The MHN Blog is a companion to the Maritime Heritage Network, a not-for-profit, comprehensive website of maritime heritage organizations, attractions, and activities in the Pacific Northwest. The blog highlights news, activities, and resources useful to the entire maritime heritage community. All views expressed are the author's own. Opposing views are welcome.

Great gift ideas at the new MHN Gift Shop!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Vietnam Boat Enthusiasts Help Disabled Kids; Smithsonian Northwest Tribes Exhibit

The Vietnam Wooden Boat Foundation of Port Townsend, Wash. is organizing a tour of key cities in Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi. The proceeds benefit Kids First Mobility Center in Dong Ha, Vietnam. Participants leave Sea-Tac International Airport on Feb. 26. For more information, contact John Doney at

The National Museum of the American Indian is opening an exhibit on Northwest Coast native peoples called "Listening to Our Ancestors." According to the website, the exhibit explores how native people along the coast of Washington State, British Columbia, and Alaska continue time-honored practices in an ever-changing modern world. The exhibition features more than 400 ceremonial and everyday objects, as well as commentary from representatives of eleven contemporary North Pacific Coast native nations. Northwest Indian tribes such as the Haidi and the Makah were and still are seafaring people who carve beautiful seagoing canoes from mature cedar trees. Saaduuts, a Haidi carver, runs a program called Carving Cultural Connections through the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle. The NMAI exhibit runs through Jan. 2, 2007.

Adventuress and Girl Scouts; Great Essay on Preservation

The schooner Adventuress [link] and Sound Experience [link] is working with the Girl Scouts on a San Juan Islands cruise July 12-25, 2006. The cruise is four days and three nights. The 1913 Adventuress is a National Historic Landmark and is used in environmental education.

The blog "Upstream" has published a wonderful essay on the important relationship between preservation and heritage tourism. [link]

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Volunteers Needed for Maritime Career Day, Schooner Zodiac Haulout

Youth Maritime Training Association [link] [volunteer] and Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center [link] [volunteer] are looking for volunteers to help with annual Career Day March 2, 2006 at Pier 66 on Seattle's Central Waterfront. More than 800 high school students from all over Puget Sound will attend the event. Organizers are also looking for Seattle-area maritime businesses and organizations willing to set up a booth or bring a vessel and talk with students about the maritime industry. They are asking for a $300 contribution for those participating to cover some of the cost of the event. However, the fee can be waived. For more information on Career Day, call Norm Manly at 206-281-3821 or e-mail

The schooner Zodiac [link] and the Northwest Schooner Society [link] is recruiting volunteers [volunteer link] for the annual haulout in preparation for the 2006 sailing season. The haulout takes place Thursday Feb. 23, with the vessel going back in the water Monday Feb. 27. Prospective volunteers need to come by the boat at its berth on the west side of Gas Works Park and the Harbor Patrol Dock in Seattle on any Saturday prior to haul-out so that they can fill out paperwork and meet volunteer coordinator Richard DeParte. People who volunteer in the winter can also volunteer as crew during the sailing season. No experience necessary for haulout or summer crewing. For more information, call 800-551-6977 or e-mail JoAnn O'Connor,

New Project Compiles Maritime Heritage Resources

A group of maritime heritage organizations, inlcuding Maritime Heritage Network, and library representatives has begun an effort to compile a list of collections, books, boat plans, photographs, artifacts, and oral histories owned by maritime heritage organizations in western Washington. Led by Seattle Public Library [link] and the Center for Wooden Boats [link], the group includes the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society [link], the Museum of History & Industry [link], and the Classic Yacht Association [link]. Called "In Search of Maritime History," the goal is to place a list of these resources in one place for easy access by researches and laypeople. MHN is looking forward to hosting the list. For more information, contact Jodee Fenton at

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kalakala Nominated as Historic Place; Great Lakes Maritime History

The art-deco ferry Kalakala [link] has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The ferry carried passengers from Seattle to Bremerton from 1936 until 1967. In 2001, she was towed from Alaska to Seattle and then to Tacoma, where her new owners hope to restore her as a tourist attraction. Here's the story in the Seattle P-I. [link]

The World History Blog [link] has a brief discussion of the Maritime History of the Great Lakes website.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wawona Mast Report: Dry Rot, No Silver Dollars

Wayne Palsson published a report on the mast removal from the schooner Wawona on Tuesday. At left is a photo of dry rot discovered at the bottom of the masts. Here's what Wayne wrote in an e-mail to supporters:

