In The Wake of Lt. Peter Puget:
Keeping the Continental Shore to Starboard
Barbara Cullen Reid (Hira), LTC USA Retired,
Commander of the 40 year old MV Shatoosh, Albin 25, HN 1124
Built in Kristinehamn, Sweden in 1972 and
Pashmina 2-1996 Porta-Bote
220 years ago, in 1792, an historic event took place in the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States of America. The British Captain George Vancouver, Captain of HMS Discovery and Lt. and Commander William Broughton of the consort ship, HMS Chatham, entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca and began their epic exploration of the waters of the majestic Salish Sea searching for the illusive Northwest Passage which would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
“The HMS Discovery was of 337 tonnage, a Sloop of War with a deck length of 96 feet, beam of 27 feet, draft of 15 feet, and carried guns: ten 4-pounders and ten swivels. Muster roles accounted for100 men ages 16 - 38 years old. She carried several smaller vessels that would assist the crew in exploring the continental shoreline with a greater intimacy and accuracy. Since the killing of Captain Cook in Hawaii, Britain ordered ships exploring in remote parts of the world to travel in tandem. Thus, the HMS Chatham became the consort vessel of the HMS Discovery and was of 135 tonnage, an Armed Tender, brigantine rigged with a deck length of 65 feet, beam of 21.5 feet and carried guns: four 3-pounders and six swivels. Muster roles revealed 45 men ages 17-45”
Life at sea was not easy; the ships were over crowded and odiferous, the teenaged able bodied seamen were over worked, underfed, often punished by flogging using a cat of nine tails, when they disobeyed the rules, slept in swinging hammocks with 18inches of space and Captain Vancouver, age 33, was known for his fierce anger and difficult demeanor.
Both ships of His Majesty, King George III’s Royal Navy had started their journey from England on 1 April 1791, sailing south around the Cape of Good Hope, New Holland(Australia), New Zealand, through the South Pacific islands, the Sandwich Isles (Hawaii) and in March 1792 they set sail for the west coast, known to the British Maritime as New Albion, but, to us and more specific, the coastal waters of Mendocino Point, California . They then, followed the coastline north, “keeping the continental shore to starboard” and needed information about finding and entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca had even been illusive to Captain Cook. Maritime information held that Captain Robert Gray, aboard the Lady Washington had sailed about 20 miles up the Strait the previous summer during some of his trading expeditions. Could this be true or was it just another myth? Truth was as confusing as the seas were in this region of the world. No one had ventured deep into southern portions of this vast waterway and in fact, few had ever found the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca since the Spanish claimed they did in 1592. Was it all just a myth? Even today, as I research the history, there are many misconceptions in the writings, therefore, it is no wonder in 1792, their uncertainty was well justified. Juan de Fuca was actually, a Greek who sailed under the Spanish flag and used the alias name, Juan de Fuca. I’m glad it became the Strait of Juan de Fuca, because it would have become the Strait of Apostolos Valerianos and no one would have been able pronounce it!
The HMS Discovery and Chatham had anchored near Destruction Island on 27 April 1792. At dawn they weighed anchors and proceeded north along the Washington coast with great hope they would be finding the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The north western coasts were Captain Gray’s territory and he was suspicious of any known vessels in the area that would infringe upon his trade. The beaver/otter were as good as gold and he didn’t want to share one beaver with anyone, except for buyers of the highly demanded pelts in the Orient, Great Britain and Europe. Every man in Europe wanted a beaver hat. Captain Gray sailed out of Boston, Massachusetts and the Commander of the American ship, Columbia Rediviva. In a few weeks he would discover the mouth of the Columbia River.
