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Berte Olson: back on the water again

October 11, 2016



I have just gained a new venue for storytelling: on a boat. I  have been presenting “Little, But OH My!”, my one woman show about Berte Olson, ferry boat captain, to passengers on the “Wilderness Discoverer”, a cruise ship from Un-Cruise Adventures. Every spring and summer, small cruise ships from this company bring visitors for tours around Deception Pass and the San Juan Islands here in Washington State. These small ships cruise the bays and inlets and passengers kayak and hike in the area.


Berte on bridge of Acorn (518x640)


From 1920 – 1935, Berte Olson was the co-owner of the tiny Deception Pass Ferry Company. Her little company (the boats could only carry 12 – 16 Model T’s!) ran ferries across the water before the Deception Pass Bridge was built in 1935.  So, in a sense, I was  bringing her story back to where it all began. The 45 – 60 passengers on the “Discoverer” were interested in exploring our natural wonders – and our history. It was great to be able to tell Berte’s story; to share the human history of this place with them.


Each time I went, a skiff from the “Discoverer” picked me up at Rosario Beach, a beautiful spot in Deception Pass State Park and took me to the vessel. Those short rides with members of the vessel’s crew were great fun. However, the first time out, the seas were a bit rough – and we got wet! But coming home the final time… the sea was like glass…on a moonlit night with dozens of stars…magical!”


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