"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 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.

24 February 2013

❖ Big Deals and Big Wheels ❖

  This locker is reserved for the masters, primarily from the Northwest,  who've slogged it out on the water, through all the politics and all the weather, they kept the boats moving. They might not all be "4-Stripers" but these dedicated mariners made time for a photograph on duty at their favorite place... the helm. 
An 'as found'  work in progress. (13)

Captain Frank Gilbert
Captain Frank Gilbert, 1950.
Possibly on board the LESCHI.
Original photo from the S. P. H. S.©

     "Skipper Frank Gilbert retired from the pilothouse after 55-years of steamboating, mostly on Lake Washington.
      Gilbert's home is full of pictures and other mementos of his life on the water. He recalls such vessels as the lake steamer DAWN, which he helped to build in the Lake Wash. Shipyards at Houghton, when he was a young man.
      Later Gilbert ran the 250-passenger capacity DAWN.
      'Back in 1919 I was going to help a fellow out on the DAWN for a few days, Gilbert said. 'I stayed 22-years.'
      The DAWN called at landings all along the west side of Mercer Island. Her home port was Leschi. Gilbert can call off the island landings like an old street-car conductor on a familiar line:
      'There was Thompson's; then East Seattle, then it was Proctor's, Tennent's, Zimmerman's, Ogden's, Island Park, Franklin, County, Mermont, Lotts', Miller's and Michael's. The fare was 25-cents for a round trip. The passengers were wonderful. I knew them all as friends.'
      The DAWN had a crew of one. Gilbert was pilot, conductor, and roustabout. During the 22-year period, he worked the 5:30 pm to 1:30 am shift. Swen Hanson had the morning and afternoon trips.
      When the Lake Washington Floating Bridge was built the DAWN rode off into the sunset. Today she lies on the bottom off Richmond Beach, where she was sunk deliberately about the time the Second World War began.
      Skipper Gilbert went to work on the LESCHI about 1940 and stayed on until she made her final landing at Kirkland, 30 January 1950.
      'She was a great boat. Still is. She's on the Mukilteo-Columbia Beach run.'
      Would Gilbert rather pilot a Lake Washington run, or just fish and loaf, as his doctor advises?
      'I'd love to get back on the boats again, I've had good luck fishing, but it's nothing like steamboating."
Above text from the Seattle Times, 15 September 1957.

Captain Ward H. Henshaw

On Board the ILLAHEE, 1956.
Captain Ward H. Henshaw, 1956
Around Colman Ferry Terminal they talk about Capt. Ward H. Henshaw as a ferryboat master who gets the job done without any fuss or bother.
      "You hardly know he's aboard the boat, but you're always certain he'll do a good job", a dock superintendent said.
      This quiet efficiency undoubtedly is a product of some 38-years as a skipper on Puget Sound. But it also is a natural manifestation of a man of Captain Henshaw's character––in other words, he's just that kind.
       Now skipper of the WSF ILLAHEE, running between Seattle and Winslow, Bainbridge Is, Henshaw first became familiar with the waterfront as a boy playing hooky.
      This early interest took him into a sailing career which has put him in charge of many of the ferries sailing the Sound.
      Now 72, Henshaw says he thinks he'll retire to his Winslow home next year. But that's one the boys around Colman Dock say he's been telling for years.
      "He'll go on one of his fishing trips and come back raring to go," they
say.Seattle Times, 1 January 1956.

Captain Irving Johnson
Onboard YANKEE with wife Electa
The famous Captain Irving Johnson
and Electa Johnson, 1958, at Gloucester, MA.

Home from final world trip on YANKEE.
They sailed 1/2 million miles together after they met
on the Schooner WANDER BIRD.
Original photo from the archives of S. P. H. S.©
"Captain Irving Johnson, who chose the sea over a farm life in South Hadley, MA, has just completed his seventh--and last--sailing trip around the world.
      Johnson sailed his 95' brigantine YANKEE into port yesterday after an 18-month, 48,000-mile trip with 21 passengers. They had paid $5,000 each. The trip was highlighted by a romance of two crew members, and the discovery of an anchor which may be from the famous ship BOUNTY near Pitcairn Island on what Johnson termed veritable Shangri-La.
      The 53-year-old skipper said the Shangri-La was in the Marquesas Islands. He described it as 'the cutest valley you ever saw protected by sheer solid rock which made the harbor dangerous and discouraging to enter.'
      Johnson said an anchor purportedly from the BOUNTY was returned to Pitcairn Island. It will be kept with other relics from the famous English vessel.
      Johnson has sold the YANKEE to Reed Whitney of Wilmette, ILL, a former Navy commander. Whitney will continue the global voyages."
Above text; Associated Press, 5 May 1958
Irving Johnson was equally famous for his thrilling film footage Around Cape Horn, which he captured when he helped crew through a first-class hurricane on the four-masted barque PEKING in 1929-1930. She was part of the nitrate trade from Germany 'round Cape Horn to Chile. 
Johnson authored or co-authored eight books including the classic, The PEKING Battles Cape Horn,  Milton Bradley, 1932, and also published by the National Maritime Historical Society, 1977. 

