"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.

27 June 2016


and her Sea Explorer crew
Elliot Bay, Seattle, WA., 1955.
Happy sailors without a vang, but they have
 Charley Noble and John Kelly aboard.

Click to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
"Count me among the dissenters against crotchety nautical terminology. I refuse to call a stove's smokestack a Charle Noble. Up with plain old tin chmineys.
      If a guest aboard my boat asks where the bathroom is, I tell him or her. I have no bathroom aboard. It is a head. But no matter. Let them call the fantail the back porch and never mind.
      Thank heaven I have no vangs aboard. I am not sure what vangs are or is. My handy-dandy mariner's dictionary does not adequately define vangs. I think none is lurking in my gaff-rigged sloop. Or if one is, may it rest undisturbed. My baggywrinkles are fine, thank you.
      I have crutches aboard that have nothing to do with physical impairment. They hold up the mainsail boom when the sail is furled. They are two varnished boards hinged like scissors. The boom rests on the X.
      Nautical terminology is as complicated and wispy as the English language. We try to describe ships, scantlings and rigging in a hodgepodge borrowing from French, Dutch, Spanish, Latin, Scandinavian and Chaucer-era English that when read aloud by an expert sounds like High German.
      It is hopeless.
      I have a doghouse aboard but no dog. I herewith avoid mention of cats and houses for obvious reasons. But "cat" does figure prominently in nautical terminology.
      I am in deep trouble, subject to censure, by my grumblings over traditional nautical designations. I should be an example-setter as the Times maritime editor and an avid weekend sailor and professed old-ships buff. But there comes a time for bare-faced honesty in the name of common sense. 
      I am thinking of installing a gallows on my sloop, but nobody will be hanged. A gallows is a permanent support for the main boom. 
John Alden cutter JOHANNA
launched Shaw Island, 1987.
Sailing the San Juan Islands with her Boom Gallows, 
designed and crafted by Kit Africa.
I used to call a gallows a "fixed boom support" until I was severely corrected.
      The incident happened when I visited a salty-socks live-aboard crony to inquire about his main-boom support on his doghouse topside. It was teak and handsome.
      He listened and then looked at me questioningly.
      'I'm going to eliminate my cock-pit crutch in favor of a fixed boom prop atop my doghouse,' I said.
      How would I have stated it more precisely?
      What you really want is a gallows,' he said smugly.
      'Which would belay the vangs,' I said matter-of-factly with intent to befuddle. Then I laid my topper on him: 'that way, I won't have to watch for bothersome dollops.'
      If you're ever a guest aboard a freighter and wish to impress a master mariner, ask him about the Plimsoll mark on the ship's side. It shows when the maximum load is aboard. Samuel Plimsoll, a Briton, fought valiantly for adoption of the Plimsol mark. He finally won the consensus of an international maritime convention in 1929. 
      Plimsoll marks are complicated. But simplified, the abbreviations signify drafts, such as FW for fresh water, IS for Indian Ocean summer, S for summer, W for winter and WNA for winter in North Atlantic.
      Remember that.
      On your first visit to a yacht, don't call ropes ropes. There are only two ropes aboard––the bell rope and the foot rope on old sailing ships. Call the others lines, sheets or halyards. Please don't ask me why. (Except that a halyard once was a 'haul yard.')
      Speaking of salts, I'll never know why a three-cornered sail is so hard to identify by its parts. 
and some crew of the West Seattle Sea Scouts.
Trying to determine the leach from the luff en route to the
Swiftsure Race in Victoria, B.C., 1955.
L-R: Andy Pederson, Ron McFarlane, Mate Wayne Watters,
Tom Emerson and Lorne Wilson. Out of the photo is the
Skipper, and Sea Scout Master John Kelly.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
To my oversimplified way of thinking, there's a foreside, bottom side and slant side. But heaven forbid substitution for luff (fore,) leech (slant) and foot (bottom.) The ropes, hanging from it are the halyards and sheets. And watch out for the lazy jacks. A lanyard is something else, which many an old salt will defend as a bell rope.
      Once when writing an article I wearied of the repeated word 'sails.' The subject was about sails, but he word became unbearably excessive. So I deftly inserted 'sheets' as inconspicuously as I could––in the vernacular of 'bed sheets.'
      The uproar of reaction in my mailbag was startling. A sheet is a line used for maneuvering sails. On a boat a sheet is a sheet is a sheet.
      There are other peculiarities. A john boat is not what the word implies.
      A gin pole has nothing to do with a martini, but splicing the main brace does. A gimlet is an anchor turned after it has been rove to the hawspipe. Gins are iron sheaves set in iron shells. A jigger is light tackle for various work about docks or to rig booms in or out.
      Port is one side and the starboard the other. Time was, port was known as 'larboard'––often confused in high-wind noise with 'starboard.' So the word was changed.
      Legend has it that a master mariner acquired a secret box when the change to 'port occurred. He kept the box locked. He often left the wheelhouse watch stealthily to open the box and furtively peer within. Then he'd slam the lid and click the lock.
      Finally he retired in old age––swallowed the anchor––and settled ashore in a snug haven. The box was left aboard and unclaimed. It was forced open by those who remembered the old gent's peculiar manners.
      Inside was a scrap of paper with the notation: 'Port means left and starboard means right.'"
Above text verbatim from My Waterfront. Carter, Glen; Seattle, WA. Seagull Books Pub. 1977.