On 28 April 1792, a lookout on the Discovery sees a ship entering from the north west and is on a converging course. They have been sailing the high seas for a year now, and it was their first sighted sailing vessel in 8 months. Upon approach it was recognized as the trading ship, the Columbia Rediviva with her famous American Commander Captain Gray. He had fought hard in the American Revolution on a Naval vessel, and was not happy to see British ships in this area. Captain Gray ordered a shot fired and all ships hove to. Vancouver gave the order for Lt Peter Puget and Mr. Archibald Menzies, the Scottish botanist/surgeon to go in the launch and speak with Captain Gray, in order to confirm/find the great Strait of Juan de Fuca, which hopefully would then link them to the Northwest Passage. Menzies stated in his journal they had found it extremely interesting to have run across the Boston sea captain at the exact time in which they needed to confirm the position of the illusive strait.
Myth had just joined forces with coincidence and the mariners, cautiously, shook hands. During their 2 hour conversation Captain Gray was astonished to learn, for the first time, from the HMS Discovery envoy, a British mariner, Mr. Mears, had given him credit for sailing 20 leagues(1 league equals 3 miles) into the strait and made claims the American Captain had circumnavigated Vancouver Island. Captain Gray stated that upon going 17 leagues into the Strait(west of Port Angeles) he then exited. He, also, stated in the northern Queen Charlotte Island(s Haida Gwaii) Indians had killed some of his crew and in fact, had held the Lady Washington captive for several hours. The Lady Washington was the first ship to fly the American flag, when she plied the waters of the northwest following the Revolutionary War with England. This maritime meeting of 3 great ships and their Commanders had clarified the nautical myths and calmed the waters of uncertainty.
Captain Vancouver continued to take the HMS Discovery/Chatham north along the remainder of the Washington coast and in a short time they entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca. For 50 years the British Government had offered military and civilian vessels a 20,000 pound reward for discovering such a passage. This was big business and Vancouver wanted to succeed and so did every man onboard. They have been at sea for a year and their primary mission was about to begin.
Immediately, they began the exploration of the first Indian village between Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, which Captain Vancouver called, Classet. As a precautionary and somewhat suspicious measure, Captain Gray decided to alter his course and followed the vessels into the Strait of Juan de Fuca to make certain that these Naval Ships, were in fact, exploring and not, infringing upon his fur trading business. He soon was satisfied and departed the Strait and continued south along the coast to make another attempt at exploring the Columbia River.
As the ships plied the waters eastward into the deeper reaches of the Strait they made 16 anchorages and explored villages, took sights, soundings, and drew charts. At the junction of the Straits and the southern and northern waters, he sent the HMS Chatham north to explore the San Juan Islands and he turned south and entered what is now Admiralty Inlet, and named Port Townsend after the Marquis Townshend. They now have penetrated further into these waters than any other white man and the Indians they met were seeing white men for their first time in their lives.
They were in uncharted waters and became the first map makers of this portion of the Salish Sea. As you look out from the bow of your own boat, in this area, you are confronted with numerous land masses and inlets. Captain Vancouver orchestrated an unbelievable exploration of every major inlet these waters and after the HMS Chatham did the same in the northern waters the two vessels rendezvoused at Restoration Point, on Bainbridge Island, and continued exploring southern waters until the return of Lt Puget and company on 27 May 1792.
Puget’s Exploration Party
Waters South of Restoration Point
20-27 May 1792
Captain Vancouver wrote the following orders for this Expedition:
“On 20 May 1792 at 0400 hrs Lt Peter Puget, you are to disembark the HMS Discovery in the launch and in the cutter, Mr. Whidbey, Sailing Master, whose orders you are to follow. You are to proceed south keeping “the continental shore to starboard” at 3 days, should it appear to you that you are unable to finally determine its limits, and return to the ship by Thursday next and report to me an account of your proceedings, as to appearance of the country, its productions and inhabitants, if varying from what we have already seen. In search of the northwest passage linking the Atlantic to the Pacific.”
