"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 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.

30 January 2018

❖ 4 Million Dollars worth of DRYDOCK ❖ 1954

The largest concrete drydock built to date in the USA.
Seattle, WA. 1954.

Click image to enlarge.
Original wire photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Tugs slowly inch a huge 400-foot floating dry dock, made of enough concrete to cover an acre of ground five inches thick. Through the drawbridges in Seattle, en route to a shipyard for fittings. The $4,157,000 oceanic dock, the largest of its kind ever built in this country, will be turned over to the Navy after being outfitted with necessary equipment, including crew's quarters and gun emplacements.

25 January 2018


1,476.83 G.t.
Built by Coaster Construction Co of Montrose, Scotland. 
 She was designed for Union Steamships, Ltd,  
steaming to work on the B.C. coast by 7/12/1925.
Photo postcard from the Clinton H. Betz collection,
archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

S.S. CATALA operated passenger and freight service from Vancouver to Ocean Falls and Bella Coola. With other vessels of the Union Steamships the tramp steamer served many ports on the northern B.C. coast, stopping at logging camps and canneries. 

1962: After her long career she was purchased by Catala Enterprises, organized by the MacPherson real estate interests of Seattle & Gray's Harbor, WA. After a thorough refurnishing and interior renovations to 52 staterooms, a restaurant, and lounge which made her more luxurious than at any time in her long career, she was towed to Seattle arriving in April as the first of the hotel ships. Returns were disappointing and all 3 vessels withdrew before the end of the fair.* The CATALA was sold to California owners for use as a floating resort, but payments were not maintained.
1963:  She was reclaimed by MacPherson and returned to the PNW, being moored as a fisherman's hotel at Ocean Shores development on Gray's Harbor, her last stop.
Above text from H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Newell, Gordon, editor. 

The old and the new at the Ocean Shores Marina.
Photo by Kyle Smith.
From the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

On New Year's Eve in 1965, with 70-mile-an-hour winds, 
the good ship was driven ashore. She filled with sand  
and water and was a picturesque wreck. 
In 2001, the late historian Gene Woodwick reported that 
"a storm exposed the keel and frames of the CATALA so 
she could resume her service as a maritime relic."

Click to enlarge this photo by Dale Swanson.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

* According to the Gene Woodwick, all three ships acting as hotels for Seattle's World Fair stayed for the duration of the Fair with the CATALA being the only one to earn a profit.
Thanks to reader K Pool, click on this link for more information about this vessel.

22 January 2018


Inscription on reverse of the above photo.

"A thrilling tale was unfolded by the exhausted officers and crew of the American ship REUCE, in command of Capt. F. B. Dinsmore, which unexpectedly put into Sydney yesterday in distress.
      The vessel sailed from Newcastle last week with a cargo of coal consigned to San Francisco. When about 300 miles on her journey, almost due east of Sydney Heads, the REUCE was assailed by strong southeasterly and north-easterly gales, and she was hove-to under lower topsails. The gale increased in violence and terrific seas were running, the result being that the vessel was strained severely. Suddenly she took a list to starboard, and all hands were engaged for some hours in trimming the cargo to right the ship.
      To the dismay of all on board, when the wells were sounded, it was found that there were 4 feet of water in the holds. All the pumps were manned, and for a time the inflow was kept in check. The steam pumps worked by the donkey-engine then became deranged, and the handpump had to be solely relied upon. The REUCE continued to labour heavily, and all hands were called upon to work night and day. The position became even more critical when the hand-pump broke down owing to the packing carrying away. By this time the water had increased to 5ft 9 inches. After a few hours work, the carpenter succeeded in repairing the pump, and the volume of water was temporarily reduced. Eventually, the hand-pump was worked by the captain and the cabin boy, while the sailors were employed below in trimming the shifted cargo. No sooner had the REUCE been righted, then she gave a sudden lurch, and her cargo moved over to the other side.
      For several days all the sailors and some of the officers were engaged in moving the coal cargo, while the remainder of the ship's company took their turn at the hand-pumps. When the gales moderated the REUCE had 5' 3" of water in her holds, but the pump again became disabled, and the water continued to gain on the vessel. The master then resolved to make for Sydney, the nearest port, and much to the relief of all on board favourable winds were met with on the run back. By Sunday the depth of water had increased to 5' 5", and when the REUCE entered the Heads shortly before midday yesterday the soundings gave 5' 9".
      The pumps were still in operation last night on board the REUCE at her anchorage below Garden Island, but until a survey has been made the leak cannot be located. The REUCE is a wooden vessel of 1925 tons gross, and 1601 tons net, and was built in 1881 by Mr. Thompson at Kennebunk, Maine. She is owned by the Californian Shipping Co of San Francisco, at which port she is registered."
Above text from Sydney Morning Herald 26 May 1908.
Courtesy of the National Library of Australia 

