"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.

26 August 2012

❖ "Light on the Island" ❖ by Helene Glidden, a Northwest classic from 1951

Chart from The Light on the Island by Helene Glidden,
Coward-McCann, Inc., New York, 1951.
"If ever a book was calculated to recite the wonders of living in the San Juan Islands it is The Light on the Island, quite a different volume from any other yet written about the group. It is confined to one of the least visited spots, Patos Island, the farthest American outpost on Georgia Strait.
      Helene Glidden, former Seattle resident, was the author and the child, Angie, in this story of a lightkeeper's family, who went to the island in the early part of the 20th c. when communication with the mainland at first was only by rowboat. Four of the thirteen La Brege children died there. The others had many narrow escapes from death.
      Patos Island at that period afforded many adventures no longer possible. For instance the children trapped enough river otter so that Mama and several of the others had fur coats.  
      It was from the Indians that the small La Brege children learned to gather and eat giant, red, sea urchins. The children collected beautiful agates, shells, and birds' eggs. They harvested kelp for Father's garden. Once the mother was dragged into a boat by a stranded octopus, another time her sister Estelle was attacked by an eagle.
      Adventure follows adventure in quick succession, Angie drifts to sea in the island lifeboat, a fisherman takes pot shots at the youngsters, a bearded fugitive hides on the island, furnishing a mystery, and Theodore Roosevelt comes to pay a visit of several days.
Patos Island Light Station,
San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Undated, early photo from the S.P.H.S. ©

      The natural surroundings of the place supply some of the most enjoyable episodes. One wonders if it still is possible to find basket starfish at Patos, and if there are ever windy winter nights like the one when a flock of wild canaries got off course and struck the lighthouse tower. The children gathered several of the injured birds, dumped them in the woodshed and barn, fed and nursed them for two days, until the hardiest ones took off again in favorable weather.
      Was there ever another seal like 'Paddy', one of a pair the children befriended? Paddy became so troublesome tagging the family around the house, hanging onto skirts and whining that he was taken out in the channel periodically and dumped overboard. Each time he came home and each time he was carried further away. Finally Mother put him on board a lighthouse tender bound for Astoria. A month later Paddy returned. When Mother announced she was going to have a nervous breakdown if something wasn't done with that seal Father took Paddy down to the water's edge. There was a shot and Paddy never bothered Mama again. The children after that were ordered to stay away from the seal rocks.
      The book has the humor of Life with Father and I Remember Mama, with a dash of salt thrown in. It's a real San Juan family album."
Seattle Times, October 1951
Glidden, Helene Durgan. The Light on the Island; New York, published by Coward-McCann, Inc., 1951.
A 50th anniversary edition, with photos added, was published by San Juan Publishing in 2001.
The three undated photographs below were provided for a Historical Museum exhibit in San Juan County, courtesy of the US Coast Guard Museum NW,  in the 1990s. Oceans of thanks to Capt. Gene Davis.

20 August 2012


"Codfish in the hold of the C. A. THAYER,
Poulsbo, WA.,
still covered by the salt with which they were cured.
A member of the crew displays one of the cod."

Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People H.S. ©.
Written permission is needed to use photographs from this log.