"Northwest Seaport contracted with Ehler Marine and Industrial Services and Ness Crane to remove the three masts and jib boom of the Wawona. Removal of the masts was recommended by the recent surveys of the vessel and the panel of experts at the December Wawona Summit. The job was accomplished without major incident and the three masts now float next to the vessel. The mizzen and foremast came down without any difficulties, but the top of the main mast broke off as it was being set horizontally on the ground. In fact, all the three masts had dry rot near the top, just below the hounds and crosstrees. We set in shortened telephone poles in the mast holes which will support a re-engineered protective cover. There were no silver dollars underneath any of the masts, but each had some dimes, quarters, and pennies as well as commemorative 75th anniversary coins of the Wawona minted in 1972. The vessel only raised a couple of inches after the masts were removed. " (Photo copyright 2006 Northwest Seaport)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wawona Mast Video; Seahawk Mania! Clyde W. Ford Mysteries

KIRO-TV put together a package on the removal of Wawona's masts. You'll find the video online here. Scroll down and look for the headline "City boots historic ship from moorage." You will need a cable or DSL connection to see the video.

Think there's no connection between Seahawk mania here in Seattle and maritime heritage? Think again! Some folks working on Wawona's mast removal on Tuesday weighed in on the 'Hawks and the road to Super Bowl XL. Here's the article in Wednesday's P-I. [link]

Mystery novel fanatics should check out the new website for Bellingham writer Clyde W. Ford. He's published the second installment of his Charlie Noble Series, titled Precious Cargo. [link] The novels take place in the Northwest and have strong nautical settings. He'll be signing books at Seattle Mystery Bookshop on Jan. 28. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Update: Wawona Masts Removed

Wawona's masts were removed today from the 1897 schooner, now moored at South Lake Union Park in Seattle. At left, you see Wayne Palsson, looking a bit dejected, next to the mizzen mast, which is on the ground stretching behind him. Wayne's a member of the board of Northwest Seaport, which owns the vessel. On the other hand, he may be a bit relieved, because he's following through on a recommendation by a panel of marine experts that the masts be taken down for safety reasons. It's unclear what will happen next to the vessel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and a city landmark.

In the background, you'll see the main and foremasts and the jibboom just to the right of the crane. The hull of Wawona is green. In the distance is the Center for Wooden Boats. The large white building on the far left is the former Naval Reserve Building. For more information on Wawona, click here. For more information on Northwest Seaport, click here. (Photo copyright 2006 Joe Follansbee)

Wawona Masts; Boomer Tourism

Wawona's masts are scheduled to be removed today. More on this later.

A blog called "Boomers" has posted a brief, but nice article on baby boomers and tourism. [link] This is a key audience for maritime heritage organizations that want to reach this market. As the article says, these travelers are interested in "immersive learning" and heritage tourism, which is a specialty of many maritime groups.

Monday, January 23, 2006

NZ Maritime Museum Experience; Chinese Seafarers in UK; RMS Carpathia Expedition

A blogger from the UK has written a fascinating report of a maritime tourism and museum experience in Auckland, New Zealand. Look for his description of the exhibit on steerage passage aboard an immigrant ship. [link]

The Daily Post in Liverpool, UK has reported on efforts to remember and mark what it called a "shameful" episode in UK history. After World War II, Chinese seafarers, many of whom risked their lives for the English people, were deported to their home country, even though many had married local women and started families. [link]

A company with access rights to the Titanic wreck has announced an expedition to salvage RMS Carpathia, the Titanic's rescue ship in 1912. [link] Carpathia was sunk by a German U-Boat in World War II.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Lady Washington Bill; Maritime History in India; Florida Seafarer's House

The PR mavens at the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority in Aberdeen [link] have persuaded local legislators to introduce a bill in this year's session designating the tall ship Lady Washington [link] as the state's official ship. The bills, HB 2587 [link] and SB 6282 [link], are now winding through the committee process. I'll track and report results.

A mission for seafarers in Port Everglades, Florida is closing. [link]

India's defense ministry recently hosted a seminar on local maritime history at Kochi Naval Base in the south of the country. [link]

Articles on Heritage Tourism; Museum Director Sought

Maritime heritage organizations looking for new ways to cooperate to boost traffic may be interested in these articles:

"How to Succeed in Heritage Tourism" Workshop in Tenn.