The Mystic Seaport Museum sells dvds of the Around Cape Horn film here.
The PEKING, at the South Street Seaport Museum, can be viewed here.

Captain Bush P. Leighton
Onboard NISQUALLY, 1941.
Captain Bush P. Leighton
Bush P. Leighton, a native son of Washington was born in Anacortes, Fidalgo Island in 1892. He spent his early boyhood on the barge HENRY BUCK which was commanded by his father, Capt. Geo. Leighton. He worked on the deck of the tug GENERAL J. M. WILSON, did quartermaster time on ALAMEDA, and then joined the tugs GOLIAH AND TATOOSH. He became the 2nd mate of the IROQUOIS, mate of the RELIANCE and the TILLAMOOK, the H. B. KENNEDY, and the CHIPPEWA.
      One day, according to the columnist "the Beach Comber", Bush was walking along the front when at one of the smaller docks we came on a whale of a big fellow who had been crooking his elbow and was in an ugly mood. He was making things uncomfortable for a crowd of men and women waiting for a launch. He snapped something at us as we came along. Bush took in the situation at a glance. 
      "Get out of here", and behave yourself". 
      "I'll fix you, growled the giant advancing. Bush took a few steps backward until he was standing with his back to a wall.
      "I'm going to knock your block off," announced the giant, and closing his eyes he swung a terrific haymaker. Bush moved his head a few inches and the whale's huge fist crashed into the wall. The giant collapsed, weeping from pain. He thought he had swatted Bush on the jaw.
      "Gol darn it!" he sobbed, "you ain't fair. You got a horseshoe in your mouth."

Captain Ole J. Lilleoren
Captain Ole J. Lilleoren
Pilothouse of M. R. CHESSMAN
Retiring 30 July 1966.

Original photo by Leonard Bacon, from the S.P.H.S.©
Retiring from the ferries he has piloted for 16 years, Capt. Ole J. Lilleoren stands by his wheel in pilot house of M.R. CHESSMAN, on his own last afternoon trip. Capt. Harold Riley continued through the evening to make the final trip.
Text from the Oregonian. July 1966.

Captain Harry H. McDonald
Captain Harry H. McDonald, 1945.
on board the SKAGIT BELLE,  
unknown photographer.
The inlaid SKAGIT BELLE photo 
by J.A. Turner.
Both originals from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

When officials of the War Shipping Admin. assembled last week in their offices in the Commerce Building in WA, DC, to consider offers for the SKAGIT BELLE and other vessels, they found only one bid for the famous sternwheel Army transport. It came from the Skagit River Navigation Co., former owner of the SKAGIT BELLE, which plans to return the vessel to the Seattle-Mt. Vernon route.
      The SKAGIT BELLE was taken over by the Army Transportation Corps in September 1942. During the war she carried c. 200,000 tons of cargo between various piers of the Seattle Port of Embarkation, the Seattle Army Service Forces Depot, and other Elliott Bay and Puget Sound piers.
      'We hope that our bid will be accepted as we need the vessel badly', said Mrs. Anna G. Grimson, president of the Skagit River Nav. Co. and believed to be the only woman steamship-company president in the US.
      Mrs. Grimson said her brother, Capt. Harry H. McDonald, veteran steamboat man of the Pacific Northwest, who commanded the SKAGIT BELLE during her war service, will be the vessel's master again when she returns to the Seattle-Mount Vernon route.
      Built in Everett, the SKAGIT BELLE was launched 25 September 1941 and towed to the plant of the Lake Union Dry Dock Co where her huge paddle wheel was installed."
Above text from the Seattle Times, 24 March 1945.
Captain George S. Murch
Aboard sternwheeler W. T. PRESTON (ex-SWINOMISH)

      Capt. George Murch, who has handled the Army Engineers' snagboat 26 years, is retiring. He has been with the Engineers 42-years.
     The snagboat was the SWINOMISH when Murch joined her as chief engineer in 1925. She was renamed the PRESTON, in honor of a long-time district engineer, in 1936.
      A new skipper takes command of the W. T. PRESTON, the only sternwheel vessel still in active service on Puget Sound. Capt. Norman Hamburg, who signed on the sternwheeler as a cabin boy and waiter in 1927, is the new skipper.
Captain Ralph "Matt" Peasley
(born c. 1865-d. Dec. 1948 Aberdeen, WA.)
Aboard the SANWAN in 1930.

