"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

About Us

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San Juan Islands, 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 500, 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.

15 April 2018


Washington State Ferry CHELAN (643291)
Washington State Ferry TILLIKUM (D278437)
Harney Channel, San Juan Archipelago
On this day fifteen April 2018
Looking west down Harney Channel
one week previous; April 2018.
Both images were taken from Blakely Island, WA.
Courtesy of photographer Lance Douglas©

09 April 2018

❖ POINT ROBERTS COUNTRY ❖ with June Burn 1930

Copyright of Thos. C. Metsker
"Metsker the Map Man."

This map is for convenience not for navigation.
Click image to enlarge for viewing Pt. Roberts.

"The village of Point Roberts is called West Point Roberts. It stands down in the lower lefthand corner of the peninsula. Here are two or three stores, gas stations, a big fish cannery. Behind one of the new stores, there stands a thirty or forty-year-old building with "Bureau Salon" in big letters across its false front. There are several houses, of course, one little hotel called the Green Lantern, another restaurant, a schoolhouse and nameless relics of houses whose uses I do not know.
      Jutting out into Georgia Strait from the beach is the long dock. The daily boat, TULIP, from Bellingham, stands off here to discharge mail and freight. Beyond the beach a mile or so, fishtraps look like centipedes floating on the water. The high derrick affair up northward is one of the boundary monuments set there to let fishermen know when they are on their side of the fence.
      It stands over a mile from shore, I believe; 5,500-ft to be exact. I suppose there is a light atop as there is on the one ashore. The international boundary makes a sharp bend two or three miles out from Pt. Roberts and turns southeasterly down Georgia to Haro Strait when it bends again through Haro to Juan de Fuca and so on out to sea. It really is too bad that it doesn't turn southwesterly from Boundary Bay and so avoid this bit of peninsula altogether. It must be a great bother keeping up customs and boundary patrol for six square miles or less of country. Though it does add interest to our map to see Pt. Roberts away up there at our northwesternmost corner separated from us by both land and sea. It is more than an island, surrounded as it is on three sides by water, and on the fourth by an alien country.
      Summer people, week-ending visitors, are already trickling down to all the long, sandy beaches of the Point. They look very carefree, walking like Pippa on her one holiday of the year. Very jaunty and satisfied they look, as if they had achieved some private victory of their own.
      At the village, I found Mr. Culp just ready to go home. He brought me back to the cottage in the woods, and this evening after supper all of us crowded into the coupe.
      Down to Boundary Bay, we went past Baker's new charming log cabin, past the Russell place, along the narrow graveled road with shrubs pressing in from both sides, past the Ellis Johnson place. Honeysuckle in bloom in the woods. Mrs. Culp told of the effort that their local Grange made to stop the vandalism of wildflowers and shrubs in the summertime. They wrote Olympia about it, learned that tree stealing could be prosecuted, but apparently not other forms of the ruthless gathering of wildflowers.

      Leghorn Heights on our left, and the Solomon ranch. Crystal Waters beach. Is it not a lovely name? Thorstenson Ranch and the Goodman place deep in the woods. Down to White Lily Point, which is a high bluff overlooking the bay. Here, in March, the little white six-petaled Easter lily droops her sweet head under every salal shrub, every frond of Oregon
grape. In bloom now are vetch, wild roses, Indian Paintbrush, honeysuckle, fritillaria or rice-root, and many little things whose names I do not know.
Eight photographs from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
      Across Boundary Bay the lights of Blaine, below the bluff fifteen fishtraps with long curved leads. Far down across the Strait, Lummi Island, and Orcas. The big P.A.F. fish cannery at the foot of the high bluff has not run for years. Mr. Arni Myrdal is in charge of fishing operations down there. Wise in Icelandic lore he is, they say. But I did not meet him on this trip. See you tomorrow. June."
Above text by June Burn. Puget Soundings. May 1930.

31 March 2018


On 31 March 2000, along with the calm arrival of a new century came the delivery of a new fish boat built on Shaw Island. A fish boat who wouldn't go fishing.
      Here's a little historical background of what pre-dated that launch day.
The first retired reefnet boat donated to
the Shaw Island Library and Historical Society.
Delivered on this day of 20 November 1968.
Men by the boat are Henry Hoffman and Malcolm Cameron.
The crane was operated by Wayne Fowler.
 Margaret "Babs" Cameron captured this photo.
Photograph by Wally Howland
c. 1970.
      The official logo adopted by the Shaw Island Library and Historical Society in the 1960s is a graphic design of a reefnet boat by the much-loved artist Malcolm Cameron. It honors the local fishing method, featuring the distinctive design of the indigenous craft that were fished as a pair. The Cameron artwork was to be the logo for the classy gray stationery so didn't this mean the Society  should have a boat worked into their small garden with the library and museum buildings still on the drafting board?
      The Society's first "retired" reefnet boat, as shown in the top photos, did come to be with a donation by local fisherman Lloyd Lillie, hauled up cemetery hill before the little private museum and library were even open for business. Malcolm, Wayne Fowler, and Henry Hoffman moved the reefnet boat on site in November 1968. 
Shaw Island Library and Historical Society
Postcard photo by summer islander, Wally Howland.
Published in the early 1970s.

