Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands


1OO Days in the San Juans

100 Days in the San Juans

I didn’t take this tiny photo. In fact, I wasn’t even a twinkle in my Mother’s eye when the shot was captured. I’m presenting it because of the recurring interest in the book by the title above, “100 Days in the San Juans.” June Burn, a writer who lived on Waldron with her family, wrote the articles of her and her husband Farrar’s summer rowing and sailing through the islands in 1946. The Seattle P.I. (now gone the way of the Dodo bird) published the 100 articles written and mailed while the trip progressed. City dwellers enthusiastically devoured the adventure over time like an old serial at the movies, waiting impatiently for the next installment. The book had gone out of print, so islanders Theresa Morrow and Nancy Prindle arranged to re-issue it in the early ’80’s I believe. It was printed on San Juan Island by Susan Babcock on an A.B. Dick 360 offset press, with which I have oodles of experience. Maybe I’ll arrange to re-issue another edition, I’d love to get all inky with this project!

In my last post I mentioned how people move to the islands, then sometimes leave. The Burns are a prime example of that tendency. After homesteading on Sentinel island, then on Waldron island where they raised two boys, June died in 1969 and Farrar in 1977, both in Arkansas. Thoreau said in WALDEN that he left the woods for as good a reason as he came, I can assume expatriate islanders feel the same way.

So, I’m thinking; perhaps I have one supreme adventure in me before I leave the islands. I’d like to recreate the 100 days of discovering the islands by small boat, an entire summer of cruising about, meeting new places and people, finding how much of the islands have changed since 1946 and how much has remained the same. Imagine, sailing the adventure and later printing the book of those adventures as well! THAT would be life affirming!

The Burns bought a surplus steel lifeboat for $5.00 and added $40.00 worth of improvements and tinkering. In my youth I owned a 24ft. steel lifeboat that I bought for $350 on the Columbia River, so were I to find such a craft, that would do double duty; recreating the Burn’s adventure, and reliving the memories of my lifeboat which I ultimately brought up to the islands from the Columbia. My son Jake shares my interest in this adventure, perhaps he can be enlisted as a support boat checking on me occasionally to make sure I don’t end up in Japan! Now we have technology to find where we are in fog, and electric motors and solar panels for silent motorboating should the wind fail. No tedious rowing for this old man!


One response

  1. Do you know enough about the Burns route to recreate the voyage, or are you picking up on the spirit of their journey and not the actual route? Your statement about the Burns leaving the islands and going to Arkansas was interesting. I know that one of their sons’ North or South Burn (That was there real names), stayed on Waldron all his life! I think it was South, maybe the historical society could tell you more……Do you want me to put out feelers on a steel life boat? I know that 6 months ago there was one for sale on the Washington State Surplus internet site! Have you seen the movie “Life of Pi” It featured a steel life boat.

    April 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm

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