"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 700, 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

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