"For the fishermen, a typical day's work begins with breakfast at 4 am. At 4:30 the dories are launched and the fishermen fan out from the parent ship to the spots where they drop their lines to begin the day's fishing. Two lines are used from each dory, one on each side of the boat. Hooks are baited with halibut, if that is available.
      The banks where the C. A. THAYER operates are the best codfish banks on the Pacific Coast. The ship anchors about ten miles offshore, and dories fish as far as five miles from the ship. The method used is bottom fishing, the depth of the water at this distance from shore being approximately 150-feet.
      At 9 o'clock in the forenoon, the dories start coming in for dinner, served at any time from 9 until 11 c'clock. This is the heaviest meal of the day, as the fishermen still have a full afternoon's work ahead of them. They return at the end of their second trip for supper at 5 pm, which concludes the day's work for the fishermen.
      The dressing crew starts to work as soon as the first dory or two arrives with a reasonably good catch about 9 am. If the fish are biting well, they work from that time on, at top speed until the last of the day's catch is put into cure. If the fishing is exceptionally good, they must work well into the night, since the catch for each day must be processed completely is clear the work for the succeeding day's catch.
      In the three month period the ship lies off the codfish banks, there usually will be only 3-weeks or so when both the weather and fishing are good. During only 60 to 70 days the weather will permit the dories to go out.
      The Bering Sea codfish are true, or gray cod, only distantly related to most Puget Sound varieties of codfish.
      By the time the schooner has returned with her cargo to Poulsbo the cured fish have lost 75% of their weight, so that one pound of dried fish equals four pounds of fresh. Additional weight is lost in later processing, by removal of the skin and bones, so that the one pound package of codfish is equivalent to six pounds of fresh codfish.
      Ed Shields took his first trip to the Bering Sea as a crew member in 1934, and took other subsequent trips, meantime attending the University of WA, where he studied engineering. He graduated in 1939, then took a year of graduate engineering work at Harvard. He put his engineering training to use in the Bremerton Naval Shipyard during the war. Since obtaining his master's papers, he skippered the C. A. THAYER during her 1949 and 1950 voyages.
      Shields would like to put an end to the constantly recurring rumors that the sailing vessel has made her last trip to the Bering. The company has operated successfully for the past 40 years with its present methods of fishing, he points out, and he sees no reason why it will not continue to do so. Work already is under way on the vessel, preparing her for next season's visit to the Far North fishing grounds."
Text from The Seattle Times, 21 January 1951.

The four new photographs below were kindly sent to our society by Jim Shields of Poulsbo, WA., August 2012.
The vintage dory is one saved from his family's cod fishing business. The dory recently underwent some refit after years in storage; the craft and contents are an important part of the historical display at the non-profit Poulsbo Historical Society.  They have a research library and historical museum now located in the Poulsbo City Hall.
For hours and directions please check out their website here.


12 August 2012

❖ SEATTLE SAILOR DWIGHT LONG (1913-2001) ❖ (Updated.)

Verso inscription reads, "Miles, Mother, Daddy 
saw a Dwight Long presentation 3 Oct. 1941 
when Miles bought this picture and Long autographed it."

Miles McCoy, Orcas Island, kindly donated 
his childhood memento to the S.P.H.S., Aug. 2012 
"Some years ago a young man named Dwight Long got the idea that he would like to sail around the world. This is not an unusual idea, thousands of young men have had it before and since, but the difference was that Dwight Long, who was then 20, and in his junior year at the U. of WA, wanted to sail around the world and to sail in his own boat. Somehow, the young man raised enough money to purchase a second-hand ketch. He reconditioned her, bought provisions, and one autumn day, despite the fact that he had no sea experience, he set sail across the open Pacific bound for Hawaii.
Dwight Long
Leaving Seattle, WA.

Dwight Long on 32' IDLE HOUR
getting advice from berthing master
Capt. Thompson at Southend-on-Sea, England.
Original photo dated 30 August 1937 
from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Dwight Long's 32-ft ketch IDLE HOUR
home safely to Seattle, WA, 1940.
Photo by Capt. Leiter Hockett
who inscribed the reverse
"Taken from my boatshop at the west side of the canal."
The original photo is a gift to the S.P.H.S. archives
from Capt. Miles McCoy, 8/2012.

