"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.

14 December 2017

🎄 MEMORIES OF SEATTLE'S SS REDWOOD 🎄 CHRISTMAS in CALLAO

The REDWOOD first heads to Alaska on the Inside Passage.

"In the middle of August 1919, I shipped as AB on the SS REDWOOD in Seattle and joined her at the Bell Street terminal, where she had finished discharging salmon from Alaska. She was built and owned by Pacific American Fisheries (P.A.F.) in Bellingham. From the terminal, we proceeded to Point Wells for bunkers. 'Fill her up!' was the master's order. The captain was Harry Fletcher, known to his friends and associates as 'Curly.' The 'fill her up' order meant to also fill up the extra fuel storage by which she supplied the various PAF canneries in Alaska. From Point Wells, we went to Bellingham to load stores and provisions including several truckloads of meat. The next day, off for Alaska via the inside passage. After a flying stop in Ketchikan to clear ship we proceeded out Clarence Strait, south of Baranof Island, across the Gulf of AK and through Unimak Pass to the P.A.F. cannery at Port Moeller on the Bering Sea.
PAF workers near Killisnoo, AK.

      The cannery was closed and only two winter watchmen were there. All the extra provisions and most of the meat was for them. We also filled the fuel tanks and then loaded the remainder of the season's canned salmon, several barrels of salt salmon, salt codfish, and black cod. Also, some broken down cannery machinery to be repaired in P.A.F.'s shop in Bellingham. After two days at Port Moeller, we left for the whaling station at Akutan. Although the whaling season was over, we could smell the station long before we saw it. But in a life with many other inconveniences, nobody noticed that dead whale odor nor mentioned it after one day. Several families lived there in Akutan including some Indians. Whatever extra meat we had left was discharged and we also filled the watchmen's fuel supply. Then we started to load whale oil and whale meal and some broken machinery to be repaired in Tacoma. After three days we sailed south. This time we entered S.E. Alaska via Cape Spencer and stopped in Excursion Inlet on Icy Strait to fill the fuel tanks at their cannery and also to pick up some canned salmon and 'iron chinks' to be repaired. We stopped at High Point, another P.A.F. cannery near Wrangell to again pick up odds & ends and fill their bunkers. Then home to Bellingham to put all the P.A.F. machinery ashore. The salmon was discharged at Bell St. in Seattle. Then to Tacoma to deliver the machinery from Akutan to the American Whaling Co's own dock. We returned to the Bell St. terminal in Seattle to discharge the whale oil, sperm oil, and whale meal. Everybody aboard, mates, sailors, engineers, firemen, stewards, and flunkies had started making plans for the winter. Under ordinary circumstances, we would take the ship to Bellingham to be tied up over the winter until the AK canneries had to be aroused again in the spring.
 
REDWOOD's travel routes
follow the path of thousands before her.
 We were all standing by, engines were warmed, ready to sail, when our jovial skipper came aboard in a state of ecstasy, 'Boys, we are going to South America.' To tell the truth, nobody believed such a fantastic exclamation. After taking the ship from the dock and heading north for West Point he turned the ship over to the second mate telling him we were stopping at Point Wells for bunkers: 'Call me about 1/2 mile off the dock and ask the chief to come to my room.' After bunkering at Point Wells, we sailed for Bellingham to go on the ways and have the bottom cleaned and painted and take on stores. And then, only then, the captain told us we were going to Aberdeen, WA to load bunkers for Callao, Peru and there to load Chilean ore for the Tacoma smelter.
      Down the Sound, around Cape Flattery and to the Grays Harbor bar we went.