Vancouver, Puget and Whidbey had sailed together in Jamaica prior to this voyage and Vancouver had hand picked this special crew: Lt. Peter Puget was 27 or 28 years old, but had been to sea since age 12 or 13, so had 14 years of naval experience under his belt. While being born in England, his ancestors were French Huguenots, who had fled during the Spanish inquisition. He was admired by his Naval superiors and highly respected by his troops. Puget achieved the rank of Rear Admiral in 1821 and died in 1822.
Mr. Joseph Whidbey, also, near Puget’s age, was an experienced Sailing Master. [ I wondered why there were no available Journals written by Whidbey. My conversation with Richard Blumenthal, author of, With Vancouver in Inland Washington Waters, 24 Feb 2012, states, “while Whidbey was not an Officer in the Royal Navy, he was not required to keep a journal. All the officers had to write and turn in their journals to Vancouver at the end of each exploration”]. Mr. Whidbey, while not an officer, was a member of the British Navy and retired in 1805. Captain Vancouver named Whidbey Island for him, after he and Lt. Puget circumnavigated the island in June 1792.
Archibald Menzies, botanist and ship’s surgeon was Scottish and attended the University of Edinburgh. He was the oldest member of the Lt. Puget’s exploration at the age of 38. He is noted for:
1. Identified and named the beautifully red-barked Madrona tree for himself, arbutus menziesii, which he found on Protection Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
2. Identified and named the Douglas Fir after himself, pseudotsuga menziesii.
3. Was the first non-native to climb the Hawaiian Volcano, Mauna Loa using the native, Ainopo Trail, which today is know as Menzies Trail.
4. To frequently concoct “spruce beer” to be drunk with the daily ration of rum. Some historians conclude this is the reason the HMS Discovery crew never suffered from Scurvy. He often tried to learn the different languages of the Indian tribes in order to communicate with them. He graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1799 a Degree in Medicine. .He retired from the Royal Navy in 1802 and continued practicing medicine in England.
3rd Lt Thomas Manby, age 26, had gained much experience on board and Vancouver had appointed him to 3rd Lt. He kept 2 journals, a personal one and one that he turned into Captain Vancouver. He lived to achieve the rank of Rear Admiral, however died from an opium overdose in 1825. He loved to hunt and had a favorite double barreled gun that his good friend the Marquis Townshend had given him.
The 20 foot launch was clinker built and carried 5 pair of oarsmen, seating 2 abreast. There were 2 dismountable masts with lug sails. The other was an 18 foot cutter carrying 3 pair of oarsmen and a single mast. Both boats were open. Both vessels had swivel guns attached.
Mr. Whidbey and Lt. Manby traveled in the cutter and Lt. Puget and Mr. Menzies went in the launch, along with the oarsmen, which totaled 20 men. They would carry enough supplies, ammunition and food/drink, trinkets and gifts for one week. Sam McKinney, in his book, Sailing With Vancouver, stated the food was prepared in England and was made up of wheat, dried soup and spirits, vegetables, and internal oxen organs. This mixture was boiled, then dried and cut into slabs. I can see why they might like to choose eating crow, as that actually sounds better to me.
Preparations were underway as the HMS Discovery sailed south reaching the southern tip of Restoration Point( named by Vancouver) on Bainbridge Island. Lat 47° 35 minN, Long 122°28min W. At about 6 PM-1800 hrs the HMS Discovery anchored somewhere south of Restoration Point and near a small, rounded island, Blake Island, in 35 fathoms of water.
Another important and interesting thing to note at this time is, the Bainbridge Island--Restoration Point Indian Village was inhabited by the Suquamish tribe of about 80 Indians and under Chief Schweabe. His 12 year old son, Si’ahls, becomes Chief Se’alth from which the city of Seattle, Washington is named. Later in life, he recalled seeing Captain Vancouver and the HMS Discovery. Captain Vancouver stated in his report that this Indian village was the most miserable village he had seen.
