DAVID G. SELLARS ON THE WATERFRONT: Couple's boat home getting once-over in Port Angeles
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The 70-foot catamaran Wave Walker sits in the slings at Platypus Marine Inc. in Port Angeles. -- Photo by David G. Sellars/for Peninsula Daily News
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Another view of the Wave Walker when she was in the water at Port Angeles Boat Haven.
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Capt. Bill Larson
The carrier John C. Stennis passes by Port Angeles en route out the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific.
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
The 2B-02, which once carried legendary Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, is now a lifeboat and is shown in Port Angeles before she went to the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend.

By David G. Sellars
PDN Maritime Columnist

I sat down last week with Raymond Walker whose boat, Wave Walker, has been stowed in the Commander Building at Platypus Marine Inc. in Port Angeles since early July.

The 70-foot-long catamaran has been a few years in the building process and will be on the hard for the next few months while personnel at Platypus and Raymond make some modifications to the original design, complete the finish carpentry and install additional electronic gear.

Wave Walker hails from Newark, Ohio, as does Raymond. It was there that he grew up on the family farm.

His youthful endeavors included fishing, and it was while pursuing this pastime that he developed a fascination for the “stuff that grows in the water.”

He graduated from Marietta College in the early 1980s with a degree in petroleum engineering and spent five years in Santa Maria, Calif., working for Union Oil.

Raymond was then transferred by the company to Alaska, where he worked in Kenai and Anchorage.

By the summer of 1993, he had married Cathy, an Ohioan with a degree in biology from Bowling Green State University who shared his interest in all things below the water's surface, and he also received his last career posting — to Bangkok, Thailand.

As Raymond pursued his career in Bangkok, Cathy taught at the Ruamrudee International School.

Vacations for them were an opportunity to go on diving trips to the Red Sea, Indonesia and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Eventually, Cathy started a dive club at the school. What began as a weekend outing for a handful of students and ­chaperones quickly grew to enthusiastic groups of 50 or more children and adults who, for a dozen years, participated in live-aboard diving and exploration excursions in the waters of southeast Asia.

Through their experiences with the dive club and their time aboard the various boats, Raymond and Cathy decided that they wanted to live aboard a vessel of their own.

Raymond said that Wave Walker is designed to be their home for many years to come.

She has a master suite and a guest suite, a fitness room, crew quarters and lots of storage. She is powered by twin Cummins QSB 5.9 diesel engines, and also has twin gen-sets.

The Walkers hope to be homeward bound in the spring, and heading south to Mexican waters, and catching the weather window through the South Pacific into Southeast Asia to Bangkok.

Neither currently has the requisite experience to pilot the boat in open seas, and the couple will hire an experienced crew to take their home . . . home.

However, there will come a time — very soon, I suspect — that Raymond and Cathy will feel very comfortable aboard their boat, guiding themselves throughout Southeast Asia and exploring “stuff that grows in the water.”

Visiting lifeboat

The Canadian vessel Steveston Lifeboat 2B-02 was moored to a float at Port Angeles City Pier last Tuesday.

She is a 53-foot wooden vessel operated by the Canadian Lifeboat Institution, a volunteer organization that gives education programs that promote safe boat practices and provides equipment and personnel for search-and-rescue efforts.

The boat is permanently stationed at the fishing port of Steveston, about 10 miles south of Vancouver, B.C., on the Fraser River.

She was built by the U.S. Navy in Pearl Harbor in 1944 and was the admiral's barge for Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz during his tenure in Hawaii.

The next few decades are a bit hazy until John Horton, a former Royal Navy man and artist from England, purchased her in 1988, naming her Artist's Life.

In 1994, Horton joined the Canadian Lifeboat Institution, and in 2002, the boat received her current name.

The lifeboat can be viewed this weekend at the 36th annual Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, and her captain continues to be Horton, who uses the boat as a research vessel in furtherance of his marine art when she is not in use by the Canadian Lifeboat Institution.