Inscription on the reverse of the above photo.
1889: Known among seamen in her Cape Horn days as the "Hungry REUCE." Late in this year she arrived in San Francisco with 17 of her crew down with scurvy. 
1891: It was charged this year that a seaman was trussed up to the mizzen stay off Cape Horn by the mates and later drowned while attempting to escape.
1917: after 30 years serving from San Francisco, REUCE was taken from Oakland mudflats and put into cannery service by Columbia-Pacific Packers of Portland, OR.
1922: the old wooden ship REUCE of the C.R. Packers was sold for the Oriental Lumber trade, although she had a sideline––a still being found turning out bootleg whiskey on board.
1924: REUCE was wrecked 10 Feb on the coast of Japan.

19 January 2018



Original 1927 photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Click image to enlarge.
"The Skansie Bros. Shipyard was established at Gig Harbor, WA, specializing in the construction of the heavy-duty gasoline vessels which were fast replacing other types in the fishing industry of the Northwest.
      The first craft built by the Skansie brothers, Peter, Andrew, Mitchell, and Joseph, at their new shipyard was the 65-ft fishing vessel OCEANIA, launched in May 1912, and designed for their own fishing fleet. The brothers were said to have built the first gasoline launch for seine fishing on Puget Sound while other fishermen were still using oar-powered skiffs. The brothers learned the shipbuilding trade in Europe. 
L-R: Mitchell Skansie, President
I. C. Rowland, Vice-President
with Mr. Rowland's free pass for
Washington Navigation Company, hardly needed 

for this day of sea-trials,  2 April 1927.
Launching photographs of M.V. DEFIANCE are below.

 original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Mitchell Skansie was the major owner of the young shipyard and the upcoming ferry company. In 1921 he established the Steilacoom-Long Branch ferry, adding the Fox Island ferry in 1924. In 1926 he organized the Washington Navigation Company of which he was 93% owner, taking over the county ferries operating between Tacoma, Gig Harbor, and Vashon Island, thus gaining control of the entire ferry system then operating in Pierce County." H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the PNW. Newell, Gordon, editor. 
1927: The launching of the M.V. DEFIANCE, Gig Harbor, WA. 
Flags flying for the launching of DEFIANCE
444 G.t. 295 N.t.
156' x 49.2' x 13.6'
Original photo inscribed, 16 January 1927 

from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Launching of DEFIANCE 
16 January 1927
Skansie Brothers Shipyard
Gig Harbor, WA.
Dated original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Getting her two new Fairbanks-Morse engines 
three months after launching in 1927.
Mitchell Skansie standing by on the right
Dated original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Steaming into her old home port of Gig Harbor in 1931.
Not many cars aboard but lots of steam.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
1921: Little motor ferry ELK was built by the Skansie Bros. Shipyard for service on the Steilacoom-Longbranch route under contract to Pierce County. Later she was named AIRLINE. She was scrapped in 1938.
66.8' x 22.8' x 8.9'
77 G.t. / 52 N.t.
Indicated HP 100
In this photo she is leaving Longbranch, WA on the 3:30 trip
18 June 1923.

Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
1930: By this year, Mitchell Skansie owned 7 ferries operating on 4 routes.
1940: "The spectacular collapse of the Washington State Highway Department's first suspension bridge across the Puget Sound Narrows at Tacoma early in the year, resulted in the resumption of the ferry service that had been discontinued there following the completion of the bridge. Bids were submitted to the highway department by William Skansie of Gig Harbor (WA. Navigation Co.) and Capt. John L. Anderson. The Anderson bid was the lower of the two, but it was claimed that it did not meet contract specifications and the award was made to Skansie. The ferries SKANSONIA, CITY OF TACOMA, and DEFIANCE maintained this service for the ten years between the collapse of the first ill-fated bridge, and the completion of a new $18,000,000 span to replace it." 
H.W. McCurdy's Marine History of the PNW. Newell, G. editor. 

Thank you, Captain Mike Boyle, for the help with this post.

