"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.

12 November 2016


Two of these photos include
San Juan County mariners.

The LOTTIE (bottom photo) was built on Cypress Is.
Click photo to enlarge.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"The waterfronts of the little cities––what delightful places they are! How friendly and informal and jolly are the men who work down there. Why is it that you never expect to get a story from a dressed-up man but are sure of getting one from that same man when he is wearing overalls? Especially if the overalls are torn and very dirty. More especially if he wears an old sweater that has quite evidently seen many winters of use. And most especially if there is a smell of the sea about the man.
      Go down to the waterfront and listen to the stories of the fishermen and boatmen down there if you want to know something of the romance of Puget Sound.
      The smells of the docks––smell of tarred logs, of seaweed, of humans, of oil, gas, old sacks, food, fish. They are the smells of adventure. When I went down to the docks the first time after getting back to Puget Sound I stopped a block or so from the waterfront to savor the smells.
      It was early afternoon. The dock was nearly deserted. I heard the put-put of a gas launch below getting ready to pull out. Her master was untying ropes. He did not see me watching him, homesick to be a-going with him, wherever he was going. Fishing, maybe. Maybe he owns an island was going home. He'll be loaded with supplies––staple groceries and grain for his chickens and turkeys. When he gets home he will do some fall plowing, or perhaps he'll just putter around with the chores and listen to the radio in the evenings, read his paper and go to bed. The islanders live many lives of hardship, if that makes sense. 
75-ft passenger boat with a 75-HP Buffalo engine.
Built in 1912 by A.J. Goulette at Everett, running in charge
of Capt. J. H. Prather, at that time.
A Capt. Prather descendent suspects there are family members
in this photo c. 1912.
A few years later Capt. Kasch of Anacortes was the owner/operator.

Photographer unknown. Click to enlarge.
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      The ALVERENE lay against the piling of the dock. It gave me a curious shock to see her, as if she were a friend I had been homesick for. Filled me with nostalgia to be aboard, bound for island harbors.
      But when I discovered the CALCITE from Roche Harbor and fat old Pete Larsen, her captain, talking down on a float I felt as if I had got home in truth, for Roche Harbor lies nearest to Sentinel, our homestead island, and a boat from that lovely bay is a boat from home. Pete remembered me and I sent messages to old neighbors. 
       Over against a dock opposite, a score of tugboats and fishing boats swung at anchor. The TULIP QUEEN, the NEW YORK––surely that little fellow doesn't hail from New York. She can't have made it from there. Maybe her owner is a New Yorker as homesick for the tumult and mad rush of his home harbor as I have been for the little harbors of Puget Sound. 
      The San Juan Second! There she sits. Waiting for a new engine, they tell me. How proud she will be to go 'clickety-click' like a little one! the owners of the SAN JUAN II were among the first people in this land to welcome us ten years ago when we were here to homestead Sentinel. 
  US Mail boat for San Juan County.
Early 1920s photo with crew, George Stillman, 
(standing on the rail.)
From the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
They used to run the boat themselves and many are the pleasant hours I've spent in her pilothouse talking to old Captain Maxwell. They used to stop off at Sentinel Island to load or unload passengers for us. And once or twice we've hailed them from mid-channel to give them a fine cod we had caught that morning.
      The boat BALKO. Why that name? Won't she go? The big tugs DIVIDEND and PROSPER. Were they named in high hopes before the dividends and prosperity or have they been named in appreciation of their performances? The fine tug IROQUOIS. She burns more than a hundred barrels of oil a day and more when she works very hard.
      'There's Ed down there,' I heard somebody say. 'Has he stopped fishing for the year or has he got his nets off for repair?'
      'No matter whether he ever fishes again,' another replies. 'He has enough to do him. Fifty or a hundred thousand invested right here in Bellingham, if he has a cent. Made it all fishing, too. Fish running fine this year, they say. Hey, Ed! You stopped fishing?' But Ed is busy with his ropes and doesn't hear. They are wrangling her in between two other fishing boats where she rides lightly, her mast swinging from side to side just the least bit. 
      Tugs going out and tugs coming in. 
Unidentified tug in San Juan County.
Photo by Fred Darvill, Orcas Island.
Do you know this character?
Photo from the archivies of S.P.H.S.©
Heavy squat powerful bulldoggy looking fellows and long slender, swifter ones each out after his own peculiar type of load. I watch them walking the waters of the harbor off down towards the island and I decide that 'When I'm a man' I'll be a boat captain!' See you tomorrow. June."

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