admire the skill with which pieces of driftwood were fitted together to make this entirely charming room.
      Modern conveniences? Well, there's running water. Of course, it runs through a hose out of a barrel filled in Deer Harbor and brought to Coon by boat, but there is a faucet and the water runs. And there's Eleanor Beach.
      Coming up to Coon in a boat, one is likely to be greeted by signals flashed from a mirror in Harriet's hands. This of course means, 'The coffee pot is on. Come ashore.'
      After coffee, a tour of the island is indicated, if inertia can be overcome. (It sets in easily and deeply on Coon.) At this season it is impossible to walk about without stepping on wildflowers. Chocolate lilies, dogtooth violets, valerian, Indian paintbrush, flowering currant and everywhere, mingled with other blossoms anonymous at the moment, but Harriet is learning them. 
      A delight, particularly to photographers, is the Witch's Broom, a beautifully gnarled and twisted old cedar, hovering at the water's edge, silhouetted against the sky. The hovering is less perilous than it appears, for Jack is carefully preserving it with stout anchoring wires.
      The Tuslers bought Coon Island some years ago as a vacation retreat, but vacations seemed to get longer each year, and leave-takings more difficult, and now they have completely forsaken California. 
      Winter quarters for the Tuslers, their cat Erstwhile, and their boats, the Winsome, Fifinella, and Fessonia, and Joe Pascognik, blue whiskered patron saint of Coon Island Yacht Club, are in Deer Harbor. Here they are beginning to build a home, already christened Sunken Heights. But from May to September Coon Island, three acres of perfection fully utilized by its owners is home, and each fine winter day sees them there on the beach, coffee pot aboil."
Written by Orcas Islander Margaret Exton for The Orcas Islander, published 4 April 1946.

06 January 2020


Lew and Tib Dodd
The first year of camping while building on
their newly purchased Yellow Island,
San Juan Archipelago, WA. 1947.
These two photos courtesy of their family.

Lewis and Elizabeth 'Tib' Dodd
There is a short post of their arrival

posted HERE.
Yellow Island,
Deer Harbor, WA.

Hello _____,

       This is the kind of weather in the San Juans we've been looking for all summer! For the past three days, it has been superb, each beautiful day filled with bright sunlight, blue skies, and sparkling dancing saltwater. Filled also with fall sounds of the seabirds and the splashing of the Bonaparte Gulls diving vertically for small fry. Two days ago there were about fifty Blackfish (Orca whales) huffing and puffing south down San Juan Channel; and did they put on a show! Sometimes breaking water five and six abreast and all leaping in unison like prancing rearing horses of a Roman charioteer. We could almost see Neptune prodding them with his trident and, of course, see Amphitrite hanging on for dear life!' but it really was a sight and a remarkable show. We never tire of such exhibitions. These Blackfish are so strong and blow so heartily! They are so vibrantly alive.
      We have been busy as usual with the commonplace daily chores which are a part of everyone's life. But ours seem not to be chores but mostly fun. This is probably because we never become bored.
       For instance, its fun gathering enough wood to cram the shed full against the rain and wind and rawness which we know isn't far away. We have so much in now it's difficult to get in ourselves!
       Lately, however, there has been an interlude when things were briefly pretty hectic. A week ago I went to feed the poultry and found five dead chickens. Then shortly after this on taking the panel off the front of the pigeon-house saw 29 dead pigeons and 16 dead squabs––mink trouble! AGAIN! To shorten the story we set about a dozen traps and four days later we had Mr. Mink. He weighed three pounds and measured 23 inches from nose to tail tip. I have to say that I haven't one iota of goodwill toward any of the mink. This makes two of them we've caught this year. 
      Tuslers have recently seen mink over near Coon Island. I hope no more come this way for a while.
Saturday we could hear "Iron Horse" Thompson running his small locomotive. There were some boys over there and the whistle got a workout all day long. But by now the whole family has returned to Seattle and the McConnell Island Railroad is probably rolled up in mothballs for the winter.
      However, never a dull moment in the San Juan Islands. Always something to interest us turning up––porpoises, etc.!!
      Lloyd, I'd like some information for I'm both dumb and ignorant as to radio. I'd like to know what AM and FM really mean. I do have an idea that FM means frequency modulation but what this is I haven't the vaguest idea!
      Tusler volunteered the information yesterday that in an advertisement in the N.Y. Times he has learned of a German radio receiver A.M and F.M. which can be battery operated and which, so he says, "has everything," (whatever this means!!) And sells for around $150.00. Tussler's Naval Captain brother says he wouldn't be without FM, as the music is so much better. Do you agree about this?
      I would like to know if the new Zenith "Super De Luxe" Trans Ocean Radio selling around $150 has FM? This I know can be battery operated. Model L600.
      Do you know of any battery-operated America-receiver which has AM and FM comparable in price to Zenith and or as good or better? Zenith has 7 bands I think. 
      Well, so much for this. I hope it won't trouble you to give me your ideas and advice. We're out here all winter, you know, and I've been thinking that it would be pretty nice to be able to listen in around the world to the many good things which are available to anyone with a really good receiver. Any up to date information you can help us with will be very much appreciated. You're in the business and I know that you know. I certainly don't.
      Must leave you. Tib needs wood and water and logically, so do I, I suppose, if we're going to have a hot meal soon. 
      Will be thinking of you, as ever, Lew and Tib.

