"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 650, 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.

25 June 2013


Very much in the good book news this year is the story of the University of Washington win in the 1936 Olympic games held in Berlin, Germany. The master craftsman, "Mr. Pocock", the coach, Al Ulbrickson, the amazing new 62-ft Western red cedar HUSKY CLIPPER, her tough crew, the supportive university, Hitler watching in the stands, and one talented writer, Daniel James Brown, all add up to an unforgettable story. As this post is being typed, the mail arrives at  the local wharf––the latest Wooden Boat magazine Number 233––with an 8-page touching article The Boat that Beat Hitler by Daniel James Brown, of Redmond, WA., author of The Boys in the Boat, published by Viking (2013). 
U of Washington sweeps the regatta with California.
UW won the Varsity, Frosh and Jayvee races on Lake
WA, to make a clean sweep of the annual regatta 
with U of Cal. The Huskies won all three races by
wide margins, setting new course records.
Photo shows the UW driving into the finish three lengths
ahead of the Golden Bears. Winners at left.
Photo dated 18 April 1936.
From the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Last home practice before heading east,
to the Princeton trials.
UW Crew, Lake Washington, 2 June 1936.

Only once in the years of association could the shell builder, Mr. Pocock, recall the coach, Al Ulbrickson showing any emotion.That was after his Husky crew defeated an outstanding Penn crew at the Olympic qualifying finals in New Jersey: 

"Al was as unemotional as ever during the race in which his crew won the right to represent the US at the Olympic Games in Berlin. Some time after the finish, he and I were walking back to the hotel. Suddenly he stopped, held out his hand and said, 'thanks, George, for your help.' Coming from Al, that was the equivalent of fireworks and a brass band." George Pocock.

After the UW victory at Princeton the team had one week before sailing on the steamship MANHATTAN, to Hamburg, en route to the Olympic Games. Their revered boatbuilder was with them.  

Photo above––crossing the line in first place is U of W.
1936 Summer Olympics, Berlin, Germany.
Al Ulbrickson's Gold Medal crew consisted of 
Coxswain, Bob Moch, 
Roger Morris, bow oar,
Charles Day, No. 2 oar, 
Gordon Adam, No. 3 oar, 
John White, No. 4 oar, 
Jim McMillan, No. 5 oar, 
George Hunt, No. 6 oar, 
Joe Rantz, No. 7 oar, 
Don Hume, stroke oar. 

UW Crew of 1936
At a 40th Reunion at Conibear Shellhouse, 1976. 
Empty place for the late Charles Day who pulled No. 2 oar.
Photo by Jerry Gay for The Seattle Times©
Original from the photo collection of the S. P. H. S.
By 'Nagronsky' of Skagit Valley, WA, adapted from Amazon.
      "As a lifelong Husky fan, I was excited when I read the synopsis that this was about the 1936 University of Washington crew. I'd always been more familiar with the eight that won the 1948 World Championship over the USSR crew in Moscow but I love tales of 'small town' Seattle and the Great Generation, so I dove eagerly into it.
      Trust me, this is not a book simply about rowing, but also is about what the West, the United States, and Europe were going through in the mid-1930s, as Nazi Germany was flexing muscles. It also touches on class systems in the US and Great Britain. I was immediately strongly reminded of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit: An American Legend and her Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, and the subjects of both books are so well-done that they almost read like novels, which is the case with this book, the Hillenbrands I mentioned, George McGoverns' The Great Coalfield War, and Timothy Egan's The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Coincidentally, Egan and Hillenbrand are both cited in this book (as is the patron saint of Lesser Seattle, Emmett Watson.)
      Although I've seen many races through Seattle's Montlake Cut, I never knew until reading this that crew races were formerly staged over 3 miles (rather than 2000 meters) on Lake Washington (and the Oakland estuary and the Hudson River), or that they ran north of Sand Point all the way to Sheridan Beach, or that viewing trains ran along the course from University Station on what is now the Burke-Gilman Trail (the former Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway). I'd never known that the famous shell builder, George Pocock, had won the Thames boatman's race (Doggett's Coat and Badge) before emigrating to Vancouver and Seattle with his brother.
      I'd known for years (pre-'House') that actor Hugh Laurie had rowed for Cambridge, but was unaware that his father had also won his rowing Blue and rowed stroke oar there and on the 1936 England Olympic crew. Actually, Laurie didn't know until he found a medal among his father's socks. The coxswain on the Cambridge and England eight was John Noel Duckworth. When captured by the Japanese, Duckworth objected to his captors' treatment of his fellow prisoners who were wounded and offered that he himself be mistreated. He was a POW at Changoi Camp in Singapore, and then was moved to the Siam Railway project (think Bridge on the River Kwai). We Americans aren't the only people with a Greatest Generation.
      Brown chooses to focus on one member of the UW crew who he happened to become acquainted with Joe Rantz, and Rantz's childhood, adolescence, and struggles to pay tuition are almost worthy of a single book. Rantz was able to endure his mother's death, being abandoned as a teen by his father and new wife, and muscling a jackhammer (while dangling from ropes) working the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam.
      Once the UW crew and the Olympic team reaches Berlin, Brown gives more insights into life in and around mid-1930s Berlin, as well as into the disagreements between Joseph Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl.
      I really can't recommend this book highly enough. While I loved Seabiscuit, I'm not a horse racing fan. With Louie Zamperini's spiritual redemption in Unbroken, I could care less about Billy Graham, but loved this book. As regards The Boys in the Boat, as I said previously, this is not simply about the sport of rowing, but is so much more."

