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

About Us

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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.

16 April 2011

❖ The Old Cannery Dock, Friday Harbor, WA.

Photo postcard by Johnston, postmarked 1948.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S. ©
Fish Tender NEREID, 
Bow to shore, crew member on deck.
Built 1911 by Albert Jensen, Friday Harbor, WA.
3 Original photos from Saltwater People Historical Society©
Site: Home port of Friday Harbor, WA.

"If only docks could talk, oh what stories they could tell! For many years my Uncle Art was the engineer on the Friday Harbor Canning Co.'s fish carrier NEREID. Of course, when they came in with a load of salmon they needed to tie up at the cannery dock to unload, but other times they just needed a place to park the boat for awhile. In such a case, if all of the spaces were full, they often tied up to another boat that was already at the dock. (This practice is called rafting.)
      Way back in the thirties or forties, Uncle Art was a good friend of George Willey who was the manager of the Friday Harbor Canning Co. It seems that one summer, someone with a log patrol license had tied a cedar log alongside the cannery dock. It was a big one, probably in access of six-feet in diameter and about forty-feet long. They left it there for a long time; so long in fact that Mr. Willey was getting worried that a big winter northeaster would drive it right through the cannery dock. He told Uncle Art about his concerns and asked 'Unk' if he could do anything about the situation.
      Well, one very foggy day someone untied the big log and gave it a mighty push out into that dense fog. Dad 'just happened' to be out in that fog with his boat, and slowly the huge shape of that log came into sight. Dad said that in that thick fog it looked like it was as big as an aircraft carrier. He towed it home and cut it into shake bolts. Quickly he moved those bolts to a nice secluded clearing in the trees where he split them into shakes. There were enough to shake the entire house with a lot left over. As a teenager, I planed some of those leftover shakes to about an eighth of an inch thickness and made them into a guitar. Some sixty years later I still have that guitar. The cedar wood was beautiful in the guitar; the shakes were beautiful on the house too. They're still on the old house today."
      Above text by Henry Hoffman, San Juan County, Oct. 2006
       Henry's Stories, Kitchen Garden Press, Shaw Island, 2008.
"Capt." Willey, as he was affectionately known to his many friends, was born in 1869, and came to Puget Sound as a boy where he has been actively engaged in the lumber, shipping, and salmon business almost continuously. 
      Soon after the turn of the century, together with the late Wm. Schultz and Wm. Persell, he formed the Friday Harbor Packing Co. and purchased the present Friday Harbor Canning Co. property, to operate one of the most successful ventures on Puget Sound.
      In 1925, on the death of Wm. Schultz, he took over the cannery and continued as principal owner and manager until 1935, when he retired.
      Courtesy of the Friday Harbor Journal, n.d.

15 April 2011


Salt Spring Island, Gulf Island Group, B.C.
Undated photo postcard from the archives of the S.P.H.S.
Copyright by Western Canada Airlines©
"It was on 13 July 1960, just outside Bedwell Harbour, when disaster struck and a 25-day drama began to run its course. There was no inkling of the coming events when H.A. "Buster" Horel loaded his bulldozer on Asa Douglas' barge for a routine towing job from Pender Island to Salt Spring Island. It happened quickly and no one really knows how, but it is theorized that the barge struck a deadhead, filled with water, tilted, and dumped the "cat" into 200-feet of water.
      Everyone but Buster thought the 'cat' was gone for good. Everyone, including the insurance company. The insurance company paid off and with almost a snicker gave Buster the salvage rights for $50. He and Asa began dragging operations. He hired the services of two scuba-divers from Chemainus.
       It was 16 days later before they hooked the 'cat' for the first time. The divers went down 204-feet, and working in the dark, attached a line. A storm came up and the rope slipped off.
       It was another five days before they hooked it again. This time they were successful––the line stayed on. The dredge, that is currently widening the canal between North and South Pender, was brought into the fray. The dredge, with its boom, and a tug, worked for five hours before swinging the 'cat' upon the beach. It was the 6 August. It was not the end of the saga.
       The action of the sea water had turned the pot metal parts of the 'cat' into the consistency of cookies. The metal crumbled at the touch. Buster, who had stripped his old 'cat' of parts, began to work on the water-soaked machine. He changed the parts and pumped diesel fuel through the system. Two hours after beaching, the bulldozer was running again!
       Divers working in complete darkness at 204-feet is a rarity, and indeed, this salvage operation may well be a record. Buster Horel is to be commended for tackling this almost hopeless job and succeeding.
       Maybe a 'cat' has nine lives after all."
Mrs. Etta Egeland late of Friday Harbor, had a relative living on Salt Spring Island who mailed her the above column. 
The story had been written up in the weekly paper, Driftwood.  
The Friday Harbor Journal received permission from the editor, Mr. W. Fisher, of Salt Spring, to reprint it in the Journal in 1960.