       The boat lived a long, lazy life while being featured on the above SILHS photo postcard until the old vessel dissolved away from the effects of decades of drizzly winter rain.
      After much discussion of the Society trustees off and on over several years and a few inspections of potential replacements, the next candidate was chosen for the front garden. Their choices had dwindled to a scant few. 
     Unfortunately, it was decided the next retiree was a little out of scale for the site; a vessel still wearing her colorful red bottom paint and green freeboard, this more evident after it was carefully installed. Some Islanders were a little agitated about the new behemoth moored on the high-traffic corner; some jokester adorned her with graffiti on a name board inscribed SS Feng Shui, for all passersby to view. The vessel was proud on her throne at the corner but catching some unkind remarks.
Retired reefnet boat No. 2
Escorted off-site.
March 2000.
      In order to preserve this link to our island's maritime history, to the rescue came supportive local history boosters Gwendolyn Yansen and Frances Hilen. They commissioned boatbuilder Peter Christensen to build a new reefnet boat to travel directly past the traditional fishing sites at Squaw Bay and be lifted up over the antique split-rail fence to her new home, high and dry on the Library/Museum corner. She was constructed of Western Red Cedar to authentic dimensions of one of the slightly smaller vessels. 

Reefnet boat number 3.
Delivery day 31 March 2000
One reefnet boat ready to climb the hill to home.
Click image to enlarge.

She was not filled with styrofoam flotation like the boats that were afloat and fishing outside Squaw Bay, sadly her ladder steps were removed from the watchtower for insurance reasons, and there are no crew initials hand-carved in the gunwales. 

From across the street came
the Lynnette Trucco-Baier class of school kids
over to investigate and, of course,
climb the tower.
Delivery day of 31 March 2000

31 March 2000
No fish scales but settling in well.

      There were a few comments afloat about the boat not being an "authentic" reefnet boat that had actually been fishing––but take a look around the past winter haul-out areas and see if any of those old-timers are above ground level. Long gone.
      Thanks to charter members Gwen and Fran, our benefactors, the on-site reefnet boat logo was secured for a few more years; a fine example of islanders pulling together for the benefit of their community. Eighteen birthdays and counting.
      Data for this essay was extracted from "Log of the Reefnet Boat" compiled by C. Christensen, containing Shaw Island Library and Historical Society board minutes (1994-2000), one page of a 1968 private diary, as well as construction photos from Blind Bay Boatshop. 

21 March 2018


Mrs. Anna G. Grimison
10 January 1939.

Click image to enlarge.
Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People Historical Society©
"The Pacific Northwest has had a big year for tourists. Although the weather was not as warm and sunny as it normally is in summer, the highways were dotted with cars from other state and sight-seeing tour entrepreneurs were more than busy. As the No. 3 industry of this part of the country, next to lumber and fishing, the tourist business did well. Of course, while they were here, many out-of-staters took to the water, one of the most beautiful attributes of the Evergreen Playground. Charter boat operators had a good trade to the San Juan Island area and on north along the Inside Passage. Tom Hamilton reported a busy season at his swank Malibu Club at the mouth of picturesque Princess Louisa Inlet.
      Tourists in Seattle waterfront gazed with interest at the modern steel freighters and mighty Army transports moving in and out of Elliott Bay. But the vessel they went home talking about was the SKAGIT CHIEF.
502 tons
165' x 40' x 6.4'

Original photo by James A. Turner
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

She is a broad-beamed dowager, pushed around the bay by a large paddle-wheel slapping at her stern, and she is the only sternwheeler still in action in the harbor. Oddly enough though, she is no sentimental hangover from the good old days of steamboating on Puget Sound. She was built at Lake Union Drydock & Machines in 1935 for the Skagit River Navigation Company and specifically for service on the Skagit River. This river, if seen from the air can easily be distinguished by its meandering course and muddy channel as it flows into Puget Sound near Mt. Vernon. The shallow draft and stern-wheel propulsion of the SKAGIT CHIEF are made to order for skimming over the snags and flats of this wide but shallow river run.
      Normally sightseers would have seen her younger sister, the SKAGIT BELLE, around the Sound too, but she was temporarily out of service this summer. "Head man" of the Skagit River Navigation Co is a woman, efficient Mrs. Anna Grimison, who has been at the helm since 1924. She has always loved ships but makes it clear that she does not want to be typed as a waterfront character or a "Tugboat Annie!"
For another post including the salty Anna and her company please click HERE
The above text was published in Motor Boating Nov. 1948

10 March 2018

❖ WEST, WEST, WEST, the Westernmost Point of the USA ❖

A sign at the fork in the road two miles west of 
 Sekiu points to Cape Alava, 25 miles by road 
 and three more by trail to the westernmost point
in the United States. Photo dated, July 1954.
Original photo by Eric Wahleen from the archives
of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Indian Island, Washington, off Cape Alava, 1954,
is connected with the mainland by a sandspit
which is under water only at very high tides.
Tiny islets are offshore. The island is the north end 
of a 50-mile ocean strip added to the Olympic Nat'l Park in 1953.
Click image to enlarge.

Original photo by Eric Wahleen,
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

Elephant Rock
A natural formation on the Olympic Peninsula, WA.

Photo by Eric Wahleen for Smith's Scenic Views, Tacoma, WA.
from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©
Rapids on the Quinault River,
Olympic National Park, Washington State.

Card from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

The Olympic National Park, a World Heritage Site since 1981, features spectacular Pacific Ocean coastline, scenic lakes, mountains and glaciers, and magnificent temperate rainforest. These diverse ecosystems are like visiting three different parks in one. To learn more about the modern-day fees and regulations for this beautiful home to very clever animals looking for your camp food, and visited by guests from all over the world here is a link to the Olympic National Park site. 

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