"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.

21 December 2018


Click image to enlarge.
How fortunate we are for the art on
the most important marine chart of all.
Drawn by great-grandfather, Santa helper,
maritime historian, former 15-year
co-editor, and board member
of the highly esteemed journal,
The Sea Chest
(published by Puget Sound Maritime.)
Ronald R. Burke drew amazing charts for
the journal as well as for
several very appreciative book authors.
He gets oceans of thanks all the year through
from thousands of chart-loving readers
for volunteering his talent and goodwill.
Courtesy of the artist and Puget Sound Maritime.
And here is a much loved Christmas classic Fogelberg tune if you CLICK HERE

14 December 2018


This photo was snapped outside
San Francisco as the tug was cast loose.
Photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
The spring of 1930, two of the very last of old-time sailing ships which escaped destruction in the movies or degradation to barge duties started on a race from San Francisco to Alaska. No Lipton Cup Race ever held the interest for old shellbacks of the Pacific coast as this race between the square-rigged barks STAR OF ENGLAND and the STAR OF ALASKA. 
      Each year, steamers have been entering the fleet carrying the fishermen and cannery hands to the Alaska salmon waters. To make the last chapter of the romantic age close in true style, the skippers of the two vessels bet a month's salary on the race. 
      "FULL SAIL AHEAD" was the order as the STAR OF ENGLAND unfurled canvas in a stiff breeze for the race to Alaska with her ancient sister ship, STAR OF ALASKA.

Charles Connell, designer.
Launched 6 Dec. 1886; in service 15 Jan. 1887.
Glasgow, Scotland for general trade.
1,689 G.t. 1,614 N.t.
tons burden 2,650
301' x 38.6' x 20.3'
She rounded the Horn 17 times in 13 years.
Rigged with royal sails over double top &
single topgallant sails; 25 sails total.
Artwork by marine artist

Then there is the STAR OF ALASKA (ex-BALCLUTHA) noted for her sailing qualities; in her last fishing season with Alaska Packers Association in 1930, she was ready to race from San Francisco to the Alaska Peninsula with the STAR OF ENGLAND. She flew.
      She made the run in 19 days, beating the STAR OF ENGLAND by 14 days & 4 hours. This race created much comment throughout the US at the time; I do not know the name of the skipper who lost a month's wages.

1902: chartered to Alaska Packers Association. She struck a reef off Sitkinak, AK, near Kodiak Island in 1904. She was renamed STAR OF ALASKA when she was bought for $500 by APA. For the fishing trade, she carried over 200 crew and passengers compared to a 26-man crew as the BALCLUTHA.

1933: the STAR OF ALASKA was sold on 30 Sept 1933 to Frank G. Kissinger and renamed PACIFIC QUEEN. She was used in Mutiny on the Bounty with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton but was later stationed in California for a "show ship".

1976: Added to the list of National Historic Places.

1988: Moved to a mooring at Hyde Park Street Pier of San Francisco Maritime National Park.

2018-2019: The square-rigger BALCLUTHA is closed for viewing at her home at the San Francisco Maritime National Park. She is receiving maintenance and will be returned to her dock in early 2019. As reported on the Park site here. Check out how many beauties are under their care.

W.S. Stephanson, USN. SHIPS, A Collection of Marine Illustrations. Vancouver, WA. Ben Kreis Publisher. 1947. The book is archived in the Saltwater People collection. 

10 December 2018


The unveiling of the monuments at the American and British military camps 21 October was a most notable occasion not only in the history of the county but of the northwest. The day was perfect and not a single incident occurred to detract from the pleasure of the exercises at either camp. Never before since termination of the joint occupancy has there been so large a representation of the army and navy in the county, nor so large an assemblage of prominent people within its borders. If it were possible, or practicable, to assemble all the people of the county together in one place a vote of thanks would be unanimously tendered to the University Historical Society for having erected such appropriate monuments to mark two of the most historic spots in the northwest. To Professor Meany, the society's able and energetic secretary, the credit for the inception of the plan and its notable successful execution is largely due. The monuments are of marble, resting upon granite bases, and are each six feet in height. 
21 October 1904
Photograph by J.A. McCormick,
Seattle-San Juan County photographer;

From the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
      On the monument at American camp are the following inscriptions carved and gilded:
"Erected 21 Oct. 1904,
By the Washington University
State Historical Society."
"As arbitrator William I of Germany 
decided the San Juan Case
21 Oct. 1872."
First officer in charge was
Capt. George E. Pickett
of the 9th US Infantry."
"American Camp

The two first inscriptions likewise appear on the monument at English camp. The other two are: 
"First officer in charge was 
Capt. George Bazalgette" and 
"British Camp 1860-1872."

