"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 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.

29 June 2017

❖ WITH A BONE IN HER TEETH ❖ Schooner Gertrude L. Thebaud 1930-1948

Schooner GERTRUDE L. THEBAUD of Gloucester.
The BLUENOSE of Lunenburg defeated the THEBAUD
by 3 minutes, 50 seconds to win the
International Fishermen's Trophy, 26 October 1938.
Here the THEBAUD is seen with young Sterling Hayden
up the main mast just before the final race,
near the Coast Guard Cutter CHELAN.
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Summer, 1948. It was learned from official and reliable sources that the erstwhile Queen of the Gloucester Fishing Fleet and Last of the Flying Fishermen, had been abandoned as a total loss. The famous craft, the Gertrude L. Thebaud, was shipwrecked on the Venezuelan Coast and all hope of conducting salvage operations had been given up as too costly.
      While at anchor in a storm, the 18-year-old craft was rammed by another vessel, parted her moorings, collided with a seawall and subsequently foundered. She laid half-submerged in a seaport called La Guaira, on the Venezuelan Coast. Very little chance was seen of the black-hulled, magnificent white-winged racer ever again spreading her lofty white wings, as of old, in her glorious racing and fishing days, as a fisherman out of Gloucester, MA. 
      At the time of her tragic and untimely loss, the craft was owned by Mr. William H. Hoeffner of New York, flew the flag of Venezuela, was equipped with a powerful Diesel engine and carried a reduced rig, a three-sailed, stem head rig and a modified top hamper. The magnificent, grand old stager has left her bones on a hard lee shore, on a distant foreign strand, far from her native Gloucester home.
      The Thebaud was one of the most famous of all Gloucester fishing schooners, having been, in her time, a participant in the International Fishermen's Races in 1930, 1931, 1938, and, in 1933, carried the official representatives of the Gloucester fishing industry to Washington, DC, for a meeting with President Roosevelt. In the summer of the same year, the vessel voyaged to the World's Fair at Chicago as the rep and proud exhibit of the Bay State. In 1937 she voyaged to the far north, under the supervision of Capt. Donald B. MacMillan, the arctic explorer, and on the expedition west to Frobisher Bay. During WW II, the Thebaud saw active service as flagship of the Corsair Fleet of the US Coast Guard. 
      In 1944 the schooner was sold by her first owner, Capt. Ben Pine of Gloucester, to William H. Hoeffner of New York. She was converted to freighting and sent to the West Indies waters.
      We must now, although reluctantly, set down the final word of the picturesque, historic saga of a famous deeply mourned sailing craft, that has come and gone in our time. For the beautiful, 18-year-old craft has found her grave in Venezuelan waters. The sea has claimed her. The Thebaud has crossed the finish line for the last time; Gloucester's queen will never wet her bobstay again. She was the scion of a once large fleet of splendid, redoubtable American fishing schooners and with her passing, we sadly note the absolute vanishing point of a long line of speedy schooners of the engineless era and the T Wharf days; also the end, perforce, of International Fishing Schooner Racing. She represented the last vestiges of the era of the sailing fishermen. 
      In the spring of 1921, the drawing board of Mr. William J. Roue of Halifax, NS, produced the phenomenally speedy, extremely able, engineless Canadian fishing schooner Bluenose. Lofty and black-hulled, the Bluenose was an indescribably handsome craft. From the first day she spread her symmetrical white wings on the waters off her quaint old home port, Lunenburg, NS, the Bluenose proved herself a work-boater and met and defeated many fine schooners. The rise of her reputation was meteoric and she became known as the Flying Nova Scotian and The Pride of Lunenburg
      Yankees decided to build a suitable opponent for the Nova Scotia speed king, and the schooner Gertrude L. Thebaud was built. The craft was expressly designed by Frank C. Paine of Boston and constructed from selected material at the Arthur Dana Shipyard, Essex, MA. She bore on her bow, inscribed in golden letters, the name of her sponsor's wife, and across her shapely transom, the name of her home port, Gloucester, MA.
      To those present at her launching, 17 March 1930, the shapely semi-knockabout presented an unforgettable appearance, for the general sharpness of hull design and long knifelike underbody suggested great potential driving power. She represented an investment of approximately $80,000. The following were her principal measurements; 135' LOA, 98' L on sailing waterline; 25' beam and 14.8' draft.
      The vessel proved to be a true sailing champion in her own right as well as a bona fide fishing schooner. She carried a tremendous spread of sail and when in racing ballast hoisted eight sails, namely the four lowers, jib, jumbo fores'l and mains'l, as well as four light sails. These later were called balloon, fore gaff tops'l, fisherman's flying stays'l and main gaff tops'l. Under a billowing cloud of new, thrumming canvas she flew through the water with the speed of a torpedo and displayed prowess as a prospective challenger for the tall-sparred racer from Lunenburg.
The famous skipper of the schooner
was splicing a line after lack of wind forced
postponement of the second race in the
Championship Series with the
Schooner BLUENOSE.
13 October 1938.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      In her many tussles on the open sea, under the command of Capt Ben Pine and against Capt Angus Walter's Bluenose, she proved herself a sailing champion in her own right. These two superlative crafts staged many a spectacular contest.
      The Thebaud will be remembered by all who knew her as she appeared in the last of her racing days, sailing a fine race in all weathers, from a gentle zephyr to a whole-sail breeze and in a four lower breeze and a genuine snorter, real fishermen's weather, as we say. When ghosting in light winds, with the wind dead aft and her fores'l and mains'l swung out, with their sheets out to the knots, she carried her stays'l "scandalized" (changed about throat for clew), and with its sheet led to the end of the long man boom. The tops'ls were "sheeted home" to the gaff ends and the head sheets flowing, the working canvas distributed in a matter reminiscent of the double-jointed wings of an albatross.
      When sailing with started sheets and the wind quarterly, Thebaud sailed magnificently as this was her best point of sailing. Aye, she carried a bone in her teeth and churned the water at the forefoot to a smother of foam. 
      The Thebaud has tragically terminated her unique, eventful and dramatic 18-yr life and has seen the last of her glorious sailing days. Who knows what ghosts of the bygone crews who once manned her may revisit the grand old stager's tradition-shrouded grave, on languorous tropical nights, when gentle zephyrs whisper along the shore and the harbor lights shimmer on the peaceful, starlit waters?"
Text by Edward F. Moran, an essay from––Yankees Under Sail. Heckman, Richard, editor. Yankee, Inc. 1968.