Captain Ralph "Matt" Peasley on the stool next to the wheel,
in front of ship owner, Frank Moran of the Moran School.

The boys are to make a cruise to the South Seas
on the Moran yacht under Captain Matt. 

Original photo dated 28 September 1930
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Built by Robert Moran at Rosario, Orcas Island, WA. 1917.
Peasley is remembered as a master of sailing ships out of Puget Sound and Grays Harbor for c. 40 years, in command of the late VIGILANT and the WAWONA, the latter once owned by the "Save Our Ships" group who were attempting to save her from the wreckers. 
He was also remembered as a larger-than-life-size figure in the Cappy Ricks novels by Peter B. Kyne. 

Captain Adrian F. Raynaud
Aboard Schooner C. A. THAYER,
Seattle, WA. 
Captain Adrian F. Raynaud, 
September 1957
Adrian and Mrs. Fred G. Scott at the wheel 
of the C. A. THAYER, Seattle,
just before the THAYER sailed for San Francisco.
 Raynaud was master on this, the THAYER's last voyage. 
Scott went to sea on the THAYER as the bride of the 
late Captain Scott in 1912. 
The sailing schooner will be placed in a San Francisco museum.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

"Cap Raynaud loved the seas and all its trades--he was marine surveyor, and a restorer of classic ships.
Adrian Raynaud's story is virtually the story of modern seafaring. 
      It stretches from his youth as an apprentice sailmaker in San Francisco and his first voyage around Cape Horn in 1909, to his work as a pioneer of small-craft marine-surveying in Seattle after WW II.
      Within it are scores of smaller tales. He loved telling them as he took the voice and gestures of characters and demonstrated the heft of a line or height of a mast. He had an eye and ear for detail. 
      A highlight of his career was overseeing restoration and captaining the crew that in 1957 sailed the cod-fishing steam schooner C. A. THAYER to San Francisco.
      Born to a non-seafaring family in San Francisco, he hung out on the wharves and left school before graduating to make sails. In 1909 he signed on as a cabin boy on the barkentine LAHAINA, bearing lumber from N. CA. to South Africa.
      Cap Raynaud worked in seafaring trades up and down the West Coast and learned seamanship and navigation on oceanic cruises.

Captain Adrian Raynaud, marine surveyor,
inspecting gillnetter BLUE SEA, Carkeek Park, 1965.
Original photo from the archives of S. P. H. S.©

      With the decline in mail ships after the war, Cap Raynaud became one of Seattle's early marine surveyors, founding Seattle Marine Surveyors in 1947 and focusing on yachts and fishing boats.
      As much as he loved surveying, he didn't want to spend his entire life at it. He retired on his 90th birthday. Or rather his wife of 60 years, Dorothy, who  had been typing survey reports for 40 years, retired him. She pulled the plug on the electric typewriter in their office and said, 'Happy Birthday, Adrian. You have retired!"
Above text by Carole Beers
Seattle Times, 7 December 1997

Captain Kelly Sprague
Master of tug HERCULES in 1947.
Unknown photographer.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.
Capt. Sprague started as a deckhand with Puget Sound Tug & Barge Co in 1936. In the year of this photo, a most dramatic sinking in mid-Pacific occurred on the early morning of 17 May 1947. Tugs MONARCH and HERCULES escaped disaster by a narrow margin. The two ocean tugs, in charge of Captains George O. Anderson and Kelly Sprague respectively, were engaged in towing the war-damaged battleship OKLAHOMA from Pearl Harbor for scrapping at Oakland, CA. The battleship developed a heavy list when 535 miles out and the tugs put back for Honolulu. Fortunately, the two tug masters had the foresight to have the towing cable ends unshackled. An hour after the change of course, the OKLAHOMA suddenly keeled over and sank, dragging the two tugs backward at the end of 1,400-ft of towline at such a velocity that their engines were stopped and they were estimated to be making sternway at the rate of 15 to 30 knots. The towlines reached their 'bitter ends' before the bulk of the sinking battleship dragged the two tugs under with her, thus preventing what might well have been another mysterious sea tragedy. No one was aboard the OKLAHOMA at the time of her sinking.
Sprague went on to become a member of the Puget Sound Pilots.

Captain W. P. Thornton
Captain W. P. Thornton
Photographer unknown.