Last week the Islander, published pictures of the cottage occupied by Capt. Pickett as commander at American Camp. It was removed to Friday Harbor after the termination of the joint occupancy and has ever since been the home of the well-known pioneer, Capt. Edward D. Warbass, who was Capt. Pickett's friend and companion for a number of years. 
      Following is the program of exercises as they took place at the two camps:
March from the shore of Griffin Bay to American Camp.
      Presiding officer––President Thomas F. Kane, of the UW.
      Invocation by Rev. C.C. Pratt, of Friday Harbor.
      Unveiling of the monument; made by the Puget Sound artillery band––Star Spangled Banner."
      National salute by U.S.S. Wyoming.
      Address of welcome by Hon. John S. McMillin, of Roche Harbor.
      "The United States Navy," by Commander V.L. Cottman, of the USS Wyoming.
      Introduction of E. D. Warbass by O.H. Culver, editor of the San Juan Islander.
      "Post Sutler Under Pickett," by E.D. Warbass, of Friday Harbor.
      Music by the artillery band.
      "Memory of American Camp," by General George B. Dandy, US Army, retired.
Letter from Hamilton Fish, son of President Grant's secretary of state, read by H.E. Holmes, of Seattle.
      "The United States Army," by McCloskey, commanding the troops from the Puget Sound artillery district.
      Address by Hon. George H. Williams, present mayor of Portland, read by Prof. Maynard Lee Daggy, of the UW.
      "Music by the artillery band.
Old-timers claim the high portion of the barn
was used as a "Hospital at American Camp"
during the Joint Occupation on San Juan Island, WA.
Date of photo c. the 1950s.
Low res scan from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Visited by thousands of tourists each year.
A more modern day touch by
photographer Eric Wahleen.

from the archives of Saltwater People Historical Society
British Camp Monument
Erected 21 October 1904.
Photo by James A. McCormick, 
a Seattle-San Juan County photographer
who set up a more permanent 
workshop in the county seat in 1906.
From the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
March from the shore of Garrison Bay to British Camp.
      Presiding officer ––J udge Cornelius H. Hanford, of the United States district court.
      The unveiling of the monument; music by the Puget Sound artillery band –– 'America' or 'God Save the King.'
      National salute by USS WYOMING.
Arriving for the party––
Disp. 3,235 t.
Speed 12 knots.
Armament: two 12-in 40 caliber, B.L.
four 4-in, R.F.;
three 6-ponders; six 1-pounders
two Colts.
Complement 137. Length 252-ft.
Click image to enlarge
Litho postcard from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Thank you, Ed. B., for the photo of this vessel,
a backward link to some Pacific Northwest history.
Address of welcome by Rev. C.C. Pratt, of Friday Harbor.
      "First US States Customs Officer at San Juan After the Arbitration Decision," by Mr. Frank H. Winslow, president of the WA Pioneers' Assoc.
      Letter from Gen. Hazard Stevens, special commissioner under Present Grant to adjust claims by British landholders on the San Juan Islands, read by I.A. Nadean, of Seattle.
      Music by the artillery band.
      Greeting from Wisconsin State Historical Society by President Robert L. McCormick.
      Address by Hon. Bernard Pelly, British vice-consul at Seattle.
      Benediction by Rev. R.L. Bussabarger, of Seattle.
      March to the shore with music by the artillery band.
Source: The San Juan Islander 29 October 1904.
Looking further back than the monument celebration
here is Capt. William A.Delacombe,
commander of the Royal Marines,
who came on duty in 1867,
and his family on porch of their English Camp home,
San Juan Island, WA.
Low res scan from a photo in the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

erected long after the 1904 event, 
by WA. State Highway Commission 
in cooperation with the WA. State 
Dept of Parks and Recreation.
Click image to enlarge.
Ellis photo from the
Saltwater People Historical Society© 

1961: Designated as being a US National Historical Landmark District.

1966, 15 Oct.: designated on the US National Register of Historic Places. 
These sites were created by an Act of Congress this year.

07 December 2018

❖ PASSAGE FROM SAIL TO STEAM ❖ With Captain Harold Huycke

By Captain L.R.W. Beavis 

Book Review
Passage from Sail to Steam. Beavis, Capt. L.R.W. Edited by M.S. Kline,
Documentary Book Publishers Corp. Bellevue, WA. 1986 210 pgs.

