"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 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.

31 July 2017


Looking out to Orcas Island on the left
and the Lummi Island reefnet gears
Click image to enlarge.

Photographer unknown.
Original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

"Two fishermen admire the view from Lummi Island as the sun sets over Rosario Strait. Mount Constitution on Orcas Island is on the left. About 60 nets, each with two boats, are concentrated here. There was talk the reefnetters' union hoped to lower this number to 40 by not renewing privileges when any sites or gear are abandoned, as the runs are not sufficient to support so many gears. Most boats are made locally and are of a type not seen elsewhere; flat-bottomed double-ender canoes with large stiff keels and a platform for the spotter, who needs a high perch and a minimum of reflection in order to see the fish. When the water is dirty, bubbles serve as an indication of salmon. "

27 July 2017

❖ Northwest Passage Expedition in 21st Century Style ❖

Naval Architect: Abeking & Rasmussen.
Launching 2008, Lemwerder, Germany.

"Using a technology entirely new to yacht building
is a risky move, but the owner knew he was in safe hands
when he charged Abeking & Rasmussen with finding a
solution to his wife's seasickness––and the
Silver Cloud Swath was born." 
David Pelly.

A Northwest Passage expedition with M.V. Silver Cloud is underway as this is written. To follow along from their cast off at Halifax Harbor, they can be seen on the tracking map––– on this link.
      There is a descriptive 7-page article about this vessel, with builder photos and drawings in Boat International.

Modern day news submitted by L.A. Douglas, Blakely Island, San Juan Archipelago.

21 July 2017


Schooner GRACIE S. 
Sailing Lake Washington, 17 April 1949.

Original photo by Ken Ollar from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Seattle acquired another picturesque pleasure craft in the GRACIE S, a 96-ft power schooner, built in 1893 for the San Francisco Pilots Association. For 40 years she was in that service, standing about 15 miles off Golden Gate and contacting incoming and outgoing ships. Six pilots made their headquarters on her. The vessel owned at this time (1949) by Edison Kennell Jr was rebuilt and re-rigged. Beginning 20 June 1949 she cruised between Seattle and the north end of Vancouver Island carrying a crew of 12 boys who were taught the seafaring art." 
Source: The Seattle Times, April 1949.
Schooner GRACIE S
Looking aft from the starboard bow, with master rigger 

and sailmaker, Rupert Broom, at work on deck.
 The schooner carried 
3,900 sq ft of new canvas.

Dated 17 April 1949.
Click to enlarge.
Original photo by Ken Ollar from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Schooner GRACIE S.
Out on Lake Washington, with all hands heaving on the main 
throat halyard. The vessel is built of teak and Douglas fir and 
was the largest privately owned craft of her type in the PNW 
in 1949. Kennell brought the boat to Seattle under
her own power and has been reconditioning her,
guided by the old original blueprints.

Click to enlarge. 
Also dated 17 April 1949.
Original photo by Ken Ollar from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
GRACIE S. has another chapter under the name of WANDERER with another owner––for another day.

16 July 2017


Flattie sailing in 1931, Seattle, WA.
Roy W. Corbett at the helm.

Click to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
FLATTIES (Geary-18s)

"The flattie was originally not a one-design class but rather a boat that kids built to sail. These little floaters were all cross-planked on the bottom and all flat bottomed, thus the name. They were gaff-rigged and had bowsprits. Ted Geary designed the first one-designed flattie in 1927. It carried a jib that added sail power forward, as well as a Marconi main, an improvement of the balance over the jibless catboat.
      In January 1928 leading spirits among members of the Seattle Yacht Club realized the need for an inexpensive sailing class to create interest on the part of the younger generation in yachting. A city-wide meeting was called at the Clubhouse with a request for plans and suggestions. Over seventy young folks and their parents attended. After much discussion of at least a dozen different plans, the flattie, as designed by Ted Geary, was accepted and orders for five were placed that evening. N. J. Blanchard promised to deliver the first ten at a cost of $150 each. After that, the cost would be $200.
      The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club also began assembling a fleet of flatties in 1928. Newspaper headlines right after the above meeting said: "Here's a Flattie––unsinkable sailboat provided for junior yachtsmen this year." The sail plan of the flattie was prominently pictured with comments: "Fourteen youthful enthusiasts, one of these a girl, announced their intention of securing the flattie as designed L. E. Ted Geary." They were Mary Helen Corbett, Douglas Stansbury, Dan Trefethen, Jr., Chester Dawson, Al Peterson, Jim Wilson, Roy Tierlon, Swift Baker, Bert Davis, James F. Griffiths, Fenton Radford, Fred Harley, Potter Strong Harley, and Norman Blanchard Jr. "

