What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor

Turn Point Lighthouse Sees Action on a Stormy Night

Drunken crew members aboard the Enterprise cause a ruckus for the boat's captain and the keepers of Turn Point Lighthouse.

The night of February 16th, 1897 was dark and stormy on Stuart Island. Turn Point Lighthouse keeper, Edward Durgan, and his assistant keeper, Peter Christiansen, were spending the evening chatting with one another while on duty. The storm deterred many sailors from the journey through Haro Strait that evening, so the two keepers settled in for what they believed to be a quiet night at the post. Meanwhile, the Enterprise was anchored at the dock in Port Townsend.

Ed Simms, owner and captain of the Enterprise, was docked in Port Townsend trying to assemble a crew from the locals around town. His original crew abandoned him for the Alaskan gold fields. Simms needed men to assist him on his journey to Alaska with his load of lumber. By the time the Enterprise left the dock, Captain Ed Simms had amassed a rag-tag group of men who he recruited from the local taverns and liquor stores. Despite the storm, Captain Simms and his intoxicated crew undocked and began their journey to Alaska.

Approximately an hour into their journey the inebriated crew members began to argue and fistfights ensued. Captain Simms attempted to ignore the skirmishes, and push through the storm and up Haro Strait. Disaster struck as the Enterprise became exhausted from the load, and unable to withstand the weight, snapped her rudder off into the waves of the Strait. Simms lost control of the boat and was unable to steer it away from looming boulders as they headed for shore. Laying on the horn, Simms made a final effort to alert the keepers at Turn Point Lighthouse.

Hearing the horn blast from the Enterprise, lighthouse keepers Durgan and Christiansen, grabbed their pike poles and rushed to the aid of the boat as it catapulted toward the shore. As the cold water sloshed up to their necks, Durgan and Christiansen used their pike poles to direct the Enterprise toward a sheltered cove just down the shore from the lighthouse. The keepers had successfully redirected the boat and preserved the Enterprise.

Simms greeted and thanked the keepers for saving his boat from disaster. As the adrenaline slowed in their bodies and the three began to relax, the drunken sailors stumbled to the deck. Suddenly, in an intoxicated rage, one of the sailors brandished a knife and began to threaten the others. Captain Simms quickly wrestled with the sailor for the weapon. Simms was bitten through the hand but was able to unarm the villainous sailor. Once unarmed, the sailor was thrown into a straight jacket. As the night grew closer to dawn, the keepers were unable to house the crew in the lighthouse, so they shuttled them off to stay at local farms. The knife-wielding sailor was shut in a hen house for the night until local authorities could arrive in the morning. This was certainly not the night the Turn Point Lighthouse keepers expected.