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT book search
UW Crew, Winners of Gold at 1936 Olympics, Berlin
50th Reunion at team dock.

Space unoccupied by their late teammate Charles Day.

Photo by Alan Berner for The Seattle Times©.
 Dated 1 August 1986.
Original from photo collection of the S. P. H. S.
The HUSKY CLIPPER can be seen on display at the University. Hail to the cast, who have all rowed on.
For the best historical documentation of Mr. George Pocock, the premier racing shell builder in the world, Gordon Newell has written the classic Ready All! George Yeoman Pocock and Crew Racing, University of Washington Press, 1987. 
A new edition with a foreward by Dick Erickson including two cover photos from the Saltwater People Historical Society archives was published in 2015: 
READY ALL book search 

19 June 2013

❖ "Privateers" on the Schooner GRACIE S ❖ 1949

Pilot Schooner GRACIE S 
O.N. 86275
New home port, Seattle, WA.
Also known to flirt with mariners in the San Juan Islands.
Dated 1949 photo by Kenneth G. Ollar©
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.
"Wanted––able lads between the ages of 14 and 18––to sail on schooner GRACIE S––leaving 20 June for unknown ports to westward."
      Find a lad whose heart wouldn't be captured by such an advertisement appearing in this day and age. However, that's no imaginary ad. That very sign appears in the window today of the downtown business establishment of E. Edison Kennell, Jr.
      And, 20 June, the 97-ft schooner GRACIE S. will shove off from the Seattle Yacht Club with a crew of teenage lads. There will be no timetable. For two weeks they just go where the wind blows.
      Only a few years ago the most venturesome lads found their big thrill in running off to sea on a sailing ship. Such storied vessels have all but disappeared from the high seas, yet this thrilling adventure is to be born again, here in Seattle.
      Kennell recently purchased GRACIE S, for 50 years a pilot schooner off San Francisco Bay, and refitted her as a sea-going school for lads 14 to 18 years of age.
Courtesy of John Kennell©

