"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.

31 March 2018


On 31 March 2000, along with the calm arrival of a new century came the delivery of a new fish boat built on Shaw Island. A fish boat who wouldn't go fishing.
      Here's a little historical background of what pre-dated that launch day.
The first retired reefnet boat donated to
the Shaw Island Library and Historical Society.
Delivered on this day of 20 November 1968.
Men by the boat are Henry Hoffman and Malcolm Cameron.
The crane was operated by Wayne Fowler.
 Margaret "Babs" Cameron captured this photo.
Photograph by Wally Howland
c. 1970.
      The official logo adopted by the Shaw Island Library and Historical Society in the 1960s is a graphic design of a reefnet boat by the much-loved artist Malcolm Cameron. It honors the local fishing method, featuring the distinctive design of the indigenous craft that were fished as a pair. The Cameron artwork was to be the logo for the classy gray stationery so didn't this mean the Society should have a boat worked into their small garden with the library and museum buildings still on the drafting board?
      The Society's first "retired" reefnet boat, as shown in the top photos, did come to be with a donation by local fisherman Lloyd Lillie, hauled up cemetery hill before the little private museum and library were even open for business. Malcolm, Wayne Fowler, and Henry Hoffman moved the reefnet boat on site in November 1968. 
Shaw Island Library and Historical Society
Postcard photo by summer islander,
Wally Howland.
These were published and sold for fund-raising
at the Library.
Published in the early 1970s.

       The boat lived a long, lazy life while being featured on the above SILHS photo postcard until the old vessel dissolved away from the effects of decades of drizzly winter rain.
      After much discussion of the Society trustees off and on over several years and a few inspections of potential replacements, the next candidate was chosen for the front garden. Their choices had dwindled to a scant few. 
     Unfortunately, it was decided the next retiree was a little out of scale for the site; a vessel still wearing her colorful red bottom paint and green freeboard, this more evident after it was carefully installed. Some Islanders were a little agitated about the new behemoth moored on the high-traffic corner; some jokester adorned her with graffiti on a name board inscribed SS Feng Shui, for all passersby to view. The vessel was proud on her throne at the corner but catching some unkind remarks.
Retired reefnet boat No. 2
Escorted off-site.
March 2000.
      In order to preserve this link to our island's maritime history, to the rescue came supportive local history boosters Gwendolyn Yansen and Frances Hilen. They commissioned boatbuilder Peter Christensen to build a new reefnet boat to travel directly past the traditional fishing sites at Squaw Bay and be lifted up over the antique split-rail fence to her new home, high and dry on the Library/Museum corner. She was constructed of Western Red Cedar to authentic dimensions of one of the slightly smaller vessels. 

Reefnet boat number 3.
Delivery day 31 March 2000
One reefnet boat ready to climb the hill to home.
Click image to enlarge.

She was not filled with styrofoam flotation like the boats that were afloat and fishing outside Squaw Bay, sadly her ladder steps were removed from the watchtower for insurance reasons, and there are no crew initials hand-carved in the gunwales. 

From across the street came
the Lynnette Trucco-Baier class of school kids
over to investigate and, of course,
climb the tower.
Delivery day of 31 March 2000

31 March 2000
No fish scales but she's settling in well.

      There were a few comments afloat about the boat not being an "authentic" reefnet boat that had actually been fishing––but take a look around the past winter haul-out areas and see if any of those old-timers are above ground level. Long gone.
      Thanks to charter members Gwen and Fran, our benefactors, the on-site reefnet boat logo was secured for a few more years; a fine example of islanders pulling together for the benefit of their community. Eighteen birthdays and counting.
      Data for this essay was extracted from "Log of the Reefnet Boat" a historical timeline compiled by C. Christensen, containing Shaw Island Library and Historical Society board minutes (1994-2000), one page of a 1968 private diary, collected photographs for the three reefnet boats that have been parked on the grounds, as well as construction photos from Peter Christensen's Blind Bay Boatshop. 

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