      In Aberdeen, we loaded a full cargo of lumber including a deck load. The Standard Oil dock in San Pedro, CA was our next stop for bunkers and stores. Among the stores were several live turkeys, our congenial cook, and steward doing all the buying. There may be some old timers who knew him, he was known as "Porkchop Levy." And as everyone from the captain down will testify, he was an excellent cook and steward. Bunkers and larder full we sailed for Callao.
      We arrived 20 December 1919, and on the 25th sat down to a true American turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Yes, it was a banquet. Preceded by a cocktail of your choosing and a bottle of red or white wine for everyone. Not only that but at the steward's urging, everybody had one or two invited guests. We also had three decorated Christmas trees from the forests of our State of Washington. We had picked them up in Aberdeen and by stowing them under the forecastle boards and keeping them wetted down, they were in excellent condition. We had one for the officer's mess, one for the crew's mess and one of the flying bridge. That afternoon we also had a children's party aboard. The steward outdid himself that day. He got the kids aboard to sing Christmas carols even though he didn't understand Spanish.
      On 5 January, we left for Antofagasta, Chile. Here we loaded ore, but of a different kind. On the 15th we sailed back to the US. First stop, San Pedro for bunkers and also to clear ship. Then through the Golden Gate to discharge the ore loaded in Mejillones at Selby's smelter up the Sacramento River. Then out the Golden Gate again for Cape Flattery, up the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound to the Tacoma smelter where we discharged the copper ore loaded at Chile. After discharge, including all sweepings, the REDWOOD went home to Bellingham to get ready for the business for which she was built, namely servicing the P.A.F. canneries in AK. Everyone aboard agreed that this time spent on SS REDWOOD from the Bering Sea to South America and back to Puget Sound had been one of the most memorable times in their life. Amen!"
Jens Ettrup, Memories of the Redwood published by The Sea Chest, the membership journal of Puget Sound Maritime, Seattle,WA. September 1971.

10 December 2017

🎄 HOLIDAY REUNION 🎄 NAKAT PACKING 🎄

Special Presentation-Good Food-Good Friends. Join in for a fun and festive holiday party, this is hosted by the crew from Waterfall and open to all Nakat employees and those with an interest in Alaska fishing trade, including current and past workers, spouses, and friends!


Please click image to enlarge. 

05 December 2017

❖ A REIGN OF TERROR ❖ 1914

LOTTIE BENNETT
141625
Schooner built at Hall Brothers Shipyard, Port Blakely, WA.
for the account of the builders, 1899.
170' x 37'.6 x 12.8'
566 G.t.
She had a checkered career after passing
from Hall ownership.

Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

File Charge Against Schooner's Crew

Victim of a system of hazing which he says is practiced aboard the vessel at sea, beaten and tortured by officers and members of the crew, and finally driven ashore at Valparaiso under threat of death, was the experience of James Oliver, donkey engineer of the American schooner Lottie Bennett. This according to a complaint made by Oliver to the US commissioner of navigation, WA, DC, and forwarded to US Shipping Commissioner William Welsh of Tacoma for investigation.
      A reign of terror prevailed during the entire voyage with the mate acting the stellar role, according to Oliver in his charge filed against the officers of the schooner.
      That the troubles some time aboard the Lottie Bennett were in the nature of an international fray is shown in the roster of the vessel, as given by Oliver. He explained that the captain was a Swede, the mate a Russian Finn, and the crew consisted of two Germans, a Norwegian, an Englishman and himself.
      "I was the only American aboard and they all took turns to abuse me," said Oliver. "when I was not the butt of their jokes and the victim of their hazing practices, the Englishman was at their mercy.

      "They made the ship a perfect hell day and night. The mate, with a revolver in each hand, kept strutting about the deck and at all times wore brass knuckles ready to knock down any member of the crew who was in his way."
      Oliver states that on 6 April 1914, the Englishman, while at the wheel, was knocked down, both eyes blackened and his nose broken by the mate, who attacked him without the least provocation. He says that he and the Englishman were told they would be driven ashore at Valparaiso and threatened with death if they remained aboard after the Lottie Bennett reached the port on the Chilean coast.
      The Lottie Bennett has loaded here [Seattle] on many occasions. She is now en route from Valparaiso to the Columbia River.
Pacific Lumber Ships. Gordon Newell and Joe Williamson. Bonanza.
There is another Saltwater People post on the Schooner LOTTIE BENNETT HERE

02 December 2017

❖ ABOARD LITTLE SOUND BOATS ❖ June Burn 1930

ISLANDER, Obstruction Pass,
between Orcas and Obstruction Islands.

