"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.

31 December 2014


Viking Tell-Tale Compass
Manufactured circa 1760 by
Iver Jensen Borger, founder of the
Iver C. Weilbach & Co Ltd.
1955 brochure from the archives of the S.P.H.S 

"Manufactured by Iver Jensen Borger, founder of Iver C. Weilbach & Co Limited, Copenhagen, the oldest company specializing in making magnetic compasses in Scandinavia, if not Europe.
      With permission of the authorities, a Compass Bowl was designed as a replica of the Danish Royal Crown, this operative instrument was normally sited and slung on the skylights in the saloons of vessels belonging to the Danish Navy and East Asiatic Companies.
      The Compass Card is illustrated with very interesting and unique features, and picturesque yet meaningful symbols. The magnetic north is indicated by the well known "Fleur de Lys" pattern, supposedly originating from Portugal, home of famous early navigators, but considered by some to have East Indian influences.
      The remaining cardinal and inter cardinal points are decorated with figures from mythology, symbolizing the seven days of the week by representation of:

      The Sun for Sunday (South)       
      Luna for Monday (NE)
      Mars for Tuesday (SW)                
      Mercury for Wednesday (E)
      Jupiter for Thursday (W)
      Venus for Friday (SE)                   
      Saturn for Saturday (NW)
      The east point is prominently marked representing the direction towards Jerusalem in the Mediterranean, reminiscent from the time of the Crusaders.
      The centre of the Compass Card is embellished with a picture of the goddess "Fortuna" leaning up against the "Anchor of Hope" and holding the "Parrot of Good Fortune" in her left hand. Behind are seen vessels of the period, and the maker's name, Iver Jensen Borger, Copenhagen, is conspicuously printed round the picture. The card being graduated into points and degrees 0˚––90˚––0˚.
      The limited reproduction of this Tell-tale Compass, identical to the original compass in our possession, was made on the occasion of our bicentenary, 24 November 1955, with all the skill and pride of our craftsmen."
Graphics and text from the above listed brochure.

30 December 2014



Pender Highlanders 2004
See you next year Santa!
Harney Channel, San Juan Archipelago.
Goodbye Santa.
1984, San Juan Islands

29 December 2014


BERING SEA from the archives.
King Island, 1950
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
King Island houses are sturdier than they look, to withstand almost constant high winds and heavy SNOW. A network of stairs connects homes and the Alaska Native Service school, and serves as a precarious playground. The Eskimos have learned to scale the rocky 1,100-ft cliff with the sure-footedness of mountain goats.
      When this image was captured by Frank Morgan, it was reported that once each fall a government boat called at the farthest north Alaska points. The government boat would anchor off from the rocky shore and the skin boats would work back and forth from ship to shore unloading a years supplies for the isolated village in the Bering.
Text by Ethel MacNair for The Seattle Times, 1952.

28 December 2014


C.P. PATTERSON, Survey Ship
Seattle, WA., 1916.
Photo by Asahel Curtis
"In 1885, the 163-ft steam barkentine C.P. PATTERSON began plying the waters between Puget Sound and Alaska, undertaking survey missions for the US Coast and Geodetic Survey. Here, near the end of her survey career, in 1916 (before she was drafted for service in WW I), the PATTERSON rested her weary timbers in her berth on the placid waters of Seattle's Elliott Bay. It's a cold, damp December day, yet members of the PATTERSON's 61-man complement are pleased to be in port for Christmas, and they've spruced her up with some holiday cheer. Her masts and bow-sprit are festooned with Christmas trees, and even her anchor port has a sprig of yuletide evergreen. Asahel Curtis recorded the scene, a reminder of the seaman's indomitable spirit––and his links with home."
Apologies, source unknown. Perhaps past issue of PNW Quarterly.

27 December 2014


Top left is dated December 1932.
The beautiful classic DISCOVERY, with Santa Claus
on the foredeck, off the Shaw Island landing, c. 1982.

Cap Raynaud's personal card has a photo of the
on reverse side.
 She can be viewed elsewhere on this Log.

Click to enlarge.
Random pieces from the archives of the S.P.H.S.

