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

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San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 750, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

24 January 2014


415 pgs, published by author 2013.
Scudding––To run before the wind. It is usually, but not necessarily, understood to mean before a high wind.
To scud under bare poles––To run before the wind without any sail set, the masts, yards, and rigging of a ship being sufficient to keep way on her, even in a moderate breeze. Vessels may occasionally be seen scudding to an anchorage in large estuaries. That the practice is ancient is certain, for St. Luke speaks of it.       
from A Dictionary of Sea Terms by A. Ansted. Glasgow;
Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd. Nautical Publishers; 1920.
Library of the Saltwater People Historical Society.

Sailor George Maynard, now retired to Port Townsend, WA, published his incredible memoir in July 2013. Thanks to "Heidi," her review is one of many positive ones posted on Amazon:
      "Scudding is a beautifully written memoir about a man who takes his family on a five year sailing voyage around the world--without an engine! But the book is more than just another travelogue. Author George Maynard weaves multiple story lines into one luminous tale.
      One strand of the story portrays the poignancy of family life at sea. As the family sails from port to port, Maynard's three children grow into resilient teenagers. They learn to sail, to navigate unfamiliar cultures, and to sell their own handmade crafts. Another strand of the book depicts the beauty of the places Maynard visits: the Azores, Polynesian and Bali, to name a few. Maynard uses vivid description to bring readers along with him as he breathes the scents and tastes the fruits of these exotic locations. Readers also get to watch as Maynard built his yacht in a New England back yard. Neighbors breathe down Maynard's neck as he works, dispensing advice and warnings.
      But perhaps the most compelling strand of Maynard's book tells of the years he spent in the Navy prior to building SCUD. Maynard was assigned to duty aboard nuclear submarines, and this duty left deep psychological scars. Maynard describes the confinement of submarine life, the terror of cold war "actions" and the secrecy surrounding them. Readers should be prepared for scenes of fear and confusion, and plenty of foul language.

Built by the author, George Maynard.
Photo provided by the author.
       As Maynard tells it, the building and sailing of his sturdy boat SCUD is what saved him from the clutch of his post-cold war demons. Maynard is a poet and philosopher as well as a sailor, and we readers reap the benefits of his long hard look at what life is about, and how to love life despite its apparent lack of meaning.
      As I read Scudding, I felt I was there with Maynard in each scene, whether he was tromping through a Polynesian jungle or sweating in a narrow bunk aboard a submarine. Maynard's writing is compelling. I didn't want to put the book down. I suggest you buy a copy for yourself, and two or three more for friends and family."
From a huge fleet of friends, congratulations George, on a job well done; on the beautiful boat and the beautiful book!
Maynard, George Sherlock. Scudding. Published by George Sherlock Maynard. 2012. 

20 January 2014


Fisherman Island, early 1920s
Photograph by James A. McCormick
Photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S
"Finally, seven years, well, really seven and a half years, had gone by––my parents and grandparents had come a long way since my youth––I felt sure that they could be left alone for a day while I did some serious exploring.
      I had a ship, a mature skiff that could be rowed some distance before requiring serious bailing; my "crew" was a twenty pound mutt that lacked smarts but made up for that with enthusiasm for any adventure. The sail was truly a bed sheet and very adverse to the thought of speed.      
      Before setting sail, mother had suggested that I wait until the fresh bread came out of the oven. I could include a jug of raspberry Kool-Aid, which was well known for it's medicinal qualities on long voyages. Then––to sea!
      The island sat a half-mile off shore, jeweled by the green-gray of the harbor, ready to show the new explorers its unique beauty long hidden by the great distance.
      The crew scampered ashore, anxious to confer with the local residents, which by then were high up in Madrona trees. All around us heavy moss covered the rocks, Easter Lilies filled the hollows and bright red Indian Paint Brush mixed with uncountable varieties of other spring growth. Wild vetch filled in all the gaps, reaching higher than our heads, so progress was slow. Scrub Juniper scented the air, giving off an aroma of my Grandmother's yarn chest. We struggled on over downed trees and under brush until reaching the outer side of the island, to a gravel beach just right for explorers our size.     
      There we found a sun bleached sun log of the proper size. Here the badly crushed ship-stores could be put to their intended use in peace and comfort. Of course, peanut butter is good anywhere on Mom's fresh bread, but here shared with my crew, it was especially satisfying. 
      My crew would vary with time, but the scene would remain much the same for many years to come. With a couple of friends, we caught four rabbits from another island and released them on "our" island. They became many fat and happy vetch mowers until the crew from a summer boat shot them all and left the piles of carcasses among the Juniper scrub. After that event I didn't return to the little beach until I was 22, following most of three years in Korea in the early 1950s. It was the finest place on earth that day for serious reflections of my war service and on that day, to enjoy once again, Mom's fresh bread.
      Old timers called it Fisherman's Island because it served as a retreat for two old fishermen brothers. One was Chris; this was where he could escape from the tourist noise and summer dances, but in the winter old Chris returned to putter on his quarter acre tucked between Pearmain's homestead and the cannery [Deer Harbor]. He built, among other things, a snug three-room cabin to rent to those same tourists. The bedroom was mostly windows that looked out on "his" island. He called the cabin Bonnie View with a large sign on the front insisting others should do so, too.  That was 1938. After many remodels, my bedroom, still with many windows, looks out on the harbor with the island in full view, only now it is called Fawn Island and is mistress to someone in Hollywood."
Above text by early-timer islander L. W. "Corkey" North 2010.