Confusion has a tight grip on my beginning research. I have often wondered where this pivotal anchorage was located and I was hoping to find its latitude/longitude in the journals of the explorers, at which time I could begin my own, upcoming journey from the exact starting point.
After reading numerous journals, books, websites and speaking with author- Richard Blumenthal, With Vancouver in Inland Washington Waters, I do not know, nor does he, the exact location of their anchorage. He believes the anchorage was about half way between Restoration Point and Blake Island. In his own replication cruise of Peter Puget’s Exploration, he chose to leave from one of the Washington State Marine buoys north of Blake Island. Based on different renderings, it appears to me, that they are anchored south of Restoration Point with the small island located south and west.
This position is different from what course I extracted from Peter Puget by Robert Wing and Gordon Newell where they have them anchored off Restoration Point placing their departing course east of Blake Island or taking Blake to starboard. Some of the journals clearly state they took the island to port. Richard Blumenthal, also believes they took Blake to port. So, for me, its “Blake to Port,” and will become Shatoosh’s course, as it, “keeps the continental shore to starboard,” which were Captain Vancouver’s orders. In Vancouver's log, he states the anchorage on 19 May was 1 mile from the northern shore, 1.5 miles from the entrance of the small cove(Rich Passage) and the island(Blake) was SE, the Point was NE,
What is clear in the Journals, is the fact that, after Lt. Puget departs at 0400 hrs, the HMS Discovery was re-anchored much closer inland of Restoration Point at about 0800 hrs. This allowed the Discovery to be near the Indian village in order to gain access to fresh water. This re-anchoring certainly adds to the confusion for historians/interpreters of the journals but later adds confusion for Lt. Puget on 28 May 1792, when he returns from his exploration. I can hear him saying to Mr. Menzies, in the dark, early morning hours at 0200 hrs on 28 May 1792, “just exactly, where is the HMS Discovery anchored?”
The Exploration of Puget Sound Begins
20 May 1792, Sunday- Day 1- 0400 to 2000 hrs Restoration Point to Shaw’s Cove, Hale Passage
The boats, heavily stowed with supplies, are re-launched in the pre dawn darkness. With the tide ebbing and the night skies clear they pulled away quickly from the anchorage and the 16 oarsmen from both boats, coordinated masterfully, the stroking of their 32 oars into the dark waters. Restoration Point faded into the distance, as did the HMS Discovery and Blake Island. To the south lies the southern inlet in which they will venture. It is called Colvos Passage and it separates the island that is to port from the continental shore. The passage is about 12 miles in length and is about one mile wide. The island to port will be named Vashon in a few days by Captain Vancouver after his and Lt Puget’s good friend, Commander, and later, Admiral, James Vashon, whose command they were under in Jamaica.
By dawn, they passed the northern portion of Vashon Island and entered Colvos Passage. At 0800 hrs, they saw an Indian canoe pull up on shore and quickly retreated to the forest. They, too advanced, and landed on shore for their breakfast meal and gave the oarsmen a well deserved rest. They had bucked the tide and rowed for 4 hours. The temperatures had heated up, and by afternoon they suffered from 90° weather.
The morning breakfast place of Olalla was located about 6nm south of the headlands of Vashon Island on the western shore. Lt Puget placed trinkets and beads in the canoes to entice the Indians to return from the forest and to show them of their peaceful intentions. There was no mention of what their first meal was, but there was always salted pork in brine and hard tack biscuits, blue spruce beer. The night before the Restoration Point Indians had given the HMS Discovery some fresh venison, but whether they carried any of it with them was not stated. Lt Puget concluded that the lagoon at the back of the inlet was wide and deep enough at high tide to accommodate the HMS Chatham and at low tide it was filled mostly with fresh water.
