"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 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.

28 November 2018

❖ BROWN ISLAND you say

As McCormick spelled the name verso.
c. 70 acres
Located E-NE of Friday Harbor, San Juan Archipelago.
San Juan Channel and Shaw Island
in the center background.
Photo by James A. McCormick,
a professional photographer who set up shop
in Friday Harbor in 1906.
He did studio portraits in town but escaped
to the field in the summer to record on glass negatives,
fish trap workers, the 'Mosquito fleet', civic events,
and scenery shots for travel brochures.
His work was often conducted while camping and
rowing a small craft between the islands.
Original photo from the Saltwater People Hist. Society©
"This name for the island at the entrance to Friday Harbor appears on the Wilkes chart dated 1841. Professor Meany states that 'The honor was intended for John G. Brown, the Mathematical Instrument Maker on the VINCENNES, one of the ships of the U.S. Exploring Expedition. The name was accepted by all later cartographers, and its first Admiralty usage appears to be in the log of H.M.S. PLUMPER, 20 March 1858. On that day the officer of the watch called the island 'ROBERT'S' but it was corrected to 'Brown's,' and the log for 25 March stated the vessel was 'at anchor inside of Brown Island.'

      Originally Brown's Island, the apostrophe was later dropped, as on US Coast and Geodetic Survey chart 6400 (1886). 
       Brown Island offers an interesting case of a name under siege. David Richardson, in Pig War Island, Orcas Island, 1971, perhaps unconsciously raises a fundamental question in stating that Brown's Island has been "renamed Friday Island by real estate promoters." There is an entry in the directory of the Inter-Island Telephone Co (1978) for an individual who is "Caretaker, Friday Island." So far, however, Friday Island has been named only "among" and not "by" real estate promoters. USC&GS Special Report, 1951, states that Brown Island was then in undisputed local usage." 

From the inside shore looking towards Friday Harbor,
including photographer J.A. McCormick on the beach.
A selfie from over one century ago. "Mac" addressed
and mailed this photo card from Friday Harbor
to a customer in Anacortes, WA., January 1913.
Click image to enlarge.
From the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Above quoted text––Wood, Bryce. San Juan Island, Coastal Place Names and Cartographic Nomenclature. Washington State Historical Society. 1980.

In retirement years, Mr. Wood also did some serious summer camping and rowing solo in his small craft among the Gulf and San Juan Islands from his home base in the county seat of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA.

27 November 2018


Troller BLANCO
home from fishing for sole near Tatoosh Is.
Click image to enlarge.
Low res scan of original photo dated May 1949
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

From the graveyard of lost ships, the BLANCO was prowling. Wreckage from a ship which apparently sank about 40-miles northwest of Tatoosh Island was landed at the San Juan Fishing and Packing Co dock by the fish boat BLANCO.
      The wreckage included a binnacle of a type used by old sailing vessels. A plate on the stand showed that it had been made by Kelvin's & James White, Ltd., of Glasgow. The plate bore the serial number 9011.
      The BLANCO also brought ashore a piece from a ship's bow and a piece from a lifeboat.
      The captain was fishing for petrale sole when he pulled up the wreckage from 42 fathoms of water.

      The lifeboat piece was full of holes made by teredos and because of the size of it, the BLANCO was unable to bring it to port.
      "I think the wreck was an old sailing boat," Capt. Stokke told E. A. Ruthford, vice president of the San Juan Co. "The stuff had been on the bottom a long time." The BLANCO was owned by Capt. Ole and his brother, Martin Stokke. 
      The trolling boat ROYAL sent a wireless to the Coast Guard that a hit and run steamship wrecked the Tacoma troller BLANCO at 3:30 a.m. this day off Umatilla Lightship, killing one man. The ROYAL took the only survivor, Ed Petersen to the Lightship.
1936: The 18-ton fish boat BLANCO was run down by an unknown lightship on 21 August 1936. Two of her 3-man crew were lost.
      The Coast Guard division headquarters dispatched the cutter REDWING and a plane from Port Angeles base and a lifeboat to pick up the wreckage and rescue the body of Engvald Peterson, imprisoned in the debris.
      The ROYAL also requested the Coast Guard to seek identity of the steamship. It said it could not determine whether the vessel was northbound or southbound. 
      The tragedy happened about 6-miles SE by S of the lightship, the ROYAL wirelessed." 
Text from the Seattle Times, August 1936.

17 November 2018


with a detail highlighting
Port Townsend, WA., on Admiralty Inlet.
Click image to enlarge.
Windjammers loading lumber, grain, and 
general freight for world markets.
Location,  Port Townsend
Click image to enlarge.

