"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

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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.

27 October 2015


Completed 1936, Roche Harbor, WA. 
Photograph dated May 1948.
Original from the archives of the S.P.H. S.©
"In 1936, following the building of twenty simple frame cottages for married workers and their families, at the age of eighty-one, John McMillin turned his attention to construction of the family mausoleum––a tholos, or circular temple-like monument of local limestone and cement on a elevated site northeast of the workers' cottages and cemetery. Before the second growth timber reached its maturity, the site commanded a panorama of Afterglow Beach and Haro Strait beyond. The entrance to the mausoleum precinct is marked by a masonry gateway with filigree arch bearing the title "Afterglow Vista." The restraint which McMillin had exercised in constructing his own residence in the heart of the company town some sixteen years or more earlier was now abandoned. The project was a means for the company founder to honor his deceased older son and to express his personal views about life and death.
The dinner table within the mausoleum,
in the seats of which are urns containing 
the ashes of the departed.
Photo dated 30 May 1948.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      In designing the structure, McMillin (a Mason of the 32nd Degree) drew upon the symbolism of Freemasonry as well as his own concept of family unity. Flights of three, five and seven steps ascending the tholos mound are understood to be allusions to the three stages of life, the five orders of architecture, and the seven liberal arts. The colonnade is formed by seven fluted Tuscan columns thirty feet in height, the seventh of which is broken to signify the broken column of human life and, specifically, the severed life ties of the builder. 
The mausoleum in which is written
the story of freemasonary.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo dated 30 May 1948, from the archives
of the Saltwater People Historical Society (c)
A concrete architrave with trefoil arches was intended to support a bronze dome surmounted by a Maltese cross. The latter would have represented McMillin's life-long devotion to Sigma Chi fraternity (he was the first grand consul.) However, the $20,000 custom order for the dome was canceled at the last minute as an extravagance which could be ill-afforded. In the center of the stone-paved floor were crypts where ashes were to be inurned. These took the form of six chairs arranged around a roundtable in limitation of the family dining style. The device was to symbolize reunion after death. Appropriate inscriptions were added to each of the stone chair backs. Reportedly, the ultimate refinement of this elaborate monument was an orientation in such a way that each June the setting sun shone through the broken column on the west onto the crypts of the family head and his wife on the opposite side.
      The project was completed, without the dome, in the spring of 1936 at a cost of $30,000. John S. McMillin died the following November, and his remains were placed in the mausoleum to join those of his son Fred (1880-1922.) Other family crypts were filled as time went on. The monument is still maintained as a memorial and feature of the resort."
The Roche Harbor Resort was added to the National Record of Historic Places 29 August 1977. File # 77001356. The 25-page application including the above text, in the public domain, was prepared by Elisabeth Walton Potter.
      Contrary to the assumption of a few visitors to the tomb, no chairs have been left out.
      A book, Roche Harbor, A Saga in the San Juans was written and published by Lynette Evans and George Burley in 1972. They tell of the eerily beautiful mausoleum and the company town ruled by lime magnate John S. McMillin. 

21 October 2015


21 September 1933.

Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
DORJUN, hopping on board the WEST MAHWAH 
with Amos Burg, dated Sept. 1933.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
In quest of photographs of disappearing Indian tribes of the Cape Horn Islands, Amos Burg (1889-1986), Portland, OR, explorer, author, lecturer, purchased this 1905 US Life Service boat and had it shipped to his home state of Oregon. Lashed to the deck of the WEST MAHWAH, they sailed from San Francisco, CA. in September 1933. Burg was keen to study the Cape Horn Islands for what became well known reports for the National Geographic Society. The assignment lasted almost four months. 
      DORJUN has her own website if you'd like to read about her later life owned by the Bruce Garman family in the San Juan Islands, as well as her restoration in Port Townsend, WA., click here.
26-ft DORJUN, 
Stormbound in Tierra del Fuego, with Amos Burg.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
L-R: Amos Burg
and seaman Fred "Spokane" Hill

