"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 700, 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.

26 May 2018


Captain Louis Knaflich
Schooner RUBY 
Low res scan of an original dated Mar. 1941
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Determined to aid the United Nations in their war against the Axis powers, four members of the Knaflich family of Seattle are serving America on widely separated fronts.
      Capt. Louis Knaflich, veteran Alaska mariner, and the trader is sailing in Army Transports carrying troops, supplies munitions to the northern battlefront. 
      Louis Knaflich Jr., 23 years old, a graduate of the YMCA navigation school in Seattle, is the second mate of a War Shipping Administration ocean-going tug.
      Hanley Knaflich, 21 years old, a graduate of the Maritime Service Officers' Training Schoo at Alameda, CA, is the third mate of a Maritime Commission freighter sailing to the South Pacific war zone.
      Miss Donna Knaflich, 18 years old, the pretty daughter of the colorful Alaska mariner, is employed in the offices of a Los Angeles architect and recently made all of the blueprints for a Navy tug, built in southern CA.
      "Hanley graduated from the Alameda officers' school with high honors before he was 21 years old and now has second mate's papers for any ocean." Captain Knaflich said.
      "Donna attended the drafting school of the Seattle YMCA, where she laid the foundation for a career as an architect. She went to Los Angeles a year ago.
      The Sea Takes Hold
From the time they were quite small, the Knaflich children hard their father tell of his adventures while making cruises to Siberia, Banks Land, and to Herschel Island, far to the eastward in the Arctic, and it was not surprising that they were determined to follow a maritime career when they grew up.
      Donna loved her father's ships, the sturdy schooners that carried him to remote districts, including the storied Kuskokwim River of AK, where she was born. In Seattle, she received instruction in mechanical drawing, preliminary to a course in ship drafting. In L.A., she has been working on plans for Maritime Commission tugs and hops to be able someday to design a deep-sea ship.
      Capt. Knaflich opened the Kuskokwim River trade with Seattle in 1911 while operating the schooner DUXBURY. At that time there were no charts and he threaded his vessel up the river by making constant soundings. He also operated the schooners BENDER BROTHERS and ANVIL to the Kuskokwim, but his most famous vessel was the schooner RUBY, a trim, white three-mast vessel in which he made a voyage from Seattle to Maracaibo, Venezuela, with a cargo of lumber in 1926.
Auxiliary Schooner RUBY, 1941
Seattle, loading up for Mexico.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People©
Offered $100,000.
Capt. Knaflich was offered $100,000 for the RUBY in Callao, Peru, while on his way to Maracaibo, but refused it as the vessel was one of the most successful schooners of her rig and type operated in off-shore trade.
      The RUBY made voyages to Banks Land, Herschel Island, and Beatty Island, far to the eastward in the ARCTIC, to Siberia, Valparaiso, Chile, and Callao, Peru, and in 1941 she was sold to Productos Maginos and went from Seattle to Guaymas, Mexico, flying the Mexican flag and manned by a Mexican crew.
      In the service of the Productos Marinos of Guaymas, the RUBY became the mother ship of shrimp fishing fleet operating off the coast of Mexico.
Source: The Seattle Times. Nov. 1943.


22 May 2018


AMELIE, 1933.
Built at Pt. Blakely, WA., in 1925 as a tender for
Sunny Point Packing Co.
81.1' x 18.7' x 8.8', 99 G.t. 67 N.t.
165 HP.
Then she went exploring with the
Father Bernard Hubbard expeditions in Alaska.
Click image to enlarge.
She is in documentation in 2018 at Ketchikan.

AP photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society.©

Text with this photo states, "Father Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J., famous 'Glacier Priest,' led an exploration party through the wild and remote regions of the Alaska Peninsula last summer, checking geological changes in the volcanic region and discovering a new harbor in the crater of Bogoslov, a marine volcano known as "the Disappearing Island of the Bering Sea." When his ship AMELIE visited the harbor it was the first time a ship had ever entered the crater of a volcano, Father Hubbard said. The exploration party returned to Seattle on 9 October 1933, after taking 100,000 feet of motion picture film, much of which was 'shot' in spots never before seen by human eyes. The party spent six months in the region known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes."

