DAVID G. SELLARS ON THE WATERFRONT: Boat that once carried Fleet Adm. Nimitz visits Port Angeles, Port Townsend
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David G. Sellars/for Peninsula Daily News
Steveston Lifeboat 2B-02 is shown at Port Angeles Boat Haven while her skipper, John Horton, and his wife, Mary, clear customs. The boat later headed for Port Townsend.
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David G. Sellars/for Peninsula Daily News
Richmond Lady at the guest float west of the Harbormaster's Office.
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The state DNR boat, Dawn Breaker, hangs in the slings of the boat yard's 70-ton Travelift as Lisa Britton power-washes the bottom prior to applying a coat of paint.
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David G. Sellars/for Peninsula Daily News
The unfinished Powercat sits in Platypus Marine's yard.
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Magic, the 44-foot former Coast Guard boat that towed the Powercat from Astoria, Ore., to Port Angeles.
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David G. Sellars/for Peninsula Daily News
Valhalla hangs in the slings of Platypus Marine's Travelift.
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David G. Sellars/for Peninsula Daily News
The Ranger 33 sailboat sitting on the hard at the Port Angeles Boat Yard.

By David G. Sellars
PDN Maritime Columnist

THE WINGS OF Freedom vintage planes from World War II arrive on the North Olympic Peninsula this Monday morning (click on the story on the homepage).

But another piece of World War II history, during which she served a noted American war hero, floated in last weekend and tied up at Port Angeles Boat Haven before moving on to Port Townsend.

Steveston Lifeboat 2B-02 is a 53-foot wooden vessel operated by the Canadian Lifeboat Institution, a volunteer organization that provides educational programs to promote safe boating practices as well as provide equipment and personnel for search-and rescue efforts.

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

But her birthright is in the United States.

She was built by the U.S. Navy in Pearl Harbor in 1944 and saw duty aboard the aircraft carriers USS Midway and USS Saratoga, most notably serving as the admiral’s barge — that’s what they call the flag officer’s motorboat — for Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz during his tenure in Hawaii.

The boat’s history for the next few decades is a bit fuzzy, until John Horton 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.

John served in the Royal Navy during World War II, after which he developed a career as an architectural artist.

In 1966, the Horton family emigrated from Britain to Canada, where he continued his vocation while pursing his passion as a marine artist.

John is one of Canada’s most recognized marine artists who is best known for his historical paintings of maritime vessels, coastal seascapes and past and present naval actions by various naval forces.

He also went to the Arabian Gulf with the Canadian Navy to serve as a naval war artist where he said he “chased al-Qaida with a paintbrush.”

John’s successful painting career has allowed him to support a number of charities, including the Canadian Lifeboat Institution.

He explained to me that there are only three nations that support national rescue services: the United States, Canada and China.

All of the other major rescue organizations worldwide are volunteer services that are modeled after the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, or RNLI, which was founded in Great Britain in 1824.

Steveston Lifeboat 2B-02 soon will be joined on the Fraser River by a 47-foot Tyne-class lifeboat that was recently acquired from RNLI and named Fraser Lifeboat 1A-04.

According to John, the lifeboats work extensively with the commercial fishing fleet by guiding ships and tugs with their tows through the fishing grounds and helping them to navigate the nets that upwards of 400 boats will have in the water.

John and his wife, Mary — who is also his first mate on the 2B-02 — spent Sunday night at Boat Haven.

On Monday morning, they cleared customs and made their way to Port Townsend, where they will spend the next couple of weeks researching locales that John may want to memorialize in future paintings.

Another Powercat

Earlier this week, Platypus Marine, the full-service shipyard, yacht-repair facility and steel-boat manufacturer on Marine Drive in Port Angeles, added a fourth Powercat to its project inventory.

Coastal Towing & Salvage of Ilwaco used Magic, a 44-foot former Coast Guard boat, to tow the 65-foot vessel from Astoria, Ore., to Port Angeles, where she is now sitting on the hard.

The Powercats are unfinished projects of Pacific Expedition Yachts of Astoria.

My attempts to contact the company for comment went for naught because the phone number listed on their website has been assigned to another enterprise wholly unrelated to the maritime industry.

On Tuesday, Platypus had Richmond Lady hanging in the slings of its 330-ton Travelift at the haul-out dock well into the early evening.

She is a 150-foot composite yacht that was built by Richmond Yachts of Richmond, B.C., and launched May 17.

The new yacht was on her way to Mexico when she developed a leak at one of the rudder posts.

Personnel at Platypus were able to make repairs while she was suspended from the Travelift.

Platypus also hauled out Valhalla and placed her on the hard.

The 45-foot Navigator 4400 has developed an as-yet-undiagnosed running gear issue that Platypus’ mechanical department will work to identify and resolve.

Boatyard activity

Over in the Port Angeles Boat Yard, Dawn Breaker is sitting on the hard.

She is a 42-foot aluminum boat that is owned by the state Department of Natural Resources and used to monitor compliance and harvesting issues in the state’s geoduck tracts.

Lisa Britton, one of the tradespeople who work in the boat yard, power-washed the bottom and soon will be applying a fresh coat of paint.

I also understand that the props have been sent out for tuning.

There is also a Ranger 33 — recently delivered by truck from San Francisco — sitting on the hard in the boatyard.

The sailboat is owned by Sidney, B.C., native Edward Norton.

Ed said when he bought the boat four years ago, he spent “one blissful year sailing in San Francisco Bay oblivious to all the repairs that she needed.”

For the past three years, he has been rebuilding what he refers to as his “addiction,” starting with replacing the transmission with a set of discount socket wrenches.

He has since learned the vagaries of painting a vessel in the open-air marine environment, and he has sanded and varnished all of the wood and replaced all of the windows.

Along the way, he married a lady from China.

During a trip to China to “meet the parents,” they took with them a couple of suitcases stuffed with the boat’s Naugahyde upholstery.

When they arrived in Beijing, the suitcases were delivered to a merchant in the textile district who used the contents as a pattern for a new set of leather upholstery.

They also went to the silk district and purchased material for pillows.

Ed said they made the traditional trip to China and came home with bronze, silk and spices.

Ed said he is glad to be back in the Pacific Northwest. He left Sidney in 1998 and said that he is homesick and anxious to return to Vancouver Island.

Ed expects to have his boat back in the water sometime this week and will set sail for Victoria’s Inner Harbour, where he has a berth waiting for him that he’ll then call home.

Harbor watch

Tesoro Petroleum on Monday bunkered Kriti Ruby, a 597-foot Grecian-flagged petroleum-products tanker.

Later in the day, Tesoro provided bunkers to NCC Reem, which is also a 597-foot petroleum-products tanker.

The Panamanian-flagged vessel got under way soon after refueling and is due in Long Beach, Calif., at 6 this morning.

________

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

Items and questions 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, On the Waterfront, appears every Sunday.

Last modified: June 15. 2013 6:08PM
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