"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.

24 June 2015


Canoe Races in Fifth Annual Water Festival
Coupeville, Wa. August 1934.
Eleven paddlers from Saanich, BC were winners this year.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Long wooden canoes with seventy-seven natives
Summer 1939

Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
"Bronzed backs bending to their work, over seventy-five paddlers set out in seven war canoes on a gruelling three and one half mile race up and down Penn Cove, during Coupeville's Indian Water Festival and International War Canoe Races, fighting for top rung in the ladder of sport their Indian forefathers practiced by the hour when not hunting or fishing.
      Despite the handicap of a ferry strike that reduced water transportation almost to nothing, the Island city was host to thousands of visitors who drove over the Deception Pass Bridge at the northern end of the island to see the program that included parades, Indian games, dances and canoe races with people from twenty tribes, band concerts, street dances and carnival attractions that transformed the main street into a gay midway."
The Seattle Times 20 August 1939

20 June 2015


Original photo dated 1935

Click to enlarge.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
The WESTPORT, one of the 14 ships of the Pacific Coast whaling fleet, shown leaving Seattle for the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea, some of which were uncharted at the time of this photo. With the harpoon gun on her prow, the men believed there would be a big profit in whale oil that year.
The next year, the crew of the Seattle whaler WESTPORT,
had their ship breakup on Bight Reef in the Aleutians

15 Sept. 1936.
The crew escaped and was brought to Seattle, 
5 October, on the Coast Guard cutter CHELAN.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

1912: Built by the former Moran Brothers Shipyard (renamed the Seattle Construction and Drydock Co.) for Gray's Harbor Station of the American Pacific Whaling Co.

G.t. 116 / 59 N.t. 
88' Reg. L.  x 19.0' x 11.5'
450 HP-triple expansion engine, single Scotch boilers of 180 lb. working pressure.

1934: Capt. Harold C. Kristensen, 50, master of WESTPORT, killed when the harpoon gun he had fired, collapsed, & its heavy steel frame toppled over on him in western AK waters.

1935: WESTPORT lost off Akutan, AK., September 1936. No lives lost.
Above dated material from H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest . Newell, Gordon, editor.

15 June 2015


Photograph by John E. Thwaites, Alaska/Seattle, WA.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Seymour Narrows, Discovery Passage,
with the remains of the infamous Ripple Rock 
below the freighter.
50°.00' N 125° 21.' W.
Photo date, 21 May 1958.
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.© 

Named by Capt. Richards, RN, and long a menace to navigation, this passage was described by Captain Vancouver as "part of the vilest stretch of water in the world."
      Ripple Rock had its top successfully blown off at 9:33 am April 1958, after the R.C.M.P. cleared people from a 3-mile area around the site. There were two unsuccessful tries in 1943 and 1945 when 9 men died. 
      Ripple Rock consisted of two underwater peaks, just close to the water's surface in Seymour Narrows, between Vancouver Island and the mainland, about 100 miles north of Vancouver, B.C. The twin peaks rose in the middle of  the Narrows, part of the marine trade route since the beginning of boats, and the route for the Race to AK still underway (as this is written), for the toughies paddling and sailing to Ketchikan from Port Townsend, WA. 
      Over the years, at least 110 people have drowned as a result of wrecks impaled on the rock.
      High explosives, 2,750,00 pounds, were used for the blast, the largest non-atomic explosion ever detonated up to that time. The explosion was televised nationally from coast to coast in Canada.

12 June 2015

❖ RACE from ALASKA ❖ with Schooner NANUK

As the R2AK sailors out of Port Townsend, WA, near the finish of the Race to Alaska, for a chance to survive the challenging coast of British Columbia, without using a motor, and perhaps taking home the $10,000 prize, we salute the excitement they have showered on the world of sailing. 
    This is a post of another coastal race that earned the master no glory but a large sum. From the archives:
Home from Alaska, 16 October 1925.