 photo by Pacific-Atlantic Photos, Inc.
from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
Fred "Spokane" Hill, an experienced seaman, met the novice Amos Burg aboard the S.S. WAIKIKI in 1913. They became fast friends who voyaged the inside passage, working salmon canneries to pay expenses. Next, they became the first to paddle the Columbia River, from the head quarters in Columbia Lake, BC, to the Pacific, 20 Oct 1924 to 7 Jan 1925; this before the c.14 dams were constructed. 
      From this point Burg became a sought after speaker in Portland and soon after, on the national circuit, before he headed off to explore South America, from the port town of Magellanes, Chile (present day Punta Arenas.) Amos was solo until, through the aid of the captain of the southbound steamship, introduced to a young crew member, Roy Pepper (1914-2005.) Pepper described himself as "1st Mate, Steward, Chief Cook, Sailor, Bosun, 2nd Engineer, most everything else. Amos was impressed that Pepper could bake biscuits without an oven and cut his hair with a jack knife; the voyage on the WEST MAHWAH was  Pepper's first time at sea." 
      Please feel free to comment if you would like to add to the story of DORJUN in the San Juan Archipelago. National Geographic has South America covered.
      Read about the exploits and career of Amos Burg, see The Last Voyageur: Amos Burg and the Rivers of the West by Vince Welsh, Portland, OR. (2011)
      Book search here.

19 October 2015


Allison Hart Lengyel
September 2015
The Sea Inside
Philip Hoare, The Sea Inside
(Brooklyn: Melville House Publishing, 2014)

The sea defines us, connects us, separates us. Most of us experience only its edges, our available wilderness on a crowded island—it’s why we call our coastal towns ‘resorts,’ despite their air of decay” (Hoare, p. 7).

Philip Hoare is the pen name of Patrick Moore, perhaps best known in England for producing the Moby Dick Big Read, an ambitious online audiobook of all 135 chapters of Melville’s classic, delivered by, among others, Tilda Swinton, David Attenborough, and David Cameron. Hoare is also the author of seven works of nonfiction, including a book previously reviewed in this forum, The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea (New York: Ecco Press, 2010).
  The Sea Inside was published in the United States in 2014. It’s a far-ranging memoir, travelogue, philosophical inquiry, and cultural history. Above all, it’s about our relationship to the sea and the shore, with particular emphasis on our long and troubled relationship with cetaceans (particularly sperm whales, blue whales, humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, and porpoises) that continue to roam the world’s oceans despite centuries of exploitation, pollution, habitat destruction, and hunting. It’s also about Hoare’s encounters with scientists who study cetaceans, and with the human outcasts and recluses who live along the shore and make their living there—fishermen, poets, artists, monks, and other travelers. Everywhere Hoare goes—and he visits the Azores, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Nova Scotia, Southern Maine, and Southern England in the course of this book—he gets into the ocean and swims. He swims for exercise every day when he’s at home in Sholing, South Hampton; he swims with dolphins and whales in the open sea, from the Indian Ocean, to the South Pacific, to the north Atlantic. “When you swim in the sea you see it as the cosmos floating all around you. We are ghosts, invaders in a way…” (21 June 2013, theguardian.com). 
Hoare begins his story with a walk through the house where he grew up, in Sholing. “In the years since I have come back to it, the house has grown to become part of me, even as it is falling apart. … Back home, I walk around the house in the dark. I know its rooms as well as I know my own body. I catch myself in the mirror on the landing, hung so that my mother could check her make-up before coming downstairs, her necklace in place, just as my father always wore a tie. Now I look in it and wonder who I am” (Hoare, p. 3 and p. 36). He takes the reader on a tour of the house and of the countryside where he grew up, building his story outward and back in time, from present-day oil refineries in Sholing to his childhood before they existed, all the way back to the history of Roman occupation and the pagan “druidical stones” (round stones with a hole bored through the center), thought to protect people and cattle alike from misfortune or sickness. 
      After the walk through his home and environs, he continues on a walk about his home shores, I think, to demonstrate how the sea is part of our collective past. Familial structures, community, and interdependence are something we share with cetaceans. In subsequent chapters, Hoare roams farther and farther away from England relating stories of natural and human drama as they take place near the sea or in it. Hoare’s book is packed full of details, bits of scientific knowledge, lore, mythology, and history. His observations, often supplemented with scientific data, are also lovingly appreciative. For example, the Humpback whale, up to 50 tons and 50’ long, is a “barnacled angel” that loves to leap out of the water in a graceful arc. While the Sperm whale—which can dive one mile down and stay down for up to two hours—doesn’t “show off” like the Humpback. When it breaches in preparation to dive, it leaps nearly straight up and down. Regardless of style, whales all exhale residual water and spent air from their blow holes and then load their blood with oxygen by taking one or more nearly full tidal breaths —marine mammals’ tidal volume is typically greater than 75% of total lung capacity, compared to the typical terrestrial mammal for whom the typical volume of air inhaled and exhaled in one breath is in the range of 10-15% of TLC. Dolphins have the largest brains, relative to body size, in nature; it’s only logical that such an intelligent animal uses tools, communicates with other communities over a great distance, and has an abstract sense of itself as an individual. Dolphins and sperm whales are both intensely collective, with matrilineal societies. From his close encounter swimming alongside a sperm whale, Hoare reports that “the eye of a whale is absolute sentience” (“Philip Hoare at 5X15,” vimeo.com/68573306). 
      You or I might say The Sea Inside is about encounters with cetaceans around the world. But according to Hoare himself, The Sea Inside is essentially about “the sense of what is home.” He begins the story at home, and he ends the story at home, finally clearing out his late mother’s room six years after her death. “All the things I imagined as a child, all the things I feared; they’re not at the end of the world, and they’re not here, either. I close my notebook and put it on the shelf, along with all the others. There’s no such place as home. And we live there, you and me” (Hoare, p. 340). Perhaps his point is that the ocean is the world for cetaceans and the ocean is our world and our home, too. We are more similar than dissimilar and any separation we perceive is artificial. 
Submitted  by the author to the Saltwater People HIstorical Society Log, SJC, September 2015.