C. Fred Harley, Binnacle, Dec. 1962.
      Seattle newspapers generously provided coverage of flattie events, as did Pacific Motor Boat, the predecessor to Sea Magazine. The SYC sponsored and supported the flattie racing fraternity all through the early years. Printed programs of these days show the flattie activities in full detail.
      Geary and others quickly introduced the flattie to the South Pacific Coast, Lake Arrowhead, Los Angeles Harbor, Balboa, and Acapulco. Portland and Astoria had flattie owners interested in sailing and racing on an organized basis.

Racing flatties on Lake Washington,
Seattle, 6 October 1935.
Click to enlarge.
Original photo signed by photographer A.N. Nickols
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"It was in the year of 1935 after flatties from all over the Northwest had been sailing at Pacific International Yachting Assoc. regattas, that Sid and Phil Miller of Vancouver, BC with others there, challenged Seattle skippers to a series of three boat team races on Lake WA.
      On 22 Oct 1935, at the Seattle Yacht Club, Fred Harley as chairman pro-tem, Sidney Miller, Dick Griffiths, met to form the International Flattie Yacht Racing Assoc. Fred Harley was chosen commodore.
      In the days around 1935––we had an active flattie fleet of about 15 boats, all sailing under the SYC burgee, and racing regularly. We either sailed or paddled to races on Lake WA, but for saltwater events needed a tow. The Coast Guard in those days worked on a more liberal budget, I guess, as they provided tows through the canal and locks and to destinations in the Sound. They also gave us tows to the PIYA Regattas––long trips to Victoria and Vancouver.
      The Harley Cup, presented by Clinton S. Harley and Laura Potter Harley "emblematic of the flattie championship of the junior members of SYC" was the first flattie trophy presented anywhere in the world. The Sunde and d'Evers Co also provided a trophy in 1928. Ted Geary had a trophy in mind and provided $30 for an International Championship Cup to bear his name.
      A most spectacular trophy than one $30 could buy was needed so we borrowed a scale model of Bob and Otis Lamson's flattie and took it to the foundry where we cast an aluminum hull, using the model as a pattern. Barbara Nettleton molded some clay waves from which we cast the sea supporting the hull. Dick Griffiths and his uncle machined the sails, mast, rigging, tiller, and trim. N. J. Blanchard Boat Co contributed a mahogany base, and so from all of this came the famous L.E. (Ted) Geary International Flattie Championship Trophy."

Source: C. Fred Harley, Binnacle, Seattle Yacht club. 1962.
Flatties are still used today as Geary –– 18s. The newer models are made of fiberglass.

James R. Warren. Seattle Yacht Club, 1892-1992.

11 July 2017

❖ 83483 ❖ Mother Hen of the Islands in 1946 ❖ Written by June Burn

San Juan Island, 1946.
United States Coast Guard 83483
Standing by in Friday Harbor,
the county seat of San Juan County.