13 April 2011

❖ WINDENTIDE ❖ Built in Deer Harbor, Orcas Island.

by boatbuilder Chet North and Averil North, 
Deer Harbor, WA. 1953
Photo courtesy of  L. W. North. 
The little boat bucked and plunged, spray flying half it's length, almost to the exposed engine that poured it's heart out -- all four-H.P. At the end of one hundred-feet of line, two sizable logs wallowed. Together, they likely would make one thousand board feet of lumber -- $20 from the sawmill. A good days wages for a working person in that period. The determined skipper crammed into the corner with cold hands on the steering lever to see the lights at home five miles away -- two and a half hours away. Dark was settling in, but the wind was diminishing, tide would be changing soon, so now was the time to practice her role for Thursday night when once more she would be Noble Grand of her lodge and repeat the secret pledges of that organization. As the little engine hammered away in front of her producing some heat and comfort she spoke into the wind as if the audience was before her. When she was finished, she hugged herself to keep warm and thought of the new dress she would sew on Wednesday for the occasion. She never doubted her ability as a seamstress. At sixteen, a perpetual "A" student, she had to quit school to help the family survive the deepening depression. 
       At home her husband Chet, glanced up from his work bench and stared out into the dark. He could hear the laboring of the little engine. He knew she was out there reasonably safe, and he had a good tow. The long desire for both of them stood on its keel behind him, the 39-ft WINDENTIDE, a trawler of their own design, built for the ocean and living aboard. The pair were dedicated to this vessels creation.
      The night calm in the harbor made sliding alongside the dock easy; Chet took care of securing the tow and the boat, while the tugboat captain backed up to the wood stove in the shop and savored the warmth.
      Averil, considered tall in her own family, barely reached 5' 3" and was discouraged if the scales implied that she was over one hundred and twenty pounds. Graceful, warm, and chatty at a ladies tea, clever at handling her boat, just like the guys. Her two favorite tools were a long handled peeve and a ten-ton jack she used to convince logs on a beach that they should return to the sea.
      "Beachcomber" was not a negative term for the people of the islands. There is a little of that in all of us. The islands are located where tide and winds tended to push escaped logs from B.C. around the sound. The logs left to grind on the rocks, clog navigation, or just waste away on a beach; it seems practical that the week-end salvagers have a purpose that often resulted in earning extra money. Most of the early homes were built with saltwater-treated material. Chet and Averil's house was built in 1924 by an old fisherman using fishtrap planks that were discarded at the end of the season and today that part of the house still stands firmly defying nature.
      When the WINDENTIDE was ready to venture forth to the big water, Averil was aboard with her pots, pans, and pie plates at the ready. The crew consisted of Chet, Averil, a Springer Spaniel, and the son she had written every week of the four years he spent away with the US Navy. No one more anxious for the adventure than the lady with the little tugboat.
      Most all sailors eventually succumb to seasickness at one time or another to recover as healthy as before. This was not to be Averil's good fortune. The first wave on the river bar and she was on the bunk in colors that did not match her lipstick. For the twelve to fifteen hours at sea, none of the "proven" remedies were any relief until the boat was back inside the river again. Then she was up fixing a meal and baking a pie for the next day.
      For two days the boat was held up in the river at La Push while a storm built mountains out of waves, but on the third day the water looked better and the fishermen emptied the docks. Just past the outside buoy the WINDENTIDE rose up on a wave, stood still as the wave disappeared under half the hull and dropped more than twelve feet on her port cheek, with an explosion of solid water back to the cabin. The stove oven contained a cherry pie fresh baked. The door came open and the pie took leave of it's confinement and landed on the floor upside-down after circling the cabin for a time. The stalwart mate, too sick to really care, scooped up the mess with the dust pan, turned it over and reentered it in the oven. Fishermen after more than twelve hours at sea will eat anything.
Written by L. Wayne North, son of Chet and Averil North.

