Kobe Harbor Japan, 1920; Oregon Historical Society
At 15, Burg went to work as a bellboy on one of the passenger steamers plying the coastal route between Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He dreamed of voyaging to the South Pacific. Over the next decade, when he was not running rivers, he worked as an able-bodied seaman aboard transport ships traveling the "Great Circle Route". He kept a daily sea journal, recording details of shipboard life, storms at sea, near disasters, drunken sailors, mutinies, scenic beauty, and ports-of-call. While the older sailors caroused, Burg, a non-drinker, read the Encyclopedia Britannica which he had purchased while in port in Seattle, Washington. During this "shipping out" period, he decided to return to school at the Oregon Institute of technology and eventually earned his high school diploma.