"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 750, 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.

23 October 2017


Halibut steamer SAN JUAN
San Juan Fish and Packing Co, Seattle, WA.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Days of the smoke boats on the halibut banks, of record catches in pea soup fog, of roaring gales in the Gulf of Alaska, and experiences of men against the sea, were recalled by waterfront veterans as two former vessels of the North Pacific fleet, the NEW ENGLAND and the SAN JUAN were moored at the yards of steamship breakers waiting to be scrapped.
      The smoke boats, as fishing vessels propelled by steam were called, were years ago crowded off the banks by the more efficient and less expensive diesel-powered schooners which now comprise the halibut fleet.
      Down at the Deep Sea Fishermen's Union Hall, veterans of smoke boat days in the North Pacific were telling about experiences in the halibut industry.

Halibut schooner NEW ENGLAND
as mentioned below.
According to Andrews and Larssen she outlasted
all her fellow halibut schooners and made her
last trip in 1930.
Capt Freeman was her first skipper and
Capt Michael Scott was her last.
She carried a crew of 36 with twelve dories.

Built 1897 in Camden, N.J.
230 G.t., 70 N.t.
121' x  23.8' x 12'

Low res scan of an original photo from the
archives of the Saltwater People Historical Societ
'Do you remember the old NEW ENGLAND?' asked Harold Grotle. 'Sure, I do, said John Hayden, a smile lighting up his face. 'I fished in her during her last two years, 1926 and 1927. She was a fine vessel.'
Dumping a sling of halibut from the fishing vessel
onto the wharf of the
San Juan Fish and Packing Co.
Back stamp-dated 1934.
Original photo from the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      'Well, I fished in the NEW ENGLAND in 1915 and 1916 off Kodiak Island and in Hecate Strait,' said Grotle. She operated out of Vancouver, B.C., but came to Seattle quite frequently in the old days. She was owned and operated by the New England Fish Co and had a capacity of 220,000 pounds of halibut.
      'And I also was in the old SAN JUAN which fished out of Seattle for the San Juan Fishing and Packing Co, making trips to the banks from 1906 to 1909. Capt. Hans Olson, now a ship commander in the employ of the Alaska Steamship Co, was her master.'
      The NEW ENGLAND nearly foundered in a heavy gale in which the British Columbia Packers' steamship ONWARD HO, was lost with all hands in the winter of 1916. The NEW ENGLAND was iced down and the crew kept the vessel afloat by chopping her free with axes. They saw the ONWARD HO in a sinking condition during the storm but were unable to aid her.
      'The NEW ENGLAND was built in Cramp Shipyards in Camden, N.J. in 1897, and came to the Pacific Northwest in 1898. Among the masters who commanded her were Captains A. Freeman, Ben Joyce, John A. Gott, Wilmer Johnson, George Whelan, Herbert Churchill, P. Keough, John Kolseth and M.B. Scott. The vessel carried a crew of thirty-four men, including 22 fishermen.
      The SAN JUAN, built in Seattle in 1904, was operated from this port c. 14 years by the San Juan Fishing & Packing Co. She made many voyages to the Yakutat Banks and other Alaska fishing grounds. After being retired by the San Juan Co, the vessel was sold to Libby, McNeill & Libby, 13 February 1920, and became a salmon cannery tender. 'There were other smoke boats in the halibut fishing industry besides the NEW ENGLAND and the SAN JUAN,' said Capt. O. A. Johansen, veteran of the waterfront. 'I was master of the wooden steamship ZAPORA, converted into a diesel tug, lost in Southeastern AK. 
Capt. Johansen
on deck of the halibut steamer CHICAGO

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S©
"Smoke boat" CHICAGO
ON 204943
Built Seattle-1908
139' x 24.6' x 15.6'
600 indicated HP
Crew of 50
Photo from the Carl Weber coll; S.P.H.S.©

'For about six years, I was master of the steamship CHICAGO and fished the North Pacific all the way from Cape Flattery to Unimak Pass, the entrance to the Bering Sea. The CHICAGO, a steel vessel, was built in Seattle in 1910 and had a capacity of more than 400,000 pounds of halibut. She was a heavy ship for her size and rode deep in the water. She later towed logs in B.C. Other smoke boats were the INDEPENDENT of the San Juan Co and WEIDING BROTHERS, owned by the Weiding family. They were widely known fishing vessels of other days on the bank.'
Published in the Seattle Times in 1939 and later included in Fish and Ships by Ralph W. Andrews and A.K. Larssen. Bonanza Publishing. 1957.
Cleaning halibut at sea.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Landing halibut at home in Seattle.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
425 pounds of Halibut
8-ft 6-inches x 4-ft 3-inches
Caught by the crew of the fishing schooner VENTURE
on the Portlock Banks in the Gulf of Alaska.
Original photo date-stamped April 1934.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Unloading halibut at a Seattle pier
Original photo backdated 28 July 1935.
FEARLESS, built 1912 for Henry Cayou, Deer Harbor,
at Reed's Shipyard, Decatur Island.WA.
Lost near Kodiak, AK, with 4 crew in 1960
loaded with king crab.

Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Cutting off the halibut heads
Weiding Bros and Independent Fisheries Co
Seattle, WA.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Seattle halibut boats return to off-season moorage.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

19 October 2017

❖ TUG HENRY FOSS (1900-1959) ❖ Seattle to Saltspring Island

ON 13610
Low res scan of an Official Photograph 
dated 16 June 1943
Click image to enlarge. 

From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The Klondike strike pulled the entire Northwest out of the doldrums following the 1893 hard times––it was not referred to as a depression in those days. But of more immediate interest to the five water girt counties bordering on the Straits and the Gulf of Georgia, was the arrival at Fairhaven of Roland Onffroy in 1897. Onffroy, a professional promoter, scented the latent possibilities of the salmon canning industry. Hieing back to Chicago he got the interest of big figures in the meat packing trade. The next year his newly formed Franco-American Packing Co. became the cornerstone of the giant Pacific-American Fisheries Co which took over all available trap sites at heretofore unheard of prices.
      D'ye mind the original P.A.F. fleet, the Eclipse, Michigan, Susie, Lady Agnes, Victor, Little Giant, and the twin screw Ernest A. Hamill? the latter was a light draft iron tug intended for the Yukon River under the command of John "Crazy" Anderson and left a wide swath of damage in her clumsy wake. In addition, the Elk, Union, and Beaver were chartered. Onffroy, ever the one to demand the best in floating equipment, commissioned H.B. Kirby to build the finest pair of tugs ever to be set afloat for cannery tender duty. Bearing the name of Chicago stockholders, they were launched at Ballard in 1900 as the Charles Counselman and the John Cudahy. The unlamented Hamill was sold to Spreckles and spent many years on San Francisco Bay as the Crolona. But the new craft, while 16-ft shorter and full powered with a compound engine and 13 and 28-inch bore by 24-inch stroke, were still too bulky for effective trap brailing. Carrying a crew of thirteen, the Cudahy went into commission with Edward Masny, master.
      Three years service convinced the management that still smaller craft were better suited to their needs and the splendid tugs were sold––the Counselman to Honolulu and the Cudahy to the Grays Harbor Stevedoring Co for bar work on that Harbor.
      Most noted of the Cudahy's masters was "Draw Bucket" Johnson, who for a long term of years escorted sail and steam lumber carriers over Willapa and Grays Harbor Bars. One of her few appearances on the Sound was in 1907 when she and the Daring brought the dismasted and water-logged square rigger William H. Smith to Seattle.
      When Merrill & Ring purchased the boat for log towing on the Straits. Captains, Wm. Spooner and Miles Bolenbaugh handled her in this trade. She went back to her former owners in 1920 and in addition to her house forward was cut down to the former dimensions. Allman-Hubbs Co., of Hoquiam, succeeded to ownership and in the mid-30s laid the venerable Cudahy aside in Hoquiam River boneyard. It looked like finis for the faithful ship, but the Foss Co of Tacoma, who has an eye for sound design and honest construction, took over in 1943 and rebuilt her at their own yards. [photo above dated 1943.]
      Henry Foss was the name give the powerful re-born Cudahy, a 750-HP Enterprise diesel, supercharged to provide an additional 250-HP, furnishing the push. Taken into government war duty almost before the paint was dry, the Henry Foss was sent to the Aleutians. One of the first to be released, the tug has since operated from Port Angeles. Scutt* has been unable to credit the long list of engineers who have faded from memory. Even the present competent occupant of the berth who sails with Capt. Arnold Tweter must go unrecorded."
Above text by Osborn, Stewart C. for Pacific Motor Boat. September 1946.

Below a short bio on the above author from Pacific Tugboats. Newell, Gordon and Joe Williamson. Superior Publishing. 1957.
"Stewart C. Osborn of Port Orchard, WA, wrote for Pacific Motorboat magazine for many years under the pen name "Scuttlebutt Pete." Although terribly crippled by arthritis, 'Old Scut' knew the NW workboat fleet and the men who operate it because the tugboat men were his friends. He couldn't go to them, so they brought the news to him. He wrote it up in a salty, sunny style that was all his own. In the early 1950s, the "Piling Busters" tugboat men threw a party for Scut. They brought him a short-wave radio and after that he got his news hot off the airwaves, listening to the news and gossip of the 'tugboat band.'
      In April 1954, Pacific Motorboat reported, "Aye lads, Ol' Scut passed on a bit of a tide ago." Thet's the way Stewart Osborn would have written it. He was mourned by tugboat men from Cape Blanco to Nome."