Father Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J.
courtesy of Santa Cruz University.
Hubbards's King Island Expedition:
In 1937 and 1938, Father Hubbard lived on King Island with his boats, dogs, expedition members, and more than 100 tons of supplies and equipment. During this expedition, he continued his glacier research and captured the King Island people on film. The King Islanders took him on a 2,000-mile open-water trip by umiak in his attempt to prove that the Eskimos, from Nome to Barter Island, shared a common language.
      Hubbard's arrival on the Island had an impact on the community. Among his supplies were powerful electric generators and engines to power his moving picture equipment and light the hall he constructed to show his films, as well as to give power to other parts of the village. He constructed buildings for the villagers and introduced oil burning stoves to replace the dirtier and less efficient coal-burning units they had been using.
      Hubbard made several long documentary films and took thousands of still pictures of almost every aspect of King Island life, including native funerals and the celebration dance of success at bear hunting. Bogojaviensky and Robert W. Fuller, who published a number of Hubbard's still photographs in 1973 in Polar Bears, Walrus Hides, and Social Solidarity, praised their high quality. "The ethnographic and historical significance of these photographs is enormous––To our knowledge, there exists no comparable photographic record of an aboriginal sovereign state in all of Arctic ethnology."
      Hubbard's stay on the island generated controversy. After his party left, Joseph McElmeel, the General Superior of the Alaska mission, wrote "Just at present Father Lafortune has the task of overcoming the bad influence of the Hubbard party on the island last winter. The seculars with Father Hubbard should never have been taken there. Father Hubbard has admitted to me that he can no longer control them as he used to. Even non-Catholics in Nome spoke to me about the danger that the King Islanders would be affected by the stay of the Hubbard party. The too frequent moving pictures developed a craze for pictures in the Islanders. On their visit to Nome this summer it was observed by seculars that they were no longer as simple as they used to be. Father Hubbard is a hard-working man, but he should not be permitted to come to the missions with the type of men he brought this year." The accusations, however, apparently were not very serious because Hubbard and four others, including Edgar Levin, were welcomed back in the summer of 1940 for more photographic work, and to make further improvements to the village." 
Source: Santa Clara University archives.

      "One of the more colorful personalities of former years was Fr. Bernard Hubbard, S.J., the 'Glacier Priest.' He came to Santa Clara in 1926 and was assigned to teach mineralogy and geology but his heart was not in the classroom. It was in Alaska. There he explored volcanoes in the Aleutians and, for some months, lived among and studied the culture of the King Islanders. Each summer he enlisted a few friends to join him in these expeditions. Finally, in 1995 a stroke limited his activity but did not discourage him from his annual trip to AK. When at Santa Clara he spent his time editing films and preparing for his popular lecture tours.
      Financial help came from his lectures, friends, and advertisements which he inserted in his motion pictures. Some advertisers also gave him fishing gear, rowboats, camping equipment, cameras, and film.
      In some respects, he was like a little boy. He had a charm and an uncanny way of wresting permissions from his religious superiors. Because he didn't drive a car he appointed me to drive his Chrysler station wagon. Once we stopped at a fruit stand and he drank so much cider that he had to stay at home near a bathroom the next day. But once he decided to drive to the campus of Montezuma school in the Santa Cruz mountains. A 'No trespassing' sign was posted but he told me to ignore it. We were promptly stopped. To persuade the guard to allow us to enter, he informed him that he was Father Hubbard. The guard replied that he had never heard of him. We later enjoyed a good laugh and never allowed Father to forget this. Toward the end of his life, he received a Christmas card from a local mortician. He laughed and said: 'Those buzzards are really waiting for me!' Fr. Hubbard remains in my memory as a good friend, a unique personality and a man with an undying love for Alaska." Carl H. Hayn, S.J., Professor of Physics. 1962.

