Wooden Fishing Boats in Alaska. Craig, Prince of Wales Island. July 26, 2013
31 July 2013 | posted at Metlakatla, Alaska
Photo: The wooden salmon troller Dixie II tied up at Craig's North Harbor.
We were walking down the dock at Craig's North Harbor when a small white salmon troller caught my attention. It's freshly painted hull gleamed in the sunshine, its varnished trim offering a pleasing contrast. Two youngish men were washing the hull.
"What a beautiful boat!" I said.
"We're washing it just so you can admire it," joked one of the men.
"How old is it?"
"1927. There's a plaque on the cabin, I'll show you."
We climbed on board to see the plaque which read, "Built at Lake Washington, Houghton, Washington. 1927." I'd never heard of a town called Houghton, but Steve thought it might have been near Kirkland.
Dixie II is a working troller with a small wheelhouse with room for one seat and one person standing. The small galley is below in the fo'c'sle with a diesel stove and two bunks. The engine is located under the steering station and a fish hold in the stern. The owner and one crew fish it.
After seeing the Dixie II, I looked around the North Harbor and realized it's not the only wooden troller. There's the green-hulled Thomasina, the grey-hulled Angie Lee and the larger white-hulled Alliance. And we'd seen others out fishing.
Trollers aren't the only wooden fishing boats in SE Alaska. In Baranof Warm Springs we had seen the wooden seiner Intrepid. Although newer seiners towered over it, Intrepid's crew took obvious pride in its appearance and maintenance. And they obviously appreciate old designs. They wanted to know all about Osprey.
"It's too bad more people don't appreciate these old boats," said the owner of Dixie II. Obviously, quite a few still do.