Summers on Mutiny Bay
In the early fifties, when my family first started spending our Summers on Whidbey Island, there were twenty-three salmon fishing resorts on the South end of the island. Mutiny bay, where our little cabin was located, had seven resorts on the one bay.
We had a small two room “fishin’ cabin” a block or so up the hill from Mutiny Bay resort. Mutiny Bay resort had twenty or thirty small one room cabins with a couple of beds, cold running water, and an old fashioned wood stove. There was a huge pile of the trimmings from the local saw mill, called “slab wood”, cut into 16” lengths nearby. Next to the slab wood pile were several chopping blocks and several short handled double-bitted axes. It was up to you to split the slab wood into pieces that would fit into the wood stove, and haul the wood to the cabin! Midway between the cabins were the community outhouses.
Each resort had big heavy sixteen-foot cedar planked boats for rent. You could bring your own outboard motor to power the rental boat, or rent one of the inboard boats, powered by a seven horsepower Wisconsin single cylinder air-cooled motor. Trailering in your own boat was unheard of!
To get the boats into the water, there was a mini-railroad launch with a single flat rail car, gravity ran it down the tracks to launch the boat, and an electric winch and cable arrangement pulled the cart back up the rails into the resort. An overhead electric hoist on a track lifted the boats on and off of the cart, and moved the boats to their storage places. Mutiny Bay Resort eventually had to put in a second set of rails to handle the demand for boat launching.
The inboard boats, since they were air cooled, were usually started up while the boat was on the cart and still in the boathouse. That way you didn’t have to go retrieve the launched boat if they couldn’t get it started.
Most of the outboard motors were Johnsons or Evinrudes back then. Once in a while a Scott-Attwater, an Elgin, a Martin, maybe even a Neptune or a Western Auto would show up. Sometimes a Mercury would appear, but they were known to suffer mightily because of salt water, and although they had plenty of speed, they weren’t much of a trolling motor.
The average fishing motor was around ten horsepower, and fifteen horses were considered almost excessive. A twenty-five was for small cabin cruisers, not for fishing!
In those days, salmon were the ONLY fish to catch, and anyone who came to a salmon resort and brought in any other kind of fish were looked at rather scornfully.
Many of the privately owned fishin’ cabins had what looked like two outhouses out back. One of them actually WAS the outhouse, and the other one was the smoke house for smoking the salmon. Alder trees were everywhere, and nothing is better when smoking salmon than alder.
It was a great way to spend my Summers when I was growing up.