By David G. Sellars
PDN Maritime Columnist
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She is an 87-foot wooden boat named Fleetwood that has been sitting on the hard for the past five years in the yard at Platypus Marine on Marine Drive.
Stewart’s recent project has been to cut away the vessel’s entire bottom, which was water-damaged, and haul it to the dump.
He will now begin constructing a barge bottom for the boat out of fiberglass and marine plywood.
Fleetwood was built by Martinolich Shipbuilding in San Francisco and launched in 1943.
According to Stewart, she was built as a bait boat to support the tuna fleet during World War II whose catches were being processed and shipped overseas to feed the troops in the European and Pacific theaters.
After the war, she made her way to Alaska.
In 1964, during the tsunami that followed the Great Alaskan Earthquake, she was deposited onto the streets of Kodiak.
She was repaired and refloated, and during the early years of the king crab fisheries was the largest boat in the fleet.
She was in Friday Harbor for a number of years and then taken to moorage at Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle.
It was there that Stewart acquired ownership and used the boat as his shop for more than seven years before coming to Port Angeles.
A quick word about Martinolich Shipbuilding:
The company was started by John Martinolich, a native of Croatia, in the early 1900s in Dockton on Maury Island in Puget Sound, and closed down in 1930, no doubt an early victim of the Great Depression.
In 1935, his two sons restarted the business in Tacoma and also opened facilities in San Francisco and San Diego.
The San Francisco yard operated until its closure in 1949, and the Tacoma facility, which was located on the east side of the Blair Waterway, was shuttered in 1974.
However, a vestige of the company remains in the form of the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., or NASSCO, which acquired Martinolich’s facility in San Diego in the late 1950s.
Since then, NASSCO has been building ships for the U.S. Navy and commercial customers alike.
One of its customers, the Alaska Tanker Co., had NASSCO construct its latest fleet of four tankers that are used to transport BP’s Alaska North Slope crude oil to West Coast refineries.
During any given week, one or more of the company’s ships — Alaskan Legend, Alaskan Frontier, Alaskan Navigator or Alaskan Explorer — is likely to be found at anchor in Port Angeles Harbor taking on bunkers or awaiting a slot at a refinery in Anacortes or Whatcom County.
Platypus Marine last week hauled out Cape Morien, a 61-foot commercial fishing boat that hails from Vancouver, B.C.
Capt. Charlie Crane, Platypus director of sales and marketing, said the aluminum vessel was briefly out of the water to allow for a survey at the request of prospective buyers.
Capt. Charlie added that it is his understanding that the new owners will be taking the Canadian-built vessel to California to be used in the squid fisheries.
Platypus Marine also hauled out a 58-foot Delta named Cape Caution.
According to Capt. Charlie, the commercial fishing boat that hails from Westport will be at Platypus’ facility for about six weeks, during which time personnel will sandblast, prime and paint the bottom.
They also will replace some railings and work on a captain’s list of repair and maintenance projects borne of a season of working in the harsh marine environment.
While I visited Platypus Marine last week, Capt. Charlie took me into the Rubb Building that is housing construction of Adamant, a 58-foot limit seiner.
Work began on the steel boat early last summer, and she is now completely skinned, and the house is in place.
Craftspeople are building rolling chocks, installing the electrical and plumbing, and the all-important galley is being constructed.
It is anticipated that Adamant will leave the Rubb Building next month for the warmer climes of Platypus’ Commander Building, in which the finish work will be completed and the vessel painted.
A waterfront void
Waypoint Electronics, the marine electronics store that has been a fixture at Port Angeles Boat Haven, closed up shop at year’s end.
Hank and Ann David, who had operated the business on Boathaven Drive next to Fisherman’s Wharf Cafe for the past seven years, have retired.
I understand their plans for the immediate future include a fifth-wheel travel trailer and a road atlas of the United States, Canada and Mexico.
As to the void created by Waypoint’s departure, Boat Haven Marine hopes to open in the same location by mid-month.
Boat Haven Marine, in addition to being a marine electronics store similar to Waypoint, also seeks to become an enterprise that is similar in nature to a co-op.
As an example, Bill Stewie of Pacific Diesel, who has been working on boats for the past 40 years from Neah Bay to Port Townsend, will operate out of the new business, as will Chuck “Doc” Beaudette, who by day is the general manager of OlyPen Internet Service in Sequim but will otherwise apply his expertise in the repair and installation of electronic gear.
Ron Shepherd, who serves up breakfast and lunch at the Fisherman’s Wharf Cafe, is familiar with the concept and said the ultimate goal of the new business is to be a conduit for goods and services to the area’s marine trade in an attempt to keep the work within the local community.
The Last Frontier
Wooden Boat Wednesday at Port Townsend’s Northwest Maritime Center and Wooden Boat Foundation begins the new year this Wednesday with a presentation by retired Coast Guard Capt. Jeffrey Hartman.
He is a 30-year veteran of the Coast Guard who served four tours of duty as a helicopter pilot in Alaska and saved more than 100 lives.
In addition to flying off Coast Guard icebreakers on rescue and law enforcement missions, he also managed the search and rescue program in Alaskan waters.
Hartman recounts his experiences in a book that he penned, Guarding Alaska: A Memoir of Coast Guard Missions on the Last Frontier.
On Wednesday, he will share with those attending his presentation the challenges and dangers the Coast Guard faces in carrying out its missions protecting the inhabitants of Alaska, its environment and maritime infrastructure.
Hartman also will tell some personal stories of his more notable rescues — including that of a reindeer.
Alaska has the worst weather, the most earthquakes, some of the most dangerous occupations and the most coastline in the United States.
It’s a virtual certainty that Hartman’s presentation will appeal to just about anyone with an interest in the maritime.
Wooden Boat Wednesday is a free event that begins promptly at noon and typically lasts for 90 minutes.
Seating is limited and requires advance registration by phoning the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St., Port Townsend, at 360-385-3628, ext. 101.
Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PA Harbor filler-up
Tesoro Petroleum on Wednesday provided bunkers in Port Angeles Harbor to British Holly, a 787-foot crude-oil tanker that is flagged in the United Kingdom.
She is now doing 18 knots on her way to the oil port in Puerto Armuelles, Panama, where she is due Jan. 16.
On Friday, Tesoro bunkered Coral Gem, a 623-foot bulk cargo ship that made her way to Port Angeles from Kobe, Japan.
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.
E-mail email@example.com or phone him at 360-808-3202.
His column, On the Waterfront, appears Sundays.