13 January 2014


The Swiftsure and those who sail it have earned distinction in the world of offshore ocean racing. The course, set against the rugged American Northwest, offers a rare blend of treachery and challenge, opportunity, and ambiance.        
      Here is an article from Yachting that appeared in May 1982 by one of the late, great sailors of the Northwest, Phil Johnston.

1937 Alaska Steamship Company menu
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.
      "On a good day, the scenery is grand. You pass from Victoria's beckoning foreshore to the Strait that passes between the 10,000-ft backbone of Vancouver Island and the equally high Olympics to the south. Then you race into the ocean with its backdrop of shrouded, rocky shores. Enough of this and you can easily imagine the silent passage of a Haida Indian war canoe, or the sailing ships of early traders.
The strong tides encountered in the area alternately smooth the water or set up hideously sharp breaking seas, under-run by a substantial swell in the outer part of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Westerly airflow, encouraged by a strong, thermal gradient, produces afternoon winds to 25 or 30 knots, usually flowing in opposition to a strong ebbing tide.
The Swiftsure Bank, named after a British survey ship of the late 1880s, is the turning mark for the race that has developed into a premier Northwest racing event––neither our longest nor always the most challenging tactically, but taken in sum a most ideal off-shore test.
The race began in 1930 and was contested only three times before the start of WW II. But that was enough to set a pattern. Racing began again in 1947, attracting from 10 to 25 boats. Until 1947, most of the competitors came from the Seattle-Tacoma area, joined by a few Canadians. William Buchan, Sr, sailed in the 1947 Swiftsure. The Buchans have dominated the racing ever since.
After 1957, the Canadians began to take a serious interest again, particularly Ches Rickard, Pat Leslie, and Bill Moore, from Vancouver. During these years, two fine old boats came to stay and compete successfully. Olin Stephen's world-beater DORADE, owned and sailed by Franklin Eddy, and MARY BOWER from England, possessing a similarly stellar history. In 1958, the entry list doubled, and doubled again, approaching 100 by 1967.
Through all these years, the Swiftsure has built upon itself, each race intertwining in an endless voyage. Friday evening before the race, Victoria's Inner Harbor is filled with the bulk of the racing fleet. Boats of all sizes form a solid raft. There is a pervasive, but slightly subdued, carnival air about it all,––subdued, I think, because of the anticipation of the start the following morning. By 11 o'clock, the harbor is still.
Planning for a nine o'clock start, we are up at six to eat, probably at the Crest Motor Inn coffee shop, or the Empress Hotel Garden court, both of which open early this morning as an accommodation to the racers. The raft breaks quietly sometime after eight o'clock in order to motor and sail the three miles to the starting area, with skipper and crew waiting for the first true taste of the morning winds.
These mornings are typified by flat, protected seas and rippling breezes to 15 knots. While Race Rocks is not a mark of the course, the passage inside it is closest to the rhumb line. Toward the middle of the afternoon, or a bit later, the ebb will have turned to flatten the sea, and the winds become light and puffy. For the next three hours, there is hard work, with little progress against a two-knot flood.
Past the middle of the Strait, the roll from the Pacific becomes more evident. By sundown you hope to be off Cape Flattery, making a departure for the Swiftsure Bank. You begin to sense the northerly pull of the counter-current coming up the ocean beaches of the Washington Coast. Typical rounding time at the Swiftsure Bank is between midnight Saturday and four to five o'clock on Sunday morning. Often, as the fleet waits in light air, widely scattered between the shores of the outer strait, the race seems to start again.
