"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

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 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.

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."
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. 

Archived Log Entries