"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 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.

19 August 2020

❖ Champion of Gallant Tradition ❖ with Ralph Andrews


Schooner VIGILANT
Skippered by the famous Capt. Matt Peasley
and later by Capt. Charles H. Mellberg.
From the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
Her five masts standing as staunch monuments to sea trade of a past era, the sturdy schooner VIGILANT was last of the sailing ships regularly engaged in commerce between Hawaii and the Pacific coast.
      "Owned by the City Mill Company of Honolulu, the vessel is employed every summer to transport millions of feet of lumber from the Pacific Northwest to Hawaii. When she rounds Diamond Head with her sails filled and her big sticks straining, she's a proud sight that makes Hawaii forget for the moment that this is an age of clipper planes and trim motor freighters.

Capt. Charles H. Mellberg
Photo dated 1932.
Click image to enlarge.
      Freshly painted after a year of idleness in Bellingham, Washington, she arrived in Honolulu recently 25 days out of Puget Sound. Her master, Capt. Charles Mellberg, reported an uneventful crossing distinguished by unusually favorable winds, which carried her along steadily for most of the distance and promised for a time to assist her in beating her best previous record of 17 days. But as she neared the islands the breezes withdrew their aid and teased her into port with occasional puffs. For one crossing last year from Bellingham to Honolulu she took 55 days.
      

Capt. Matt Peasley
Dated 1929.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Honolulu waterfront men remember the days when Capt. Matt Peasley, original of Peter B. Kyne's 'Cappy Ricks' stories, used to bring the schooner into port. Old-timers remember, too, the friendly rivalry between the Vigilant and the Commodore, now shorn of her masts and used as an Alaskan oil barge.
      Still fresh in the memories of many local waterfront observers is the race from Honolulu to Seattle in which these two gallant vessels engaged in November 1931. The COMMODORE departed from Hawaii for the Sound November 20 of that year. She made fair progress; was comfortably on her way when the VIGILANT sailed for the same destination six days later.
      Favorable winds carried the COMMODORE straight up to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where they dropped her like a punctured balloon and left her to icy winter squalls and tricky currents. She was taken in tow by tugs dispatched to her assistance. But before she could be brought into peaceful sound waters a storm caught her, broke the two lines, and drove her out to sea. The VIGILANT which had trailed her by more than 1400 miles up to that time, skirted the storm and scudded triumphantly into the Sound to be declared the official winner."
Ralph Andrews. This was Seafaring. Seattle. Superior Publishing. 1955
      

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