Click to enlarge.
Original photo by Webber from the archives of SPHS©
"The Friday Harbor waterfront would look snaggle-toothed without a long blue-gray ship that lies along one of its docks year in, year out.
     The San Juan Islands would wander around lost in the wet grass, like young turkeys after a rain, if it wasn't for that same boat.
     Coast Guard boat, 83483, is the very mother of the San Juans. She's our ambulance: when you are sick, call the Coast Guard and they will rush you to a doctor. She's our rescuer: when you get stuck on an uncharted reef, don't worry; get in your dinghy, row for shore and telephone the Coast Guard, though chances are someone on shore has seen you and done it already.
     The Coast Guard will take the county nurse around to the islands, or the county superintendent of schools, or any government official who needs to get somewhere fast. They patrol the islands for lost boats, patrol the international regatta races, answer calls from the lighthouses, occasionally hunt somebody on vacation who is wanted quickly back home.
     One day Farrar and I were standing on the dock above the float where we had our boat, looking around at this amazing, busy scene of the Friday Harbor waterfront. (The water was just as still, Mount Baker was still and white, the boats tiptoed in and out of the harbor.)
     A nice looking fellow in faded, spotless jeans came up to us and asked if we'd like to come aboard the Coast Guard ship lying off that dock.
     We would! All week we had wanted to, hadn't got up the nerve to ask.
     The tide was low. We climbed down the sturdy ladder onto that lean, spacious deck, met the crew of three and went below for coffee.
     Charlie Novak of Nebraska, 20 years in the CG, is the skipper. Roy Rosensier, also of Nebraska, is seaman first class and Gene Carrigan of Missouri is the machinist mate. These three keep a boat normally meant for a nine-man crew and they keep it in apple pie order, too.
     Inside the pilot house we are allowed to look through the eyepiece into the radar machine, which takes a miraculous moving picture of whatever is around. 
     Day or night, in fog or sunshine, this contraption can find a lost boat or show the way through the islands. Radar beats a cat for seeing in the dark.
     Below deck, two big 1,200 HP engines start with a push on a button, shove the big boat along at racing speed. This tall blond machinist mate loves these horses.
     How lovingly he brushes and curries them till their coats shine! How neat his stable where the tools are all in their places––no curry combs, but monkey wrenches and pliers.
     Below deck, forward, we see the galley with its electric range and refrigerator––the ship generates its own electricity. The captain's quarters are behind this, the crew's quarters still farther forward, all clean as pins. They can sleep 14.
     The first two numbers of a CG boat tell its length; the next three, its class number. This ship is 83 feet long and is the 483rd in that size. This ship is copper sheathed, fast, utile, powerful and handsome.
     We sit in the galley having coffee. The skipper gets down his report for this month to show what kind of calls they go out on.
     The boat took a land office inspector from Friday Harbor to Waldron to see some land a man had built on without knowing that it belonged to the government. (It came out all right. I guessed it was young Ethan Allen from the description of the location. He had written the land office, telling what he had done; they appraised the land, gave him a chance to pay for it and that was that.)
     Governor Wallgren came up, was taken around on 83483.
     They searched for a missing plane. Found it on Waldron Island with a missing propeller. Transported a bomb disposal officer to Lopez Island––found it was nothing.
     Searched for the Malibu Steelhead.
     Looking after smaller boats seems to be the main job of the Coast Guard. Fishermen are pretty good, the boys say. They take care of themselves. Yachtsmen who go in herds are okay, too. But when they go singly they're forever getting into trouble. And hunting for lost boats in all the nooks and crannies of these islands is nobody's idea of a picnic.
     The Friday Harbor CG boat serves all the islands from Smith Island north, from Bellingham west––the whole archipelago. But when it isn't out on some call, the big gray ship lies here against the dock reserved for it.
      The tide is not so low as we leave. The ship has climbed up part of the ladder for us. As we step out onto the dock we turn to look again at the slender ship that is the guardian angel of the islands."
June Burn. Day 91. One Hundred Days In the San Juans. The Seattle-Times. 1946.

10 July 2017


The USCG Cutter patrolling the northernmost
US waters. This photo was taken in the summer 
of 1932 during a cruise in the Arctic.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

Loaded with an unusually large cargo of freight,  
the cutter is shown as she left Seattle in May 1938,
for the Aleutian Islands and other Alaska points.
The NORTHLAND, under command of Capt. Zeusler,
was expected to continue the search for the Russian pilot,
Sigismund Levaneffsky and his crew, who disappeared the
previous August while attempting a transpolar flight from
Moscow to Fairbanks.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.© 

06 July 2017


Hey-Ho, away we go––Lance Douglas of Blakely Island, San Juan Archipelago, sends in this interesting traffic cruising past his home early this morning. A perfect day for "moving house."
Towing past Blakely Island, San Juan Islands, WA.
Three photos by Lance Douglas
to Saltwater People Log
this day of 6 July 2017
Click images to enlarge.

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