"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.

02 February 2017


Barkentine CONQUEROR
ON 216140
All flags flying on launch day 22 February 1918
231.4' RL x 43.5' x 18.6'
G.t. 1,395  N.t. 1,221
Rolph Shipyard, Rolph, CA.
Former yard of the highly regarded builder, Hans Bendixen.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S©
"Twenty thousand people watched the launching, 22 February 1918, of the barkentine CONQUEROR, the first to be launched from the Rolph Shipbuilding Co plant at Rolph, opposite Eureka.
      The occasion was notable, not only because of the gala air which pervaded the plant, and the presence of distinguished guests from San Francisco and other bay cities, but because of the presence of every one of the county's citizens who could possibly be present. It was more than curiosity that assembled the crowd. The Rolph Co is spending nearly a million dollars a year all told in Humboldt County and this means much to a town of 15,000 persons." Sausalito News 2 March 1918.
      It was reported the two day two night party cost Mr. Rolph $25,000. There is an  interesting write-up here.
      Following the launching Mayor "Sunny Jim" Rolph spoke at the dedication of the school house, that he presented to the town of Rolph. 


To bring the California-built barkentine closer to our local history in the PNW,  the CONQUEROR was in Victoria to load over 1,000 tons of lumber for S. Africa.
She was laid up at Sausalito, CA, for the past two years.
The barkentine was idle at Winslow, WA, since her last voyage in 1928; sold by Hind, Rolph & Co to Capt. James Hersey, her master since completion. Capt and Mrs. Hersey had been living aboard since lay-up. 
The CONQUEROR was sold by Capt. Hersey to Romano Marine Salvage Co of Seattle who fitted her with salvage gear and a diving bell. Hersey took command of the schooner NANUK for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW. Newell, G. editor. 
CONQUEROR recently acquired by W.E. Harned and then resold to James Griffiths & Sons [Seattle] for conversion to a barge. Work not completed and she deteriorated.
"Never again will the proud old windjammer tow out to sea and spread her sails to the winds of the Pacific. The CONQUEROR has made her last voyage.
     At the plant of the Pacific Metals & Salvage Co on the Duwamish Waterway yesterday the veteran four master tugged impatient at her lines while her owners considered plans for consigning her to a funeral pyre. The CONQUEROR is to be beached in the sands of the Sound and burned for the metals in her hull. Soon she will be stripped of all moveable equipment. A ship wrecker's torch will spell her doom. 
      From Royal Roads, Victoria, BC, to Durham, South Africa, and Callao, Peru, the CONQUEROR was known as one of the fastest 'wind ships' that ever sailed the seas. She made the voyage from Victoria to Durban and then to San Francisco in 219 days. During this passage she averaged 231 miles a day for twenty days.
      Capt. James Hersey, who roamed the seas for more than 50 years, was the CONQUEROR's only master, taking her over soon after she was launched. Mrs. Hersey made many voyages with her husband; the ship was their home for 15 years.
Steamers FLORENCE K AND BAINBRIDGE at the dock.
Unidentified wind ships; undated photo
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.

For more than a decade, the CONQUEROR was idle at Eagle Harbor, ever since she towed up the Sound after a voyage from Port Elizabeth, S.A., 26 January 1928. Then came the world-wide depression in shipping and the picturesque vessel rode at anchor in Eagle Harbor awaiting sailing orders that never came. 
      Captain Hersey was informed that the ship was to be disposed of by her owners, Hind, Rolph & Co. The home that he and Mrs. Hersey had learned to love was to be sold over his head. He communicated with the San Francisco firm and learned that he would be able to finance a deal for the vessel's purchase. The sale was closed and ownership of the barkentine passed to her veteran skipper.
      For several years, Captain and Mrs. Hersey made their home aboard the CONQUEROR as the vessel rode at anchor in Eagle Harbor. Aboard the old ship was as fine a suite of rooms as could be found in a first-class apartment. They were well furnished with a piano, a radio, a photograph and easy chairs.
      When there appeared to be no chance for the CONQUEROR to be called back to the sea lanes, Captain Hersey sold the vessel and joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, moving picture producers. He was employed by the firm in connection with the filming of sea stories.
      Capt. Hersey often entertained the Seattle waterfront with stories of his experiences in the CONQUEROR during five voyages to South Africa and one to Callao, Peru, from the PNW. 
      Since Capt Hersey had the CONQUEROR, she has changed ownership several times and now has reached her last port of call after a notable career."
1938 article from The Seattle Times , 16 October 1938.

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