Capt. W. P. Thornton of Bremerton brought his automobile to Seattle Friday and it wasn't any trouble. He just drove onto the ferry KALAKALA, rode across the Sound, and drove off again.
      But on the trip, Captain Thornton talked about another voyage on which he brought an automobile across Puget Sound.
      That trip was different.
Date, location, photographer unknown.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

      It was back in 1906, one warm summer day. There weren't many automobiles in the Puget Sound country in those days and Captain Thornton, master of the LYDIA THOMPSON, wasn't thinking of them when a young man hailed him at Union city, on Hood Canal, and asked him if he'd haul a "machine" to Seattle.
      Sure, said the captain thinking of course that 'machine' meant logging equipment, which was a usual item of freight. So the young man rode over to Hoodsport and pointed proudly to the "machine" which was on the dock. It was an auto.
      "I had seen automobiles, but not very many. 
      I never did find out how he got that thing to Hoodsport, because there weren't any roads but wagon roads––and rough ones––in that country then.
      I can't take that kind of "machine", I told the man. 
      "And I can't drive it to Seattle, either", he answered.
      "So I told him that if he'd sign a release for any liability, I'd haul his car to Seattle for him.
      Getting the car on the ship was quite a maneuver. But we had two heavy planks, 16-ft long, 3-inches thick, and 12-inches wide, so we used them to put her aboard.
      We put these planks across the rail. I had the mate and four seamen helping me. We pushed the car up the planks 'til it was over the rail. Then we tipped the planks on the other side, and eased the car down on the deck between the booby hatch and the mast. When we got to Seattle, we reversed the process."
      And that, so far as Captain Thornton knows, is the first time that an automobile was ferried across Puget Sound.
      Captain Thornton charged the motorist $6. for carrying the car, but the young man was so happy to get to Seattle that he gave $10 extra.
Text from the Seattle Times, 25 April 1942.

Captain Theodore A. Thorson
At the wheel of the TILLICUM, 1965
Captain Theodore A. Thorson
At the wheel of the TILLIKUM, 1965
Photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

"Three long blasts of the TILLIKUM's whistle were scheduled to rend the normally quiet Winslow air on Bainbridge Island this afternoon, ending 43 years of ferryboating for the skipper, Capt. Theodore A. Thorson.
      Fellow workers with the WSF arranged things so Thorson could walk off the gangplank carrying a ship's clock and barometer, their parting gifts. He also had the well wishes of the hundreds of associates in the only business he has ever known.
      Capt. Gust Westerlund who has worked with Thorson for ten years, volunteered to take the wheel on Thorson's last two runs so he could attend a farewell party in the TILLIKUM's cabin.
      "A topnotch skipper and a wonderful shipmate," Westerlund said. "The least I could do is let him go to his own party."
      A man of few words, Thorson conceded he would miss his pilothouse.
      "It's almost a way of life when you've been on the water as long as I have. It's a job, but I happen to like it.
      Every day is a little different. A good wind can get you on your toes and you've got to be on the lookout every minute.
      Then at night you come in to Seattle, and although I'm no artist--it's quite a sight."
      Although not yet 62, Thorson is retiring early to take some trips with his wife, Julia, in a recently acquired camper, do a little fishing, and play some golf.
      Thorson will not forsake the ferries entirely, or 'swallow an anchor' as the seamen say. He plans to fill in during vacations "just to keep my feet wet."
      Born on Bainbridge Island, Thorson is the son a Norwegian-born teamster and fisherman. He hadn't planned on jockeying ferries as a career; it "just happened."
      "I was on my way to town looking for work and there was a job on the old SUQUAMISH, a small passenger boat, as a deckhand. That was in 1922 and I've never got away from it."
      Thorson received his mate's license in 1929 and his master's license for inland waters in 1933. His first captains job was as skipper of the QUILLAYUTE in 1941.
      He was made skipper of the EVERGREEN STATE when she was new and was skipper also of the ILLAHEE and the KLAHANIE. He has been skipper of the TILLIKUM since she was built in 1952.
Although Thorson is looking forward to relaxing and 'resting his sea legs', he does not plan to go far from this state.
      "I'm not like the retired sailor who put an oar on his shoulder and walked until he didn't know what he was carrying and then settled down. I wouldn't live any place else. Where else can you find real mountains and real rivers and fish in the fresh, clean, air?"
Above text by Marjorie Jones
For The Seattle Times, 30 Sept. 1955    
Captain Louis Van Bogaert
Senior Master, Captain Louis Van Bogaert, 1957
Photo possibly by Joe Williamson, 

the year of the captain's retirement.
Inlaid photo of the ferry KALAKALA.
Photos from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