Heritage Tourism Gets a Boost With New Kiosk

The Maine Maritime Museum is looking for a new executive director:

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Near-Miss Echoes Dix Sinking; More on Chinese Seafaring

An investigation into a near-miss between a Washington State ferry and a container ship on Puget Sound Dec. 20, 2005 has pinned fault on the first mate, an eerie echo of a maritime disaster that took place on almost exactly the same spot almost exactly 100 years ago. [link] On November 19, 1906, a small cargo vessel collided with the passenger steamer Dix, an ancestor of the modern Washington State ferry system. The steamer, with 77 passengers aboard, was on a run from Colman Dock in Seattle to Port Blakely on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound. The cargo ship, the Jeannie, hit the Dix broadside, pushing over the steamer on her beam ends. Dix went down in 600 feet of water in less than five minutes just a few hundred yards off Alki Point. Thirty-nine of the passengers were killed, mostly women and children. Their bodies were never recovered and still rest at the bottom of Puget Sound. The disaster took place less than a mile south of the Dec. 20 incident between the ferry Wenatchee and the cargo vessel. The Dix accident was blamed on the first mate, similar to the Wenatchee incident, and the Dix's captain never skippered a passenger vessel again. Today's ferry riders should remember the Dix and how history nearly repeated itself.

Here's another take from an Islamic art and architecture critic Tareq Kahlaoui on the possibility that the Chinese discovered America long before Europeans. [link] See my blog entry of January 14. [link]

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Buffalo Heritage Tourism Article; Tuckerton Seaport Job; Seafarer's Trust Anniversary

The Buffalo News of Buffalo, New York has an article about marketing the local legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings as cultural tourism sites. The local tourism agency relies on foundation grants for the project. [link] There could be lessons here for Puget Sound area maritime history organizations hoping to reach heritage tourists.

Tuckerton Seaport [link], a seaport village in New Jersey along the lines of Mystic Seaport, is looking for an education director. [link]

The Seafarers Trust, the charity arm of the International Transport Federation, a seaman's union, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Here's an ITF press release at the Seafarer's International Union website. [link]

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Research on Brig Decatur; European Dock Protests

A researcher at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry [link] has thrown light on the city's early maritime history and military history. Lorraine McConaghy spent time at the National Archives researching the US Navy brig Decatur, which was anchored at Seattle's Elliott Bay in January 1856. The vessel participated in the Battle of Seattle, a day-long Indian attack on the fledgling community that left two settlers dead. It's not known how many Indians died. Here's a Seattle Times story about McConaghy's work. [link]

Violent protests have rocked EU plans to liberalize port services. [link] The story reminds me of the 1934 and 1936 dock strikes in Seattle and other west coast cities, as dockworkers fought for union representation. The issues are different in the current protests, but the images of working men (and presumably women) fighting police and government policy are hauntingly similar.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Co-op Advertising Opp; Did Chinese Explorer Reach Washington? Wisconsin Museum Job

Maritime heritage organizations interested in boosting visits to their attractions may want to participate in a cooperative advertising arrangement coordinated by the Tourism Office of the state department of Trade and Economic Development. For more information, contact Betsy Gabel, Marketing Manager, Washington State Tourism office, 360-725-4180,

Blogger Robert Hayes has posted an entry that discusses the possibilities that Zheng He, the famed Chinese maritime explorer, may have arrived in America before Columbus. Potentially, he could have explored the Washington Coast long before the 18th English explorers Gray and Vancouver. The evidence is thin, but it's a great story:
The Argument Clinic: Chinese Map Lays Claim to Discovery of North, South America

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum is looking for a new curator. [link]

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lost Captain's Grave Found; Editorial on Maritime Heritage

MHN received a thrilling email from a Marshall Wade, a US Bureau of Land Management employee, who has discovered the lost grave of a Seattle sea captain in the Aleutian Islands. Captain Charles Foss died of a heart attack on August 13, 1935, while he was at the helm of Wawona [link], one of the last three-masted sailing schooners working on the west coast. He died at Unimak Pass in the Aleutian Islands, and his crew buried him at Lost Harbor, on Akutan Island. The following spring, the Wawona, with Foss' former first mate as captain, visited Lost Harbor and placed the headstone at his grave, which hasn't been seen since at least 1947. Wade discovered the grave during a land survey in 2004 and sent me a photo yesterday, showing the gravestone in great condition. This was a thrill to me, because I have just published a comprehensive article in the summer 2005 edition of Pacific Northwest Quarterly titled "The Death, Burial and Remembrance of Charles Foss, Master of the Schooner Wawona."