      It's an adventure that Kennell will thrill in as much as will the boys, for GRACIE S is a perfect replica of the old traders. She is one of the most seaworthy vessels afloat, and though everything aboard her has been kept old fashioned for atmosphere, she has all the modern conveniences––a big Diesel engine, steam heat throughout, showers, an electric galley, and complete radio equipment, consisting of a transmitter and receiver and radio-direction finder, bringing a lad as close to his parents as the nearest telephone.
Privateer Ted Rogers, age 14,
at the helm of the famous Schooner GRACIE S.
 William Donley, aft, the nav instructor.
Strait of Juan de Fuca, 1949.
Photo by Kennell-Ellis©
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.
      The ship's company will consist of Kennell, the skipper; Mrs. Kennell, who will take care of the menu, as well as sew on the occasional button; James (Doctor) Tuohy, the cook; William Donley, navigation instructor; Dave McCrea, engineering officer; Amos Levitt, Jr., mate, and 14 "Privateers", as the lads will be known.
      Any boy between the permitted ages, who can swim and has a love for the sea, is eligible to take part in one or more of the five two-week cruises scheduled for this summer. The only cost is sharing the expenses of food, fuel, and the cook's wages.
      Monday, 20 June, GRACIE S. will leave for her first cruise––to Princess Louisa Inlet. Every other Monday another two-week trip will be leaving, visiting Barkley Sound and Hot Springs Cove, Butte Inlet, a trip around Vancouver Island and a visit to Knight's Inlet, all in British Columbia waters.
      Drills and schooling will occupy the first few days of each cruise. Then the "Privateers" will sail into the ocean, then back to the coast, and the particular destination of that trip. Almost every night the hook will be dropped and the lads will go ashore and beach comb and fish and visit many coastal BC communities.
Above text by Bob Sutton for the Seattle Times, 17 April 1949.
July 1949:
Ed Kennell, Jr. and the privateers on GRACIE S stopped off at the Lopez Yacht Club on their two-week cruise through the islands en route to Princess Louisa Inlet, BC.
Orcas Islander Newspaper, 7 July 1949
November 1964: 
Sadly, WANDERER (ex-GRACIE S.) wrecked when she struck a reef off Rangiroa Island, 200 miles northeast of Tahiti in November 1964. She was en route to Panama. All hands were rescued. Her last owners were Omer Darr and Joe Price of Bartlesville, OK.

13 June 2013

❖ Ferry Fatalities at ACTIVE PASS ❖ 1970

Active Pass, British Columbia
3 August 1970,
from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
On 3 August 1978, the B. C. ferry QUEEN OF VICTORIA, recently returned to service after having been lengthened to 426-ft, was negotiating the sharp turns of Active Pass near the midpoint of her regular run from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. Capt. R. J. Pollack was on the bridge, with quartermaster Peter Van Sickle at the helm as the big ferry passed Mary Anne Point light on Mayne Island at about noon. The helmsman later said that a fishing boat had forced the ferry to maintain a course more to port and further from the shore than was normal.
      Meanwhile, just out of sight behind Helen Point, the 14,700-ton Russian bulk carrier SERGEY YESINEN was steaming toward the ferry, inbound for Vancouver heavily laden with steel products from Yokohama. Capt. David Crabbe, the Canadian pilot aboard the freighter, had opted for the short route to Vancouver through Active Pass, although ocean vessels generally take the longer but less restricted route around Turn Point.
      As the Russian ship rounded the point, her helm was set to port, which put her on a collision course with the ferry, which was somewhat further to port than she should have been. Whistles blasted and both vessels reversed engines, but within two minutes of the time they sighted each other, the clipper-like bow of the 530-ft freighter had knifed halfway through the port side of the ferry just forward of the funnel. The force of the collision was such that many passengers on QUEEN OF VICTORIA believed an explosion had occurred. At the point of impact on the car deck, a young Victoria mother, Ann Hammond, had just stepped from the family car with her infant son Peter in her arms when the freighter sliced into the ferry. They were later found trapped under the wreckage of two other automobiles. The baby was dead; the mother died that night at a Sidney hospital. Above decks, a 17-yr old New Jersey girl, Sheila Taylor, had been sitting in a lounge. Her legless body was found later on top of a wrecked car on the auto deck below, where Mrs. Hammond and her child had died. Seven other passengers were injured seriously enough to require hospitalization. The loss of life would doubtless have been greater had not alert crew members taken advantage of the seconds available to them to herd passengers below from the upper deck solarium just forward of the funnel near the point of impact.
      Following the collision, there was a brief period of panic among the passengers, but order was quickly restored, life jackets were distributed and lifeboats prepared for lowering, as Canadian Coast Guard and private vessels stood by to render aid. The bow of the freighter was kept pressed into the 40-ft gash in the ferry's side until it was determined that most of the damage was above the waterline. By evening the QUEEN had returned to the Tsawwassen terminal under her own power to discharge passengers and vehicles, after which she proceeded to North Vancouver for extensive damage repairs. The SERGEY YESINEN suffered only minor bow damage. A review board subsequently attributed major blame for the collision to Capt. Crabbe and ordered his pilot license suspended for 15-months. The decision was appealed and Capt. Crabbe continued in service until a federal court of appeals subsequently exonerated him of all charges.
Above text from The H. W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966-1976); edited by Gordon Newell. Superior Publishing Co., 1977. Issue #187