They departed at 0900 hrs. and had fair winds and a favorable tide. They had taken numerous sounding with 40 fathoms of line but were not able to find bottom. They reached the southern end of the port land mass and concluded that it was an island and for the first time today they saw the majestic snow capped mountain. Lt Puget reported that even though he had not previously mentioned the mountain in his journal, that today’s viewing was the closest and most beautiful view of this mountain that they had seen. In spite of the warm weather the snow penetrates down 2/3 rds of its slopes. Captain Vancouver named the majestic mountain Rainier, after his good friend, Captain Peter Rainier.
Mt. Rainier is a dominant presence in Puget sound and on clear days, there is nothing more magical and beguiling. I have, in my younger years, climbed 70% of the 14,441 foot summit and hiked the Wonderland Trail, a 100 miles composed of over 22,000 feet of elevation gains as it circumnavigates around the mountain.
It is always important to remember that even though they were keeping the continental shore to starboard, they ventured past Vashon Island without ever seeing the entrance to Gig Harbor. It wasn’t until 1841 that Gig Harbor was discovered by Lt Charles Wilkes. They passed Pt. Defiance to port and continued southbound encountering tremendous flooding tides, currents and rip tides. As they struggled to keep the boats stable and headed south bound, they took a sounding and hit bottom with 30 fathoms of line at mid channel, Several Indian canoes were skirting their boats close to the opposite shore. This is the site of the Tacoma Narrows and its newly built double spanned suspension bridge makes for a dominant structure in the Sound.
￼They are over come by a strong counter-outgoing tide at the point where an inlet immerges to starboard. This is Point Fosdick and Hale Passage. They are forced to take refuge on shore to have dinner and wait out for a lessening tide. Several canoes passed them and entered a cove farther up the passage which they call Indian Cove or Wollochet Bay.
At 1500 hrs the expedition entered Indian Cove, and made contact with about 16 Indians living in temporary housing. They were friendly and offered them some of their drying fish and clams for trinkets and beads. Lt. Puget describes them as being slight in stature, long, black and exceptional dirty hair, their noses and ears were pierced and decorated. All inhabitants were naked. The cove had numerous raspberry and currant and rose plants and was a lovely spot.
They departed and made their way westward through Hale Passage and established their first, evening camp at 8 pm, 2000 hrs on the continental shore that is, now called, Shaw’s Cove. Some authors state they made camp farther out towards Green Point. Several of the Indians had followed them and seemed to be fascinated, as they watched the white sailors quickly made camp, putting up the officer’s tent and preparing for nightfall. They had traveled about 25, exhausting nautical miles and had clocked in a 16 hour day.
21 May 1792, Monday- Day 2: Shaw’s Cove through Carr Inlet to Pitt Passage
In spite of the early morning rain, they got underway between 0400-0500 hrs and headed west to explore this large inlet(Carr). The weather was miserable and the outgoing tide made rowing difficult. They took their morning breakfast at a small island, now called Cutts. They encountered numerous crows and killed several for breakfast, which they found them a very good source for food. They, aptly, called it, Crow Island. To this day, there is always an abundance of crows on this small, windswept island.￼
After concluding the most western shore of Carr Inlet is a dead end, they continued to follow the continental shoreline until they saw Indians near a small village. They do not appear to want any contact with the explorers and pointed them to return from where they have journeyed. Lt. Puget continued to make peace offerings by tying small trinkets and looking glasses(mirrors) onto floating pieces of wood and waited for the Indians to retrieve them. Finally, they were coaxed closer. They saw that several of the Indians had missing right eyes and their faces, bodies were heavily scarred. Inference was made that perhaps the scarring was from small pox. Mr. Menzies tried to communicate with them with words he had learned previously, but no one understood and the demeanor of these Indians were not friendly.