25 June 2017


sailing here under her movie name RIVER QUEEN
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

1901: Built as the M.F. HENDERSON by Shaver Transportation Co, Portland, OR. She was used as a freight boat as well as a towboat.
1911: In an overhaul she lost her initials "M.F." and became HENDERSON.
The M.F. HENDERSON, towing a Standard Oil Co barge from Astoria toward Portland, was run down by the well-known steam tug DANIEL KERN towing rock barges to the jetty. The M.F. HENDERSON capsized and sank in shallow water, lying on her side. No lives were lost. She was afterward righted by five sternwheelers pulling on her at once, and was then taken to the Portland Shipbuilding Co where she was dismantled and her engines and other equipment, except the boiler, installed in the new HENDERSON the following year. 
H. W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW.
1912: This year the HENDERSON was built by the Portland Shipbuilding Co for Shaver Trans. Co receiving most of the machinery and fittings from the wreck, but receiving a new locomotive boiler built by James Monk, having twice the capacity of the old boiler. 
1952: An old-time Columbia River sternwheeler she played an important part as the River Queen, in the historical movie the Bend of the River, based on a novel Bend of the Snake by Bill Gulick. The movie starred Jimmy Stewart and Rock Hudson, released 13 February. When first released, the film received poor reviews but since then gained more critical acclaim and is recognized as a great western.


In 1952, to promote the release of the new movie, the Henderson participated in the last sternwheeler race on the Columbia River, commanded by Capt. Sidney J. "Happy" Harris.  The filming was done in Mt. Hood, Sandy River and Timberline, OR. Although favored to beat the new steel-hulled sternwheeler, the Portland, commanded by Capt. Bob Williamson, the Henderson fell behind early in the race when she lost steam. The engine crew quickly shunted live steam into her low pressure cylinder until the paddlewheel approached 30 rpm. Actor Jimmy Stewart and other cast members of the film Bend in the River were on board to cheer the vessel on––the Henderson came from behind to beat the Portland in the 3.6-mile race.
      Trivia on imdb.com––some of the river scenes were filmed on the Sacramento River in CA.
Sternwheeler PORTLAND
Her last day of duty helping to move the 930-ft
for the Port of Portland.
PORTLAND was the last remaining vessel of its kind
in commercial service in the world.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo dated 27 October 1981
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
1956: In December, with a grain ship in tow, the Henderson encountered heavy swells near the mouth of the Columbia River. Declared a "constructive total loss," she rested on shore until she was burned for scrap in 1964.
In 1981: After almost 30 years of service in and around the Portland harbor, the stately Portland yielded the harbor to Diesel-powered youngsters. The Port of Portland faced economic realities, and decided to retire the labor-intensive steam tugboat in 1981. 
      She sat some years at Terminal One, quietly rusting. Her wheelhouse and Texas were removed and rested on the dock. Her wooden super structure rotted away down to the steel housing of her machinery space. The powerful sternwheel dried and cracked where exposed; the underwater surface grew long tendrils of marine plants.
      In 1991, the sad remains of the Portland were deeded to the Oregon Maritime Museum. With funds from Meyer Memorial Trust, Murdock Trust, and the Port of Portland, a group of dedicated volunteers began restoration of the last steam powered sternwheel tug. The work is never ending; the results are well worth the effort. Today the Portland gleams inside and out. 
1997: She was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.

22 June 2017


CHIMACUM joins her Olympic class mates
TOKITAE and SAMISH now in active service.
Under construction is SUQUAMISH
 at Vigor's Harbor Island Shipyard,

 The shipyard history can be traced back to
the Moran Bros Shipyard, operating in 1906.

Live music, refreshments, tours.
She goes into service 23 June 2017
6:20 a.m. from Bremerton to Seattle.
Safe sailing to the M.V. Chimacum.

