By David G. Sellars
PDN Maritime Columnist
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For a decade or more before Westport began building composite luxury yachts, the backbone of its business was the construction of commercial vessels, most of which were boats for the fishing industry as well as a handful of charter boats.
I spotted Eric Bert on Thursday working aboard one such vessel, Wind Song, that is stowed in the boat shed at the Port Angeles Boat Haven.
The boat, which is owned by Dan Green, hails from Neah Bay and is outfitted to take up to a dozen guests salmon- and halibut-fishing in the cool, clear waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Sounds like a beer commercial.
Eric said Wind Song will be on the hard for about a month while he makes repairs to the aft fishing deck and the starboard side of the house.
He explained to me that the hull of this boat — and indeed, all of Westport’s commercial boats — started with a production fiberglass hull.
The houses for each boat were made of wood and covered with sheets of prefabricated fiberglass that were approximately 1/16th of an inch thick, which is conceptually similar to Formica that is used for countertops.
Eric said that over the years, the fiberglass sheeting on the starboard portion of the house came away from the wood sub-structure just ever so slightly, causing some moisture issues.
He needs to rebuild the damaged portion of the house before sealing it with a layer of fiberglass that will be impregnated with an epoxy-based resin.
The fiberglass overlay on the rear deck of the boat, where hopeful anglers congregate, had to be removed from the transom to the rear of the house.
Eric told me that when Wind Song was built, the deck was covered with a polyester resin over fiberglass. At the time, this technology was state of the art.
However, as the years went by, the product became brittle and delaminated, which caused moisture to percolate through the deck into the bilge below.
Eric said once Lisa Britton removed the overlay on the decking, he had Tommy Price, a waterfront denizen with a wealth of boating knowledge and a willingness to lend a hand in any situation, bail out the bilges that contained nearly 500 gallons of water.
Now that the problem areas of Wind Song have been exposed, Eric will allow a couple of weeks for the charter boat to completely dry out before making the necessary repairs.
Once the deck has a new overlay of fiberglass coated with an epoxy resin, he will also build a fish cleaning station, some additional seating and a topside head.
Whenever I speak with Eric, it’s almost as if I’m taking a class from him.
He has an infectious enthusiasm for whatever task is at hand, is quick to point out quality boat-building techniques employed by those who came before him and appreciates the history of boats, especially as it pertains to the Pacific Northwest.
For the past five years he has operated Modern Yacht Joinery (modern yachtjoinery.com) at the Port Angeles Boat Yard.
His expertise ranges from fine custom joinery to traditional structural woodworking and modern composite construction techniques, which he gained his expertise in while working for Westport Shipyard during the mid- to late 1990s.
Squadron to meet
The North Olympic Sail and Power Squadron will hold its monthly meeting on Monday at the Cedars at Dungeness Golf Club, 1965 Woodcock Road, northwest of Sequim.
All those interested in boating are welcome.
The squadron is part of a national nonprofit educational organization that was founded in 1914 and has more than 45,000 members in 450 squadrons nationwide.
It provides instruction on numerous topics of boat ownership and operation, including seamanship, piloting, celestial navigation, plotting and position-finding, engine maintenance and sailing.
The social hour will begin at 5 p.m., and dinner will be served at 6 p.m.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m., when Jim Maupin, a marine surveyor from Port Townsend who specializes in surveys of pleasure craft of fewer than 60 feet in length, will address those gathered about the myriad issues he looks for when asked to perform a boat survey for an owner, a prospective owner or for insurance purposes.
Dinner is $19 per person but it is not necessary to purchase dinner tickets to attend the meeting.
However, reservations are required and can be made by calling Sandy Thomas at 360-683-8801.
Boat Haven visitors
On Friday afternoon, Golden Boy II moored to the fuel dock in the Port Angeles Boat Haven for a load of fuel.
She is a 115-foot yacht that was built by Sovereign Yachts in Richmond, B.C., in 1998.
Golden Boy II can comfortably accommodate 10 guests in five double cabins, including an on-deck master suite.
The yacht has some visual characteristics similar to a Westport yacht, which is to be expected: She was designed by Jack Sarin, the hull designer on the Westport 112 and 98.
If the rising stock market has some of you thinking of a luxury yacht, Golden Boy II is available for the very reasonable price of $4.495 million.
The yacht Zenith was also in the Boat Haven on Friday afternoon.
The 133-foot catamaran came from Victoria to clear customs.
The power cat was launched last year by her builder, Sabre Catamarans of Spearwood, Australia.
It’s a bit unusual to see a power catamaran of this size, yet I understand she has nearly 5,000 horsepower pushing her through the water at a comfortable cruise of 25 knots.
Port Angeles Harbor watch
Race Point I, a Canadian tug, towed a log boom from southern Vancouver Island into the western portion of Port Angeles Harbor on Thursday.
In the near future, the logs will be taken out of the water and transported to Port Angeles Hardwood, where they will be processed into furniture-grade lumber and be available for shipment to any number of the mill’s worldwide clients.
Later Thursday, the 62-foot tug headed off to Vancouver Island for the 24-hour journey to Ladysmith.
On Monday, Tesoro Petroleum refueled Aqua Pride, a 653-foot Liberian-flagged bulk cargo ship.
She left Port Angeles on Tuesday afternoon and is due in Subic Bay, Philippines, at noon March 29.
On Wednesday, Tesoro bunkered Sierra, an 831-foot crude-oil tanker, formerly named Kenai, that is now under way for San Francisco.
On Thursday, Tesoro had its refueling barge alongside Overseas Andromar, a 597-foot-long petroleum-products carrier with a 105-foot beam.
Tesoro provided bunkers to Songa Winds, a 472-foot petroleum-products carrier that came to Port Angeles from Shanghai.
And Saturday, Tesoro bunkered Ocean Reef, a 623-foot bulk cargo carrier that arrived from Busan, South Korea.
David G. Sellars is a Port Angeles resident and former Navy boatswain’s mate who enjoys boats and strolling the waterfront.
Items involving boating, port activities and the North Olympic Peninsula waterfronts are always welcome.
Email email@example.com or phone him at 360-808-3202.
His column, On the Waterfront, appears Sundays.