"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.

11 November 2017


ON 66840
She sailed under names: USRC BEAR, USCGC BEAR,
flags of 3 nations, U. K., U. S., and Canada.
The BEAR had a career of 89 years in Polar Seas
as a Revenue cutter, rescue vessel, war hero,
humanitarian, movie star, and floating museum.


When the dews and damps of a deep-laid hull
Have rotted my body and soul,
When the seas have washed atop of my rigging
And no more will I reach for the pole,
When the men who go down to the sea in ships
Have seen me no more in southland slips,
When the northland people have looked off to sea 
In vain o'er the floes for a sight of me
Only then is my voyaging done.

When the barking of seal in the sea of the mists
Is echoed by bulwarks of steel,
When the bowheaded monsters of Akutan Bay 
Dive low under the grey iron keel.
When my mainsail and jib and topgallant sheer
Are furled forever from wind and from sleet,
When the men of my crews are phantom-like men
Who will only walk when the dead come again,
Only then are my glories all won.

While the lay of my lines is trim with the sea 
And my freeboard is handsomely high,
While there's coal in my bunkers and sail on my spars
And my helm will steer full and by,
While the pole-seeking hunters each year sally forth
To battle the tides and packs of the north,
While they creak in the nips and freeze in the air,
On I must sail to relieve their despair
Ere my voyaging's done.

I am old I am mellowed with near hundred years
Since my cutwater turned to the sea,
And the sealer and whaler, Aleut, Esquimaux
Signalled or waited in anguish for me.
But now through my timbers there sighs age's breath
And soon I must sail to the cold port of death.
For I have a promise I know I must keep 
And it's waiting for me in the still, silent deep 
Now that my glories are won.

Courtesy, Comdr.  M. A. Ransom (USCG, ret.)
One of the most famous ships ever to work in the 
North Pacific, seen here in Seattle, WA.
Among the Seattle men who served aboard in the 
Arctic was Rear Adm. F. A. Zeusler.
Photograph by James A. Turner, Seattle, WA.
Undated original from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
(L-R) Captain Francis Tuttle with close
friend Robert Moran fishing on Orcas Island, WA.
Tuttle took command of the USRC BEAR in 1896-1898
during the difficult pelagic sealing years in the North Pacific.
He had just brought the BEAR home to Seattle when a
request came from Pres. McKinley to head back north
to try & save 265 whalers trapped in their boats
in the ice near Pt. Barrow. It was specified that only
volunteers should sign on because of the high danger involved.

Tuttle also commanded her 1900-1902 and 1906-1907.
The story of the lengthy Overland Relief Expedition can be found in
The Great Ice Ship BEAR by Polly Burroughs.

A model of the BEAR is on exhibit at the Coast Guard Museum
in Seattle, WA. A post to honor that builder can be seen on 
this site here
There is also another post on the BEAR written by journalist 
R.H. Calkins see here
The above photograph by James McCormick
is from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

aboard U.S.R.C. BEAR
Capt. Cochran served on the vessel
1914-1916, 1921-1924, and in 1926.

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

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