Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Highliners: Boats of the Century

Highliners: Boats of the Century

I attended a Instructors meeting at the Center For Wooden Boats that Kristin, who directs the Adult Sailing programs, put together for us to go over the Figure 8 Man Over Board Drill. The meeting was shortened after our inside meeting due to rain and no wind on the lake to go out and practice. As I was leaving the CWB I noticed a lot of Wooden vessels docked around the area that I have never seen before so I walked the docks to see what was going on. The first thing I noticed about these nine vessels was that besides being all similar in design they were all in really good condition. A lot of the Wooden vessels coming into the CWB docks of this age are usually under restoration and it shows. Reading the place cards of each vessel exhibited it was clear they were all around 100 years old more or less.

I noticed these boats different from the others on Exhibit throughout the year at the CWB. They were so well maintained and it did not seem like the other vessels that had been preped to allow the general public to board. In fact you were not allowed to board these vessels. I thought someone who really cares about this class of fishing vessels dedicated lots of effort to keeping these boats alive and in such fine condition. 
Then I find out they are still fishing Alaska waters and in just a couple of months they will be back in Alaska!

Several of the vessels are almost identical except for the length.

These vessels are incredibly well maintained considering they are still working fishing boats, the owners obviously have a lot of pride in them.

Zoom in and read these place cards, pretty interesting.

The pilot house stood out on Evening Star

Zoom in on these place cards, they even detsal the highest winds the vessel had endured while fishing, one was 100MPH!
Go here to see some great photos of the vessels Parading from Fishermans Terminal near the Ballard Locks to the MOHI and CWB docks on Lake Union:
Another fine article about the exhibit is at

I continue to be amazed at the number of wooden work boats, fishing, and tugs that still work the PNW waters. The majority of the entire Alaskan fishing fleet moor their boats in the fresh waters of the Washington Lake Channel during the off season at Fisherman's Terminal, Lake Union, and even on Lake Washington. The fresh water protects the wood from the critters living in salt water and Seattle provides all the necessary marine sport industry to maintain and stock these vessels for the work they do. There are plenty of craftsmen here that can repair and restore wooden vessels and they still build a lot of wooden boats but I am sure most of those are for recreational use. The cold water and low sun environment make it much easier to maintain wood, paint, and varnish. All of these boats would have a difficult time in the warm Southern waters of the Gulf of Mexico where an abundance of wood eating sea creatures and harsh UV from old Sol make anyone who owns wooden vessel in that environment desperately hunts a unwitting buyer to offload their mistake. I have more than one sailor tell their story of trying to maintain a wooden vessel on the Gulf coast.
I met a  Puget Sound  sport fishing guide at the CWB during a volunteer orientation training to work in the Boat Shop. His plan is to go to Alaska in 4 months to work as a  guide up there. It evidently pays a lot more and he wants to buy his own Sailing Vessel with the  money he makes during the season. He explained to me about the Alaskan fishing fleet here in Seattle and said that Fisherman's Terminal will become a Hub of activity as the fleet prepares to depart for Alaska for this next fishing season. He said there will be lots of men lined up on the docks hunting jobs aboard the ships and of course the last minute maintenance and provisioning. I plan to hang out down there and take lots of pics so look for that post in May.