Launched 1900
Designed by L.H. Coolidge
Built by E.H. McAllister in the record time of six months,
for Pacific American Fisheries of Bellingham, WA.
Power plant: 450-HP Vulcan steam engine.
Primary service, Puget Sound. 
1905: Pacific American Fisheries sold her to Grays Harbor Stevedoring Co of Aberdeen.
1919: Sold to Merrill & Ring Logging Co for towing log rafts from the Pysht River log dump on the Straits to Port Angeles.
1922: CUDAHY bought by Allman Hubble Tug Co of Hoquiam.
1930: (mid): She was sold to Knappton Towboat Co for general towing on the Columbia R. 
1941: Foss Co purchased the boat on 19 June 1941 and towed her to the Foss Shipyard in Tacoma where she underwent one year of repair and received a 1,000-HP Enterprise diesel. 
1942: On 26 May the pride of the Foss yard was christened HENRY FOSS, shortly before Henry Foss joined the navy. Capt. Walt Stark in command for two week's running before she was requisitioned for military duty in WW II and assigned to the US Army Engineers. She served them for 18 months and then returned to Foss in good condition.
1944: In September there was a tragic accident with the loss of Capt. Norm Carlsen, and the Mate Mr. Talbert at Port Towsend, WA. 
1959: Friday 13 Feb. In command of Capt. Warren Waterman the HENRY came to a "grinding and abrupt stop on a rock near Beaver Point on Saltspring Island. There was a 50-knot gale blowing and the seas extremely rough. The HENRY FOSS overturned and sank in 150-ft of water, throwing all seven men into the cold and rough water of Swanson Channel." Two men were pulled from the water. The Chief Engineer survived the exposure but deckhand Richard Lothian died of exposure after reaching the hospital. The loss of the HENRY's six men was the most painful calamity in the Foss' long history of tug boating; the tug was not salvaged.
Capt. Warren Waterman
Chief Mate Lawrence Berg
Assistant Engineer, Martin Gullstein
Deckhand, Oswald H. Sorenson
Cook, Erick W. Danielson.
Richard Lothian
Notes in the timeline section of this essay are courtesy of Michael Skalley's Foss; Ninety Years of Towboating. Superior Publishing. 1981. Saltwater People Historical Society collection.


15 October 2017

❖ OCTOBERS With June Burn ❖

Vancouver's Discovery of Puget Sound
Professor E.S. Meany

"October ain't like it u-sta be,' said the old fisherman, as he spat out his cabin window over the gunwhale of the boat. 'I cun remember falls in Puget Sound as warm and fair as June. The winds u-sta hold off longer and the winters were milder. I reckon it's cuttin' the timber that makes the difference.' 
      Which is how I came to be digging into Vancouver's diary to find out how the Octobers were behaving back in 1792. Just [225] years ago this month, Vancouver was getting ready to leave Puget Sound, where he had spent the summer of 1792 exploring 'this pleasant land.'
      In his interesting journal, so carefully kept, he says: 'The very unsettled state of the weather much retarded our reequipment and the appearance of winter having already commenced indicated the whole year to be divided here into two seasons only. The month of September had been delightfully pleasant and the same sort of weather, with little interruption, had prevailed ever since the arrival of Senor Quadra in the spring; during which period of settled weather the day was always attended with a refreshing gale from the ocean and a gentle breeze prevailed through the night from the land, which not only renders the climate of this country extremely pleasant, but the access and egress to and from its ports very easy and commodious.'
✪    ✪    ✪

It was on 12 October 1792, that Capt. Vancouver, with his fleet of three vessels––Discovery, Chatham, and Daedalus sailed out of Nootka Sound and headed for the Spanish ports in California. On the way, the Daedalus was to stop and survey Grays Harbor, and the Chatham the Columbia River. From Vancouver's Discovery of Puget Sound, by Prof. Meany, of the U of WA. A fascinating book. 
      It was in October 1846 that the discussion over the boundary line between the U.S. and Canada first began when certain British subjects desired to settle on San Juan Island. 
      But it was not until October 1872––twenty-six years later that the matter was settled by arbitration, the German Kaiser Wilhelm I decided that the International Boundary line should run through the Canal de Haro instead of through Rosario Straits.
      And it was in October 1904 that monuments were erected on San Juan Island [Washington State] in the memory of the American and English Camps which had enjoyed themselves so much during the mild dispute. These tablets may still be seen.
      October is perhaps the finest month of the year, anyhow. A month of color and zest and new beginnings. Or new endings. A month of big winds and blowing rains. A month to sit beside fires and tell fishing stories. Any excuse to get out into the colorful woods will do in October.
      In Puget Sound October brings color, but the evergreens keep things lively and fresh so that no one has any excuse to be 'blue.' Things are forever beginning in this land of green delight."  Burn, June.  Published in October 1929 for Puget Soundings by the former San Juan County homesteader, journalist, and author of Living High


