The WILSON had seen most of the world's ports. But, in this area she was best known for the 28 voyages she made to the Bering Sea in search of codfish. In a trade in which sail long since had become a rarity, the WILSON held her own in northern waters until the season of 1945. From then she had been idle.
During the war, her owner, Capt. J.E. Shields of Poulsbo, successfully resisted efforts by the government to convert the old windjammer into a barge and continued to send the WILSON to the Bering under command of Capt. Knute "Iron Man" Pearson of Poulsbo, a veteran of the fishing banks.
The 26-man crew of the WILSON saw the Japanese planes that bombed Dutch Harbor 5 July 1942. The enemy planes flew directly over the vessel, virtually a 'sitting duck,' but did not molest her.
The WILSON was built in Fairhaven, CA, in 1891, and she still is sound and stout.
She recently had been beached at Poulsbo to have her hull scraped by use of a technique familiar to sailing men.
At high tide, the vessel was run as close to the beach as possible. the receding tide left the vessel high and dry, and heeled over on one side. One side was cleaned and repainted. The the process was repeated, with the ship brought in at a different angle to expose the other side.
The WILSON's hull is still in prime shape, men who worked on her, reported. No one knew just how many coats of copper paint had been slapped onto her hull. By now, however, the hull virtually was impregnated with it. The vessel is for sale, and among the early nibblers is a California motion-picture company."
Above text published by the Seattle Times, date unknown.
|Schooner friends |
CHARLES R. WILSON
and JOHN A.
Seattle winter moorage, dated Nov. 1941.
In memory of fisherman John Markie,
who did not make it come home this year.
Original photo by James A. Turner,
from the Turner Collection, archives of the S.P.H.S.©
1941: After procuring the consent of innumerable governmental agencies, Capt. Shields was permitted to enter the schooner CHARLES R. WILSON, in the Bering Sea cod fishery, this being the only vessel operating in the trade. Her catch was 177,477 codfish.
1941: "A blue-nose from Nova Scotia, John Markie, came to Seattle in 1914 and signed on the CHARLES R. WILSON. He fished and sailed for Capt. J.E. Shields for 27 years. Markie fished from Iceland to the Bering Sea for 60 years. Always, a sailing vessel. He was found dead in his bunk aboard the WILSON in the Bering. He had fished the previous day. "We had buried John Markie on Little Walrus Island, where the eternal rollers of the Bering Sea break on the rocky coast. There was no minister to say a requiem but we had a phonograph which played a complete funeral service record. A cross was erected over the lonely grave and we went back to the schooner. When he signed on the WILSON this year with Capt. Knute Pearson who had a broken leg and went to sea on crutches, John said, with a smile on his face: 'Seventy-seven and still spry.' With the death of John Markie, the oldest deep-sea fisherman on the Pacific passes on." From a letter written by Capt. J.E. Shields, posted at Naknek, AK. Published 5 July 1941, Seattle Times, page 7.
Capt. Knute Pearson sailed her home in August with 144,317 fish.
Cod-fishing ended for the sailing ships and the CHARLES R. WILSON tied up in Poulsbo with her buddy the C. A. THAYER.
Names of some of the people who have commanded the schooner CHARLES R. WILSON:
Capt. John Grotle
Capt. Knute "Dempsey" Pearson
Capt. J.J. Kelly
Capt. John Hanson