To describe the beauties of this region, will, on some future occasion, be a very grateful task to the pen of a skillful panegyrist. The serenity of the climate, the innumerable pleasing landscapes, and the abundant fertility that unassisted nature puts forth, require only to be enriched by the industry of man with villages, mansions, cottages, and other buildings, to render it the most lovely country that can be imagined; whilst the labour of the inhabitants would be amply rewarded, in the bounties which nature seems ready to bestow on cultivation.
(April 1792) The country now before us (Shoal-water Bay) presented a most luxuriant landscape, and was probably not a little heightened in beauty by the weather that prevailed. The more interior parts were somewhat elevated, and agreeable diversified with hills, from which it gradually descended to the shore and terminated in a sandy beach. The whole had the appearance of a continued forest, extending north as far as the eye could reach, which made me very solicitous to find a port in the vicinity of a country presenting so delightful a prospect of fertility.
Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean and Round the World ... in the Years 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795 in the Discovery Sloop of War and Armed Tender Chatham by Captain George Vancouver, 3 vols. and atlas (London, 1798).
(Page 19) Every man was stationed at his post - Captain Hill and one man at the wheel, Captains Swain and Russell on the foreyard, looking out Captain Weldon heaving the lead, the sailors at the braces, and Captain Baker and myself watching to see the fun. The breakers were very high, and foamed, and roared, and dashed around us in the most terrific manner; but the old brig was as light on them as a gull, and, without shipping a drop of water, passed over and through them all; and after running up the channel about two miles, we came to anchor in smooth water, and found ourselves safe and sound in Shoal-water Bay.
(Page 30) Shoal-water Bay, as a harbor, will be of great importance to Washington Territory as soon as its advantages are known and the country becomes settled. The entrance to the Bay from the ocean is very direct and easily found, and the excellent chart by Captain Alden enables vessels of a light draft of water to run in at all times of tide. There is always, at the lowest stages of tide, from three to three and a half fathoms of water on the bar; and as the volume of water discharged from the Bay is never so great as from the Columbia, there is so heavy a swell or so dangerous breakers as may be found occasionally at the Columbias mouth while the distance between the entrances of the river and bay, being only twenty-seven miles, makes it a ready and safe harbor of refuge for vessels that, from storms and heavy breakers, dare not risk crossing the bar of the Columbia; and I have known of several instances where vessels have availed themselves of the opportunity.
The Northwest Coast or, Three Years Residence in Washington Territory by James G. Swan (1857).