Fall 1955


We've been about swamped with people, (over 200 in the month of August), and we hardly dared leave the island unwatched for fearsome careless one might drop a cigarette and burn us out! so, you can see quite readily, that at this season, there are definitely drawbacks to island living! Tib says she has had about all she can take as to trying to entertain, talk to, and show the island to everyone, and still remain courteous and unruffled at some of the remarks!
      After all, it's our home! and, certainly, unless we were friends of longstanding, we would not intrude ourselves upon people we do not know or commit the unpardonable breach of well-bred courtesy by even contemplating the invasion of their homes without being invited. So––living here as sort of a 'Target' for everyone afloat during the height of the summer becomes quite an ordeal for us at times and we are glad to be quiet and undisturbed by the time fall arrives.
      Both of us send our sincere best wishes to you. As ever, Lew.

29 January 1956


It certainly has been a pretty gloomy time since 11 November when the weather got rambunctious and we've had more east and northeast than in many years. We had a humdinger of a southeaster, too, which put heavy spray all over the weather side and roof of the cabin. Washing out one row of asparagus bed and filled all the south beaches with piles of logs, timbers, and broken debris, a great deal of which will eventually get to the fireplace. Neptune is very good to us. As ever, your friend, Lew.

'Sunbrite Republic'
Yellow Island 
3 August 1958

Dear _______,

The Radios are certainly giving us a lot of enjoyment. They are both very clear and good and certainly a pleasure for us.'
      Of course, the 'Broadcast' is the best. The short wave is not particularly good as it may be later but we have no reservations about the little Zenith; its a grand little radio.
      Just heard yesterday from a man named Edward Kendall (not Kennell) that they're soon going to drill for oil on Oras. Kaiser is this man's boss and Kendall works for Permanente Cement. He says Kaiser Steel plant is soon to be rolling. They came to Yellow utter strangers to us. He had chartered the LILY FOSS for a tug thru the San Juans and Canada. His sister said 'this happens every year!')
      It's 5:00 P.M. now and probably you've had about enough of this!
Our best to you. Hope to see you before long. As ever, Lew. 

Yellow Island, 
Deer Harbor, WA.
2 October 1958

Dear ________,

Except for the pale dead brownness of the grass cover on Yellow Island, it is like an August day in late springtime; the sun is warm and the mauve haziness of a very calm and sere4ne day seems to make all this island country appear slumbering, and utterly quiet; there are no boats in sight, and no noises except the natural fall sounds the sea birds make at their 'conventions' in mid-channel. This is the time of year when the murres all seem to be searching for "otto otto--ahhh to,' and the plaintive whistles of the little murrelets seem to say 'please' as they paddle behind their mothers who no longer will feed them. 
      It is a difficult time for these young ones for they are now on their own and, of course, constantly and terrifically hungry; the ways of nature as in many ways rugged and it is, certainly, for many wild things 'the survival of the fittest.' Darwin was a keen observer. 
      The rubbery old whale, 'Goodyear,' is still chasing minnows around our island and if anything could appear more rediculous when he clumsily boosts himself nearly clear of the water apparently in frustration at missing a school of his favorite candlefish, we don't know what it could be except of course when he puts on a repeat performance several times a day. He generally shows up here about high slack tide. Just why this is is hard to guess except that at this time of the tide the small fry may have less trouble feeding themselves. But they're sure in for trouble about the time 'Goodyear' comes huffing and puffing along to his chow time just off our cabin.
      Our island is full of robins and flickers nowadays and they are feeding on the madrona berries and dry seeds and small apples and seeds of the grasses. We put out oatmeal for the sparrows, Juncos, Towhees, and Golden Crown and White Crowns and they all like a lot of fruit too. It is comical to see them come when they are called in the morning by rattling on an old coffee can and hammering on wood with it and yelling at the same time 'Come birds, Come birds, Come little birds.' It doesn't take them long to 'catch on' and get wise. They never miss a trick and later on our feeding board will be even more popular as natural feed gets scarcer.
      Cheerio until we see or hear from you, as ever, 'yours without a struggle,