Eastward of this interaction Lt. Puget had the longboats pulled into a larger cove to make dinner. The thermometer read 90 ° and the oarsmen were hot and tired. At the rear of this cove, which was, perhaps, Von Geldern Cove, were 2 small fresh water streams. The men began to seine for salmon, which other Indians had taught them, and some were involved in making a fire. To the officers surprise, 20 Indians dressed in war outfits appeared from several different locales, with bows and arrows pulled and ready to shoot. The party members quickly gathered their rifles, and in his journal the Lieutenant stated he is a loss as to what to do. His peaceful nature emerged and did not want to kill nor injure any of them, however if the Indians shot first he did not want any of his men injured or killed. Lt Puget decided to fire the swivel gun from the boat to make a statement. None of the Indians showed fear or were startled and by now all the party had gathered with their rifles in hand. The Indians relinquished their attack and offered their weapons for sale and both parties traded for many items. They named this cove, Alarm Cove. These were the only hostile Indians that they would encounter in their exploration of the southern waters.
These Indians were stouter than others, had thick bushy beards and hairy bodies and legs, but no chest hair. In their morning encounter the men were naked but later wore full leather garments that hung from their shoulders to their knees. After eating their dinner of stewed crow and nettle tops, they made their way out of Carr Inlet into a small passage. After about 30 minutes, the now, friendly Indians departed the white skinned men.
The weather had abruptly changed with a deluge of rain and forced them to make early camp at 1500 hrs. on a sandy spit on the western shore of Pitt Passage and west of Pigeon Island, which they named. This is present McNeil island and home to the Washington State Penitentiary System. The rains continued and held them captive for the remainder of the day and night, but were never bothered by the stout, hostile tribe, again.
Day’s run: 20nm
22 May 1792, Tuesday- Day 3: Pitt Passage to Anderson Island
This is a pivotal day, one of interest and creates lots of questions for me. As the chart shows they are departing Pitt Passage and the Captain’s sailing orders were: “follow the continental shore keeping it to starboard.”. Why then would the young Lieutenant take a 90° turn to port and head all the way across Balch Passage to the opposite eastern shore, thus, disobeying his direct orders? When he should have stayed on course to explore Filucy Bay, Drayton Passage and then slip around Devil’s head into Case Inlet and camp at Wednesday-Ketron Island which would have been about 9nm. By doing what he did, he traveled 21 nm out of his way. The other interesting aspect of this is: when they would have completed following the western continental shore around the sound they would be exploring these same islands on their way out. Which is what they ended up doing. This extra journey was really a waste of time, people’s energy and again, perhaps, in my eyes, an act of disobedience on the part of Lt. Puget. Why would he do this or what would make him do this?
The journals are clear what they did. Lets remember, Captain Vancouver said Lt. Puget was the officer in charge, but he will be take orders from Mr. Whidbey. I’m not sure what that really meant, but Whidbey is the navigator and surveyor and the one who is responsible for taking sights and finding the latitude. Perhaps it was, he, who insisted on taking this, diverting, course?
From speculation we return to the journals: With the storm, abated, the explorers were up before dawn and departed on the crested flood tide. However, with severe currents and tides in the narrow Pitt Passage, rowing was extremely difficult. After they free themselves from the southern shore of Pigeon-McNeil Island, Mr. Menzies stated, “ we were amongst a number of islands which rendered the survey & examination more tedious & perplexing --we stood to eastward as, Mr. Whidbey wished to take up his former angular bearing in the main branch which we reached at noon and landed on the small island (Long-Ketron) close to the eastern continental shore about 2 leagues southward of where we quitted the same reach 2 days ago.” So, it was Mr. Whidbey’s decision to alter the course. However, in the book, Peter Puget by Wing and Newell, they state that it was the Lieutenant’s decision. Here again, Lt. Puget doesn’t say in his journal, Mr Whidbey doesn’t have one, but Mr. Menzies lays claim that the decision was Whidbeys. In Sam McKinney’s book, Sailing With Vancouver, he only states that they crossed over to the eastern side.