      For four years the IDLE HOUR with Long at the helm sailed the world's seven oceans. Some of the time he carried with him an extra passenger or crewman. One night when the IDLE HOUR was caught in a storm that carried away the main mast and was nearly wrecked, his dog 'Hugo' was washed overboard and Long sailed on alone.
      By the time the IDLE HOUR and her captain dropped anchor in the Thames, news of Long and his incredible adventures was wide-spread.
      In London, he paused for a time to write a book of his adventures for Harper & Brothers Publishers. Seven Seas On a Shoestring, by Dwight Long, became one of the best sellers of seafaring stories.
Dwight Long, 1953.
Home after working for two years on his film
The wood carving in profile was one of the
 trademarks for the film.
      Come WWII, Long found himself in a US Naval Aviation photography unit, assigned to an aircraft carrier. The pictures he took of the ship grew into the motion picture The Fighting Lady, which won the Motion Picture Academy Award in 1946. For his work in editing, photographing, and directing the film, he received the Legion of Merit award from the President of the US. When peace came to the islands of the Pacific, Long, like many a Navy man, yearned to go back. He dreamed of returning to Tahiti and making a motion picture which would show these islands and their people as they actually are. He went to Hollywood but found no picture company which could fulfill all of his wishes. With the same spirit that led him to start around the world in a 32-ft boat, Long once again sailed to Tahiti. His object to make a feature-length motion picture to be directed, edited and photographed by no one but himself. His bankroll was so small that the experts who knew the business said he could never do it, and some who didn't know the man they were dealing with ventured the option that his picture making was only an excuse for a Tahitian vacation.
L-R: Dwight Long, age 21, Hugo, and Jack Lowry.
This after their first leg, Seattle to San Francisco,
backstamped, 5 and 6 October 1934.
Original photo from the archives of Saltwater People Log©
      The difficulties that Long encountered in finding people for his cast, in shipping and processing his film, would make a book. But he persevered and finally parts of his film began to arrive in the US––some of the sequences so primitive and rare that they had never before been photographed. For two years, Long worked on his picture in Tahiti without ever seeing a foot of it, since it could only be processed in the US. But finally the job was done and Long, who had been working 18 hours a day and who had lost 30 pounds, came home jubilant. He had his movie.
      But two more years of work in cutting, scoring, and dubbing lay ahead before Tanga Tika was ready to be shown in American theaters. And because he was short of funds, Long had to do most of this himself.
      Tanga Tika, the movie that Hollywood said was 'impossible' to make is currently playing at the Blue Mouse Theatre, and is the latest in a long list of 'impossible' things that Dwight Long has done."
Endpaper art by Joyce Stephenson from 
Seven Seas on a Shoestring
Dwight Long, Harper & Brothers, 1938.
 Miles McCoy donated his book to
 the library of Saltwater People History Society, Aug. 2012.
Global Adventures
Above text by Bonnie Thornburg for The Seattle Times, 18 February 1954


1922, November:  launched in Tacoma, WA., by professional boatbuilder Carl Rathfin for his own use.
IDLE HOUR was sold to two partners who used her briefly for fur trading in the Arctic.

1932: Dwight Long purchased her for $1,600.
32' L with 2" fir planking on 2" x 3" oak frames on 8" centers.

1934, 20 September: the date set by Long as the departure for his world cruise.

The tow out to the straits from Seattle, with tug ANDREW FOSS, was a gift from the Foss Tug Co.
The backside of a litho postcard published
and signed by circumnavigator Dwight Long.

From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
1940: after 50,000 miles Long sailed IDLE HOUR home to be met by a boat full of photographers and TV cameramen.

Maritime historian John Kelly, Seattle, reports:
"I took this photo of Lewis' boat in the Ala Moana 
Yacht Anchorage in Honolulu during 1944,
when my ship was in Pearl Harbor for repairs.
We met several times after the war when he 
was giving lectures and at his shop aboard the 
QUEEN MARY in CA. In 1972, we were 
shipmates aboard the Hudson's Bay Co 
Sea Scouts, out for a sail on the Sound."
J.K. Nov. 2015.

1992The Seattle Yacht Club honored Dwight Long with a full page in their fine book.
Warren, James R. The Centennial History of the Seattle Yacht Club, 1892-1992. Published by The Seattle Yacht Club. 

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