Yellow Island, 
Deer Harbor, WA.
20 November 1958

Dear ___________,

Today for the first time for quite a wet long while there is little wind and the beaches on the island are not being pounded but they're certainly had a recent thorough scrubbing and going over and the drift debris is all rearranged--some 'newcomers,' and a lot of the 'old-timers' have moved a bit and show signs of being used a bit roughly--and all seem glad just to loll on the beach and rest. The whole mess looks 'done in,' 'beat up,' 'tired out,' and exhausted!'
      During all the worst of the bad weather, with so much rain, we were confined to the 'Igloo' trying to catch up with an avalanche of reading (that we know will never get to if we live two or three more lives!)--and, too, listening to Chinese or Malay over the short wave unable to tell whether they're yelling for help or just wishing everyone a pleasant evening. 
      We haven't seen the book Pacific Steamboats you mentioned in your letter but it sounds very interesting. How the old BEELINE ever got in it will never know! I have absolutely no recollection of ever having a group picture taken of that crew, but I can fill in the name of the old chief engineer, his name was Cabe and the oiler's was 'Rusty' McKenna (he was very red-headed and very freckled.!) The BEELINE then was on a regular run between Bellingham and Orcas Landing. She could carry about 20 cars without putting herself out too much. I'll never forget the last day of our season when we left the head of Van Morheims dock at Orcas to go into the ferry slip––Jim and I were on the head end, Capt. Johnny Oldow in the wheelhouse, Johnny rang down for full astern just before we were to touch the apron, and, by mistake somehow the engineer gave her full ahead and we made a shambles of the landing apron and like to windup on the porch of the Orcas Hotel. I thought the splinters would never quit flying. Next thing Jim and I saw was John Oldow and Cabe down on the main deck yelling and waving their arms at one another and––such language!!––well, we finally got underway for West Seattle where we were to lay up. Beyond Lopez heavy fog set in and we were coasting along parallel to the west shore of Whidbey. Jim was on the lookout when suddenly piling loomed up and we were just about snared in a fish trap––we backed out of the pot and spiller of that salmon trap and set on course for West Point and where did we fetchup?–––Port Townsend! Well, it finally cleared and we went on to West Seattle and slowed down to ease into and alongside the dock. One bell to stop! then two bells to go astern! and a hookup jingle bell to give her all she's got–– and bang snap and we kept right on ahead and whammed into that dock. She had broken her tail shaft! What a last day! Jim and I tied her up and got ashore and headed for home the next day and we never saw her again. 
      She was finally dismantled and broken up––and that was the end of that perky little ferry; we never knew what she might do next!
      Incidentally, on our evening trip from Bellingham to Orcas we used to turn on a radio, it invariably blanked or 'blacked' out under Eagle Bluff on Cypress Island's north end. Evidently, there is a 'blind' radio spot there for some reason--or maybe the old BEELINE just simply got tired of hearing it and preferred to listen to Capt. Johnny, Jim, and me 'part' singing 'you'll come back to the Red River Valley' (which was John Oldow's favorite.) As near as I can remember the year was 1934 ––anyhow I know that in 1939 I was in the West Indies on a schooner. *
      Looks like our 133 acres on Shaw is the very last unimproved acreage between Shaw dock and Neck Point. We are in no hurry: it will do alright before long.
      We close with our sincere regards to you both. 
      As ever, your friends, Lew (and Tib)
      P.S. It is 8:30 PM and dark as the inside of a cow outside. 

* To read a post on Saltwater People Log about Lew's passage on the schooner RANGER click HERE.

Also another article written by Robert Stafford in 1979.    "Captain of Yellow Island"

17 December 2019


The Marine Digest 1945


King & Winge 
Built 1914 in West Seattle, WA.
The former pilot boat, fur-seal trader, fishing schooner,
heroine, and rum-runner.
Photo location; Lake Union, Seattle, WA.
Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"Busy days of wartime ship construction did not dull the interest of Oscar E. Olson and Carl B. Winge in famous vessels. They were still telling of their surprise as they gazed out on the ways of the Olson and Winge Marine Works, on the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and saw the pilot ship COLUMBIA hauled out for repairs and alterations for the vessel was none other than the famed schooner King & Winge under another name and rig.
      The King & Winge was home after 30 years, bringing back memories of 1890 when Thomas J. King and Albert Winge started in business as shipbuilders in West Seattle. The latter, the uncle of Carl R. Winge, came from a family of Norwegian boat builders. Albert's father made a record of carving figureheads for the bows of the early-day sailing vessels, that probably never will be equaled.
      No ship still afloat has won the fame of the COLUMBIA, ex-KING & WINGE. In her log has been recorded the stories of Arctic rescues, ship disasters, and the carrying of pilots through the treacherous waters a the mouth of the Columbia River.
      The sturdy pilot boat has made 30,000 trips across the bar at the mouth of the Columbia. All of these trips have been logged by Capt. Frank Craig, her veteran skipper, since the Columbia River bar pilots purchased her in 1923.
      King & Winge were just finishing the vessel named for that firm when, the Hibbard and Swenson Co was seeking a vessel to send to the Bering Sea for their year's catch of Arctic furs aboard the Belvedere, trapped in the ice floes.
      The King & Winge, sheathed in ironbark for protection against the ice, sailed under charter and in command of Capt. Octon P. Jochimson. After the cargo was transferred to a ship at Nome, the King & Winge left on a walrus hunting expedition.
King & Winge 
with upside-down ensign.
Undated photo original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