26 December 2014


Day Six
Boxing Day Holiday

Undated Empress Hotel Holiday Menu
Steamer IROQUOIS on her "Triangle Run".
Make mine smoked Black Cod please.

from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

25 December 2014


Day Five from the Archives
Stuart Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Santa by Ship, 1978
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.
Click to enlarge.

24 December 2014

❖ Guzzwells Sailing to South Africa ❖

From the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Eighty years ago this foursome completed an England to Cape Town journey in the small craft, OUR BOY, a 12-ton ketch.
This original photo depicts Captain John Guzzwell, his wife and child, John Guzzwell, Jr., with crew of one, J. Norton.
According to the press report, they left Brixham, England, in September 1933, for Cape Town, South Africa, where they arrived on 1 May 1934.
Happy sailing Mr. Guzzwell.

23 December 2014


Tall donation by four timber companies and turned by the 
Cascade Pole Co. of Tacoma.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Note Mr. Vallentyne swinging from the hook.
Cropped from an original 10"x14" photo dated 1966
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Three New Masts for WAWONA

Save our Ships member, James D. Vallentyne*, swung from the hook of a Port of Seattle crane at Pier 46 in October 1966, as he began preliminaries for replacing the rotten 103-ft masts of WAWONA.
      Foss Launch & Tug Co donated the towing, Port of Seattle donated use of its crane, and Longshoreman's Union (Local No. 19) paid the salary of the crane operator.
      In May 1968, three new masts for the schooner were taken off a flatcar at Pier 46. The sticks were donated by four timber companies and turned by the Cascade Pole Co., Tacoma. The WAWONA, berthed at the north end of Lake Union, needs some work before the masts are stepped; Hunter Simpson, president of Save Our Ships, which owned the schooner was quoted as saying the group is hoping to make her into a museum ship.
      The WAWONA, built in 1897 by Hans Ditlev Bendixson, distinguished herself as a codfisher on her maiden Bering Sea voyage with Captain Charles Foss, for bringing home the largest catch of cod surpassing records on the Atlantic coast to 1914. The enthusiastic Captain Foss was quoted, "the staunch vessel could not have performed better if she had been built especially for codfishing."
      Being unable to get a towboat after arriving in the Strait of Juan de Fuca that year, she sailed into Anacortes and slid in next to her wharf, without the aid of a tug. Highliner was Second Mate Emil Isakson with a catch of 17, 036 fish. An Anacortes reporter noted she was discharging at Robinson Fisheries, Anacortes.
      The famous Capt. Ralph "Matt" Peasley, hero of Cappy Ricks sailing yarns, was WAWONA's skipper from 1900 to 1906.

Author Ernest K. Gann:
"WAWONA lives still and she is not going to die tomorrow or even the day after because her heart and physique are both mighty. And because she was created the old way when things were built to last.
      WAWONA will survive for a few more years even without your help. But then she will be gone. Forever. Not for you to see. Not for our kids to walk her decks and at least dream of voyaging under sail. Never.
      We are going to lose WAWONA to time and in her final weakness to the elements which she defied so bravely for so long."

WAWONA was scrapped in 2009.
Notes from The Seattle Times, 1966 and 1968.
Two photos from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

*In the following year of 1967, Mr. Vallentyne, a past president of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society and owner of Vallentyne's Marine Repair, was lost off the Columbia River Bar in a storm, while bringing a vessel up the coast to Seattle.

Book search here
Pacific Schooner Wawona 

22 December 2014


Hatch Off the Archives
22 December 2014

Knots by Spike©
Photograph 22 December 2014.
Spike Africa knot work on whiskey bottles from the Saltwater People collection.
"Spike did decorative pieces for a chain of California restaurants with a nautical theme. In addition he made frequent trips from Seattle to install the macrame and also act as something of an official greeter." 
Those fortunate restaurant customers enjoying Spike stories, while waiting for their table.
Quote above from a four page color splash by Tom Stockley for The Seattle Times 1976.

San Juan Islands connection: At one time Africa maintained an Orcas Island client's sailboat, and owned land on one of the islands in the group.