"Capt. Louis Van Bogaert who completed more than a half century of continuous service with the Puget Sound Navigation, [and Black Ball Line, and Washington State Ferries], has never sailed the seven seas or even one sea, but he knows Puget Sound like you know your own bathtub.
      The silver streamliner KALAKALA slides so easily into its Colman dock berth under Capt. Van Bogaert's guidance that most passengers don't know they've docked until they hear the gangplank slam against the dock.
      'I started on the sound in 1903 and I ought to have learned how to bring 'em in easy by now.'
      The silver-haired skipper still gets a thrill out of 'bringin' em in easy.' Every trip is different, because there's always a variation in tides and weather. The bigger boats are easier to handle, but I miss the personal contact we had on the little steamers. I used to know every regular customer on my run. They'd yell 'Hi ap' when they came up the gangplank.'
      Puget sound skippers don't get together much, according to Van Bogaert. There's little social life between them because of their constantly shifting schedules.
      But they have even less to do with high sea sailors. 'We in steamboats are a class of our own. Many of the men now on the sound come from the San Juans like myself. They get to know and like the sound in their boyhood.'
      Although Van Bogaert will wax nostalgic about old times and old ways--'you get attached to a boat like you do to a house'--he's not so much of an old salt that he scorns changes in the art of seafaring."
Above text by Dwight Schear,
Seattle Times (?), 22 November 1946.
Capt. Van Bogaert was an honorary life member of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
      There is another entry on Louis and his friendship with ship model-maker Ralph Hitchcock that can be viewed here.


18 February 2013

❖ LOTUS, On Camera One Hundred Years Ago ❖

Yacht LOTUS (ON 206231) 
Built 1909, Seattle. Photo dated 1913.
 Photographer unknown.
From the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"Like a painted ship on a painted ocean, the beautiful cruising houseboat LOTUS, specially designed and built to afford her owner and his guests all the comforts of a home combined with the pleasures of life on the rolling deep, is moored a few cable lengths from the Seattle Yacht Club quarters at West Seattle. She came from Bremerton yesterday.
      Built in 1909 for Maurice McMicken, a prominent Seattle lawyer, by Lee & Brinton, naval architects, Seattle, the LOTUS is fitted with every convenience of a mansion on shore and in addition can make a speed of ten mph at sea. The vessel cannot sink. At least she never has sunk; Mr. McMicken and her builders say she is never going to. They say that even if the bottom and ground floor of the LOTUS fell out she would still float like a Spanish cork because between longitudinal and fore and aft bulkheads she has galvanized  tanks capable of buoying up a vessel twice her size. 
      Mr. McMiken, who lives with his family aboard the LOTUS all summer, prizes the tank and bulkhead feature as it gives him a most comfortable sense of security while he is whiling away the vacation days with his family, who are as fond of the water as he is.
      Everything to minimize jolts and jars on calling days and in cruising weather has been installed aboard the LOTUS. For the comfort of those on board Mr. McMiken has so arranged that by pressing a button he can create a Sabbath calm from stem to stern. This is due to the fact that the electric light can be supplied independent of the vessel's engines. When these stop. enough electricity has accumulated in the storage batteries to light the LOTUS for hours. The LOTUS always stops when meals are served.
      Meals to suit the most exacting epicure and equal to the best to be had in local hotels can be served on the LOTUS for the sea-going home of the McKikens is fitted to carry more than a ton of ice, water to supply fourteen persons for three weeks, fuel enough for a 2,300-mile cruise, and provisions to last a year.
      The houseboat has two bathrooms with fresh and salt running water, and there is a fine large fireplace in the main cabin.
      In order to reach land conveniently when the LOTUS is moored out, the vessel is provided with a 20-ft, 2-HP tender. She also has two lifeboats.
      The McMiken family usually have the LOTUS anchored off their land home at Enetai, near Bremerton, and she is always ready for a Saturday or Sunday cruise around the Sound."
Seattle Times, 5 May 1913.

Then getting closer to home country and decades later, the LOTUS gets noticed by Jo Bailey then cruising and writing in the San Juan Islands, summer 1984.
      "Earlier this summer the LOTUS passed through the islands, an elegant reminder of days gone by. 
      The classic vessel, built in 1909 as the summer home of Maurice McMiken, is now owned by, and being refurbished by, Curt Gruye of Seattle.
      LOTUS glided into Friday Harbor on her way north to AK for the summer--the first time she has made the trip since 1946. Since that time she has served as a "boatel"  during Seattle's 1982 World Fair, capsized in 1977 and filled, and has been remodeled and worked on with an eye to having her named to the National Register as an historical site.
      Curt bought the cruising houseboat in 1961 from Howard Hays for a paltry $5,750 as she was in 'real bad shape.' He began the long restoration process, and to help pay the shipyard costs, he opened her as a unique bed and breakfast during the Fair.