Photo print copied by Huff from an original.
Archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Built by Hall Brothers Yard, WA., in 1885
Anchored Port Townsend, WA.
Photo by P.M. Richardson from the archives
of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Schooner PROSPER
Built by Hall Brothers Yard, WA.
Sailing into Port Townsend, WA.
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo pre-dating 1911
by P.M. Richardson
from the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Barkentine KOKO HEAD
Built 1908 by Hind-Rolph
Sailing into Port Townsend, WA.
Photo by Torka's Studio, Port Townsend, WA.
From the archives of Saltwater People©
Union Dock, Port Townsend, WA. 
Dated 1908.
Litho postcard from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

"Port Townsend began with homestead claims filed in April 1851, six months before Seattle's pioneering Denny party landed at Alki Point.
      By 1854 the U.S. Customs office moved here.

U.S. Customs House
Port Townsend, WA.

Litho postcard from the Saltwater People
Historical Society©
It had been in Olympia, which forced sea captains to sail the length of Puget Sound before legally going ashore. Isaac Ebey had been appointed customs collector in 1853, and he campaigned for Port Townsend to be designated as the official port of entry. From his home on the west shore of Whidbey Island, he could see ships turning in or out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and cross the inlet to clear them.
      With ships required to stop, Pt. Townsend readily grew as a supply center. Its legal services included banking and merchandising and also consul representation by Great Britain, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and the independent kingdom of Hawaii.

Union Dock, Port Townsend, WA.
SS CHIPPEWA on the left.
Click image to enlarge.
Photo by P.M. Richardson from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Pt. Townsend's 1850s economy at first depended largely on San Francisco's gold rush appetite for Puget Sound timber. By 1858 and into the 1860s it benefited from gold discoveries on the Fraser River and in the Cariboo District of B.C., thousands of miners streamed north. Through the 1870s Pt. Townsend grew steadily but unspectacularly. For a while it expected to be the West Coast terminus of the transcontinental railroad, a vain hope fostered by the appointment of Judge James Swan as Northern Pacific agent. The tracks stopped at Tacoma instead. Nonetheless, Pt. Townsend burgeoned, boosted by the population surge and overall optimism that rode the rails across the entire state in the 1850s.

Gig ashore, Port Townsend, WA., c. 1910
Original photo from the archives of the 
Saltwater People Historical Society©
       Pt. Townsend slumbered without a major industry until 1927, when a pulp mill opened. In one way, the long lull was a blessing: handsome commercial buildings and homes were neither altered nor razed. They remain as a remarkably intact legacy from the past."
Above text: Ruth Kirk and Carmela Alexander. Exploring Washington's Past. The University of WA. Press. 1990.

Waterfront, Port Townsend, Washington
Undated photo.

Point Hudson boat harbor with
entries for the Pacific International
Yachting Association's regatta, July 1957.
Port Townsend, WA.
Photographer unknown.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
1938 Danish Spidsgatter PIA
S38 D14
Aho'i and Maggie
Home Port –– Olympia, WA.
Early departure from Watmough Bight anchorage,
San Juan Archipelago, 6 Sept. 2018.
En route to meet with 300 wooden boats at the
42nd Port Townsend Wooden Boat Show.
Photo courtesy of mariner Jason Hines,
who sailed to the show in his Danish-built, SVANE.

Point Hudson

42nd Annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Show
Courtesy of PIA crew Maggie Woltjer©
September 2018.

Our roving reporter/mariner Maggie of PIA©
helps us wrap it up with flowers.
Port Townsend Wooden Boat Show, Sept. 2018.
Wooden Boats Forever.
Thank you to these talented participants;

volunteers, woodworkers, sailors, photographers, florist.

10 November 2018


Captain Halvorsen (L)
and Captain Ole Rindal
Two four–stripers heading for shore –– after cake.

Original, undated photo signed by
Williamson's Marine Photo Shop
from archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

"Back when the Puget Sound ferry ENETAI was known as the SANTA ROSA –– the first time –– one of her captains was Ole Rindal, at right in the above photo at his retirement.

      He may have thought he had seen the last of the boat when he skippered her into retirement.
      But he hadn't.
      When the old ferry, now the SANTA ROSA again, was given a champagne welcome upon her return to San Francisco Bay Ole Rindal was there.
      The SANTA ROSA was towed from Puget Sound to Oakland along with another ferry well known to residents of both areas. The other vessel was the FRESNO, which resumed her original name after plying Puget Sound as the WILLAPA.
      Oakland's fireboat greeted the ferries as they went under the Golden Gate Bridge, the span that ended the SANTA ROSA's service between San Francisco and Marin County. 
      Then the ferries went under the Bay Bridge, which put both of them out of business on San Francisco Bay in May 1940, and opened the way for them to be purchased by the Puget Sound Navigation Co.
      Several hundred people greeted the returning ferries at Oakland, where the SANTA ROSA (ex-ENETAI), was rechristened by Mrs. Don Clair, the ferry's new owner.
Permanently anchored at Pier 3,
adjacent to downtown San Francisco for
Hornblower Cruises and Events.
The former car deck is now a dance floor,
with corporate offices above.
Hornblower Cruises website 2018.