23 June 2016


William A. Clifton, coastguardsman stationed at
the Cape Flattery Light on Tatoosh Island, and his wife, 
were hoisted from a boat to the top of a cliff in a 
canvas-sided basket. They were returning from a weekend off.
Riding the "hook," as they call it, was part of life at Tatoosh. 
Photo dated December 1971.

Click to enlarge.
Three originals from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
This view of Tatoosh Island from the top of the lighthouse,
shows spacious quarters for families, built in the 1930s.
There are also newer residences. The boom, that hoists visitors
and cargo up the cliff is in the background.
Photo same date as above, December 1971.
From the archives of S.P.H.S.©

17 June 2016


ON 539162 
Built by Jensen Shipyard, 1972, for Ernie Gann,
all of San Juan Island, WA.

Photo scan courtesy of Jan and Dave.

Ernest K. Gann
San Juan Island

Dear Ernie:

      You don't know me and perhaps are irked at the gall of a stranger addressing you informally. If so, beg pardon. But your boat was moored near mine the other day, so I tied up and hiked over for a closeup look.
      Curiosity rather than brashness drew me to her. I wanted to see what qualities in a man who had authored 13 books were reflected in his boat. Your 14th. Band of Brothers is just off the press, I'm told.
      I greet you informally because nobody I know on the waterfront around here refers to you as Ernest K. Most of the guys call you Ernie and let it go at that. They know you best, as waterfront men and boaters, through your book, Song of the Siren, in which you described 17 other boats you had sailed.
      As a waterfront newsman I am supposed to be cynical on my beat, but am not. Curious, yes––one reason I went back to look at your 35-ft Diesel cruiser, Strumpet. She was at Commercial Marine on Westlake North where Dave LeClereq and his guys were installing a gurdy and doing other chores. I went aboard and peeked around, with Dave' permission. Besides, she was open and a couple of men were working. They said come aboard, thinking you wouldn't mind. I only looked––didn't touch. 
      I've never written to a book author––or anybody else who was a notable, for that matter. John Wayne's yacht, the Wild Goose, comes to town occasionally. But I have never visited it or him. I mean, it is a converted ex-Navy minesweeper. If you've been aboard one, you've seen 'em all, right? Wayne, I recall, played the lead in The High and the Mighty, which you wrote. Sorry to say I never read it but I did catch the filmed version.
      Also, Bobby Darin, the late singer-actor, was in town and bought the old tug boat Jim. Darin spent a bundle to make the interior posh. But I never went aboard or tried to see him.
      But your Strumpet is something else. The first time I saw her was at night at Doc Freemen's moorage. Ole Johansen, who skippers a rescue vessel he acquired in Norway, was with me. We stood on the pier and ogled the Strumpet like young men would gawk at a beauty queen in a ripped bikini.
      We thought she was an authentic North Sea trawler out of Scotland or perhaps Scandinavia. We stood there in the night's damp chill, wondering who owned her and if she was hauled over in a freighter or sailed across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal and up the coast.
     So I was surprised to learn later that she was designed by Jay Benford of Seattle and built only last  year by the Jensen & Sons Shipyard at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
      The waterfront guys here respect your Strumpet, which as you know is an know is an indirect tip of the watch-cap to the skipper. She's honest, genuine and well done. Those shipwrights at Friday Harbor must have gone all out to put their best into her.
      I'm told you were very particular about details during architectural planning and actual construction. A hull containing all the thick cedar, oak and he finest fir has to be skookum. The interior mahogany, bereft of plastic and cuteness, is soothing to the eye.