Often after rounding, there is a good chance that a strong westerly will build slowly. The fleet picks up speed.  It's more comfortable now. You settle into it. Soon, the boats are beginning to surf. The wind continues to rise, as does the excitement. The tender boats with tentative helmsmen experience knockdowns.
For the few hours it takes, the sailing receives your full attention. Now the boats pass into an area of cross-rips as they approach Beachey Head, three miles west of the Race. Knockdowns are more common in the confused breaking seas. As the current picks up and the boats get farther into the race, the water smooths and you brace for the next event––a wild reach and run to the Victoria breakwater and the finish. There have been many classic duels here. In 1966, John Long's MARY BOWER picked off Henry Kotkins's DIAMOND HEAD by less than a second at the breakwater, capturing the prized "City of Victoria" trophy. Several hundred spectators cheered him on and seemed to duck the spinnaker of the MARY BOWER as she drove across.
Impressions are built up over the years and trigger recollections. I retain a strong, very physical impression of the power of the sea, gathered in 1964, while driving Bill Baillargeon's 31-ft MISTRAL through the ten-ft breaking waves off the mouth of the Strait at night. And one night aboard my 39-ft SQAIP, in moderate conditions with much phosphorescence on the water, I spent two hours lying on the bow, fascinated with the star streaks of the hundreds of dogfish darting at random across the bow as they raced the boat through the water.
And I remember the crew. Larry Clein saw me through two of my boats and into the third before retiring. He was a provisioner, general supervisor, ship's morale officer, and sometimes cook if he was treated well. He was a man who could nap all day and stay awake all night; an indispensable man. Jack Cahill sailed with me for several years before he knew that it was time to do it himself. Jack now sails his Cal 40 SPECTRE, and with each rising dawn who's there? SPECTRE and Jack. The youngsters from the Seattle YC, Rick Martin and Ro Pearsall, started sailing with me in their teens, lending me their well-honed dinghy skills. All of them are individuals, but they share one characteristic––to give themselves wholly to the ship, asking nothing in return except the opportunity.
Despite the common strain that has characterized Swiftsure, there have been some changes. The Juan de Fuca Race for smaller boats was inaugurated in 1962 and is now almost as large as Swiftsure. And a broad sweep of varying yachts––in size and design––sail through the memory. In 1976 Kim Kilroy brought KIALOA. In 1978, it was Mark Johnson's WINDWARD PASSAGE. Throughout the seventies, the 12-Meter WEATHERLY has sailed out of Tacoma with Alan Buchan at the helm. Also in 1978, we were treated to a match race between DRIFTER and MERLIN, the ultralights. Each year, new boats like the 101s, the Olson 30s, and this year's expected crop of Santa Cruz 50s can make their mark in the race.
It is all a kaleidoscopic image of competition, people, boats, sea conditions, dinners, parties, and imaginings. It's a few sails home to Seattle the day after the race under an easy-riding spinnaker, across the Straits and down through the inlets forming our inland sea, with rum, funny stories, and a relaxed crew. I keep coming back. We all keep coming back."
The 1982 Swiftsure Lightship Classic marked Johnston's 20th.

08 January 2014

❖ Castaways from the FARALLON Wreck in the ice January 1910 ❖

 FARALLON Wreck, 5 January 1910,  Passengers rescued; Five of Crew Missing!
Passengers and crew from the wreck of the FARALLON. 
"There was no hardship experienced by anyone at the time 
the ship was wrecked. She glided onto the reef. 
We were thrown a step or two forward, our eyes stuck out, 
our hair stood on end, and that was all there was to it.
But the following thirty days on that barren, icy, beach 
was an experience that tried men's souls and showed 
the mettle, good or bad, of which each one was composed." 