12 June 2017

❖ THE ART OF WINDING DOWN ❖ by John Dustrude

Friday Harbor, WA. on the
day of the San Juan Rendezvous.

The scene of the annual giant salmon barbecues for 
many summers beginning in 1948, hosted by the Chamber 
of Commerce. Supportive local canneries and fishermen
donated the fish. In 1953, an estimated 3,000

people were served 2,500 pounds of free salmon, salad,
rolls, and hot coffee. An unusually large number 
of yachts were present, including Bob Schoen and his 
loaded ferry Nordland, a big hit upon arrival from Orcas.
The Tacoma Outboard Association came up 18 strong
in small boats with Anacortes Outboard group
organizing scheduled races. Jack Fairweather led a
very successful dance with live music by the
"Harmony Boys" to wind down a perfect day.

Photo by Bob and Ira Spring of Seattle, WA.
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Yes, well, there you are, eight full days of vacation ahead of you. Should you spend it in the Cascades or on the beaches in the San Juans?
      Figure it takes the other guy about two days to wind down from the pressures of the fast lane. So give yourself two hours on the ferry, from Anacortes to Friday Harbor [1984.] You'll be there in plenty of time to grab some groceries and find your little sailboat.
      Stoke your boilers at any of the local eateries, and head out. Early afternoon ought to find you bucking the flood from Turn Island––so go with it instead and drift to Jones Island. Either of these marine parks is all you need for a couple of days' cruising (close by), good hiking and scenery, rocky bluffs and gravelly beaches, birds galore, and good fishing around the kelp and rock piles. Deer, too––some calico––native and exotic crosses from those that used to be on Safari (Spieden) Island only a two-hour swim away.
Sucia Island Group, 1940s.
Photograph by Clyde Banks Studio
Click to enlarge.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Well, that about does it as far as where to spend the first couple of nights. Now, if your sailboat had a motor you could stretch your range as tight as a drumhead; see more but enjoy less, having to be more organized with your time. Forget it. Stay on one island for a couple of days and get to know the place, and save the rest for another trip.      
      While you're lying in the moss you're wondering where those other boats out there are going. Well, unlike you, they're late, making up for lost time, maybe headed for Sucia for the night and then over to Sidney or Bedwell Harbour, and then to Nanaimo or Telegraph Harbour. Tighter than a drumhead. Hurry, hurry.
      Meantime, you begin wondering what kind of moss you're lying in. Kind of spongy and aromatic; close up it looks like a tiny jungle. The more you gaze into it the more you see––about a dozen different kinds in this one little spot. And mushrooms, lichens, and algae, the place is alive with stuff you never noticed before. There must be books about this that you can read to find out more. You resolve then and there to learn more about this natural world around you.
      The sun goes behind the clouds. A breeze makes the firs sigh, and it gets cooler. It makes you hungry, so go check the boat, gather some firewood, and cook up some soup.
      The boat's okay, high enough up on the beach to be there when you want it tomorrow. The high tide will just wet the transom, judging from the last high tide's line of drift. Not that you're in a hurry to leave. You might just figure on staying put for a few days. Besides, there's more to see and do right here underfoot than you really ever imagined. Amazing, what you miss when you're not in tune with where you are.
      You begin to wonder if with a little help from books and experience you could learn to live out here in the open. Off the land, so to speak. Maybe try it for a few weeks in the summer, just for openers.
Cruising in the San Juan Islands, WA.
Click image to enlarge.
Undated original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Maybe get a boat of your own. How big? Someone once said, "well, you either want one big enough to ride out our storms or small enough to beach it." Hmm, possibilities. Low cost, low maintenance, low stress. Protected water, quiet coves, mossy outcrops, grassy flats, kelp beds and bottom fish, fair currents, clear water, clean air, and freedom.
       If the wind dies how far could you go with the tide? Now you're getting into it. Maybe to Turn Island, six miles away; six hours with a knot of current, even sooner with a little tail wind.
      How about that? Turn Island in time for sunset!" 
 Dustrude, John, happy mariner of the San Juan Island Archipelago, with home port of Friday Harbor.
 The Art of Winding Down. San Juan Islands Almanac. Vol. 11, 1984.

05 June 2017

❖ Mosquito Fleet Monday ❖ CHESTER

Sternwheeler CHESTER, left.
ON 127201
Built in 1897 by Joseph Supple, Portland, OR.
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

The 101-ft CHESTER was built for the Cowlitz River operations of Captains Orin, Ed, and Joseph Kellogg. Working upstream from Kelso she was able to navigate in a channel a foot deep. At many stops along the river, customers simply drove their wagons alongside the steamer to transfer freight and passengers. 
      The design of the CHESTER was subsequently widely copied in building light draft steamers for gold rush river service in the north. 
      According to Jim Faber in Steamer's Wake, the steamer was noted for her flexible hull, supported by hog chains and planked with cedar. Her planking constantly being replaced  due to the fact she literally sand-papered her bottom as she slid over the Cowlitz River sandbars. 
      Owners liked to boast she "floated like a shingle on a pond."

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