      Olaf Swenson, one of those chartering the vessel, was aboard and ordered the schooner to Herschel Island to the rescue of the Stefansson expedition, stranded there, and their ship, the Karluk frozen in the ice. It was estimated that the survivors had only 10 days of food left and the King and Winge was rushed through the ice at top speed. After a trip fraught with danger, the vessel rescued 12 persons from the island, including women and children. Later the group was placed aboard the cutter Bear and then a successful walrus hunt was completed. 
      After a season of halibut fishing, the King & Winge was in the news again in 1918 when she stood by the wreck of the Canadian Pacific steamship Princess Sophia, stranded on Vanderbilt Reef in SE Alaska. The Sophia sank in deep water with a loss of more than 300 lives. The King and Winge became a funeral ship, [along with a few other boats] gathered the bodies that would be reached and returned to port.
      The King & Winge was of exceptional heavy construction. She has a cutter bow without the original stubby bowsprit. She carried a Coast Guard Reserve number on her gray hull and the word 'pilot' on her deckhouse. She has been in the service of the CG since the beginning of the war, as have been her pilot owners who now wear CG uniforms. The King & Winge, a remarkable little ship, has taken many years of punishment and 85 percent of the original vessel is still sound [in 1945.] She has many more years to go, the men who helped build her contend.
      Thomas J. King and Albert Winge started in the shipbuilding business in West Seattle in 1899. The latter, the uncle of Carl B. Winge, came from a family of Norwegian boat builders. Albert Winge's father made a reputation carving fine figureheads for the early sailing ships.
      However the two partners intermingled trades and business and besides carrying on marine construction, engaged in cod and halibut fishing and built the Tom & All, which provided the pattern for the new and large King & Winge larger, stouter, and more suitable than any other fishing vessel and the old-timers on the Seattle waterfront know how well they succeeded.
      Carl B. Winge was the treasurer and purchasing agent for the Kine & Winge firm at the time this namesake of the yard was built. He knew every piece of material that went into the vessel. Oscar E. Olson was machinist foreman. Both eventually followed separate courses in the shipbuilding trade and then in 1941 merged their talents to form the firm of Olson and Winge. Many of the men who built the famous ship were employed at that yard.
      Olson & Winge's record in the war program was an enviable one. Fifteen halibut and seine boats were converted for Navy use as supply ships, forerunners of the large PT-boats. Then eight assorted private vessels, requisitioned by the Army, came from the plant as supply or 'Q" boats. All of them were ca. 60-ft in length.
      Several special jobs were fitted into the program, including the conversion to a net tender of the former ferry Bee Line, and a floating marine repair shop from a RCL, 203-ft, non-propelled wooden Army barge.
      The firm then turned its attention to construction of four 50-ft harbor patrol boats for the Coast Guard. New construction also included fifteen 110-ft cargo lighters and four 48-ft degaussing barges for the Navy. Then came the extensive outfitting of uncompleted high-powered aircraft rescue boats and the repairing of others that already had seen service.
      As in the case of other successful yards, Olson & Winge prized very highly the skill and energy of their key men. They include K.J. Carlson and Gus Newman, veteran shipwrights, Herb Black, caulker foreman, Frank Smith, Homer Pricket and Axel Olson, machinists, who all helped build the King & Winge. Also Ted Vadset, plant superintendent, D.E. Erickson, assistant production manager, Bill Richardson, purchasing agent, and Ed Winge, son of Carl, office and assistant business manager, not forgotten in the story of the success of the Olson & Winge Marine Works, situated in the Lake WA Ship Canal.
COLUMBIA (ex-King & Winge)
Lightship 88

at her moorage site in Astoria, OR. 
In the background is the wave-shaped roofline of the 
Columbia River Maritime Museum 
under construction with  $750,000 raised to the date
 of this photo of 1976.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

Archived Log Entries