Below note. Bremerton Sun, (AP) from Vancouver, B.C. 4 August 1970:

"A home movie buff may provide the best evidence of what caused the B.C. ferry QUEEN OF VICTORIA  and the Soviet freighter SERGEY YESENIN to collide, killing three ferry passengers.
      The amateur movies, shot by Ed Johnson, New Westminster, confirm the absence of large numbers of smaller boats. The amateur movies came to light as three investigations opened into the accident. Johnson was jugging herring just inside Helen Point on Mayne Island when he saw the freighter entering the Pass. He picked up his movie camera; the film he shot showed the freighter swing well into mid-channel, then belch black smoke as it went into reverse trying to avoid the collision. The ferry appeared almost dead in the water."
A map with Active Pass can be viewed here

08 June 2013

❖ Authors Ernie Gann and Archie ❖ San Juan Island 1968

Ernie and Dodie Gann,1968
"Most people don't associate me with the sea but I've been 
sailing since I was a kid. Sailing and flying are closely
 allied because both have problems with nature."
Gann has been an expert horseman since his youth,
when with the mounted 4th Cavalry at Ft. Snelling, Minn.
Photo by Roy Scully for the Seattle Times © Nov. 1968
Original photos from the archives of the S. P. H. S.
"I don't do these things for fun, you know. Getting my picture in the paper doesn't mean a thing to me anymore.
      Come on up if you want to, but under two conditions, that you mention my latest book and that you don't print a roadmap for tourists to my front door. We left California for the San Juan Islands so I could get some work done without constant interruptions. I haven't had much luck yet, but it's an improvement."
      This Ernest K. Gann, one of the most successful authors in America, submitted to what every successful man and woman faces frequently: requests for interviews during working hours.
      The book Gann wanted mentioned, Song of the Sirens, an autobiographical sailing story, was formally released to the public on the day of this interview. 

Photographer unknown.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

      It follows a series of successful novels on flying that invariably became best-sellers, were bought by book clubs and for condensations, and then were made into movies for which Gann wrote the screenplays. Still, on the release date of his new book, Gann appeared anxious about its reception.
      Gann is at work on his next book, to be published two years from now. ('Publishers feel that a book every two years by a major author is often enough,') and it is another of the flying stories which have made him so famous.
But his time is not devoted entirely to writing. If there is a formula for filling each day with some excitement, Gann surely must have it. Boredom and inaction are not in his vocabulary.
Gann is a man of many talents and interests: writer, flyer, sailor, painter, patriot, horseman, conservationist, husband and father, and farmer, all about which he speaks with a definite tone of voice and a great deal of wit.
An indication of his speed of mind and movement is indicated in the total time involved in taking the photograph and getting more information than space permits the use of. One hour from the time the writer and photographer arrived at his front gate, the meeting ended at the local airport and they were on their way downtown to a restaurant where one of Gann's oil paintings hangs in the bar.
Gann left them at the airport with a brief wave. Then he stopped his small car and shouted another story idea to them, snapped in the clutch, and headed over to the airport office, where he jumped out of the car and began talking to a friend. It probably was a short conversation; Gann rations his time in terms of minutes rather than hours or days."
Above text by writer Mr. Archie Satterfield (1933-2011)
Seattle Times, Sunday 10 November 1968.

Few men have lived a life of such challenge and adventure as Ernest K. Gann, the best selling Fate is the Hunter, he recounted the many years of his flying career as a professional airline pilot. Song of the Sirens is the story of the shops he has sailed and owned, of his years as master of a commercial fishing vessel on the Pacific coast, of ocean crossings in all manner of craft and of storms and emergencies encountered at sea. Most of all this is the story of Gann's most beloved vessels, the seventeen sirens, for the beautiful 117-ton brigantine Albatros to the incredible Butterfly. Charles J. Doane, former editor of Cruising World, has provided a new introduction for this edition.
Book search here:
Song of the Sirens
A few months prior to his death 19 Decemeber 1991, E. K. Gann made his last flight on the 50th anniversary of his promotion to flight captain at American Airlines.