For more history from this well-known immigrant family's hometown, please see a Harbor History Museum blog post along with other links they have included HERE

13 January 2018

❖ RICHARDSON to SMITH ISLAND ❖ with June Burn, 1930

Richardson store and oil dock, 1958.
Lopez Island, San Juan Archipelago.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"Off to Smith Island with Capt. John Thompson of the little boat JEAN G. Down the slender strips of gravel between rail fences, the island lying trim and narrow north and south, the sea and its islands falling away to the east and west.
      Down into the cup of the island past Hummel Lake, glittering in the sun, the sun on grass, on plowed fields.
      The tide is out so that when we reach the dock at Richardson we must climb down spikes driven into a piling and so onto the deck of the Jean G.
      The captain takes aboard supplies for the radio and lighthouse tenders on Smith Island. In a few minutes, we are chugging southward towards the isolated dot lying off Whidbey Island, Island County.
      On our starboard bow Woody Island (called Buck Island on my map) with its 'Chateau' built to hug and straddle and fit the snags of a big gray rock. As we leave the scant protection of Woody and Long Islands to go rolling and plunging into the great swells of Fuca the captain lashes down his tender, his freight and whatever is loose on deck. There is a wind from the southwest to augment the swells so that we do considerable rolling and wallowing, now on top of the long hummock of a wave, now in the cradle between two such peripatetic ridges. The Captain stands on his short, stocky, seaworthy legs apparently unconscious of the roll. But I can't stand up at all.
      Halfway to the island, the eclipse of the sun darkens the world, but we have no smoked gasses through which to see the shadow of the moon swing leisurely athwart that golden prow.
      As we approach Smith the captain points out Minor Island that at very low tide is a mere spit but between which and Smith the JEAN G. can go at extreme high tide. Thus casually does land become island or peninsula and I used to think an island was fixed geographic identity!
      Capt Thompson makes four trips a month to this small fifty-acre island stop which a great light guides wayfaring ships. He brings the mail, supplies of food, instruments sent out by the government to the lone exiles who tend the light and the radio and the compass.

Light was first shown at this station 18 October 1858
This is a few years after June Burn's visit on the JEAN G.
USCG Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
As we come around the spit to the dock on the south side of Smith, we see the whole population of eight or ten persons waiting on the beach. For the mail. The captain takes the mail in the first boatload of us and eager hands grab it. One man empties the box, scatters the letters on the ground and in the lee of the boathouse everyone stirs the pile to find his own. In a half a minute or less every man and woman is holding an open letter in his hand, reading. Other letters wait between the fingers for their turn.
      Mail every eight days! It isn't so long to wait if one is frantic with hurry and work. But if one is living in such comparative solitude with so few contacts and such exacting tasks, eight days is an eternity.
      We climbed the always immaculate circular stairs to the light in its dome. From there all of Puget Sound in a magnificent scape of land and sea. Mt. Rainier and the Olympics to the south. The Cascades, Baker, and blue foothills eastward. The Canadian Coast range across the rim of the north and the hills and mountains of Vancouver on the west. I thought if I strained my eyes around that slow bend of Juan de Fuca that I might see the ocean itself but I couldn't. What a spot in which to work! What grandeur in every direction! For all its solitude, its loneliness I think I'd like keeping the light on Smith Island.
      We went into the compass room where an operator is on duty day and night. A ship in a fog can send out a request to be located and the compass man will place him with nice exactness. No big boat equipped with radio need ever pile up on rocks. If the pilot is in doubt he can get his exact position. Of course, the trouble is that the pilot isn't in doubt and so he doesn't bother asking for a position and thus occasionally finds himself piled up of a gray foggy morning on a bleak craggy rock.
      Everything on Smith Island is trim and neat. The whole island looks like a big private lawn with a little cluster of willows in the middle. The winds shriek there and the very grass is put to it to hold its roots. But what a place to live! Let's go into lighthouse service! Thank you, Captain John, for a memorable experience. See you tomorrow, June."
Above text from Puget Soundings. Burn, June. 1930

(Sorry, no photo of the Jean G. on file.)
There is a post on Saltwater People Log about the salvage and removal of the Smith Island Light by Leiter Hockett working for historian Jim Gibbs HERE
      If you'd like to read more about the history of this lightstation, Historian Lucile McDonald wrote an article published in Puget Sound Maritime's Sea Chest journal of September 1981. It has been posted on this Log HERE

12 January 2018


243' x 44' x 19'
1,614 T

Built 1919 in Aberdeen, WA.
for Andrew Schubach.
Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society
FOREST FRIEND Arrives at Queenscliff after beating Pacific storms; short of food & water.