21 December 2014


Winter Solstice 2014
Day One

Ephemera from Saltwater People Historical Society archives
Click photo to enlarge.
Custom designed, enamel pin to honor the day, inscribed for Good Ship SPITFIRE.
Private invitation to the commissioning of Ketch SPITFIRE on Orcas Island, WA.
Location: Lat N 48˚ 39.20' Long W 122˚ 52.90'
Date: 4 July 1994
Vessel Owner: Woodson K. Woods
Builder: Bent Jesperson Boatbuilders
Designer: Russell D. Hohmann
For photograph and article on SPITFIRE please see Wooden Boat magazine Number 136:64.
It's true, the piper piped, the cannons boomed, and the Spitfire flew overhead.

17 December 2014


Barque PAMIR 
Martin Treder working on a model 
of the ship PAMIR (1905-1957)
then plowing between Germany and South America.
The model was a year in the making; constructed with a
steel hull containing 40,000 rivets, 32 sails, 4,000 pulleys,
and cost about $9,000. It will be placed in the cases
showing the evolution of water travel.

Original 1931 photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

"Natural History Museums are the result of decades of pains-taking collecting and the institutions are classed according to the number of genuine specimens they contain. However, in Chicago, a museum is literally being manufactured, and the fact detracts none from its worth. Scores of artists, wood-carvers, machinists, and electricians are at work building models for the Museum of Science and Industry founded by Julius Rosenwald. The Museum aims to portray the evolution of man's mechanical and scientific knowledge, and while every attempt is being made to get genuine exhibits, it is necessary that many be in miniature. Wherever possible the models will work; by pushing a button a student may see a gas engine, in section, in operation, or watch wheat being ground into flour and put in sacks. Similar working models will cover all fields of man's activities. The museum will be the only one of its kind in the Americas, and one of the few in the world. It will be housed in the rebuilt Fine Arts Building in Jackson Park, Chicago."
Publication unknown; incomplete news clipping from the archives of the S.P.H.S. 
Barque PAMIR
Probably 1946 when she was sailing
out of Vancouver, BC, under the New Zealand flag.

Original photo postcard from the archives of S. P. H. S.©

Barque PAMIR
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
For: F. Laeisz Line
Launched: 29 July 1905
375' x c. 46' x 23.5'
Carried: 40,000 sq. ft of sail
Speed: top was 16 knots/ regular speed c. 8-9 knots.

One of 10 near-sister ships used by Laeisz Co in the South America nitrate trade.

Fate: caught 21 Sept. 1957 in a mid-Atlantic hurricane.
Captain Johannes Diebitsch
86 aboard/ 6 survived.
Many false reports have been published. For further reading from this source, including her 
ownership and past masters here is a Link

Update 2 February 2015

There is an 8-page in-depth article by Captain L. Gellerman on the colorful, 4-mast barque PAMIR with some of her life spent in the PNW; it can be found in  The Sea Chest, June 1985 published by the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Seattle, WA.

There is a chance they may have a back issue of the journal.  
For membership information in that society please see this link.

A quote from that great piece:

" 'Then', writes Mr. MacNeil,  'we witnessed a drama reminiscent of that age, long past,vwhen the clippers reigned supreme. As we stood spellbound, PAMIR, came racing toward us. Huge seas boiled over her bow. Her sails, billowed out to the full, were a scene of grandeur––heeled well over in the terrific wind, she swept by majestically at a good 14 knots. SNOHOMISH's flags ran up, spelling 'Bon Voyage,' and her whistle hooted farewell to one of the last great wind ships. Soon she disappeared hull down on the horizon.'"
dated 25 July 1960.
Permanent anchor at Luebeck, Germany.
The vessel was purchased by the city
with hopes she could become a museum. 
The PASSAT is a sister ship of the PAMIR. 
The two vessels were caught in the same storm
that sank the PAMIR, but one managed to
escape with severe damage. Since then the
not been in regular use. 
Original photo of the S.P.H.S.©


