From Seattle to Valdez by Sail

Whether a party left for the gold fields from the east coast or west coast, they had to decide whether to go by sail or steam powered vessels, which were faster but more expensive.

With Yankee thrift, the Connecticut and Alaska Mining and Trading Company purchased the sailing vessel Moonlight for the voyage north. The Moonlight, built in 1890 by a Norwegian fisherman, was 69 ft. long, 28 ft. wide, two masted and had a shallow keel. Her crew consisted of the captain, a cook and four ordinary sailors. She carried 37 passengers each with about 1500 pounds of provisions plus a 2000 pound steam sled and equipment for prospecting.


On Friday, February 9th 1898, the harbor tug towed the Moonlight away from the dock in Seattle while Harry King hung from the rigging playing The Girl I Left Behind Me on his piccolo and the party gave three loud cheers for Connecticut. The excited gold rushers expected to reach Port Valdes in two weeks, but a series of severe winter storms and opposing head winds delayed them until March 7th.

After a stop at McLeod Harbor on Montague Island, where a shore party found a log cabin and replenished their fresh water, the Moonlight spent two days drifting on the Sound's light winds. Finally, the sea weary prospectors had the captain launch a lifeboat, and they began hourly shifts at the oars as they towed the Moonlight into Port Valdes.

(For more information on the Connecticut and Alaska Mining and Trading Company's adventures prospecting in Alaska, see Margeson's Experiences of Gold Rushers in Alaska , available at local stores).

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