2003, 9 July:
Governor Gary Locke awarded the Medal of Merit (the state's highest honor) to Gann.
Archie Satterfield lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years working as a reporter, then editor and columnist, for several newspapers, one being the Enetai, a magazine for riders of the Washington State Ferries.
      He authored over 40 books published by national and regional publishers, including Workboats with Walt Crowley. Some of Satterfield's books were in print for over 30 years. His last home was on Whidbey Island, WA.
      Satterfield, Archie. Workboats, An Illustrated Guide to Work Vessels from Bristol Bay to San Diego. 
Satterfield book search:

05 June 2013

❖ Summer Sail Race ❖ of 1895

L-R: Race winner Charlie Fischer
 with Tyee YC Commodore Joe Williamson.
Photo dated 1951.
Photo by the Seattle marine historian/photographer Joe Williamson,
from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"Charlie Fischer's old yachting trophy, from which happy members of the old Elliott Bay Yacht Club drank to the great sport of sailboat racing one gala evening in 1895, has been brought back to Seattle from Fischer's Bainbridge Island home.
      The big silver cup was Fischer's prize for winning the yacht club's 1895 race over a 16-mile course. The race began at the club, which was on Elliott Bay near where the Union Oil Co. dock now is situated. The racers went to Four-mile Rock, then toward a buoy off West Seattle, and finished at the coal bunkers, which then were one of the most important installations on the waterfront.
      Fischer had built his boat himself and had launched her only two days before the race.
Charlie Fischer and crew, 1895.
Original photo from Joe Williamson collection,
from the archives of SPHS©
      The boat was named the DOLPHIN, and Fischer knew she was a good craft, but in spite of the boat and his racing skill he was in second place as he rounded the buoy and went into the home stretch. The wind was bad, and Fischer knew that common sense said to use a little caution.
      'But I decided to take a chance. I told myself, I'm going for a swim or I'm going to win. I won.'
      For more than half a century the cup which Fischer won has been a prized possession. He has shown it to anyone who has visited him at his home at Eagledale and has talked boats.
      One of the visitors whose interest in boats has never waned was Joe Williamson, a marine photographer and newly elected commodore of the Tyee Yacht Club. Williamson's wife, Evelyn, is Fischer's niece.
      On a recent visit to Seattle, Fischer handed Williamson the cup. 'I want to give this to someone who really likes boats. The cup is yours.' Fischer said.
      Fischer's life, incidentally, also has been linked to a vessel even more historic than the DOLPHIN, though not as high in Fischer's affection
      Fischer was born in Denmark. When he came to the US as a boy about 7-yrs old, he traveled in the Cunard Line's proud ship, the PARTHIA, which had been built at Dumbarton, Scotland, in 1870.
Shown a few years after Fischer purchased passage from Denmark to USA.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©

      That ship calls Seattle her home. She is now the Alaska Steamship Co's VICTORIA, the oldest active ship in the American merchant marine.
Writer unknown.
Seattle Times, 28 December 1951

03 June 2013


The U. S. S. GUARD Makes Large Liquor Seizure
Six Thousand Dollars Work of Canadian Liquor and Opium 
 in Hands of Federal Authorities.
The US Revenue Cutter GUARD
Jane Barfoot Hodde noted "the GUARD 
was slow and couldn't catch many rumrunners".
While cruising about Smith Island Tuesday afternoon, Captain Greene of the U.S.S. GUARD, picked up a booze runner, whose craft, the speed boat K 247, had been driven ashore on Miner's Ledge of Smith Island, during the southwest blow Sunday.
      The boat's cargo consisting of 49 cases of choice Canadian booze valued at $5,000, besides several thousand dollars worth of opium according to the owner, was being taken to Seattle for the Christmas trade. The owner of the contraband goods and boat gave his name as Giles Martin of Seattle. He was accompanied by an assistant whose name was not learned. The speed boat is a total wreck.
      The men were completely worn out by their shipwreck experience and made no effort to destroy the convicting evidence when approached by Capt. Greene. They, with the contraband were brought to Friday Harbor; late Tuesday afternoon they were taken to Seattle where the booze runners will be turned over to the federal authorities for prosecution.
       This is one of the largest and the first booze seizure by the Coast Guard since last February, and Capt. Greene is to be congratulated upon his good fortune."
Text only from: The Friday Harbor Journal
Front Page, 30 November 1922
      A few years previous to this incident, Gus Viking of Friday Harbor, served as a crew member on the cutter GUARD, as noted in the FHJ of Feb. 1916.

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