This 137 pg book describes the three voyages that the PAMIR made to Vancouver and Vancouver Island, BC, and records the careers of the tugs that towed her to and from the open ocean. Included are many unpublished photographs of the actual voyage tows, and illustrations by the author (a crew member on the tugs at the time) showing the PAMIR under tow and the rendezvous off Cape Flattery.
The Vancouver Voyages of the Barque PAMIR


12 December 2014

❖ ❖ The CAPTAIN with the Handlettered Parchment ❖ ❖

Captain Alan Villiers (23 Sept 1903- 3 March 1982)
In command of the MAYFLOWER II
sailing to Plymouth, MA., 1957.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Captain Alan Villiers, native of Australia but resident of England for c. 50 years, and oft-times visitor and occasional resident of the US, died in Oxford.
      Alan Villiers was that uncommon mixture of author and seaman, who had the skill and ambition to write contemporary books of the life that he knew in the last years of commercial deep-sea sail. He was born in Australia in Sept 1903, and as the WW years came to an end, young Villiers, not out of his teen years, went off to sea in Tasman Sea barks, then into deep-water square-riggers and occasionally into steamers. His talent for writing led him into journalism, but a career in the newspaper business was soon brought up short when he was lured back to sea in the late 1920s, with the urge to document in film and by writing the last deep sea voyages of Cape Horn square-riggers.
      The success of his numerous books and his affiliation with the National Geographic Magazine in the 1930s brought him world wide recognition as a seafaring author whose books and articles created an intense interest in what had hitherto been a nearly forgotten industry, that of the stubborn but inevitably dying commercial sailing ship. During WW II he served in the British Navy and retired with the rank of Commander. In the nearly 35 years that followed WW II, Captain Villiers continued his seafaring career but in a field of endeavor that was peculiarly suited to his style and experience.
Commander Alan Villiers, Master of MAYFLOWER II,
held a reception in London for members of his crew. 
Commander Villiers (R), lst Mate, Godfrey Wicksteed, in costume, 
viewing the personal accident policy for the voyage, 
which is handwritten on parchment and sealed in 17th c. fashion.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
He commanded the 1957 vintage replica MAYFLOWER on a trans-Atlantic voyage, and served a master and advisor (and occasionally as a small bit player) in moving pictures, when authentic ships were available for real deep-sea and off-shore filming.
      Capt. Villiers made a least three trips to Seattle as a lecturer under the sponsorship of World Cavalcade, and was awarded an Honorary Membership in the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
      His ambition, before the beginning of World War II, was to sail in every type of sailing craft still in service world wide. Beginning this determined and rigid schedule in 1938, he spent nearly a year sailing with Arabs in their dhows in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and along the African Coast. It was his intent, as he once told this reviewer, to sail in the Indian Ocean rice barks still plodding between Burma and the Maldives and Indian Ocean islands, then work his way around to sail in the East Indian, Chinese and Japanese junks and sailing sampans that were numerous and continually engaged in commercial voyages in the Far East. World War II ended this scheme, though his ventures in the Portuguese bankers and replicas provided him with ample writing opportunities and experiences in the post-war years.
      In his latter, shore-bound years he continued a prodigious program of research and biographical writing, focusing his attention on outstanding historical seamen such as Capt. James Cook and Joseph Conrad. The last unpublished biography of Conrad may have been a fitting sort of monument to Capt. Villiers, himself a seaman-author as was Conrad.
20 pg booklet on the 75th anniversary of the
Silhouette from woodcut made for Villiers
by Ulmica Hyde for the Bruce Rogers Prospectus
of the original circumnavigation of the
Printed at Mystic Seaport.