Original photo by James A. McCormick from the 

Saltwater People Historical Society© archives. 
I am off San Juandering again. I have always dearly loved San Juan Island, Speiden, Stewart, Johns, Sentinel, and Cactus Islands and supposed Orcas and Lopez and the rest could not possibly be so nice, or their people so friendly and lovable.
       But just as soon as each little bay and each high sunny point is peopled with friends these other islands will become precious, too. And so for the first time, I'm off to browse among the gnarled madronas to climb the high hills, to see the far views of Orcas.
      I never come aboard one of these little Sound boats but I marvel that I've been able to stay off them for so long. How is it I've walked city streets, turned the pages of dusty books, talked about business things when all this time these little boats are going up and down, up and down, and I not aboard one of them? How do we resist the lure of these channels and the wheedling appeal of island coves?
The sun is warmer out here on the bay, the wind softer, the lift and fall of the waves sweeter than the nicest swing father ever made.
SAN JUAN II with winter weather,
scan courtesy of Charles Torgeson
©
       
The Chickawana has taken the run of the San Juan II with the Tulip King to pinch-hit for the Chick. We did not come past the old hulk of the San Juan, where she lies naked and broken in Peavine Pass, but I heard stories of her last trip. One said she was driven ashore a scant few feet from a sharp ledge off which she would have gone to the bottom and all with her if the sea had not carried her to safety. But from the crew of the Chickawana, I could get no stories. Maybe they want to forget that wild night. Or maybe it was all in a day's work to them. But certain it is they won't talk much about it though you'd think each of them would have a tale all made up trimmed with thrills and horrors. The adventure of a shipwreck is wasted on folks who don't know they've had one!
OLGA DOCK, ORCAS ISLAND, WA.
original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©

      I left the boat at Olga, the second stop on Orcas, the first being Doe Bay. The sun shone brightly on this new snow of the dock but icicles tinkled on the edges of the north wind and I was glad to find the fire in the big fireplace of the hotel kept by Mrs. Alexander and her daughter, Fairy Burt.
      I had stopped at Olga to see Mr. Ferri, the great artist of whom lately I'd heard and whom I met one day on a Bellingham street. But he is gone now and his pictures gone, too. A fire in his studio a few weeks ago destroyed pictures and sketches and dreams of a lifetime. His studio had burned to the ground and I did not go to see the ashes. He is gone too, though I think he will be back. For the sun still shines on this matchless point of earth and the Olympics still notch the horizon to the south. Who has once loved and lived in such a spot cannot long stay away. Mr. Ferri is not an old man for all his long years of work and his pictures were but the body of his dreams--the essence of them is here yet. Please come back to the islands Mr. Ferri, wherever you have gone, and trap some of this beauty on canvas again! The radiance is wasted upon just us who without artist's eyes cannot see a complete glory.
       A chance encounter had given me the acquaintance of Dr. Madison, also of Olga, a physician, and writer. So that failing to find Mr. Ferri I still had one small excuse for stopping here. What was my surprise and delight, upon telephoning Mrs. Madison, to be invited to a dinner being given that evening to local friends. Nowhere else in the world, perhaps, would it have happened. Nowhere else have there been such things to eat. And nowhere else could I have gone in breeches and boots to dine with ladies in velvet. Nowhere else have stories what went round that table, of deer eating up the cabbages in the game warden's garden and he says all he can do about it is to plant more next time! See you tomorrow. June."


24 November 2017

❖ LAMENT OF A TOWBOAT ENGINEER ❖

Steam tugs ROCHE HARBOR (L)
and MARY D. HUME
at Roche Harbor, San Juan Island, WA.

Undated photo collected by J. Williamson.
Photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
For a Roche Harbor tug admirer, Ron Burke.



"At twilight when nights swift approach lays shadows o're the waters,
We yearn for home and loved ones, our wives, our sons, and daughters.
Some sing a song of the open sea and a sailor's life Yo! Ho!
But set me down on a plot of ground with just a plain old hoe.


How we sweat our way to Panama; then pitched and tossed to Hilo.
We're Northbound now, but Lord only knows we may next depart for Rio.
We growl about our lot, of course; the old lube leak and the roast beef's horse.
And when the Skipper plots a course, that he comes out
where he wants to be, is a never-ending mystery.


The engine's worn; we should have sails; to us, the miles go by like snails.
We always get there, never fear, but it makes each week seem like a year.
The water's rusty, the bunks are hard, all cooks are fiends and
should boil in lard.

The mates! well anyway, when at last to her home pier the ship is fast,
Each one departs with a solemn vow, ne'er to return to that ol' scow.
But when the dawning's bright and clear, comes our fervent cry to the bossman's ear.
Are we sailing soon? Oh! why not now, and what's delaying us anyhow?"


Composed by William House. Piling Busters Yearbook. Seattle, WA. Mitchell Pub. 1951.

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