Blt by Hans D. Bendixsen at Fairhaven, CA.
Original photo by Cleve and Acme from archives of S.P.H.S.©
Captain C. T. Pederson, master NANUK
16 October 1925, San Francisco.
Pederson was one of the last, if not the last of the 19th c.
Arctic whalers, fur traders and navigators.

Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S. ©
Auxiliary schooner NANUK, winner of the annual fur-traders race between Alaska and San Francisco.
      During this time period NANUK was owned and skippered by Capt. C. T. Pederson, whose wife always sailed along with him. His 1925 cargo was worth $270,000––the largest cargo of furs ever brought to San Francisco to date, it was said. (That sum converts to c. $3,650,000 for today's date.)

1927: The NANUK was sold to the well known Olaf Swenson of Swenson Fur Trading Co of Seattle. He was one of the world's largest dealers in furs. 

1933: Nanuk was purchased by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for filming the Eskimo with Capt. James A. Hersey in command.

"Making a Movie in the Far North",
from the NANUK, 1933.

The upper photo shows the expedition 
approaching a walrus on an ice pack.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

NANUK is cruising northern waters to find  territory 
for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 
of the hunting and drama scenes.  
The small and not particularly comfortable vessel 
carried fifty tons of general equipment, including heating
 and food for the men during their nine-month stay in AK.
"Eskimo" after the novel of the same name by Peter Freuchen,
was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, remembered for "White Shadows 
in South Seas" and "Trader Horn."
Original photos, dated 1933, from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Biblio: Movie reference and Swenson purchase data from H. W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW, edited by Gordon Newell.

07 June 2015

❖ Fish Boat SINBAD ❖ 1943 ❖

Built at Hix Bay, Shaw Island, WA, 1943.
Owner/builder Art "Unc" Hoffman.
Original 8" x 10" photo by Rod Peterson, 1971
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
During the winters of the depressed 1930s, Shaw Islander Art Hoffman (1900-1981) was off work from his engineering job on the NEREID and other local cannery tenders. He and his younger brother Delbert (1903-1992) would leap at a chance to hop in Del's launch to motor out to neighboring island beaches, combing for logs. They saved them up for a tow to the Spencer brothers' sawmill on Blakely Island.
      "Unc", as he was commonly called, carved out a scale half model, the lumber was rafted home from Spencer's and the keel for SINBAD was laid near the shore of Hix Bay. The oak framed boat was 36' lod and 32' registered length. She was launched in 1943 on the site where Art's nephew, Henry, would later build his sawmill. The fishing vessel was built with the idea of trolling and was rigged for dragging for scallops for a few years. According to Henry, "Unc used to drag up a lot of different stuff. One day he was particularly thirsty and it's said, he pulled up the drag to find a nice cold bottle of beer.
Arthur "Unc" Hoffman 
Shaw Island, WA. 
Undated photo courtesy of the Hoffman family.
      Later when he bottom fished for cod and halibut he would take a load to Bellingham once a week. Later still, the boat was used for gillnetting."
      The first engine in the SINBAD was a Stuts Bearcat, a heavy 4-cylinder massive engine, a Pontiac Straight 8, converted. Later it was changed to a Gray '371' Jimmy Diesel.
       It was a pretty picture to see the skookum little SINBAD nestled in Hix Bay, right where she was born.
She was sold out of the family
and is now located in the Seattle area.

Photo courtesy of Ron Lloyd.

04 June 2015


History in the making ☻ ☻ ☻
Here are some photos taken by Saltwater People on 3 June 2015, the afternoon before the 5:30 am start today from Port Townsend, WA.
      The crews are doing last minute adjustments to their rigging while talking to the on lookers milling around them. It was a friendly atmosphere.
      This writer did not awake at start time today; these photos are posted as the leaders are finishing the Port Townsend to Victoria leg. Some entrants will stop here, while others will be heading out for Alaska, trying to earn the $10,000 prize.
       For up to date tracking and information on the racers see R2AK.

Point Hudson, Port Townsend, WA.
all photos from here on 3 June 2015.

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