07 October 2017


Wooden oil screw 224220
Launched in 1884 for a US Coast & Geodetic Survey ship.
Here she is in service as an Arctic Trader
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
September 1938:


      With a cargo of furs, ivory, curios, and strange Eskimo ceremonial apparel, the motorship PATTERSON was in Seattle yesterday after a trading cruise to the Arctic. 
      After an eventful voyage to Point Barrow, the famous Arctic trader PATTERSON was in Seattle with a cargo obtained from Eskimos who swarmed out to meet the vessel in skin boats as she approached their villages on the far-flung coast of Northern Alaska.
      The two-master, of a picturesque rig and large crow's nest, used when she was operated as a whaler, was dogged by heavy weather during most of her cruise along the Arctic Coast.
      At Wainwright, on the northbound voyage, her master, Capt. Walter Tinn, a veteran of the northern seas, became seriously ill and Capt. A.J. Hartland, chief officer, took command of the vessel. At Nome, Capt. Tinn was placed in a hospital and later brought to Seattle in the Alaska Steamship Co liner DENALI, which was returning from a cruise to Arctic Siberia. 
      The cargo of the PATTERSON included Eskimo ceremonial maks, mukluks, bows and arrows, spears, snowshoes, carved ivory, native baskets, Eskimo combs, fossil ivory, parkas, miniature kayaks, and a bright red reindeer coat. 
      The PATTERSON was at Point Barrow three days putting ashore 400 tons of supplies needed for the long winter. There was much ice in the roadstead and along the shore. She was the only commercial vessel to call at Point Barrow this year. 
      With her arrival in Seattle, the PATTERSON completed her first voyage for Motorship Patterson, Inc, a new company organized to operate the trader. She was purchased recently in San Francisco from Capt. C. T. Pedersen, a veteran of the Far North.
      Officers of the new company are Charles Gilkey, president; Walter Gilkey, vice president; George T. Stickney, secretary-treasurer, and Elmer Leader, assistant secretary-treasurer."
Above text: Seattle Times news clip. September 1938.

1883: Ordered at the yard of James D. Leary, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Cost: $100,000.
Installed Power: Cross compound vertical steam engine, cylinders 17 and 31 inches x 28-inch stroke, 215 HP, replaced by 325 HP diesel in 1924.
Propulsion: 8-ft screw.
Sail Plan: Barkentine
Boats & landing craft carried: 7
Crew: 12-13 officers, 40-46 crewmen.

1884, 15 January: Launched and named for Carlile P. Patterson, Superintendent of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey. 
1918: Renamed FORWARD and transferred to US Navy for a patrol ship during last months of WW I.
Sold back to the US Coast & Geodetic Survey because she was no longer strong enough for offshore use and regained her original name. She was out of service for several years and finally sold by WA tug & Barge Co to C.K. West of Portland.
Owned by Northern Whaling & Trading Co. When the motor ship PATTERSON arrived in San Francisco in 1931, with Capt. C. T. Pedersen in command, her cargo of white fox, ivory, and whalebone was valued at $300,000. (1931 prices.)
Sold to Alaska Patterson Co.

Captain H.H. Bune, Seattle, WA.
Wrecked 11 December 1938
Near Cape Fairweather, AK.
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
1938, December 11:   
"The most serious loss of life during 1938 resulted from the stranding of motorship PATTERSON, owned by Alaska Patterson, Inc. on the surf-lashed shore at Cape Fairweather, near Sea Otter Creek, Gulf of Alaska. Capt. Gustaf F. Swanson, first mate, was washed overboard and lost trying to launch a lifeboat. James Moore, winchman, was drowned in a swollen creek while attempting to rig a lifeline to get the crew ashore. The other 18 survivors were marooned on the rugged shore for some time, supplies were dropped to them by air. 
      Sheldon Simmons, "mercy flier" rescued two crew who arrived in Seattle in time for Christmas. Two USN planes from Sitka flew out seven crew and USCG HAIDA the remaining men. Both groups were rescued at Lituya Bay where the men hiked 30 miles through storms with guide Nels Ludwinson, left by Simmons' plane. Ludwinson was a local trapper who had been jailed for drunkenness and let out early for the job. 
The vessel had been bound from Kodiak for Seattle, was pounded to pieces in the surf."
Wreck notes from the N.Y. Times published 25 December 1938 
H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW. Newell, Gordon, editor. 

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