A long-dormant manuscript has come to light, thanks to the foresight and patience of Capt. L.R. W. Beavis' granddaughter, and the good efforts of editor Mary S. Kline. This autobiography of Capt. Beavis may be one of the last first-person accounts of the age of sail in the Victorian era, where a British boy climbs from apprentice to master, to ever be published, simply because of the obvious fact that the ships are long gone and so are the men who sailed in them before the turn of the century.
      The names of Basil Lubbock, a prolific author, and historian of British sailing ships, and Capt. H.H.Morrison are well ensconced in the archives of maritime history. Both were contemporaries and friends of Capt. Beavis. Basil Lubbock, who died after WW II, used many photos in his numerous books credited to both men. Thus, Capt. Beavis is to be remembered both, for his entertaining and perceptive writing style and his photographic record keeping.
      Born in England in 1864, Lancelot R. Waldron Beavis (he didn't use his first name in later years) joined the old three-decker training ship CONWAY as an apprentice at the age of 12, eventually being apprenticed in the iron full rigger STAR OF FRANCE which took him around the world a number of times until his time was up. From there he went to the full-rigger MICRONESIA in which he served at third mate, followed by the clipper TITANIA, rigged down to a bark; the full-rigged ship EURASIA, ship MYLOMENE and once again as master in the MICRONESIA. In 1897 this big ship was lost to a devastating fire and thereafter Capt. Beavis went into steamships.
      After pounding across the N. Atlantic as cattle steamers for a few years, Capt Beavis moved to Canada, and by 1910 had settled in B.C. with his wife and daughter. Thereafter, for the next twenty years, he continued in a variety of steamers, as mate, master, pilot, and going offshore and coastwise as fortunes allowed. During WWI he returned to sail, for a half voyage, going master in the big, new five-masted JANET CARUTHERS from B.C. to Australia, via Hawaii. But her leaking seams, erratic diesel engines and a measure of other sources of grief burdened him down, and he left the ship in Australia to return to B.C. as a passenger.
      Finally, in 1930 he retired to a remote island, after his wife died, and settled down to a rather simple and primitive existence. He died in Portland, OR in 1940.
      Capt. Beavis was a kind of non-conformist, albeit a life-long professional seaman, if we read his words carefully. But he had a knack for remembering and documenting the humorous side of his life at sea. Besides describing the succession of ships he had served in, their voyages, arrival, and departure dates, he offers colorful observations of the ships themselves, the ports visited––and how they changed over the years––and men of the sea with whom he sailed and conducted his business. The transition from sail to steam was not pleasant, but it was practical, and he made the change much earlier in his life than did many of his contemporary British shipmasters.
    The book is well illustrated with good quality photographs of sailing ships and steamers. For this, the publisher must take credit, and the overall layout of the book, including artwork, arrangement, and clarity of detail elevates it above the ordinary coffee table reader.
      The editing is thorough, if erratic, and Mary Kline provides footnotes which will serve, if not confusing in some cases, the most uninformed land-locked reader. Some of the footnotes and editor's notes are appropriate and others are redundant.
      Unhappily one is left uncertain as to whether the misspelled words in the text are those of the author, editor or the printer. Likewise, the use of well-known photographs are occasionally misnamed and so the wrong identification, coming and going is perpetuated again in this book. Numerous photos were chosen which have no direct relationship to the author's story, and serve only as good examples of the photography of Capt. Beavis' skill, or those persons with whom he traded pictures over the years.'         
      Nevertheless, the book is a good and worthwhile contribution to the preservation of the age of sail. Capt. Beavis' name and his era is well illuminated within its handsome covers. 
Reviewer: Capt. Harold D. Huycke (1922-2007)
The Sea Chest, September 1986. Journal of Puget Sound Maritime, Seattle, WA.
Captain Huycke worked for c. 45 years in the shipping industry, at sea as mate and master and onshore as a cargo supervisor and later marine surveyor. His duties found him in San Francisco, the Pacific Northwest, Central America, British Columbia, and Hawaii, working for various shipping companies including Weyerhaeuser Steamship Co, States Marine Lines, Puget Sound Tug and Barge Co and Foss Launch and Tug Co.
      Between assignments at sea and ashore, Huycke was tapped by the State of California to purchase, refit, and deliver the lumber schooner C.A. THAYER. This year-long project culminated in a coastwise sailing voyage from the Puget Sound to San Francisco for which Huycke acted as bosun.
      For 60 years, Huycke's avocation was maritime history. He was part of the first generation of maritime historians on the West Coast. He has written and contributed to several books on maritime history. His largest published project was the book, TO SANTA ROSALIA FURTHER AND BACK, a detailed history of a dozen German sailing vessels detained in a remote port in Mexico during WWI. He researched and wrote extensively on commercial sailing vessels including the Star Fleet of the Alaska Packers Assoc, steam schooners, Liberty and Victory ships, fishing barges and maritime businesses. He served as mentor and editor to many individuals, helping them to write and publish stories that would otherwise not have been told. He conducted oral histories to preserve the stories of seafaring men and the vessels that they sailed.
Captain Huycke died in Edmonds, WA., on 12 February 2007.     