Dick Wagner, founder of the Center for Wooden Boats, has published an editorial in the Seattle Times in support of a maritime heritage museum at South Lake Union Park in Seattle. [link] The city has promised some sort of maritime heritage presence at the new park, but its form is murky at this point in time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wawona Photo in NOAA Article; East Africa Maritime Heritage Conference

A photo of the 1897 lumber and fishing schooner Wawona is published in the current issue of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center Quarterly Report [link] Wawona fished for cod in the Bering Sea from 1913 to 1947, except for the war years. She is now at South Lake Union Park in Seattle, though in poor and worsening condition. Here's her listing in Maritime Heritage Network. [link]

MHN received a note from Paul Lane, director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, announcing a maritime heritage conference at Stone Town, Zanzibar in July 2006. "The aims of this conference are to examine the maritime heritage, cultural traditions and historical trajectory of the various populations bordering the Western Indian Ocean, from Somalia in the north to South Africa and Madagascar in the south, and including the various offshore islands – such as the Seychelles, Comores, Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia – and to compare and contrast these with other maritime regions and cultures, including those of other sections of the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf, and Western Atlantic fringe," the announcement says. For more information, e-mail Prof. Lane at or visit the Institute website at

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

BC Maritime Disaster Noted; Remember the Dix!

In today's Seattle Times, columnist Nicole Brodeur notes the 100th anniversary of the Valencia disaster, in which 126 passengers of the Victoria-bound steamer lost their lives on the rocks off Vancouver Island. [link to column] Later this month, the tiny town of Bamfield will mark the anniversary. The events are organized by the Bamfield Arts Council, and this is a perfect example of the arts community joining with heritage workers to mark an important piece of local history. [link]

Puget Sound maritime heritage supporters should note that 2006 is the 100th anniversary of the worst maritime disaster in Puget Sound below Port Townsend. On November 19, 1906, the passenger steamer Dix collided with the steam schooner Jeannie on a run from Colman Dock to Port Blakely on Bainbridge Island. Nearly forty people were killed, mostly women and children. HistoryLink has a story on it. [link]

Monday, January 09, 2006

Christmas Gift Idea; Kenyan Stowaways

If you're already thinking ahead for Christmas gifts, blogger Greg Kinasewitz has an idea: He received sailing lessons from the Center for Wooden Boats as a gift. [link to his blog entry] Other ideas could include a cruise on the steamer Virginia V and cruises on the schooners Zodiac, Lavengro, and Adventuress.

Here's a chilling story about what happens to stowaways in the 21st century. "Two Kenyan Stowaways Thrown into the Sea" [link]

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Books on Barrels, Steamboats

MHN received a note from a Maryland author, Jack Shagena, promoting his book, An Illustrated History of the Barrel in America. I thought the community might be interested, since the barrel was a main storage tool in ships for hundreds of years. Jack has also written a book called Who Really Invented the Steamboat: Fulton's Clermont Coup, something steamboat enthusiasts might like. [link to site] Jack is running a small-press and is self-publishing, something we should support. As an author, I know how difficult it is to get published, and most publishers seem to be leery of maritime history books.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Port Townsend Waterfront Tours

I got a note from the Jefferson County Historical Society that they will conduct tours of the historic Port Towsend, Wash. waterfront during the city's annual Victorian Festival March 16-19. [link to tour: look for "Maritime History & Wooden Boat School Tour"] The tours will include a visit to the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock. Port Townsend is one of the oldest towns in the Pacific Northwest and was the first official port of entry in Washington State. Much of its Victorian era downtown is preserved, and the city has made its maritime history a major component of its heritage tourism program.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

License Plates Celebrate Washington Lighthouses

Starting January 3, the Washington State Department of Licensing will start selling specialty license plates celebrating the state's lighthouses. The Friends of Admirality Head Lighthouse website [link] has an excellent summary of the program, which was passed last year by the state legislature.

I'm sick as a dog today with bronchitis. Not planning to do much work.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Light Station Ownership; Site for Ship Photos; Living History Troubles

I was in Sequim and Port Angeles over the weekend and saw a brief news story on the New Dungeness Light Station [link] in a Fall 2005 tourism guide published by the Port Townsend Leader. The station's ownership is in doubt, due to the Coast Guard's plans to surplus the station. The uncertainty has led the board of the NDLS Association to delay needed upgrades until the ownership issue is resolved.

Dwayne Clark of the blog "Boating Safety and Law News" [link] sent this URL for finding ship and boat photos. Go to the TrekEarth website and search on the terms "ship" and boat. Thanks, Dwayne!

An article in the Washington Post laments the fading attendance at living history museums and parks. Much of maritime history is taught this way, so all maritime heritage supporters should take note. Here's the story: "Living History Museums Struggle to Draw Visitors" [link]