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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.

17 January 2019


Research ship reported costing $45,000
for the University of WA. Oceanography Department.
She is seen 29 May 1932,
just prior to launch festivities on Lake Union, Seattle.
A painter on deck is dealing with finishing touches
for the celebration in two weeks.
R. L 68.2' x 18.3' x 10.5'
Displacement 110 tons.

Click image to enlarge.

Photographer unknown.
Original photo from the archives of
the Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The University of Washington faculty members, T.M. Reynolds, and Frank E. Strickland, the designers, were among the group of 22 passengers that sailed from the Lake Union Drydock 11 June 1932 on the UW Oceanographic department's new survey ship CATALYST." *
      The new 75' diesel motor cruiser design was the first oceanographic research vessel for the University. It was based on the experiences of the University scientists who had suffered through many expeditions aboard poorly equipped converted fishing boats. Every aspect of her construction, from the location of the engine to the size of the vessel, was centered around the needs of the laboratory students.
      In these early years in her history, she wintered over in Seattle.
      Her power was and still is a 6-cyl WA Estep, 120 HP at 450 rpm. The present owners** in 2019 write that the original engine was rebuilt and is maintained.  
      After the launching celebrations, she was to undergo her builders' speed trials in the vicinity of Haro Strait off Friday Harbor for two days and then return to her home port of Seattle.
      Capt. Chris Larsen, veteran Puget Sound skipper was to handle the CATALYST on her maiden voyage. 
      On 15 June the Oceanographic Laboratory at the UW was dedicated with impressive ceremonies. The Rockefeller Foundation donated $200,000 for the Laboratory building as well as funds for the vessel. Dr. Thomas G. Thompson, the director, recited his 29-year history of marine study at the university. She took her first experimental cruise to Alaska that summer."
*This paragraph from the Seattle-Times. May 1932.

** More of her history can be viewed on the Pacific Catalyst site HERE.

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