Book search here.

      Although rarely seen in the inland waters of San Juan County, a fin whale—second largest species of whale after the blue whale—recently appeared just off San Juan Island, behaving normally and feeding on krill. A report from the Whale Museum of Friday Harbor can be viewed here.
To read other book reviews and articles written by Allison Hart Lengyel, for Saltwater People, please enter her name in the "search this blog" window at the bottom of the Saltwater People Log home page.

12 October 2015


ON 3866
On Dead Man's Slough above Sedro-Woolley 
with a tow for Bradsbury Logging Co. Top deck areCapt./Mrs. Charles W. Wright, son Vernon, Mrs. Bird, cook.
Main deck: L-R, F.M. Elwell, Frank Anderson, deck hands 
and Wesley Harbert, fireman.
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
Though so many years had passed, nostalgic twinges gripped the writer, at times, as he seemed to hear the melodious whistle, faint and far away, of the old sternwheeler Black Prince as she boils up the Skagit with cool-headed Capt. Forrest Elwell at the wheel. 
      He can still hear people say, upon the sound of the whistle, "here comes the old Black Prince."
      Highlights of this historic steamer are contained in a letter received recently [1964] from Captain Elwell:

      "In the late summer of 1900, Capt. Charles Wright sold the City of Bothell and then the Snohomish and Skagit River Navigation Co was formed by Capt. Charles Wright, Capt. Charles Elwell, and Capt. Vic Pinkerton. It was then decided to build a boat for towing on the Snohomish and Skagit rivers.
      Capt. Elwell made the hull model and Bob Houston was given the job of building the Black Prince."
      Work was started in the winter of 1900, at the Ferry Baker Mill on the Snohomish River where the Canyon Mill stands today.
      Dimensions of the Black Prince were: Hull, 93-ft, LOA, 112-ft, 19-ft B, depth of hold, 4.6-ft, 150 G.T. according to the captain. When the hull and superstructure were completed, she was towed to Seattle by the tug Nellie Pearson, where a pair of 10 x 48 steam engines and a 100-HP brickyard boiler, 150 pounds working pressure were installed.
      "After completion, the Prince came back to Everett under her own power and then went to the Skagit to tow logs and piling," Elwell wrote.
photo postcard mailed 1912.

