The “Equator” is another vessel with a very historic past that I have driven past countless times, so I thought I would take a little time to learn about her. For many years, she has been stored near the Everett, WA boat launch. Over the years, sporadic progress was made to try and rebuild her, but it looks like it is too far gone and too much, too late to save her.
Originally built in San Francisco in 1888 as a copra trader, Equator was converted to steam in 1897 and eventually abandoned in the harbor at Everett, Washington in 1956 along Jetty Island (remember jetty island from this post). The vessel was Everett’s first artifact placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The remains of the hull are protected by a shed near the Port of Everett’s Marina Park. Several attempts to rebuild the ship have failed, and restoration is considered unlikely. Built in Benecia, California she is the last surviving hull of that time period known to exist. In her career she worked under sail, steam, gasoline, and diesel power. She worked copra, fish, tug and support for the Geodetic Survey. Because of her shoal draft she could get close on shore where other vessels couldn’t go.
Of special note is that famed Scottish Author Robert Louis Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) chartered the Equator in 1889 for a voyage that visted Butaritari, Mariki, Apaiang and Abemama in the Gilbert Islands, (also known as the Kingsmills) now Kiribati. During the 1889 voyage they spent several months on Abemama with the tyrant-chief Tem Binoka, of Abemama, Aranuka and Kuria. Stevenson extensively described Binoka in In the South Seas.
This was the second of three voyages that Stevenson made (the only one on the Equator) to the Pacific Islands, Micronesia and Samoa. Stevenson’s most famed works include Treasure Island(1883), Kidnapped(1886), and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde(1886).
The influence of Treasure Island on popular perceptions of pirates is enormous, including treasure maps marked with an “X”, schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen carrying parrots on their shoulders.
The Historic American Engineering Record of the National Park Service has an excellent record of the vessel including more photographs here.
(or you can click the following link)http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/wa/wa0800/wa0888/data/wa0888data.pdf