Watercolors by
  Bill Hudson     
Monthly Newsletter 

A Maritime Heritage

.....by Bill Hudson

I’ve spent the past two weeks on the road with my wife traveling the West Coast from Los Angeles to Seattle and further north to Anacortes, then Coupeville on Whidbey Island. The main purpose of our trip was to visit our daughter Sarah and her family in Seattle. But driving the 1200 miles rather than flying offers other incredible opportunities. . .particularly for a maritime artist.

Our first stop was Fort Bragg, California where we met with local artists Paul and Stephanie Kraus. I had commissioned Paul to build several wooden models of boats that are special to me (ref Newsletter September 2022, Owning a Monterey Clipper). Paul had recently completed a Chesapeake Bay Buyboat and a Maine lobster boat, both of which I was anxious to pick up and take home.  

The Buyboat

I’ve painted buyboats several times and chose their silhouette as a company logo (see above). Buyboats ranging from 40-100 feet bought the day’s catch (mostly oysters) from watermen in smaller boats at sea, thereby saving them the time and cost of returning to port. In 1925, with 5,000 buyboats operating, 7 million bushels of oysters were harvested from the Chesapeake Bay. Today less than 50 buyboats survive and only a few hundred thousand bushels of oysters are now taken annually.

The San Juan

While in Fort Bragg, I told Paul Kraus how much I missed the old ship named San Juan which for years seemed a permanent fixture of Noyo Harbor. It was my focal point in a couple paintings. But, like the old buyboats, Paul said it too eventually sank in 2017. Built in 1930 for the San Juan Fishing and Packing Co. of Seattle, the 72’ San Juan was taken over by the US Navy in 1942 but returned to private ownership as a fishing boat in 1968. Paul knew one of the old San Juan captains who said while working in extremely rough 40-foot seas, the ship was momentarily completely submerged by a rogue wave. Only the pilothouse remained above water. Almost miraculously, it resurfaced upright and survived many more years. As we talked in the Sportsman’s Park Gallery, Paul pointed out his model of the San Juan during its prime. I couldn’t resist, and also became the owner of that model before Ellie and I left for Seattle.

Old Crows

Coincidentally, when we arrived at my daughter Sarah’s house in Seattle, she had one of my paintings hanging in her living room. It is of two old buyboats docked on Tilghman Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Both subsequently sank—a poetic reminder of the grand old wooden vessels that comprised our maritime heritage.

The "Elinore J"

While staying with our daughter’s family, we took the opportunity to visit the historic shipbuilding town of Coupeville on Whidbey Island. I took many reference photographs for a future commissioned painting. We also toured Ballard and Fisherman’s Terminal where I often locate ships such as the “Elinore J” featured on TV’s “Deadliest Catch,” a series about Alaskan crabbing from Dutch Harbor as filmed on the Bering Sea. 


The last time I drove the coast was in August following four consecutive years of draught in California. It was alarming to see how depleted (actually approaching empty!) our reservoirs had become. However, last week offered hope. Shasta Lake appeared to be within three feet of capacity and the San Luis Reservoir was topped off. We drove past each with many things to think about…climate change, capturing run off, depleted aquifers, the sinking San Joaquin Valley, Colorado River rationing, etc.

Again, I thank each of you for your continued interest in this Newsletter. If you wish to make any art related announcements or comments that may benefit the readers, feel free to submit them for the next issue.

Past Newsletters

Past Newsletters are listed chronologically by title in the Newsletter section of my website www.BillHudsonArt.com/newsletter/

Events & Galleries

Singulart, an online gallery selling original art from juried artists with free global shipping and returns. I recommend Singulart for any collector or contemporary artist.

Artist Eye Gallery, located at 1294-A So. Coast Hwy in Laguna Beach, CA. Call 949-497-5898 or

Visit: ArtistEyeGalleryLaguna.com

Fine Art America, is an online print-on-demand gallery which sells nearly all my images. These are available in a wide range of sizes on many substrates and objects including: coffee cups, shirts, towels, greeting cards, puzzles, phone cases, and tote bags.

Art Instructor, Laguna Methodist Art Association, Mondays in January, 9:30 to 12:30