Photograph by Bayley
Click to enlarge.
from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
      The first crew on the Prince in 1901, was Capt. Elwell; Capt. (Engr.) Wright; engineer Mike Hertzberg; Capt. Pinkerton, Forrest Elwell, deckhand, and Wes Harbert, fireman.
      "In the late summer of 1901, she made a trip between Novelty and Tolt. In 1902, the Prince took a tow from Haskell Slough (near Monroe) to the mouth of the Snohomish River. 
      On 7 July 1903, loaded 50 tons of machinery at Mount Vernon  ✪ ✪ ✪ (click on "read more")

08 October 2015


Pen Cove Mussels, from Whidbey Island, WA.
 For sale live at the popular
Seattle Fish Co

fish shop and grill, West Seattle, WA.
Saltwater People photo after a delicious lunch.
Living on an island, we eat a fair bit of seafood. We’re surrounded by the Salish Sea—a Pacific coastal waterway between the US and Canada. Most people on the island, if they have a boat, have a crab license. If they don’t have a boat, they can dig along the shore for clams or pry some oysters off the rocks. The ambitious put out strings or bags of seed oysters and grow their own. A few people with large boats have special deep-water winches, lines, and pots to fish for spot prawns in the waters just off shore; others are primarily after salmon or halibut. A visiting marine biologist came to the island’s school a few years ago and taught the children about all the surprising edible foods they could find at the beach. They culminated their study with a feast of barnacles, snails, chitons, bladderwrack, sea lettuce, hijiki, wakame, and bullwhip kelp, prepared by the children and eaten on the sand.
      Intertidal gastropods and seaweed are perfect for children, since they’re both exotic and fairly easy picking, but my favorite seafood is a mollusk: the mussel. Until I was almost 17, however, I didn’t even realize they were edible. They grew throughout the rocky tide pools in Oregon and clung to the pilings along the wharves, their long hairy beards sinuously waving in the currents. My people didn’t eat mussels, though; no Oregonians did, as far as I knew, although the more worldly or well traveled might have. They hadn’t shown up yet in our grocery stores or on our restaurant menus in the 1980s. It took an exchange student from Belgium who went walking with me on the beach one day to point out the delicacies unloved and unsought along the shore. In Belgium, of course, mussels are the key component of moules frites, and, alongside a cellar-temperature beer, practically the country’s national meal.
      But a creosote-covered piling or the pressure-treated wood of a dock is no place to harvest mussels. If you’re foraging, you want to find them on rocks or in tide pools, someplace that’s relatively clean and not impregnated with chemicals. You also want to avoid collecting them during a so-called red tide, the common name for a harmful algal bloom that can make the water turn red, depleting the oxygen in the water and causing the buildup of neurotoxins in filter feeders like mussels. However, the water in a red tide isn’t always red, and using the old mnemonic of avoiding collection during months without the letter “R” isn’t reliable, either. The state maintains a website with current red tide warnings and closures, so you can be fairly sure that the mussels you’re collecting won’t lead to neurotoxic, amnesiac, diarrheal, or paralytic shellfish poisoning—just to cover the main ways that mussels can make you sick or kill you.
      Another precaution is to cook only mussels that are alive. Live mussels will be tightly closed. If they’re just slightly open, you can tap on their shells with a spoon and if they respond by immediately closing, they’re alive. If they don’t respond, they’re dead and you should discard them. Once you’re sure they’re alive, you should soak them in a bowl of cool, fresh water for 20 to 30 minutes to allow them to purge themselves of grit. Then you scrub their shells and debeard them. Debearding is easy; you hold the shell in one hand and tug the beard to the side with the other hand, perhaps wrapping your fingers in a towel for traction, to remove the thin, sticky threads the mussels use to attach themselves to rocks. And then they’re ready to cook. But first you have to find them, which frequently means buying them at the grocery store if there’s no safe, legal place to find them wild.
       Our waterfront property includes just a tiny portion of beach, about thirty feet wide, with no tide pools or big rocks. Most of the beach above the mean low tide mark in Washington State is privately owned, which means that you can’t just wander over to your neighbor’s property and boost their mussels. Most of the tide pools on the island are actually on the tidelands of an 866-acre biological preserve, which makes everything there (including shellfish, also driftwood, agates, and wildflowers) off limits for collection.
      I spend a lot of time in the summer drifting about the bay in a kayak that washed up on