With her sails tattered & torn, part of her deck load of lumber lost overboard and her officers and crew of 14 men short of food & water, the Seattle five-masted barkentine FOREST FRIEND, long overdue, arrived at Queenscliff, a short distance from Melbourne, after being in peril on the storm-swept Pacific for many days.
      News of the plight of the big sailing vessel was received in Seattle yesterday by Andrew Schubach, president of the Grays Harbor Motorship Corp, owner of the FOREST FRIEND and W.S. Barr, manager of Seattle office of J.J. Moore & Co, who had the ship under charter.
      The FOREST FRIEND sailed from Port Gamble 5 May for Adelaide and anxiety was expressed for the safety of her crew when word reached Seattle that she had been driven 500 miles off her course by storms and had arrived at Queenscliff in distress. The vessel was 106 days making the voyage from Puget Sound to Australia. Not a word came from the FOREST FRIEND from the time she went to sea off Cape Flattery early in May until she was sighted last Wednesday by the steamship MARRAWAH, 35 miles south of Port Lonsdale, AU. A very heavy storm came up and the barkentine was blown down the Australian coast. Arriving in Adelaide, the MARRAWAH reported sighting the vessel & tugs were sent to search the sea for her. The next heard of the FOREST FRIEND was when she put into Queenscliff, 500 miles from Adelaide.
      The officers & crew, nearly all of whom were from Seattle, follow:
Capt. Harry Johnson, master, Fred Steen, mate; C. Gaby, boatswain; H. Jorgenson, carpenter; G. Houlkes; G.R. Shaw; Oscar Kalilen; Aage Henricksen, A. Demonde and A. Berg, able seamen; Willis Wright and Wayne Cox, ordinary seamen; J. Johnson, cook, and Elias Hynning, cabin boy.
      The FOREST FRIEND loaded 2,000,000 ft of lumber at Port Gamble for Adelaide. She was towed to port from Queenscliff to discharge.
Above text from The Seattle Times, 21 August 1927.
There is a post of her sister ship FOREST PRIDE on the Saltwater People Log HERE


1923: Capt. Alex. Zugehoer lifted a cargo of 1,500,000 ft of lumber at Taylors Mill at the south end of Lake Washington, near Renton, for San Pedro. FOREST FRIEND was the first ocean vessel to berth at this extremity of the Lake.Taylor's Mill having previously lightered its cargoes to vessels moored in Lake Union or Elliott Bay.
Archived with these inscribed names of owners at
TAYLOR MILL, Lake Washington, Seattle. 

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

1927: sold to Massey Mort Shipping Co of Adelaide.
1938: Taken over for barge service by Island Tug and Barge. 
"On board" through the years: Capt. Walter H. Meyers; Capt. Nels F. Anderson. 

04 January 2018


Washington State native fisherman.
Undated photo from the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"In the almost forgotten past, when salmon were plentiful and life was simple, John Paul George lived on Orcas Island's northwest point.
      The old Indian who lived with a woman on Coal Point did not dream that someday he would be a man of many legends. He could not foresee that thousands of Y.M.C.A. Seattle boys would one day charge his cliffs, search for his house and return home, eyes lit in the thrill of the past.
      He was simply a man called 'Indian George.' He made a living the way his ancestors had for years––fishing. But for city boys today, there is something enchanting about his story––his smokehouse, and his cliffs. For one does feel that the cliffs of Coal Point, though mapped as Point Doughty, U.S. Light House Reservation, in reality, belong to that Indian dead now many years.
      I know the feeling of mystery and excitement Coal Point brings. I visited it first when I was just old enough to climb up the cliffs. The currents around it run swift, and the winter winds beat it with vengeance. Trees tell the story––bent and gnarled. One feels the need for recognition for the victory of life, perhaps it's recognition comes in the form of visitors. They are small boys who can't keep still, checking every part of the point, memorizing it to dream about in the boredom of school next winter.
      Adults may think it's peculiar to give recognition to trees and dream about some old Indian who has been dead for who knows how long. But adults sometimes should try to appreciate the magic small boys feel.
      Some say Indian George lived on Coal Point simply because the fishing was good. Other legends throw a bit of intrigue into the pot, saying he married illegally and was ostracized from his reservation. Others claim, there's no truth in that, insisting that he simply lived there with his daughter after an epidemic had wiped out the rest of his family.
      Islanders who bought his salmon at $1 apiece remember him as a friendly old fellow, naturally wearing an Indian sweater. Summer people who have for many years been returning to beach cabins remember his yearly bringing a big salmon as a greeting. Children, who are now men, have fond memories of Indian George, patiently teaching them the plants that made good medicine. One sure way to tell they say, 'the good kinds always stink.'
      Just the smokehouse and a bare frame of boards haunt the place of his old house now. According to a woman who visited Martha, George was a small girl, the house was insulated with newspaper. She said it was warm and quite clean since another layer was added or it was recovered whenever needed.
      Although little is standing now except the brave trees of Coal Point, children see many scenes. Indian George stands to watch for salmon. Some imagine he spears the fish. Others see him trolling with hand lines. When the boat is full he brings them to Martha. It does not matter what her relation is to him. She smokes the fish for a long winter.
      It will be a long winter for little children nowadays, too. Long school days will make them dream of camp and Coal Point. Perhaps when they're alone they'll play Indian George. Surely he would not mind. This is his recognition."
Text from the Orcas Sounder. 4 August 1966. Saltwater People Historical Society archives.

Pauline Hillaire writes in A Totem Pole History: the Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire that Boston Tom operated reefnets at Coal Point. (Orcasisle.com)

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