Gordon Newell
Ship's uniform for duty at the Seattle World's Fair 1962.
LOTUS was attending also, but Newell didn't become 
her owner until 1977.
Photographer unknown. Original from S. P. H. S.©

     In 1977 he sold the yacht to maritime historian, writer, and marina operator, Gordon Newell in Olympia, almost immediately regretting his action. Three days later a freak storm and unusually low tides capsized her at the dock and she filled with water. He bought LOTUS back from Newell in 1981 at the same price he'd sold her for, and began extensive restoration. 'I should never have sold her--she's just my boat.'
      Since LOTUS is so high and with such shallow draft--just six feet--'she is neither a foul weather nor a blue water boat', he said.
      LOTUS sat out several days of heavy winds and bad weather in Friday Harbor earlier this summer on her way north. 'But we can go for a long time with her 1,800 gallons of water and her 2,400 gallons of diesel. 
      Curt has documented much of the ship's history. The original 80-HP, 4-cyl air-starting Globe engine was replaced in 1922 with a 125-HP Eastern Standard Diesel. A 180-HP Buda Diesel was installed in 1982.
      'Within five years we hope to have her in beautiful condition but perfection is just a goal. We put 27 new planks in her in 1962; she has two 70-ft long planks above the waterline and one 80-ft long plank below on her port side. I figure about half the original planking is still in place, including the ironbark keel'.
      Overall length of the houseboat-cruiser, designed by Lee & Brinton and built by Joseph Sloane, all of Seattle, is 93-ft, with documentation length of 85-ft. LOTUS displaces 116 tons, draft is 6-ft, beam 20-ft, and cruising speed is 8.3-knots. She is constructed of fir."
Above text by Jo Bailey
The Islands' Sounder, 29 August 1984
Card ephemera donated by
Jack Russell March 2013.

       The LOTUS is indeed on the National Register of Historic Places and has her very own website. To view how pretty she looks one century after launching and for an audio by her Port Townsend steward, please click here

15 February 2013

✪ ✪ REPELLING BOARDERS With a 12-Gauge ✪ ✪ by Skip Bold

The essay listed below was solicited by curators of the Shaw Island Historical Society for their archive-building work in the 1990s. 
This respected, and usually law-abiding resident mariner, Skip Bold, has been messing with boats and beaches for decades. He offered to read his piece aloud to the annual membership meeting during that time period; it is an interesting bit of salty folklife emanating from the geographical center of the archipelago. With Skip's permission, please view the story below.

"I won't go into the politics of the log patrol. It will be sufficient to say that it was a state institution under which a beachcomber could become very unpopular with locals while at the same time failing to make a living. The system primarily served timber companies at the expense of both the taxpayer and the log patrolman.
      I had only one run-in with the log patrol and that was on a Saturday in July 1977 or 1978.
The area of which Skip Bold writes for this essay on log affairs.
Click to enlarge image.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

The beginnings of this story occurred the previous spring. Late one evening I saw a Canadian log tow in trouble on Bird Rock off Coon Island, in the San Juan Archipelago. There was much searchlight activity and revving of engines, but the tow was well hung-up.
      The next morning the tug and tow were gone but they left behind a fair number of lovely Alaska Cedar logs.
      Alaska Yellow Cedar is known as "yellow gold" by boat builders and other wood workers who need rot-resistant wood; some are even addicted to its unique smell.
      Five of these logs drifted right onto my dad's point. I tied them up immediately. Others fell into the hands of a an unnamed poultry farmer. He had a boom truck and got them out of the water without delay. Two prime specimens floated onto Broken Point where Clayton and Eve Shaw lived. They tied them up at once.
Captain Clayton R. Shaw (1908-2001)
HIs whole career was spent "on the water".
A calm, quiet, respected gentleman at home on Broken Point.
Dated 1958. Photographer unknown.
Original photo from the S. P. H. S. ©