05 October 2015

❖ POINT WILSON, The Greeter Light ❖

Point Wilson Lighthouse,
Port Townsend, Washington.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"There was much fanfare when Point Wilson Lighthouse was established at the west side entrance to Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound in 1879. Its strategic location was near the bustling seaport town of Port Townsend, which was in those years targeted for the major shipping center for that corner of the world. Sailing vessels and steamers ran in and out of the port with regularity, and next to San Francisco, no port had a more boisterous and sinful waterfront that did old Port Townsend. Houses of ill repute were numerous and the shanghaiing of sailors and drifters was a day to day occupation for both runners and grog shop owners.
      Every navigator entering or departing Puget Sound had to take Pt. Wilson into his reckoning if he didn't want to strike an obstruction lurking under the salty brine. When the weather was clear one could properly give the point a wide berth, but the culprit was fog, and when it settled over the local waters, sailor beware. Unfortunately, for three decades after settlement of the area, mariners rounded Pt. Wilson without the assistance of either a guiding light or fog signal, rather incredulous when one considers the importance of the major turning point from the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Admiralty Inlet.
      Pressure of the most determined variety finally got action from the Lighthouse Board to press Congress for funds, and on 15 December 1879, the beacon became a reality. It was a light of the fourth order, and to alert ships in foggy periods, a 12-inch steam whistle was installed.
      David M. Littlefield, a veteran of the Civil War and a highly respected citizen of the community was the unanimous choice of the lighthouse inspector to serve as the guardian of the light.
Point Wilson Lighthouse,
Port Townsend, Washington.
Photo by P.M. Richardson pre-1911.

Original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Captain George Vancouver, the renowned British navigator probably rested easier in his grave knowing that the spike of land which he named Point Wilson [for his 'esteemed friend' Captain George Wilson, of the British Navy] was finally marked by a navigation aid. He rounded the tip of the sandy promontory in a heavy fog and was unable to judge the extent of the body of water into which he had entered. With some of his men charting the shore and others sounding in the boats, he continued sailing along the beach until another projection, now known as Point Hudson, was sighted. There as if by magic, the sun broke through revealing perhaps the most beautiful scenery ever seen by the eyes of the sea-weary Britishers. Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound were gazed upon in rapture. To the northeast, a mountain towered above the foothills, reflecting the glow of the noonday sun. The Utopian site was the same mountain sighted earlier from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to which Vancouver applied the name Baker. Against the western horizon were the snow-capped peaks of the Olympics with their dynamic, sawtooth character, and above the skyline to the south, the greatest surprise of all––king over all it surveyed, the lofty 14,000-ft majestic, snow-covered mountain to which the explorer bestowed the name Rainier, after Rear Admiral Rainier of the British Navy. Unfortunately, little regard was given to the ageless name applied by the native Indians––Tahoma. Beneath that marvelous ring of mountain ranges spread a series of deep, intricate waterways, the fabulous inland sea which was named for another British man of the sea––Peter Puget. Puget Sound was to become a place set apart. 
Point Wilson Lighthouse and Fort Worden,
Port Townsend, Washington.

Photo by P. M. Richardson from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
      Point Wilson, once the haunt of Indians who brought their canoes to rest on its shores, and fished its bountiful waters for centuries, was now the site of a lighthouse. It was a 46-ft frame tower rising from the keeper's dwelling, with a fog signal unit attached. To differentiate the sentinel from the one on Admiralty Head, the fixed white light in the lantern was varied by a red flash every 20 seconds.
      A share of vessels have met with mishap near Point Wilson, but the lighthouse has been a welcome sight to mariners ever since its inception. Though Port Townsend was destined to lose out to other Puget Sound ports as the hub of shipping, specifically after the rail links remained on the eastern shores of the Sound, it nevertheless played a key role in maritime history. The lighthouse became the greeter light for the entire Puget Sound area and continues that important role today." 
Text from: Lighthouses of the Pacific, Gibbs, Jim. 1986. Schiffer Publishing Co.

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