      The guys installing the gurdy said you apparently were going deep-water fishing, probably for halibut.
      The first thing that held my eye was her canoe-like stern, quite full and nearly round to provide lift in following seas. She's got an extraordinary fantail, all right––like a plump little blond I used to know in bygone years. But she wasn't as beamy in proportion––the blond, I mean. A 12-ft width on a 35 length is a lot of broad.
      The most eye-grabbing object in the wheelhouse was the shiny brass engine telegraph. For a moment I envisioned your buddy, La Frenier, on all fours in the engine compartment, acknowledging your engine-speed signals. As I read Sirens describing you and him in the fish boat Fred Holmes. I thought you were a goner while crossing that stormy bar at Astoria. Then I realized the Strumpet's engine was bridge-controlled and the telegraph was only a throttle-gearshift.
      Your Strumpet is the first boat I've seen with a solid-copper stovepipe. Never knew they existed. In fact, I've never seen as much copper tubing in a boat. Most of the guys use galvanized, black iron or plastic stuff around here. I'm told the 6-cylinder engine lets her cruise nicely at seven knots and with a fuel capacity to permit a 1,250-mile range. Benford said she exceeded by about a knot his architectural predictions on paper.
      Something else about the Strumpet. I never saw a 35-footer with three stoves aboard––one aft, one in the galley, and one in the forecastle bunk area. Usually a galley stove is sufficient. At least one old wood burner is enough in my gaff-rigged sloop. The little kerosene "swede stove" in the bunk area was a delightful surprise–solid brass, too. 
      Your padded engine room floor is the only way to go. They told me the lining in the compartment effectively deadens the engine noise.
Ernie Gann
In his studio on San Juan Island. 

Original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Another reason I went to see her was to learn what you have evolved to after owning 17 boats since your boyhood days. That's how many you described in Sirens. I recall the imposing Albatros, the old bucket that was object of your biggest love affair, and the tiny Thetis that charmed you. And the fish boat, Fred Holmes, which you and La Frenier took a beating off Oregon. Also the quirky Don Quixote which needed a blowtorch to start its cantankerous engine. Then there was the Butterfly, hardly more than a raft with patchwork sails that rose and nearly soared gull-like before the wind.
      You ended the book with the Albatros, and I often wondered what you went down to the sea in after her. Evidently the Strumpet now is your sequel siren.
      Here in Puget Sound country, in this cold and wet wintery state of affairs, I often chicken out when the cover tarps stiffen and ice forms on deck. Then I am landlocked and wait impatiently for sunshine to break through. When it does finally come, I remember that last italicized paragraph in Sirens:
      "I think we can sail today. Both the wind and the sea have gone down and there is a patch of blue sky to the north as big as a Dutchman's pants. Which is invitation enough for any sailor."
      The guys at the marine yard installed your fishing gurdy good and proper. They mounted it on a teak pad and socked in plenty of bedding compound.
      Good fishing out there, Ernie.
Above text: Carter, Glen. My Waterfront. Seattle; Seagull Books Co. 1977.
There is another post on Gann and his Strumpet posted here.

12 June 2016


This 1951 brochure
 announced 19 ferries 
that were included in the 
purchase to establish the world's
largest ferry system.
On the inside page of the folder,
the State listed the purchase 
cost at $6,800,000.
Courtesy of historian R.R. Burke
Captain Alex M. Peabody (L) six years after
the State took over Puget Sound Navigation Co.