From the library of the S.P.H.S.
Villiers' special devotion to the life of Conrad was epitomized by his act, in 1934 of renaming the small Danish full-rigged ship GEORG STAGE (after the famous Polish author), when he bought the aging training ship from the Danes and named her JOSEPH CONRAD. Today the ship lies at permanent moorings at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT., a monument to the seaman author for whom she was renamed, and for twentieth c. seaman-author, Capt. Alan Villiers who saved her from oblivion.
      Capt. Villiers wrote at least thirty books and probably more, to say nothing of un-numbered articles for the National Geographic Magazine and many historical and maritime publications. He was a strong, firm and vocal advocate for the values of sail-training, and his voice was heard world wide. He was a friend of royalty, the great and near-great, and the fo'c'sle hands and un-named Atlantic fishermen, Arab dhow sailors and land-bound aficionados who read his books.
      Alan Villiers thoroughly documented the dying age of sail and preserved forever his insight and knowledge of all classes of seamen. A half-century of his contributions to the literature and history of the sea and the ships he knew is his memorial."
Above text written by Capt. Harold D. Huycke; for The Sea Chest, September 1982. Quarterly journal published by the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Seattle, WA. 
To receive the journals as a benefit of member support of the PSMHS, see this link

24 November 2014

❖ ENGLISH CAMP ❖ ❖ 1946

Mary Crook Davis, 1946
English Camp, San Juan Island, WA.

Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"This day's story is a guided tour with Mrs. Davis, whose Englishman-father William Crook, homesteaded this land while it was still warm from the tread of soldiers marching up and down 12 years from 1860 to 1872. Mrs. Davis was a very small girl then, but she has lived here all her life; she knows the story by heart.
      First, you come down a long private road, through woods and pasture, into the yard where the house is. You knock on the door, pay your 10 cents that Mrs. Davis reluctantly accepts, and then this strong, well-preserved pioneer woman takes you into her front room to see pictures and a few relics she keeps there. You ask about Jim Crook, the brother you have heard so much about––how he makes his own clothes from the sheep's back to his own.
Jim Crook,
San Juan Island, WA.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      "Oh, you won't see Jim today, he's out with the wheat. He's busy––yes, he did spin some wool once, and weave himself a suit of clothes. The old loom is still here and the clothes, too, if you want to see them; he's had a lot of notions. His latest is a sawmill and an electric plant run by a windmill..." Mrs. Davis says.
      Now, you go out into the grounds along a road made by the soldiers in the 60s. The trees are planted along the sides in even rows as the English always do things, native firs transplanted in two long rows.
      Ivy grows thick up the trees and all around, Mrs. Davis says. It was brought from England by Mrs. Delacombe, the second officer's wife, who was very homesick here.
      The winding switch-back trail down the hill from here soon arrives at the old blockhouse on the  beach. This building is in better repair than it was when I saw it 15 years ago. Mr. Crook has shingled and mended and whitewashed it afresh. The old frayed shingles from the days of the occupation are neatly piled in heap for souvenir hunters.
      There is a sturdy new stair-ladder up to the second story where the gun holes ring the low wall. If you peep through one of the holes you see Garrison Bay, Henry Island, Vancouver Island across Haro Strait and nearby green points hemmed in blue.
      The blockhouse sits right down on the beach. High tide laps it. Low tide leaves it at the edge of a wide mud flat––the same mud that prevented our coming here by water today and that prevents our going on to Mitchell Bay and Yacht Haven. If anyone but the Crooks owned this place, the blockhouse might itself be part of this mud by now.
      From the blockhouse, you cross the parade ground that is now an orchard. The old barracks building still stands over at the edge where orchard meets woods.
      When you are ready to go, your guide comes with you part of the way back up the hill to the public road again, explaining as you walk together between the Queen Anne's lace, how to get to the little English cemetery where 10 boys are buried. You cross the road and go over a stile and up a hill, or you go through the cows' underpass below the road. Beyond, you follow an indefinite almost-road for a quarter of a mile up the hill to a grove of trees on a knoll of its own overlooking Canada's waters around Vancouver Island.
      The 10 graves are enclosed with a green picket fence. You climb another stile over it to read the inscriptions. Some of them were apparently composed and ordered by the boys themselves, the spelling all their own.
      "In memory of JOs Ellis and THOs Kiddy, Private R.M.LI. who whare accidently Drowned JANy 4th 1863. This Tabblet is Erected by their Comrads...In the midst of life, we are in death..."
      Back at Roche Harbor, tired and dusty from six miles of walking that morning, we said goodbye to the pretty village and rowed away. The flood was running now. It would take us as far as Limestone Point on Orcas. We'd put up our oars, ride that tide, and have a cold lunch in the boat as we slid along.
See you tomorrow. June."
Day 73 of 100 Days in the San Juans, Burn, June. First published by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 1946.
The June Burn book in reference library of the Saltwater People Historical Society, SJC.