Quote and photo by photographer, J. E. Thwaites.
Original print from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"Although the outside world did not know it, passengers and crew of the wrecked steamship FARALLON were camped on an Alaska beach, with the temperature far below zero.
      They had been on the beach almost a month.
      The FARALLON, that had sailed from Seattle the previous 17 December, had been wrecked 5 January. But in those days of slow communications the news did not get to Seattle until 5 February.
      A copy of The Seattle Times for that day was found recently by Capt. Philip H. Luther, a Puget Sound pilot, when he was going through some old papers.
      The story, under a Seward dateline, said:
      "Steamship FARALLON is a total wreck on a reef near Iliamna Bay; five members of her crew are believed to have perished in a desperate attempt to obtain relief for the passengers.
      The passengers and the other members of the crew arrived here this morning aboard the steamship VICTORIA, by which they were rescued 3 February, after spending nearly a month encamped in weather frequently 40 degrees below zero.
      The FARALLON ran to her doom during a blinding snow storm. She struck solidly and it was soon realized that there was no hope for her.
      The tide was rising and soon the vessel was listing badly. There was no sea, however, and the passengers and crew managed to take to the boats without great difficulty.
      It also was possible to get supplies and some heavy clothing and bedding ashore, and the castaways went into camp under fairly comfortable circumstances.
      On 7 January the second mate and four sailors started in a small boat for Kodiak, where they expected to connect with one of the other vessels of the Alaska Steamship Co, which owns the FARALLON. Since then these men have not been heard from, and there is practically no hope that they are alive.
      The weather in the locality of the wreck has been unusually cold and there have been several storms since the men started out. The VICTORIA spent as much time as possible searching for the boat and its little crew, but was obliged to continue to this city because of the condition of the rescued.
      Despite the fact that they were fairly well supplied with clothing and easily obtained wood for fuel, the castaways suffered greatly from the severe cold. None, however, is seriously the worse for the experience."
The Seattle Times, 5 February 1910.

      The dispatch from Seward the next day gave additional details.
      The second mate trying to reach Kodiak 150-miles from the wreck was Gus Swanson. Volunteers with him were Charles Peterson, Otto Nelson, Capt. Weeding A. Bailey, and Charles Born.
      The master of the FARALLON was Capt. J. C. Hunter.
      Contradicting the initial report, the later story said that for the men on shore "the chief difficulty was the lack of fuel, the nearest timber being more than a mile away."
      There had been joy when the VICTORIA was sighted, but despair when it became evident she had not seen the group on shore and was sailing on by. Men then jumped into life boats and tried to head off the VICTORIA. Fortunately, the boats were seen by the ship.

       An earlier log entry, with vessel images, may be seen here

03 January 2014

❖ Bark COLONEL De VILLEBOIS MAREUIL ❖ Columbia River Bar

As she passed in over the Columbia River Bar
October 1912 from tug GOLIAH, 

captured by Captain Orison Beaton!
One of his best-known photos and one
often published in maritime history books,
with Capt. Beaton's name erased.
"I saw this enormous sea rolling up astern, and
from the tug, it appeared as if the bark were being
engulfed. My camera was ready and I ducked
hurriedly out of the pilot house door, snapped the
picture, and got back inside just as the GOLIAH
herself was smothered in foam. Light conditions
were very poor and it was necessary to develop
the negative an extra long time in order to
bring up an image."
Captain's quote caught by H. W. McCurdy.
This print was kindly donated by retired
mariner R. L. Haugland, Seattle, WA.

      "The wind roared loud, and the waves were so heavy that I retreated to my berth and lay down, but I could not keep my mind off the thought of how deep the water was under us. The vessel [at times] seemed as if it were trying to stand on one end. I felt so frightened...
      I spoke to the captain and he did not give me much answer but later came to me and said, 'are you able to go to the forward part of the ship with me?' It seemed almost too frightful to go [but we went and] he helped me to the bow saying, 'kneel down...look under the ship.' It was one of the most beautiful sights I ever saw––such a height of foam and rainbows under it. Then he took me to the other side that was in shadows; and there the water was whirled into the most beautiful shapes, standing out distinct from each other, from the swiftness of the motion. Presently the captain said, 'men don't often speak of these things to each other but I feel the beauty of it. Nights when the vessel is moving fast I come forward and watch here for hours and hours and dream over it.' When I thought of it afterward, I wondered how he could know that the way to answer my fears was to show me what was so beautiful. I was not afraid anymore whatever the vessel did."
Above quote from Leighton, C. C. Life at Puget Sound; Boston. Lee & Shepherd, 1884. 

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