Upon landing on the northern most shore, with a minus tide on the island, they made dinner. Mr. Whidbey took a bearing at noon, which Lt. Puget stated he did not record. In Lt. Manby’s journal he stated he quickly followed an animal trail into the forest. Startled by rustling bushes he miss loaded his prized double barreled gun that the Marquis Townshend had given him. A large brown bear immerged, he fired causing the bear to retreat and his gun to explode. He was now, without gun or bear.
After departure, a thunder, lightning and rain storm forced them to take refuge in Oro Bay on Anderson island at 1500 hrs and they quickly set the tents. In the evening, 3 canoes from a near by village approached bringing them vegetable-like celery, which Menzies identified as raspberry shoots and salmon. They purchased them along with bearskins.
Was this course deviation to the eastern shore worth it?
1. It cost them a day’s travel, using up precious energy of the oarsmen’s.
2. It duplicated their return trip.
3. The bearing and latitude that Mr. Whidbey, so desperately wanted, was never recorded by Lt Puget.
4. They had to backtrack to Devil’s Head. to intercept their previous day’s course.
5. This was the end of Day 3 and they still had many unknown miles and inlets to explore. Case, Eld, Totten, or Budd Inlet could still reveal the entrance to their holy grail, the Northwest Passage. Would they be able to complete their mission and get back to the HMS Discovery on 27 May 1792, as Captain Vancouver had ordered?
Days run: abt 9nm
Total run: 54nm
23 May 1792- Day 4: Oro Bay, Anderson Island to Wednesday-Herron Island
The rains had stopped, but the dense fog shrouded their shoreline boats and delayed their departure until the late hour of 0800hrs. Their course takes them into the Nisqually River delta which is a very shallow marshland and tidal flatland. Numerous Indian canoes greet them and trading is frequent. Lt. Puget is pleased to see these friendly Indians and comments that they are not shy, but rather welcoming in nature. Mr. Menzies, however noticed a familiar face in one of the crowd. Old One-Eye, from Alarm Cove is amongst them. They ignore him and his canoe and trade only with the friendly ones. Upon finding themselves in 4-5 feet of water and not wishing to go aground, they depart and head across the large bay holding Johnson Point to port and Devil’s Head to starboard. They continue to row westward into Case Inlet where they make camp quickly on Wednesday-Herron Island. And by 1400hrs another southeastern, blacken-skied storm with wind gusts and rain hits them hard and continues for the remainder of the day.
Day’s Run: 15nm
Total Run: 69nm
24 May 1792, Thursday- Day 5: Case Inlet--Wednesday-Herron Island to Continental Shore across from Harstene Island.
With improved weather, they set out early and by 0800 hrs they had reached the termination of Case Inlet, took time to seine for salmon and caught one. They continued rowing down Pickering Passage all day until 1800hrs where they made camp on the western continental shore across from Harstene Island. This campsite is another confusing location. However, it is said they could see the passage between Harstene and Squaxin Islands from this campsite.
Day’s Run: abt 16nm
Total Run: 85nm
25 May 1792, Friday- Day 6: Pickering Passage-- Totten Inlet-- Squaxin Passage ￼
After rising, an inventory of all provisions was taken and it was determined that sufficient supplies were available until the following Wednesday. The men were not opposed to eating crow, and there seemed to be an unusual abundance of them to supplement any lacking food supplies.
They depart on a high moving tide heading down Pickering Passage and take Squaxin Island to port. For some unknown reason they failed to follow the immediate inlet into its reaches which is Hammersley. They most probably failed to see past the dogleg and thought it to be small cove.
They entered Totten Inlet and noticed many abandoned Indian villages, which they thought were temporary or seasonal. Lt Puget thought this inlet to have many beautiful spots and were in full spring bloom. By noon they had reached the end of the ebbing tide and were 2 miles from the inner end.. Not wanting to run aground they reversed their course and make for a lunch camp near the entrance. Then they moved up and around the headlands and reached a very pleasant spot on the east shore of the very narrow peninsula at Hunter Point. They made their evening camp, had no Indian visitors, were pleased with their sweeping views of the vast southern branch, and enjoyed their solitude while their campfire flickered into the beautiful night.