For further study, please see The Legacy of the "Glacier Priest," Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J. C.M. Scarborough and D. Kingston. Santa Clara Univ. Dept of Anthropology and Sociology. 2001. LINK

20 May 2018


Heroes of a North Pacific disaster
safely back on their ship the PRESIDENT MADISON.
This shows members of the lifeboat crew who rescued
James Thorsen, cadet officer from Portland, OR.,
Lucena Decancey, ordinary seaman, Manila, 
and Fritz Dewall, able seaman,
only survivors of the freighter NEVADA.
arrived in Seattle, 5 October 1932.
The third officer, E.J. Stull who commanded the lifeboat,
is seen standing in uniform.
Eddie Blomberg is in the center of the back row
without a life preserver.
Click image to enlarge. 
Photo by Acme News
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

The able seaman from the
American Mail Line's, PRESIDENT MADISON
who swam a line around his waist, through 
the whipping surf to the rocky shore 
of Amatignak, Alaska to rescue
three survivors of the wreck of 
the freighter SS NEVADA.
He is shown after arriving Seattle,
8 October 1932.
Photo by Acme News
from the archives of the 
Saltwater People Historical Society©

The American Mail Liner PRESIDENT MADISON arrived in Seattle on 5 October 1932 with three survivors and the lifeboat crew who rescued James Thorsen, Lucena Decancey, and Fritz Dewall. They were the only survivors of the ill-fated freighter NEVADA, wrecked on the rocky shores of Amatignak Island in the Aleutians. Thirty-four were lost.
      The steel steam screw NEVADA, Master T. W. Johanson had stranded at Amatignak, AK. She departed Longview, WA., 15 Sept. 1932 bound Yokohama, Japan. Carrying a 6,648-ton cargo of lumber, flour, and general merchandise. 
      SS OREGON MARU responded to radio distress signal; proceeded to wreck but the seas prevented the rescue of men who had washed ashore. SS PRESIDENT MADISON arrived 29 Sept and rescued the 3 crew members from Amatignak Island. The USCG HAIDA arrived on scene 4 Oct. and continued the search of vicinity without results. The NEVADA and cargo were total losses. Value of cargo unknown. Vessel value was $255,000.

This medal was awarded to the officer
ELMER J. STULL (1887-1975), seen in the photo on the
deck of the rescue ship the PRESIDENT MADISON.
In World War II he commanded the Liberty Ship
SS SAMUEL PARKER, that was able to limp
home from the war to Seattle, WA in 1943,
full of holes, but victorious
and the first Liberty Ship to be
These last two photos are courtesy of his
great-grandson Patrick Danforth. He has
more bio on Capt. Stull worth a visit HERE

O.N. 219522
Lost, 27 September 1932
Location, 51 16 N 179 06 W
Chart, 16460
Tonnage, 5,645 G. 3517 N. 
Age, 12 yrs.
Owner, States Steamship Co., of Portland, Oregon.

Source, USCG Report 18 October 1932 at Portland, OR;
AlaskaShipwreck.com; and Saltwater People Historical Society.
Two photos from Patrick Danforth.
List of the lost mariners to be added.

16 May 2018


Built at Thomaston, ME. 1878
by Thomas Watts.
Date of photo unknown.
Originally a full-rigged ship, then a bark, and finally rerigged as a 5-masted schooner, long in Pacific Coast lumber and coal trades.
5-masted schooner.
Date estimate by UW of c. 1900.
Location: Port Blakely, WA.
Under Capt. P. Martensen.

Photo by Wilhelm Hester
from the U of W Collections.

1902, 5 September: Capt A. H. Sorenson and wife Marie welcomed a baby girl, Burgess in the middle of the Pacific hundreds of miles west of Central America.
"Ship at San Pedro.
The five-masted schooner SNOW & BURGESS arrived in port late this evening and dropped her anchor in the outer harbor, just off the end of the government breakwater. The arrival of this vessel is of particular note from the fact that she is the only five-master ever entering the port. The SNOW & BURGESS has had a varied and interesting career, such a history as few vessels can boast. Built in 1878, she was full-rigged ship and for fifteen years sailed the seas and visited nearly every port of importance on the globe. For ten years, or until 1903, this barque was under canvass; then she was brought into San Francisco and transferred to her present owner, J. L. Larsen, and was placed on the dry dock at Boole's shipyard. Her rig was again changed, her cabins were rebuilt, and she was turned out of the shops, good as new, and one of the first five masters ever floated. She is 228' long, 41' beam and 24.7' depth of hold. Her tonnage total net is 1548 tons. She carries approximately two million feet of lumber." From the Los Angeles Herald
Text verso: 1911
Crossing the Columbia River Bar.

