SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Alaskan tug & packer built in 1919
By Richard Varlay


August 16, 2006

My brother and I owned a 102 foot Alaskan tug and packer built in 1919 at the Fairhaven Boat Yard in Bellingham, WA formaly the Minihaha. Three inch Doug fir planking, ironbark at the waterline. We knew nothing about fishing but could not pass up owning this wonderful historical boat tied up at the fisherman's dock in Anacortes, WA with a for sale sign on it. We purchased it for a whopping $16,000.00 from Bill Lowman, a Salmon fisherman who owned a little boat called the Zig Zag.

Bill said we would be perfectly safe in this solid craft and took us out several times on the boat instructing us in the operation of the Washington Iron Works direct reversable engine (which had to be hand oiled on the hour), the ancient Atlas make and break anchor windlass and elderly Fairbanks auxillary combination generator, bilge pump and air compressor.

We had heard that "Tuna Fishing" was the least expensive way to make a living on a good seaworthy off shore boat such as ours and took her down to Astoria, Oregon where the rumor was that the Bumbellbee Tuna Co. would fill you up with fuel and ice if you promissed to sell them the catch. This turned out to be true and that's just what we did for five years learning the hard way. She got us over the Columbia River Bar and Coos Bay's roller coaster in one piece many time over.

Richard Varlay
Port Orchard, WA - USA

PS If anyone knows where you could purchase a Halibut Schooner please let us know , we want to downsize!


About: I used to own and was the last to work the Minihaha an Alaskan tug & packer built in 1919 at the Fairhaven Boat Yard in Bellingham , WA. She was used by the Navy during WWII in the Alutian Islands as a patrol boat. She had a Washington Ironworks six cylinder Estep, direct reversable engine. I and my brother fished Albacore in the summer out of Astoria, Ore. and dragged off Big Sur, Ca. for cod & snapper in the winter. We kept the boat for five years and lived aboard all that time.



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Ketchikan, Alaska