In this photo, he is down from BC to attend a
party given 
by the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. 
The honoree was WSF Senior Master Captain Louis Van Bogaert on
his retirement after sailing on the Sound for 54 years. 
Original 1957 dated photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
In the early morning darkness sixty-five years ago at Colman Dock, Capt. Alex M. Peabody, the gentleman in the photo above, President of Puget Sound Navigation Co, moved from his paneled office to a new one on Pier 53, the next dock to the north. Mr. Floyd McDowell moved in to manage the ferries for Washington State, a change that went from private ownership to public operation of the ferry system. 
Last ferry to sail under the flag of
Puget Sound Navigation Co.

Click to enlarge.
Two photos from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      The Enetai's early morning arrival in Bremerton marked the end of the PSNC's 53 years of serving Puget Sound points. The formal changeover was 3 AM Friday morning, 1 June 1951. At that time the ticket sellers turned over the cash and any new cash after that time went instead to WA State. 
      With the brightness of the morning, the crews began painting green over the orange colored stacks of the vessels.
      The first ferry to cast off from the dock, under the Washington State flag, was the 1930 wood ferry, the VASHON, that loaded at Lofall headed for South Point. "Old Reliable" served until she was retired in 1980.
Built on Lake Washington, Seattle, 1930.
Photo by Smith's Scenic Views, Tacoma, WA.
From the archives of S.P.H.S.©
      Text: Ross Cunningham, Associate Editor,  Seattle Times. 27 May 1951.

06 June 2016


MONTE CRISTO (1968-1971)
"Captain Blood," Cal Mann, of Bellingham, WA, 
spots the British Columbia barque in Georgia Strait,
 June 1969.
Wire photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

The first time in US waters, the barque Monte Cristo, of Vancouver, BC, a replica model of an 18th C. vessel, is spotted by a Bellingham Buccaneer in Georgia Strait . The Bellingham group hopes to get some gold off the ship by charging admission during the weekend visit to help finance activities.

Monte Cristo
Below data from Wikipedia

3 masted auxiliary barque built in Vancouver, B.C. this year.

She is iisted in H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW Vol. 1966-1975 as being built by Capt. Alexander Brigola for charter service.
She was built along the lines of the brigantine Albatros as published in Uffa Fox's Second Book of Boats.
She was constructed of mahogany planking on heavy fir frames with spars of Sitka spruce. Her three-sectioned mainmast rose 84-ft from deck to truck.
The deck measured 94-ft with bowsprit and jib boom extended to almost 140-ft overall.
Monte Cristo was rigged as a three masted barque with square sails on the mainmast and foremast, a gaff rigged fore and aft spanker on the mizzenmast, four jibs, and a variety of staysails for a maximum of 17 sails, totaling 9,000 sq ft. the sails were controlled by around 5 miles of running and standing rigging, all of natural manila rope and galvanized wire. There were no mechanical winches; all hauling being by block and tackle and human power.
The auxiliary engine was a GMC Jimmy 6-71 Diesel. The only electronic aid to navigation was a marine VHF radio.
Originally owned and built by a consortium of business men keen to recreate the great days of sail, she quickly became the sole property of Ron Craig, a Canadian businessman.
Initially, as Monte Cristo, she worked her way down the western seaboard of the US, giving costumed on-board tours to paying visitors at each port of call.

1969, 22 July:
She had to be towed into Port Townsend, WA in thick fog after suffering engine trouble.
She had a number of movie roles and on 9 November she was briefly involved in the occupation of Alcatraz.


She was renamed Endeavour II before she sailed across the Pacific to Sydney to take part in the bicentenary re-enactment on 29 April 1970, of Captain James Cook's landing at Botany Bay. Sydney. She subsequently cruised up the east of Australia to Brisbane, giving on-board tours to paying visitors at each port of call, and then sailed for Auckland, NZ, under American skipper, Jeff Berry.
This proved to be her final voyage and she encountered a number of delays. Soon after sailing she was becalmed and carried southwards by a freak, seventy-mile a day current. In the Tasman Sea, the crew sighted distress flares and searched for over 12 hours without success. The consequent depletion of fuel reserves was to prove critical. On rounding North Cape, she encountered a full gale and failed to make the intended Houboara Harbor.
34° 31' 23.69" S 173° 0' 35.81 E
After rounding North Cape, NZ, Endeavour II found it impossible to keep position in 40-ft easterly winds when fuel ran out, and she tried to anchor. When her anchors dragged she  was driven onto the bar of Parengarenga Harbour, a few miles south of North Cape, in the early hours of 22 February. By 1 PM she had settled on her side and began to break up. The crew of thirteen men and one woman reached the shore safely, tied together with 9-ft of line between each person.
She was the first square-rigged sailing vessel wrecked on the NZ coast for more than 50 years.

