Virginia V

Posted on by abby inpanbutr

The Virginia V is a stately matron of the Sound.  She ferried passengers from Seattle to Tacoma for many years, beginning in 1922.  At that time it was much more difficult to travel between the two cities, the most practical way was often via one of many small craft that made up the 'Mosquito Fleet'.

Virginia is the last steam-powered member of the Puget Sound's Mosquito Fleet, and is currently undergoing restoration at Pacific Fishermen's in Ballard.  Although difficult to take in because she nearly fills the canvas structure, it is a rare chance to see the whole of a fine ship.  Even her bones are visible, temporarily.  Seeing the work in progress reinforces the value of boatbuilding craft and tradition; it brings that kind of joy that comes from witnessing good true work.

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happy birthday, Vansee

Posted on by abby inpanbutr

Today I spent some time with a boat that will turn 100 next week.  Not a slight accomplishment, especially when this boat spends several months of the year braving the Alaskan waters to fish for halibut.  The vessel, the Vansee, is one of Seattle's historic wooden halibut fleet, built here and still in service.

The halibut schooners are hauled out every winter and early sprint for repair, re-caulking and repainting.  They are gallant, with a distinctive form where the cab is situated to the stern, opposite from most fishing vessels.  A beautiful and distinctive characteristic is the ironwood planking near the front of the bow to one side, which guards the hull from the anchor when it is pulled in or let out.  The iron wood is varnished instead of painted, and becomes a graphic element standing out from the white body.

Perhaps because of their endurance, their forthright and lovely shape, and their roots to this place, the halibut fleet exemplifies Seattle's commercial fishing heritage.