2 photos from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

1922: Capt. Dan "Black" Martin was her last skipper. On her last voyage home from Manilla, she was badly hogged and leaked constantly. She had lumber lashing chains around her stern, set up with turnbuckles to keep her together. She did not sail again but was sold for $3,000, despite her appraisal of $200,000 during the shipping boom 2 years earlier. She was burned on the beach at Pt. Townsend. According to the H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, edited by Gordon Newell, H. W. McCurdy was involved in the scrapping and her bell was subsequently saved for his yacht.

11 May 2018

❖ Tugboater CAPT. MARK FREEMAN and his lottery ticket ❖

Washington State's First $1 million Lottery

Captain Mark H. Freeman
Freemont Tugster

b. 15 Mar. 1934, Lake Union
d. 26 Jan. 2017, Seattle, WA.
Photo date, 12 Dec. 1982
by Matt McVay
low res scan of an original photo from
the Saltwater People Historical Society©

click image to enlarge.

"Charles E. Davis, a machinist who's been unemployed since June, was hurting for the money.
      Mark Freeman, the owner of a tugboat company and lots of pricey Lake Union moorage, wasn't.
      The two illustrated the spread between the poor and the rich among the 10 finalists for the first $1 million WA. state lottery drawing next Friday.
      The 10––a mix of Washingtonians that ranged from a nurse to a smelter superintendent to a truck driver––beat out 6,190 other $100 instant-lottery winners who were competing in yesterday's semi-final draw for the Big Win.
      Saturday is Mark Freeman's day for working on his tugboats, and he was out early at Lake Union, dressed in his thick work boots, jeans, flannel shirt and the 'loggers'  suspenders sporting a 'Ballard Bridge Passport––Copenhagen Snuff' button.
      But instead of working, he spent the day posing for news photographers, enjoying good-natured barbs aimed his way by customers and friends who dropped by the Northlake Way tugboat office and gloating.
      Freeman owns moorage for 90 pleasure and commercial craft, and moorage off Fairview and Westlake for 65 houseboats, as well as five tugboats.
      Being a finalist means he has won at least $10,000. If he gets second place in the drawing it's $50,000.
      'I'm not wealthy,' he protested. His company property 'just means you've got a lot of hard work keeping all that together.'
      Besides, he says, he probably works more than just about anyone. 'We open at 6 every morning and shut down at 10 at night. I'm here for a good share of that.'
      His tugboat company office is filled with photographs and memorabilia of boats, newspaper clippings of tugboat races he has competed in.
      The $10,000 will go into fixing up the tugboats, Freeman said. If he wins the $1 million, he said, he's got his eye on a sweet little tugboat.
      'I wouldn't change my style of living or anything else. I'm having a good time––especially today,' he said. It's not every day you win $10,000. Usually, you've got to work your a__ off.'
      He'll continue to live in his Lake Union houseboat, commuting to work in his mini-tugboat 'Barf...'
      There were nine other people who had chances to be a millionaire in this draw. They were, C.P. Oefler, Jana D. Page, Christa Maiuri, Warren Harvey, Phyllis D. O'Hair, Darleen J. Garwood, Charles Davis, Robert Swanson, Clyde Overman."
Carey Quan Gelernter & William Gough. The Seattle Times

      The next week the drawing was made. The million dollar winner was the registered nurse, Jana D. Page, making about $15,000 per year and had just had surgery to remove half her kidney.
      The famous mariner, Capt. Mark Freeman, was in second place to take home $50,000.
For a glimpse of Capt. Freeman steaming along click HERE

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