19 November 2014

❖ STAR OF INDIA ❖ (ex-EUTERPE) Museum Ship

San Diego, CA.
Photos from the archives of  S.P.H.S.
Click to enlarge.
"The STAR OF INDIA is the world's second oldest active sailing ship. She began her life on the stocks at Ramsey Shipyard in the Isle of Man in 1863, built by Gibson, McDonald and Arnold. Iron ships were experiments of sorts then, with most vessels still being built of wood. Within five months of laying her keel, the ship was launched into her element, 14 November. She bore the name EUTERPE, after the Greek muse of music and poetry.
      EUTERPE was a full-rigged ship and would remain so until 1901 when the Alaska Packers Association rigged her down to a barque, her present rig. She began her sailing life with two near-disastrous voyages to India. On her first trip, she suffered a collision and a mutiny. On her second trip, a cyclone caught EUTERPE in the Bay of Bengal, and with her topmasts cut away, she barely made port. Shortly afterward, her first captain, William John Storry, died on board and was buried at sea.
      After such a hard-luck beginning, EUTERPE settled down and made four more voyages to India as a cargo ship. In 1871 she was purchased by the Shaw Savill line of London and embarked on a quarter century of hauling emigrants to New Zealand, sometimes also touching Australia, California, and Chile. She made 21 circumnavigations in this service, some of them lasting up to a year. A baby was born on one of those trips en route to New Zealand and was given the middle name Euterpe. It was rugged voyaging, with the little iron ship battling through terrific gales, 'laboring and rolling in a most distressing manner,' according to her log.
      The life aboard was especially hard on the emigrants cooped up in her 'tween deck, fed a diet of hardtack and salt junk, subject to mal-de-mer and a host of other ills. It is astonishing that their death rate was so low. They were a tough lot, however, drawn from the working classes of England, Ireland, and Scotland, and most went on to prosper in New Zealand."
The above text from the San Diego Maritime Museum.
Original photo from
Clara Abrahamsen, daughter of rigger Hans Abrahamsen.
The family late of Doe Bay, Orcas Island, WA.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Tonnage: 1,318  g. tons, 1,247 Net tons 
 205' LWL, 278' sparred L x 35' x 22' (fully loaded)
Sail plan: full-rigged ship 1863-1901
                Barque (1901- )
Registered in the US: 1900.
Name change: 1906.
Last sail from San Francisco to Bristol Bay, AK: 1923.
1926: STAR OF INDIA was sold to the Zoological Society of San Diego, CA, to be the centerpiece of a planned museum and aquarium. It was not until 1957 that restoration began, leaving off the idea of an aquarium. Alan Villiers, a windjammer captain, and well-known author came from Europe to San Diego on a lecture tour.
Captain Alan Villiers (1903-1982)
One of the most famous modern-day historians,
seen here commanding the MAYFLOWER II,
a replica, sailing from London to the USA in 1957.

He made at least three trips to Seattle and was 
awarded Honorary Membership in the 
Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
More on this blue water sailor another day.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      Seeing STAR OF INDIA decaying in the harbor, he publicized the situation and inspired a group of citizens to form the 'Star of India Auxiliary' in 1959, to buy the vessel for $9,000 and support a restoration. Progress was still slow, but in 1976, STAR finally put to sea again. She houses exhibits for the Maritime Museum of San Diego, is kept fully seaworthy, and sails at least once a year. With the many other ships now in the Museum, she hosts frequent docent-led school tours for over 6,000 children a year, as well as a Living History Program in which students 'step back in time' and are immersed in history and teamwork activities during overnight visits.
      The 1863 STAR OF INDIA is the fourth oldest ship afloat in the US, after the 1797 USS CONSTITUTION, the 1841 CHARLES W. MORGAN, and the 1854 USS CONSTELLATION. 
Unlike many preserved or restored vessels, her hull, cabins, and equipment are nearly 100% original.

