Deck Beams and Blocking

90% of the deck beams are in place, and most of the blocking in between them. The deck is starting to take shape…



In the lower picture you can see that the handrails have been beefed up by adding an 18″ corner extension. Aft of this section will be the hayrack and gurdies, so the handrail can act as a safety stop to keep someone from falling on to the troll wire. The handrail is also used to get on and off the boat and needed to be reinforced at that location. The handrails at the stern were removed and a recessed “troll pit” will be cut into the rear deck of the boat. This lowers the fisherman closer to the water, and the handrails would be in the way of lifting a heavy fish onto the boat. When you get a big halibut it can be a real struggle, sometimes you have to wait for the right wave to pitch the boat and ‘float’ the fish onto the deck.

So the back deck looks different with the handrails removed.


The next big task will be to step the mast, which by the looks of it can step directly to the keel. Then on goes the decking, the fiberglass, and it’s off to the races…

I can almost see the mast and poles and fishing gear already aboard…


This week I also mounted the 42 gallon day tank on the cabin roof. I wanted to avoid doing this for aesthetic reasons, but it won’t look so bad once the mast and poles are up and the life raft is up there too. Gravity-feeding the stove is a pretty fool-proof solution, and I can set up the transfer pump to fill the tank.

But most importantly the stove is working again, which makes for a happy boat and crew.



Lost Trollers

One sleepless night I sat and made a list of all the boats that I fished around that would never go to sea again, or were lost at sea. Most wooden salmon trollers now fishing were built in the 1930’s and 40’s if USA built. The little Ruby that was a fixture on Dock 7 for years was built in 1919. And without constant maintenance and upgrades they eventually fall into disrepair. Others are victims of tough bar crossings, collisions at sea, or nautical weather.

I think I first came to Newport under the bridge in 2002, when I was fishing out of Ilwaco. It’s a bit sobering to read through this litany of boats lost in the intervening 16 seasons. I’m sure there are some I have forgotten. When I first had a boat tied up in Newport, it was dodgy if you could get a slip, visiting boats had to raft up on the outside float. Now there are as many empty slips as full ones on that same dock. How many will be left 16 more seasons into the future?

From my list there’s a few pictures:


Sea Princess cat jasper

The Seamaid was for years in Astoria. She was renamed the Sea Princess and suffered and explosion and sank in 2013. In the bottom picture you can see Jasper the cat sitting on the bow. The Daily Mail had an article about the ship’s cat, here:

The King (formerly West Wind) sank off the Oregon Coast on a flat calm summer day in the early 2000’s. I had made a halibut trip on her weeks before, and every time she went into a wave you could see a stream of water running through the bilge. All aboard were rescued.

The Clara B II was drifting off the California coast one night when she was hit by a another vessel, resulting in her sinking. The skipper had a kayak onboard and floated awaiting rescue. Luckily it was calm that night.

The Sea Star sank off Newport in 2011. The 3 crew aboard were rescued from their life raft.


The Havana was a grand old schooner. She burned and sank off Cannon Beach in 2012. All 3 crew were rescued.

The Sea Pup perished on the North Jetty in 2015. Her crew survived.


The Blazer rolled over and sank with a deck load of crab pots in 2014. The crew were rescued.


The Sound Leader sank on the run back to port in 2012. 3 crew were rescued, one was lost at sea.


The Chevelle ran up the coast from California and was within sight of Newport when she slammed into the north jetty after large swells met her at the bar. Everyone made it off but the boat was pounded into several pieces by the swells. March of 2012.


The Thor fished out of Newport for many years. She eventually fell into disrepair, was anchored and abandoned at the head of Yaquina Bay. There she sank in 2014.


The Double Eagle was a 56′ tuna troller which capsized on the Tillamook bar in October 2010. The whole thing was caught on some amazing video, and both crew were saved by the Coast Guard. I used to share a slip with her in Ilwaco, and she was as tall as a 2-story house. When the wave stands up behind her in the video she looks tiny, 15 foot swells and then one stands up to 30 feet and breaks right over them. Scary. The picture shows where she ended up, just south of the south jetty.

helen mccoll

The Helen McColl, seen here in an old photo in Maine, was originally a sardine carrier. She was a beautiful old girl who sank in November 2009 at 99 years old.

helen mccoll final voyage

When she sank they left her on the bottom for 4 months, and it was a grim February day when they lifted her and brought her ashore to meet the breakers.