05 December 2018


50' x 13' 
225 HP diesel
August 1952.
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Log©
"Whether you are a tourist or a permanent resident, one of the highlights of any tour around Seattle is a visit to the waterfront. 
      Headquarters for the WAVE, an excursion boat, and her crew of three is 'Beachcomber's Cove,' at the foot of Spring Street on Pier 55. Joe Boles, Lynn Campbell, and Rudi Becker are the crew.
Seattle waterfront 1954.
Click to enlarge.
      You may think: 'An excursion boat is just an excursion boat.' But likely you'll change your mind after you see the WAVE, for the craft brings something new and different to the city's fleet of water-excursion vessels.
      On the way to Seattle from San Diego, where the boat was purchased, she ran into a storm with waves higher than the boat was long. In Seattle, she underwent a face-lifting job to repair the damage. Some $21,000 and a few weeks later, the boat was relaunched appropriately, like the WAVE.
The sightseeing boat the WAVE
Undated original by J. Boyd Ellis
from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©

      Boles, co-owner with Campbell, says she's the only one of her kind. The hull is conventional in design. The house and frames, like modern railroad observation cars, are of stainless steel. The frames are about eight inches wide. The cabin is surrounded by large, glare-proof, shatterproof panes of glass.
      Inside the boat, the seats are arranged so that each passenger gets the feeling of sitting right over the edge of the water.
      But, according to Campbell, what impresses people most are the Todd drydocks, where you get to see how big a ship really is. Like an iceberg, much of a ship is beneath the surface. Even after his years on the water, Campbell says:
      'A surge of respect flows over you as you look up at the mass of metal all riveted together –– and you wonder how anything so big and heavy can float.'
      All three men like what they're doing. They think the WAVE is really something. 
      There always are persons who ask questions at the end of every trip. Boles told of the day he was asked, at low tide, why the piers were built so high above the water. It took a lot of talking to convince the party that Puget Sound was not a lake, that it was salt water with a 17-ft tide.
Rudi Becker, off the clock but still hanging out with boats.
He named the 1918 model power dory in his backyard the
SALES-TAX STATE to compete with what he termed the
ridiculously unimaginative names which had been proposed
for the new Puget Sound ferries ––
Becker was one of many who objected before the Toll Bridge Authority.
A spokesman agreed to withdraw the proposed names.
Photo by Vic Condiotty.
Click image to enlarge.

Original photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Log©
      But sometimes, the humor is the other way around. One older couple, who looked like prospects for the tour, heard Rudi talking about the tide. When they asked what a tide was, he explained it was the gravitational effect of the moon pulling the earth's water toward it.
      The couple gave him a very unfriendly look and walked away."
Text by Wayne Scott. Seattle-Times. August 1952.

01 December 2018


Bellingham, Washington.
Dated April 1932, with
4-masted COMMODORE
5-masted VIGILANT
Steamer WILLBORO, for New York.

Click image to enlarge.
Low res scan of an original photo from S.P.H.S.©
In 1898 Julius Bloedel founded Whatcom Logging Co with frontier businessman John J. Donovan and Peter Larson, which later became known as Bloedel-Donovan Mills.
      In the 1950s, now under the direction of his son, Prentice, Bloedel's company merged with H.R. MacMillan Co to form one of the largest forest products companies in the world, MacMillan-Bloedel Limited. Often called Mac-Blo, it was eventually taken over by Weyerhaeuser in 1999. Bloedel Hall at the UW, Seattle, was named for Julius Bloedel. The Bloedel Conservatory of Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver was named for his son Prentice Bloedel for donating nearly $1.4 million for its construction in 1967. The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, WA., was created by Prentice Bloedel and his wife Virginia.

      The two schooners in the photo above can be seen under sail below. Unfortunately, the WILLBORO was sunk by a torpedo from U-159 on 10 Sept. 1942 two hundred miles SW of Capetown. Six people lost their lives.
as she is trying to catch a tow off Cape Flattery,
 headed to Bellingham for more lumber.
After all the other sailers were gone, the
COMMODORE and the VIGILANT sailed side by side.
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

8 January 1932
On board the VIGILANT after the
much publicized 'race' with the COMMODORE.
VIGILANT was towed into the Strait of Juan
de Fuca after the 38-day crossing ahead

of the COMMODORE. The passage was
2,289-miles across the Pacific.
Low res scan of an original photo from the
Saltwater People Log©

Heading to sea with a full cargo of lumber.
Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the Saltwater People Log©

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