      "Capt. Ole Rindal was there in his Washington State Ferries uniform," Harre Demoro, member of a steering committee which plans to turn the SANTA ROSA into a maritime museum, said in a letter received here today.
      'He was skipper of the ferry when she arrived on Puget Sound and ran for a few weeks as a diesel-electric, under her old name.' 
and Captain Ole.
Click image to enlarge.
Photos from the archives of the Saltwater People Log©
Then he was one of her first skippers when she emerged in 1941 as the ENETAI.
      Then he tied her up for the last time last June. 
      'He was quite the celebrity.'
      Like the ENETAI and the WILLAPA, Capt. Rindal is now retired.
      The SANTA ROSA and FRESNO are tied up near where the KALAKALA, another former Puget Sound ferry, was launched as the PERALTA in 1927.
      About 100-feet from the SANTA ROSA is the bulk of the CHIPPEWA, the first Puget Sound ferry which Clair bought for a museum ship. Workmen have begun removing the charred superstructure of the CHIPPEWA, which caught fire, apparently burned by vandals, while under conversion."
Text by Jay Wells, Maritime Editor, the Seattle Times. May 1964.
Clip submitted courtesy of Capt. Jack Russell, Seattle, WA.
Here is another Saltwater People Log entry regarding a young Capt. Ole.

04 November 2018


Schooner TRANSIT
547 G.t. 508.50 N.t.
165.2' x 37.1' x 13.1'
Launched 1891, Salmon Bay, opposite Ballard, WA.
Builder T. H. Petersen is front row, 2nd from the right,
Mrs. Petersen is at the left.
The schooner was built for E.P. Nissen, a merchant from
San Francisco, CA. where the TRANSIT
was documented in 1892.
Click image to enlarge.
A low-resolution scan of an original photo from
Saltwater People Historical Society©
The schooner TRANSIT, one of the last ships built by Thomas Heinrich Petersen was built at this location on Salmon Bay, in 1891.  
      Petersen was a native of Denmark who left in 1856 when he was 21. He had served a 4-yr apprenticeship in a shipyard and earned certification as a carpenter's mate. 
     Those papers opened doors for the young man; he continued a lifelong career designing and building boats in several yards on the west coast of the US after he left his ship in San Francisco in 1857. Thomas constructed vessels at Mendocino, Little River, Whitesboro, Navarro, Cuffey's Cove, Eureka, Gardiner, OR, Florence, Port Orchard, and Deadman's Island at Port Madison, before he arrived at Salmon Bay in 1890. 
Fishermen's Terminal,
Seattle, WA.

Click image to enlarge.
He was moored there until Commodore Way cut through his property, according to Seattle historian Lucile MacDonald researching some family papers that were donated to the Puget Sound Maritime Society, Seattle, in the 1950s. 
A great bronze tribute to a man who quietly
went about his work until he was 70 years old.
This is placed on the Fish Ladder Landing
at the Ballard Locks, Seattle, WA.
Photo by Donna Gordon in 2009 and
recently submitted to Saltwater People.
Thank you!
Click image to enlarge.

      According to Seattle maritime news journalist R.H. "Skipper" Calkins, the schooner TRANSIT was purchased by the John Backland family in 1908. She was commanded by the well-known Arctic trader, Captain John Backland Sr., delivering heavy shipments to government schools and isolated stations in the Bering and Arctic regions at the time of her loss. She was crushed by ice and lost near Cape Smythe, in 1913. The TRANSIT was departing Barrow bound Seattle with 11 officers and crew aboard along with 100 tons of general merchandise valued at $8,000.
      From the US Customs Wreck Report of 27 Sept. 1913 at Nome, in the words of Capt. John Backland:
      About five miles SSW of Cape Smyth struck lee, filled with water and was beached. Crushed by ice. Strong NW gale with heavy snow and frost. Sails close reefed and vessel got underway but ice crowding in rapidly leaving no room for navigation. 120 natives came on board and both the steam and handpumps were manned but to no avail. The vessel was in the ice from 6 Aug to 25 Aug 1913 and continually using every effort to get out. 
      The TRANSIT had a value of $10,000 with the damage to the vessel listed as $7,500. Her cargo posted a loss of $5,000. The vessel had no insurance but the cargo was fully insured. No loss of life. 
The Customs Wreck Report is courtesy of Alaska Shipwrecks.com
More on the vessels in the life of Thomas H. Petersen for another day. 
      The late Louis A. Hough, the author of A Fleet Forgotten, did an excellent, in-depth  10-page article on the barkentine THOS. P. EMIGH, published by the Puget Sound Maritime History Society for the membership journal, The Sea Chest, September 2014. The THOS. P. EMIGH, launched at Tacoma in 1901 was designed by T.H. Petersen.
Book sourced: Hal E. Jamison Along the Waterfront. 26 Sept. 1912, regarding details of the TRANSIT loss in the ice.
  Another Saltwater People post on the Captains Backland can be viewed here.    

Archived Log Entries