The Surprise sank at the dock, was later refloated and towed to the shipyard in Toledo, where sadly she was broken up.

linron carcass

The Linron was the first troller I owned myself. I fished her for a few years then sold her up on the Columbia River. Years later I came across her being broken up at the shipyard in Astoria. Very sad.

The Dare was a small wood troller with an aluminum house, I think she was disposed of by the port.

The Saturn was a troller disposed of by the port.

The Saga Wind was a troller disposed of by the port.

The Silk Purse was taken up river and “Disappeared” one night.

The Atka was a troller that ended up getting a bad prognosis by the shipwright, so she was scrapped because the needed woodwork would have cost more than the vessel was worth.

The Sunwest, the Main, and Ample all went to Charleston and are awaiting disposal by the port.

The Dixie Lee tried to sink at the docks in Warrenton and I think was disposed of by the port.

The Don Mory was lost somewhere between here and Kodiak. Her skipper had fallen off her shortly after crossing the bar, but the autopilot kept her driving to sea. She passed, unmanned, through the offshore tuna fleet, and kept going until her fuel tanks gave out. Weeks later her emergency beacon activated far away from Newport. By then the skipper’s body had been found.

The Cathan drove ashore and was wrecked on the south jetty. Her captain had been crabbing alone and had fallen overboard. In what is regarded locally as a miracle, he was found alive two hours later by the Coast Guard. He stuffer crab bouys into his shirt to float. A few years later I attended a drill instructor course, and when the time had come to jump in the bay and swim to the life raft, he was my partner. It was his first time in the water since that legendary incident. It took some serious courage to jump off that dock and face those demons.

The Tillimac was driven by a fella called Tillimike. One day we were all out trolling the jobsite when a huge lump started rolling in. The forecast called for increasing dangerous swell, so most people headed in but some waited for the tide. The swells grew to 20 feet at high tide, and one broke over the Tillimac. Old Mike popped up to the surface of the water with the wooden wheel still in his hands, but the boat was gone. Witnesses said when the wave hit the boat exploded and disappeared in an instant.

The Norge was hauled out for repairs and ended up getting scrapped.

The Surf was a tiny troller, only about 9 feet wide, but it had a pot-bellied oil stove inside that I have never been able to forget. It was swamped by the wake of a dragger coming down river, and foundered in the Yaquina.

The Mop Squeezer was a tiny troller that legend had it was the retirement boat of a school janitor. She was disposed of by the port.

I know there’s some boats missing, I will add to the list when my brain starts firing again.





Finding the rot and beginning the rebuild


In October the painful work of tearing into the aft cabin began. We knew the three cabin sides were in poor shape, but fresh water had done its ugly work on some of the structure and overhead. So two days were spent slowly pulling the aft cabin completely off. In many cases dozens of screws had to be uncovered, cleaned, and removed by hand. Almost every screw in the boat was silica-bronze. The craftsmanship displayed when these boats were built is impressive. The trim pieces were removed and stored for later use, both because teak is as expensive as gold and I want the conversion to match the look of the rest of the boat.

Eventually the saws came out and wood started moving…

I framed in and shortened a repurposed door where the stairway to the former aft cabin was. The shower head will be moved and turned into a hot/cold water hose for the back deck. Then began the work of beginning to frame the new back deck space. That big pile of wood in the shop had to be trucked north and carried down the dock. I tried to match the frame size of the original construction, beefing it up as needed to carry the weight of commercial fishing operations.


Above you can see the first few deck beams going across, a mix of 5/4×5 golden balau and 2×4 tigerwood. The new section of deck is 10′ 10′ with a roughly 4×4 hatch combing in the center to access the fish hold. Soon the corner uprights for the hatch combing make the layout visible.


Luckily the rot confined itself to the plywood where the house met the deck. Every piece being added to the boat is treated in the end grain and all non-visible surfaces with 3-way mix of pine tar, turpentine, and linseed oil. Next week the work will be cutting out all the blocking pieces to place in between the deck beams, slow and time consuming work. But it is starting to take shape…