1961:  "I graduated from high school and my father a State Park Ranger at Half Moon Bay and an associate of Harry Dring got me a job at the "Old Ships Museum". I drove up in my 52 Chevy 4-door with my sea bag and was shown to bunk in the fo'c's'le of the C. A. THAYER. The THAYER, the WAMAPA, and the EUREKA were in the Oakland Estuary. A couple of working tugs and the mouldering ferryboat SAN LEANDRO on one side and a yacht harbor on the other. The memory is still vivid of rising from my historic bunk and making coffee alone on the hotplate in the galley, before using the sea suction in the foggy sunrise to hose off all the freshwater dew from overnight to protect her old hull from rot. I met Dickerhoff and a number of other riggers, and 'gophered' for them as they were building the new lower rigging for the STAR OF INDIA which was being restored in San Diego. They strung up the cables on the main car deck of the Ferryboat EUREKA and tensioned them between posts. Those guys could make a pot of coffee! The smell of Stockholm Tar and oakum and the spin of the mallet was constant for weeks as they wormed and served all that rigging. 20 years later, after the Marines, and college and a little life, I found Harry the king of his realm in the southern wheelhouse of the EUREKA in the new State Park at the foot of Hyde St. in SF. I rapped on the door. Harry, looking surprisingly fit, his pipe still firmly between his teeth, bid me enter. "Remember me?", I said. "Never knew a kid to have more tire trouble." was his immediate response, and I was mortified that all he could remember of me was my teen-aged lies to explain tardiness for work. Now, 56 years later, and in kidney failure, I try not to dwell on the old "skipper" hospitalizing me by ordering me into the hold of the WAMAPA with a Hudson Sprayer full of pentachlorophenol until the dioxin got me. Or, the weeks I spend burning and bubbling a 1/4' of lead paint and scraping it off the bulkheads of that delightful little saloon on the same ship. Or, stripping the 1915 insulation off the steam pipes in the engine room and wrapping the dusty pipes in strips of burlap, then painted muslin to look like the original. Asbestos? You bet. Masks? You jest. I'm not too upset. I've got some great stories. P. L. Sims 

1966: She became a California Historical Landmark and a United States National Historic Landmark.
Location: San Diego Maritime Museum, San Diego, CA., within the Port of San Diego tidelands. This location is slightly west of downtown San Diego, CA.
Captain Ken Reynard
One of the main helpers on the restoration project.
Seen here on the deck of the restored 205' 
5 February 1973, 
San Diego, CA.

Original photo by Bruce Cox, from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.


      STAR OF INDIA has become one of the landmark ships in San Diego's Harbor. 
For some behind the scenes talk and history of this great San Diego preservation team click here
A Link to San Juan County:
Rigger Hans Abrahamsen (1876-1956)
Moved to Doe Bay in 1907.

      Hans Martin Abrahamsen (1876-1956) was born in Larvik, Norway. He started out as a cabin boy at age 9 when he began his sailing ventures and worked his way up to the working role of an expert rigger. The fourth vessel on which he served was the EUTERPE in 1899, from Australia for Honolulu and from there to Port Townsend. He sailed on the west coast of the US for several years. and sailed on another well-known vessel, the KAIULANI. Hans came ashore to Ballard for a short time before he married and settled at Doe Bay, Orcas Island, WA. Hans and his Swedish wife farmed, raised their four children and lived out their lives on Orcas. 
      Sons Al and Harry both worked on the water; some of Al Abrahamsen's work was connected to hardhat diving for salvage from the much-publicized wreck of the DIAMOND KNOT, posted here.
Copy of a document from the Hans Abrahamsen family.
Note the signature of the highly regarded author/ WA. historian,
 serving as the Hawaiian Consul.
Copy in the archives of the S.P.H.S.

Click to enlarge.

11 November 2014


George Parker, Owen Sound, Canada.
Normally a violin and guitar maker, turned to making
steering wheels for ships. These were made of teak or walnut,
and consisted of 50 various wood components. 