Passing by

One of the treats of living on the North Olympic Peninsula's northern coast is seeing ships transiting the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Capt. Bill Larson, the former full-time master aboard the tall ship Lady Washington who also spent two years as one of the captains on the Port Townsend-based educational schooner Adventuress, sent me an email showing the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis passing by Port Angeles (see gallery).

Capt. Bill's grandson is a petty officer aboard the recently deployed carrier.

Bill said that he was able to stand on his porch and watch the ship head west for the open seas on her way to San Diego to pick up her air wing.

Large yacht

Early last week, I saw the luxury yacht Luna heading east to Seattle.

Luna, at 377 feet long, is the world's largest expedition yacht (by comparison, the MV Coho ferry is 341 feet).

She was built by Lloyd Werft and Stahlbau Nord Shipyards in Germany for Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire, and was launched in 2010.

My wife and I were on the Bainbridge Island ferry (460 feet long) last Wednesday, and we saw the yacht moored at Pier 91 in Smith's Cove on Elliott Bay.

Luna is one of five yachts that Abramovich owns, and they are often referred to as Abramovich's Navy.

Among his yacht holdings is Eclipse, the largest yacht in the world at 536 feet long. That distinction may be short-lived because a Middle Eastern billionaire is having a 590-foot yacht named Azzam built by German yacht builder Lurssen.

Water over the side

I recently received an unusual number of emails and phone calls questioning why water was draining from hoses that were draped over the side of the crude oil tanker Alaskan Frontier while she was anchored in Port Angeles Harbor.

This topic was discussed a couple of months ago, but we'll give it another go.

Whenever work of any type is to be performed inside a ship's petroleum cargo tanks, the toxic air within those tanks must be replaced with clean, fresh, breathable air.

Because of the potential for a spark to set off an explosion within that environment, electric fans are not an option.

Therefore, a fan was developed that uses the water pressure from the vessel's pressurized fire-suppression system.

Fans are placed where needed, and a water hose — typically a fire hose — is hooked to the inlet side of the fan. Another hose is hooked to the outlet side of the fan, which is then draped over the side of the ship.

When the water is turned on, it runs through the inlet side of the fan, causing it to spin — thus replacing toxic air with that which is fit for human consumption.

The water then exits the fan on the outlet side and is discharged over the side of the ship.

In the case of the Alaskan Frontier, she was undergoing her annual Critical Area Inspection Program (CAIP).

Contractors were inspecting the tanks for cracks using nondestructive inspection methods.

In the older tankers, the cargo tanks are filled with water, and inspectors are put into a boat to inspect the tanks. This process is called rafting the tanks.

In the newer tankers, catwalks are built along the interior perimeter of the cargo tanks, and inspectors can now walk the tanks.

Topside repairs

The SeaRiver Maritime oil tanker Sierra moored to the Port of Port Angeles' Terminal 1 North last week.

According to Chandra “Hollywood” McGoff of Washington Marine Repair, the topside ship-repair company on the waterfront, personnel replaced a handful of valves and performed some welding tasks on various areas of the piping.

The 831-foot crude oil tanker that was known as Kenai when she was operated by the Alaska Tanker Co. left port and was replaced at Terminal 1 North on Saturday by the 869-foot crude oil tanker Kodiak.

In the harbor on Friday, Tesoro Petroleum provided bunkers to Kodiak, also operated by SeaRiver Maritime, which is a subsidiary of Exxon­Mobil.

Tesoro on Saturday refueled British Courage, a 755-foot liquid petroleum gas carrier that is flagged in the United Kingdom.

Today, Tesoro is to bunker Alaskan Legend, the 941-foot ATC sister ship to the Alaskan Frontier, and the Crowley-owned articulated tug and barge Vision.


David G. Sellars is a Port Angeles resident and former Navy boatswain's mate who enjoys boats and strolling the waterfronts.

Items involving boating, port activities and the North Olympic Peninsula waterfronts are always welcome.

Email dgsellars@hotmail.com or phone him at 360-808-3202. His column appears every Sunday.

Last modified: September 08. 2012 6:17PM
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