      Clayton [1908-2001] was raised on the Shaw family farm on Broken Point, but spent most of his working career in Alaska, where for many years he was the highly regarded Fleet Captain for Nakat Packers. He would have been acutely aware of the virtues of Alaska Cedar. After Captain Shaw retired, he married Eve and they moved back to the Shaw farm for many years.
      Eve was a big, strong--willed Southern woman. Captain Shaw was no lightweight either, and I suspect the two of them would look mighty intimidating if they were mad at you.
       The first to test the Shaws' resolve to hang onto their yellow cedar was a local lad. We'll call him Smitty. I actually saw most of this while dining at the Orcas Hotel that evening. Smitty went to Broken Point in his outboard, untied the two logs, and towed them into Blind Bay. Not a half-hour later Smitty reappeared, towing what looked to be the same logs back to Broken Point. A very puzzling performance. I happened to see Smitty the next day and was told that an enraged Eve Shaw met him at the beach in Blind Bay. She told him in no uncertain terms what she expected him to do, and NOW! He did.
      Well, getting back to July. Almost at dusk the Friday evening before the run-in with Eve, a light plane appeared flying very low and obviously scouting the beaches. It occurred to me at the time that this might be the harbinger of the log patrol.
      I was living in a cabin in the woods, and my parents were staying on the point for the summer. Sure enough, that Saturday afternoon I got a call from my mother that there were some men, off a boat ashore on our beach, about to make off with my logs. Taking an old exposed-hammer 12-gauge off the wall, I called my Springer, 'Schooner', and set off to repel boarders.
      When we arrived at the point, there was a log patrol boat in the bay (LCVP-Anacortes), a skiff on the beach, two guys working on my logs, and one up on the point checking out my red cedar shake-bolt pile.
      I might have looked threatening but to my amazement, 'Schooner' took control of the situation by fixing these guys with a glare and snarling at them. We didn't waste any words, I just kept repeating, 'Get back in your boat and leave.' They did, after hurriedly pointing out their legal rights.
      'Schooner' and I retied the logs and went home. That night the logs were taken to Squaw Bay lagoon and hidden up the creek under the trees. Later they were milled to become part of the kitchen addition and parts of many boat remodel projects.
      Anyway, I thought that would be the last I heard of the log patrol. It was not.
      The next day, I had a formal visit by Sheriff Deputy Tom Gray. It seems there had been a complaint of threatening behavior emanating from Shaw Island. Either Tom or another deputy had actually met with the log patrol guys near Jones Island to get their story.
      Tom sternly asked me what in hell I had in mind by threatening people with a shotgun. I explained:
      1. I wanted to keep my logs.
      2. The shotgun wasn't loaded.
      3. It obviously had no firing pins.
      4. It was 'Schooner' that did the effective threatening.
      Tom relaxed a bit after that and said, 'Well, it really wasn't you that frightened them, it was the lady with the axe'.
      Lady with the axe! What ware you talking about, Tom?
      It seems that the log patrol had stopped at Broken Point just before they met 'Schooner' and me. After untying Shaws' logs, they met the impressive couple and a high-volume exchange took place. When they refused to leave the logs, Eve ran to the chopping-block, extracted a double-bitted axe and plunged into the water brandishing the axe. Her intent was to cut the towrope. As far as the log patrol guys were concerned, she was after them with the axe.
      I doubt that any of those guys will ever forget the image of Eve Shaw wading in up to her bosom wearing a house dress and swinging that axe.
      We haven't seen the log patrol on the north side of Shaw since."
Skip Bold
Neck Point, San Juan Archipelago and Anacortes, WA.

We could possibly find an image of the 12-gauge and 'Schooner' but we are missing one with Eve Shaw and her axe.

09 February 2013


This collage of three postcards depicts the early trap fishing
of the northern corner of the State, 100 years ago.

Below text by author/historian Lucile McDonald 
Seattle Times, December 1961.

