Virginia V Around The Island Cruise
July 15, 2012 3 – 6 pm

On July 15th you have the opportunity to answer this question and at the same time immerse yourself in history – on the water and on the land.  The Bainbridge Island Historical Museum is holding a fundraiser that promises to be a day full of fun and learning.  The fundraiser takes place on the historic steamship Virginia V and will feature a cruise around the Island, onboard commentary by Dennis Lewarch, Suquamish Tribal Historian, food and a no-host bar.

The Virginia V, which is a 125 ft. steamship, is the last operational craft of the Puget Sound “mosquito fleet”.  The ship was built in 1921 of local old-growth fir.  She replaced the four previous Virginia ships – the first of which was built prior to 1909 and originally named the Virginia Merrill.  The term “mosquito fleet” is often used in a way that sounds like it was an official organization or designation.  However, the term was really more of a catch-phrase used to describe a collection of approximately 2500 vessels of all types, big and small, that served the Puget Sound area from 1857 to 1925 transporting passengers and cargo.  At some point it was remarked that there were so many steamers buzzing around Puget Sound that they looked like a “swarm of mosquitoes”.  As a colloquialism, it is hard to pin point the beginning and the end of the so-called Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet.

By 1925, however, automobile usage had become popular enough that the car ferry was introduced.  And that was the beginning of the fade-out of all of those steamers.  The Virginia V has had a very checkered past in her journey from mosquito fleet to historic tourist attraction.  Since she was built in 1921, on a beach – with no formal plans (by a couple of guys who really didn’t believe in reading the directions first), she has changed owners at least 8 times.  She has survived through numerous restorations, a bankruptcy where she was sold for unpaid debt, and a major collision into the docks during the storm of 1937 (the ship survived – the docks, not so much).  She also had a moment of glory in 1948 when she entered The Great Steamboat Race.  The course ran 5 miles across Puget Sound and Virginia V won by a very small margin.

Any visit to Bainbridge Island should include a stroll around the historic town of Bainbridge Island.  Be sure to check out the museum, where collections include 3500 artifacts and over 4000 photographs depicting life on the Island back to 1854.  Whether you visit on the 15th for the Museum fundraiser, or some other time, Bainbridge Island is a great destination for fun, learning, food and history.

For information or tickets for the Virginia V Around the Island cruise call 206-842-2773 or go to the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum website at:

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