Photographer unknown. Collection of S.P.H.S.©. 
In October 1943 when this photo was taken, Canada was turning out freighters at a record breaking pace in 12 shipyards on both coasts. Most of the new ships were of the Liberty 10,000-ton class, and more than 225 sea-going vessels were launched after the war began. Construction methods were similar to those in America. Canada used these ships to carry her own lend-lease supplies to nations all over the world. 

31 October 2014

❖ 32 Lost from the METEOR ❖

Norwegian death ship heading to drydock.
METEOR, near Vancouver, B.C.
32 crew members died in a fire on board
May 1971
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"A tragic marine disaster in Pacific Northwest water was the sudden fire which swept the Norwegian cruise liner METEOR during the early morning hours of 22 May 1971, claiming the lives of 32 crew members.
      The METEOR, a 297-ft motor liner of 2,856 gross tons, built in 1955, had arrived only recently as the first Scandinavian vessel to enter the increasingly popular British Columbia-Alaska cruise trade, with North Land Tours of Seattle as general agents. She was returning from one of her first cruises to the north, carrying only 67 passengers and a crew of 91 when the flash fire broke out below decks forward in the crew area as she was passing Texada Island in the Strait of Georgia, only 60 miles from Vancouver. The flames spread with such incredible rapidity that the 32 victims were trapped below decks and burned or suffocated to death in a matter of minutes. There was little or no apparent exterior damage to the ship.
      The METEOR broadcast a mayday call on VHF Ch 6, but not on the international distress frequency, which is the only one required by law to be monitored by other vessels. Fortunately, the Alaska State ferry MALASPINA, which was in the immediate vicinity, was monitoring both channels and responded quickly to the call, as did Northland Navigation's motor vessel ISLAND PRINCE and the coastal tanker B.C. STANDARD, and several smaller craft. Using boats from the METEOR and MALASPINA, all passengers and four injured crew members were taken aboard the ferry and returned to Vancouver. Most of the passengers were still in nightclothes, so sudden was the disaster and subsequent evacuation of the liner. All of them were united in their praise of the METEOR's surviving crew for their efficiency in fighting the fire and in awakening and evacuating the passengers safely.

Survivors of fire aboard the cruise ship METEOR.
22 May 1971.
Near Vancouver, BC.
Original photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
      The Can. Coast Guard cutters RACER and READY and salvage tug SUDBURY II stood by the METEOR playing hoses on the fire until it was under control, after which the Norwegian vessel reached Vancouver under her own power, although listing about 15 degrees to starboard.
      At the subsequent investigation, Capt. Alf Morner, the METEOR's master, told a grisly story of men 'crawling like animals' through smoke-filled corridors in an attempt to save trapped crew members in the forward section. His voice cracked by sobs, Capt. Morner told an inquest jury at Vancouver he led a small party of men into the fire areas shortly after the fire broke out. He said he shook some bodies he came across and was shocked to learn they were dead because they had not been burned. A Norwegian investigating commission attributed the fire to negligence on the part of one of the crew members, probably through careless disposal of a cigarette.* Apparently, the negligent seaman was one of those who died in the fire.
      Capt. John A. Boden, the Canadian pilot who was aboard the METEOR at the time of the fire, testified that the firefighting efforts of the surviving members of the crew and the work of the two Can. Coast Guard cutters saved the ship from total loss. Capt. Harold Payne, in command of the MALASPINA at the time of the rescue, was subsequently given an award of commendation by Governor William A. Egan of Alaska for him and his crew.

*John Clark, the ship's second engineer, testified that he believed the tragic episode was caused by a misplaced cigarette that may have fallen off a table and set fire to something flammable, spreading to the heavily varnished woodwork. He reasoned that if varnish is heated sufficiently it will ignite, which Clark said would account for the incredible speed with which the fire spread to the crews' quarters on the lower decks."
The above quote from the H. W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest 1966 to 1976, pg. 104-105.
Seen in Seattle, May 1970.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
The Norwegian cruise ship METEOR docked at Pier 48, Seattle, WA., May 1970, one year before her tragic fire. She was owned by the Bergen Lines, the first Scandinavian ship in the trade on the West Coast.

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