"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 December 2017


ISLANDER, Obstruction Pass,
between Orcas and Obstruction Islands.

Original photo by James A. McCormick from the 

Saltwater People Historical Society© archives. 
I am off San Juandering again. I have always dearly loved San Juan Island, Speiden, Stewart, Johns, Sentinel, and Cactus Islands and supposed Orcas and Lopez and the rest could not possibly be so nice, or their people so friendly and lovable.
       But just as soon as each little bay and each high sunny point is peopled with friends these other islands will become precious, too. And so for the first time, I'm off to browse among the gnarled madronas to climb the high hills, to see the far views of Orcas.
      I never come aboard one of these little Sound boats but I marvel that I've been able to stay off them for so long. How is it I've walked city streets, turned the pages of dusty books, talked about business things when all this time these little boats are going up and down, up and down, and I not aboard one of them? How do we resist the lure of these channels and the wheedling appeal of island coves?
The sun is warmer out here on the bay, the wind softer, the lift and fall of the waves sweeter than the nicest swing father ever made.
SAN JUAN II with winter weather,
scan courtesy of Charles Torgeson
The Chickawana has taken the run of the San Juan II with the Tulip King to pinch-hit for the Chick. We did not come past the old hulk of the San Juan, where she lies naked and broken in Peavine Pass, but I heard stories of her last trip. One said she was driven ashore a scant few feet from a sharp ledge off which she would have gone to the bottom and all with her if the sea had not carried her to safety. But from the crew of the Chickawana, I could get no stories. Maybe they want to forget that wild night. Or maybe it was all in a day's work to them. But certain it is they won't talk much about it though you'd think each of them would have a tale all made up trimmed with thrills and horrors. The adventure of a shipwreck is wasted on folks who don't know they've had one!
original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      I left the boat at Olga, the second stop on Orcas, the first being Doe Bay. The sun shone brightly on this new snow of the dock but icicles tinkled on the edges of the north wind and I was glad to find the fire in the big fireplace of the hotel kept by Mrs. Alexander and her daughter, Fairy Burt.
      I had stopped at Olga to see Mr. Ferri, the great artist of whom lately I'd heard and whom I met one day on a Bellingham street. But he is gone now and his pictures gone, too. A fire in his studio a few weeks ago destroyed pictures and sketches and dreams of a lifetime. His studio had burned to the ground and I did not go to see the ashes. He is gone too, though I think he will be back. For the sun still shines on this matchless point of earth and the Olympics still notch the horizon to the south. Who has once loved and lived in such a spot cannot long stay away. Mr. Ferri is not an old man for all his long years of work and his pictures were but the body of his dreams--the essence of them is here yet. Please come back to the islands Mr. Ferri, wherever you have gone, and trap some of this beauty on canvas again! The radiance is wasted upon just us who without artist's eyes cannot see a complete glory.
       A chance encounter had given me the acquaintance of Dr. Madison, also of Olga, a physician, and writer. So that failing to find Mr. Ferri I still had one small excuse for stopping here. What was my surprise and delight, upon telephoning Mrs. Madison, to be invited to a dinner being given that evening to local friends. Nowhere else in the world, perhaps, would it have happened. Nowhere else have there been such things to eat. And nowhere else could I have gone in breeches and boots to dine with ladies in velvet. Nowhere else have stories what went round that table, of deer eating up the cabbages in the game warden's garden and he says all he can do about it is to plant more next time! See you tomorrow. June."


  1. This is one of the most lovely writings by June. I wish I had known her. Thank you for keeping her memory alive.

  2. Hi KP, So nice to hear that you read the Log and enjoy the words of dear June. She loved the islands and I'm sorry she couldn't live out her life here. But she was the type of person that loved everywhere!


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