The Schooner / Barge Alumna

by John MacFarlane and Douglas MacFarlane 2018


The barge Alumna (Photo from the Doug MacFarlane collection.)

In 1901 the Alumna was built at North Bend OR USA by K.V. Kruse (Simpson Shipyard). She was constructed as a wooden 182’ four–masted schooner. In 1924 she was converted to a barge.


Chester McCardle on the deck of the barge Alumna (Photo from the Doug MacFarlane collection.)

In 1901 she was owned by the Simpson Lumber Co. (Captain Simpson) operating as a blue water lumber ship, carrying cargoes from her home port of San Francisco to all points on the globe. In 1923–1933 she was owned by Captain D. Ottman. (She was sold to settle his estate). In 1933 she was owned by McGinitie & McDonald (purchased at a Sheriff’s Auction). In 1934 she was reduced to one mast and converted to a floating brewery for Pilsner Brewing Co. of Ketchikan AK. She was later converted to a floating fish processor.


The Alumna as a barge under tow by the tug Swiftsure II. (Photo from the Doug MacFarlane collection.)

In 1924 she was converted to a floating brewery for operation at Ketchikan Alaska where locals referred to her as a ‘Schooner of Beer’. The venture was not a success and she ended her days as a fish reduction plant in Alaskan waters.

Swiftsure II

The tug Swiftsure II which had contracts to tow the Alumna as a barge. (Photo from the Nauticapedia collection.)

The tug Swiftsure II was built as the J.W.P., renamed as Swiftsure II and as Tusko at New Westminster BC. In 1920–1927 she was owned by Joseph William Pike, Vancouver BC. In 1929 she was owned by MacFarlane Brothers Ltd. (Fred and Arthur MacFarlane), 118 Pemberton Bldg Victoria BC. In 1940 she was owned by Francis Arthur MacFarlane, 439 Richmond St, Victoria BC. In 1945–1951 she was owned by John Bruno, Vancouver BC. In 1953–1973 she was owned by Swiftsure Towing Co. Ltd., New Westminster BC. In 1974–1988 she was owned by Robert P. Sampson, Duncan BC.

In 1929 she sailed chiefly out of Victoria to Vancouver Island’s west coast towing for Cathels and Sorenson Ltd., and independent loggers Lamont, Rutger, Baird, Frank Baker and John Quinn in the Port San Juan area. On August 5, 1930 she was grounded in the fog near Jordan River. She was refloated with the help of the Daring (Captain Fred MacFarlane). In 1940c Arthur MacFarlane put a bear in the bunk of the Engineer Cliff Eastwood as a prank. In 1948 she towed a Davis Raft (25 million board feet) the largest ever towed into the Fraser River. In 13/02/1968 she was grounded on Mowat Reef. In 1973 she sank at Yuculta Rapids BC after grounding, salvaged and the crew rescued. In 1988 she was located in Maple Bay BC as a live aboard. Douglas MacFarlane reports that she was eventually sold to US interests.

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. and Douglas MacFarlane (2018) The Schooner / Barge Alumna. 2018.

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