02 June 2016


23 Sept. 1949,
Barney Abrams sewing a sail for a Senior Knockabout.
Four ardent sailors look on––L-R:
Churchill Griffiths, John Woodward,
Mrs. Ernie Banner and Banner.
Woodward & Banner were the Seattle skippers,
sailing as a team, while the others crewed in the series
at Cour d'Alene, between Idaho and Puget Sound fleets.
Photograph by Roy Scully.
Original image from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
The above photograph came into the archives which meant the Norman Blanchard book was pulled from the shelf:

      "In 1933 a group of people out for a Sunday walk came by the boat company and peeked in the door to look at the Star boats, that were priced at $750. They thought they were nice little boats, but said for that price they would really want a cabin. After they left, Dad thought for a few minutes, and then said, 'Dammit, let's build a cheap sailboat with a cabin on it,' and that's what led to the development of the Senior Knockabout, that was one of our all-time best sellers. We built a total of 97 Senior Knockabouts between 1933 and 1947, and some 70 of them are still around. The Senior Knockabouts ranged from 22 feet, six inches to 26 feet, six inches, and there was a Junior version that was 20 feet."
Quote from Knee-Deep in Shavings, Memories of Early Yachting and Boatbuilding on the West Coast. Norman C. Blanchard with Stephen Wilen. Victoria, B.C., Canada. Horsdal & Schubart. 1999.

For linking the Senior Knockabouts to San Juan County maritime history let us view a beautiful example of one sailing happy and well on Orcas Island for many years.
Senior Knockabout STARFIRE (ex-SEADUCE)
Owned by Stan and Kay Miller, Orcas Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Hull No 59, built in 1947 of Western Red Cedar on oak frames.
Stan bought STARFIRE in 1968 and moved to Orcas Island in 1970.
Originally there was an auxiliary motor that was changed to a removable outboard before the previous owner, Mike Douglas, sailed her. The Millers put the motor in the cabin while racing.
Thanks to Stan and Kay for sharing their maritime history and the following photos.
Stan Miller sailing the Friday night race in
West Sound, Orcas Island, WA.
Photograph by Victoria Parker 2011.
Click to enlarge.
Kay Miller at the helm in this Friday night race photo.
West Sound, Orcas Island.
Photo by Victoria Parker on the committee boat, 2011.
Stan & Kay Miller with grandson Alex.

by Victoria Parker.
West Sound Races, August 2011.
by Victoria Parker
West Sound, Orcas Island, August 2011.

If anyone wishes to question why Seattle boats show up on these pages so often, it is because most barnacles clinging to the rocks of San Juan County came from that fair city. Here comes the well-known, master sailor, Mike Douglas long of Deer Harbor, with the words below to take us further back in the history of this vessel for the  Saltwater People Log:

"Yup, I sold the Senior Knockabout to Stan in the mid-1960s. I bought her just after graduating college and had cash to burn from my $5,000 annual teaching salary. Stan was living on a houseboat in Union Bay [Seattle] and I think bending nails for a living. I had to sell her to cover graduate school expenses. Some years and several jobs later I arrived on Orcas to run Four Winds Camp, fall of 1979.
      Within the next few summers, as camp duties settled down some, I started participating in the occasional Orcas Island Yacht Club Friday night race. During one leisurely race, this Blanchard Senior sailed on by. I see lots of transoms during races. It brought back good memories of sailing Lake Washington and B59. As she pulled past I almost fell overboard seeing Starfire on her stern. I still see her transom all too often these years later. Starfire and Stan are a standing personal interest of mine."

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