Days Run: abt 14nm
Total Run: 99nm
26 May 1792, Saturday- Day 7: Eld Inlet, Budd Inlet, Johnson Point, and to the HMS Discovery.
At dawn the boats headed for Cooper Point, which is the sharp-beaked point of peninsula which divides Eld and Budd inlets. They were unable to make their way to the termination of Eld inlet because of the severe shallows. They were met by canoes of the most hospitable and friendly Indians thus far. Lt. Puget was interested in them, so followed them to their village of open walled sheds, housing about 60 natives. This location was southwest of Flapjack Point. They were all busy, skinning animals, smoking fish, and cooking other foods. The stench was the worst he had smelled. While some of the men were dressed in warrior like outfits made of animal skins, they carried no weapons. Unlike other tribes, these Indians wore exotic make-up of red ochre/ black glimmer, their hair was covered in down from young birds. They took great delight in seeing themselves through the mirrors which were given to them by the explorers. Peter Puget called this place, “Friendly Inlet” and made notes stating of all the natives they had seen, these were the most terrifying looking, while their behavior was just the opposite.
This puts the old saying in prospective, “ don’t judge a book by it’s cover”.
They made their way back out the inlet and entered Budd Inlet, traveling to the mud flats at its termination. Mr. Whidbey accurately takes today’s current latitude of 47°03’ N of the capitol city of Olympia.
Lt. Puget realizes that after exploring all these miles, the Northwest Passage did not exist in these waters and, in fact they all ended in tidal mud flats and marshes. There was a southwesterly breeze, the tide was ebbing, so Lt. Puget ordered the masts to be stepped, the oars stowed and the sails hoisted. While, not noted in Lt. Puget’s, nor Menzies journal, some historians say they made a meal stop on the southern side of Johnson Point at Henderson Bay.
They continued sailing and passed Long Island-Ketron Island at dusk. They could see a fire and thought it to be natives, however it was in fact Captain Vancouver and a small group of men. They noticed the boats and fired several rounds of ammunition, but the exhausted explorers did not hear them. They continued to make their way to the HMS Discovery, arriving at 0200 hrs. on Sunday 27 May 1792.
Mr. Menzies noted in his journal, upon arriving at our departure anchorage we could not see our mother ship, the HMS Discovery. We fired off some shots from the swivel guns, to which the ship responded and located their anchorage, which was nearer the point. The HMS Chatham had joined the anchorage 25 May and Captain Vancouver had departed on 26 May with 2 longboats to explore the eastern bay of Tacoma’s Commencement Bay, and possibly Case Inlet. Thus ending the southern exploration by Lt. Peter Puget, Mr. Whidbey, Mr. Menzies and Lt. Manby. After Lt. Puget’s exploration of the southern waters from 20-27 May 1792, Captain Vancouver named the southern waters, Puget’s Sound. Today we know it as Puget Sound.
1. Richard Blumenthal, With Vancouver in Inland Washington Waters- Journals of 12 Crewmen, April-June 1792, 2002.
2. Edmond S. Meany- Vancouver's Discovery of Puget Sound: Portraits and Biographies of the Men Honored in the Naming of Geographic Features of Northwestern America, The MacMillan Company, 1907.
3. Sam McKinney, Sailing With Vancouver, Touchwood Editions, Vancouver, BC, 2004
4. Murray Morgan, Puget's Sound,-A Narrative of Early Tacoma and the Southern Sound, University of Washington Press, 1979.
5. Vancouver's Log Volume I of III: Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and Round the World. Printed for G.G. and J. Robinson, Paternoster-Row and J. Edwards, Pall-Mall, 1798.
6. Robert Wing and Gordon Newell, Peter Puget, Graybeard Publishing, Seattle Washington, 1979.