Troller WINDENTIDE with Chet & Averil, lived at the little port of Deer Harbor, Orcas Island, WA. Their vessel is depicted on the 2010 Orcas Historical Museum Maritime Quilt featured here .
Their son L. Wayne North and his wife were the second generation in the same house with those fishtrap planks. In 2013 they sold and moved to Skagit County. 

01 April 2011


Cedar smokehouse, 
designed and built c. 1925
 by Art Hoffman (1900-1981) on Shaw Island.
Photograph 2010.
"When Dad was just a little kid, his father had a large fruit orchard. He often traded fresh fruit for fish from the local Indians. The Indians who lived in the San Juans were friendly and liked the white settlers, unlike the warlike Haida tribe that came from British Columbia in their large dugout canoes. They killed some of the local Indian men and took many of the women and children back home as slaves. Fortunately, the Haidas never stopped at the Hoffman beach. Of course the local Indians were terrified of the Haida. But then, the younger Hoffman kids were just as afraid of the local Indians, probably because their older brothers and sisters had told them that the local Indians would scalp all of them if they ever got the chance.
      One day when the local Indians came to the Hoffman beach in their small dugout canoes, they caught my dad and uncle Art by surprise. They couldn't get to their favorite hiding place, which was the upper room of a two story smokehouse that my grandfather had built. To reach this upper area, there was a built-in ladder which went through an open hatch in the floor of this upper room. It was a favorite hiding place for all of the Hoffman kids to use whenever they needed one for whatever reason, because there was always plenty of smoked salmon hanging up there to feast on while you were hoping to not get caught. This time Dad ran to the main house and hid under a bed. Uncle Art hid somewhere else. Shortly after Dad hid, an Indian woman came to the house for tea and cake with grandma Hoffman. The guest couldn't help but notice Dad's two feet sticking out from under the bed, so she dragged him out kicking and screaming bloody murder. He was sure he was going to be scalped. Instead she lifted him into her lap, hugged him, and shared her tea and cake with him. Because of the way she loved him, Dad thought the local Indians were pretty much like other people, they loved kids and had no intention of scalping anyone.
      Another story that my father often told about his dad's smokehouse was this one. It seems that my Uncle Art had heard somewhere that one could shoot a candle from a 12-gauge shotgun through a 3/4" board with damaging the candle. My dad doubted this. Uncle Art was just as adamant that it could be done. They argued the point with neither one backing down. Finally Art said, 'I'll tell you what! I'll bet my shotgun that it can be done.' Dad said, "okay, but you'll need a 3/4" board." Since they happened to be standing by their smokehouse which was made of 3/4" boards, it seemed reasonable to Art that this was a good place to prove his point. He picked up his shotgun and took aim at the smokehouse. Dad yelled, 'Wait', but the warning came too late. KABOOM! A mighty hole was blown in the side of the smokehouse. One of them said to the other, 'I don't think Dad is going to be too happy about that hole.' But then they opened the door and the candle was lying on the floor unharmed. In spite of the hole, Art had proven his point. Somehow they managed to patch up that hole before their dad saw it; they did a good job as today there is no evidence of the incident."
Told by Henry Hoffman
3rd  generation Shaw Islander
For Saltwater People Historical Society/ 2010

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