"In fishing parlance 30 years ago, 'night buyers' were less politely known in enforcement circles as 'fish pirates'.
       This occupation went out of fashion in 1934, when Washington banned salmon traps. (The ban does not extend to fishing by natives.) It is difficult to find anyone who remembers the excitement these nocturnal gentry were capable of fomenting.
      Stan Phillips, 73, of Seattle, who spent 30 years in the state fisheries patrol, carries scars in token of his encounters with them. Walter Scott of Bellingham knew the reverse side of the picture.
      Scott, now in his late 60s, considers the night-buyer period merely a part of his long experience as a commercial fisherman. In his early teens he worked catching dogfish, to be rendered into skid grease, and since then he has rarely been far from fishing boats, still occasionally taking out one for a Bellingham company.
      The fish traps these men remember were placed strategically along the route of migrating salmon, the mesh anchored to piling and forming a fence which led to a central enclosure. The heart of the trap was brailed, that is, emptied by a large dip net, every two or three days. The brail dumped the fish aboard cannery tenders. 
      Regulations required closure of traps 26 to 48 hours over weekends to allow escapement of fish. In this interval, watchmen sometimes operated the trap for their own benefit, leaving the apron, or gate,  open instead of closing it.
      Scott said the watchmen were poorly paid and easily tempted. A few were too honest to play along with the nighthawks. One he recalled had not gone ashore from his trap in weeks, though fish pirates had tried all sorts of persuasion. Finally, they convinced him that he was overdue for a visit at a barber shop. He went ashore for a day and a night, leaving a well-filled trap. On his return with the needed haircut he found the trap had been trimmed, too.
      Frequently the night boats worked in pairs, becoming so efficient they arranged with a tender regularly to pick up their catch. Four men with two craft were known to brail 1,200 sockeyes a night at $1 each. They used a contrivance of their own invention called a 'Swiftwater Bill', made of stout poles and netting. Scott remembered one night when he and his friends took 5,000 salmon from a trap.
      In early years a sloop was used because it was silent and would carry a large load. Motorboats were better for quick pick-ups and get-aways, but they had to be muffled with a 'sneezer'.
      When a trap watchman could not be induced to relax vigilance, the pirates used forceful methods. Scott spoke of a watchman who had the habit of patrolling the plank walk around the trap. On a dark night, pirates slipped in silently, struck the trap a blow with their boat and knocked the watchman into the spiller.
      'He had to be fished out, damp and disgusted, along with the salmon. After that he practiced safety first and spent more time in his shanty and less walking the planks.
      If you were in one of the pirate clans, you soon were known by a nickname--Owl Eye Joe, Sleepy Eye Charlie, Shifty Sam, Lefty Louie, and Nosey Herman were some of the monickers.'
      Herman earned his name through numerous fistic encounters which altered the shape of his nose.
      Scott said that pirating was defended by the men who engaged in it as not a serious misdemeanor, because how could one steal fish from those who did not own them. A cannery might install a trap, but until the fish were taken out of it and placed aboard a tender or impounded in some other way, the pirates reasoned the salmon were still at large and in their natural element.
      Fish pirates generally operated off Legoe Bay on Lummi Island north to Boundary Bay and south to the west shore of Whidbey Island. On rare occasions, Canadians in formidable gangs crossed the border and raided traps. Phillips told of visiting a well-lighted trap near Lummi Island and finding no one around. Officers observed that the door of the watchman's shanty was locked from the inside.... They ordered the occupants out. Three men emerged, hands in the air. They looked relieved when they saw the patrol officers. 
      'We thought you were a gang of Canadian fish pirates. Are we glad to see you! Those other guys would beat us up, throw us overboard and clean out the trap.'
      Planes were in use for fisheries patrol work before the traps were discontinued. Phillips said it was possible to see from the air whether a watchman had left a gate open.
      A certain trap tender rigged a jerk line to the apron, so that he could drop it swiftly if he saw persons approaching. During a weekend, he had gone peacefully to sleep while sipping whiskey and paid no attention to the sound of the amphibian plane overhead. The officers dropped down and paid him a visit, finding him snoozing, with the jerk line tied to one hand.
      Often a trap watchman, having turned his back to allow 'the boys' to take some company fish, became the victim himself of the outlaws, who would carry off his tools, clothing, and food along with the salmon.
Fish traps located in the Pacific NW.
Six images from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

     The pirates outdid past feats when several boats moved in one night, loosed the lines on a pile driver and a barge which had been working at a trap and towed them a few hundred yards away. The cook was asleep in his shack on the barge, unaware that his flour, sugar, canned goods, sides of bacon, and fresh meat were being stolen, and that the engineer's tool shed had been cleaned out. As a final touch, a thief reached under the cook's pillow and pulled out a new suit of underwear he had purchased in town 
that day.
      From the inception of the Washington Fisheries Patrol in 1889, its men were considered fair game for pirates and poachers. It was a rare enforcement officer who did not get dunked in the water sooner or later. A favorite device was to string a wire across a channel on a dark night and attract the attention of the patrolman. If he followed the pirates, as they hoped he would, the wire more than likely would sweep him overboard to icy water and give them free reign for the rest of the night.
      Finding water or sugar in the gasoline tank of a patrol boat was no surprise. One officer was barely away from his moorage at Bellingham on a tour of inspection when his craft started to fill. Pirates had put a hole through the stern transom, inserted a plug and tied it to a piling. When the boat drew away, out went the plug and the patrolman had to bail fast in order to get back to port.
      Few legitimate buyers asked where fish came from. Often they paid cash to the pirates for salmon just caught by their own company's equipment.
      One of the nighthawks discovered a way to get fish with a minimum of effort. He ran his boat beneath the Alaska Packers Co. wharf at Blaine, placing it below a loose plank. As fish were unloaded into a bin overhead, a certain portion of them slid through into the boat. The pirate then replaced the plank and when the coast was clear he would move over to the other side of the wharf and sell his load to the cannery."
Author note: This article is based on interviews and material gathered by Lester E. Banker, retired marine surveyor who possibly authored a book, Oceans of Fish.
McDonald writes of a manuscript Banker had ready for publication. Web admin checked with the WA. State Fisheries office in Seattle and they have no knowledge of a published or unpublished fisheries book by Mr. L. E. Banker.

Archived Log Entries