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and the extent of our care of them marks the
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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

30 March 2013

Made In China ❖❖ ❖❖ ❖❖ by Skip Bold

"I remember as a child in the early 50s the description 'Made in Japan' was sort of a label of inferiority, with the notable exception of Minolta cameras and other fine optical gear. There was a lot of consumer grade product from Japan that just did not last well. That all began to change with Sony transistor radios and Honda motorcycles; by the 1970s 'Made in Japan' had become a label of superiority.
      Today it's China with lots of consumer grade product that doesn't last. Toasters that might go a year, radios that wouldn't go that long, and an out-of-order product that no one will even try to fix. The USA needs to start producing again, and not just hamburgers and computer geeks.
      This isn't a story about international trade though--it's really about a boat.
Photo copy submitted by Skip Bold.
Photo by Ned Johnson.

      In 1996, or thereabouts, I bought a lovely 28' Columbia River bow picker built by Columbia River Packers Association (CRPA) in 1943, named ARV.  These charming vessels evolved as a power version of the famous Columbia River boats which were sprit rigged, sailing, double-ended gillnetters.
      The Columbia River bow picker was a study of evolution and form follows function. The conditions on the Columbia River bar dictated how people fished and thus how the boats were shaped. Hull-form wise, they were quite a bit like a Maine lobster boat. High flared bow, strait stem, strong sheerline, fairly broad, flat run aft, and with low freeboard at the shapely tumble home transom. They were round bilge displacement boats but because of their after plane and buttock shape they could be over driven and would semi plane. Mine would raise her bow and go 14 knots with no load with her 200-HP V-8 @ 3400-3600 RPM. I typically ran it at 2600 and got 7-knots.
      During the salmon season, June-Sept on a decent day the inland areas of Southern WA and Northern OR  would heat up, the air would rise, and by late afternoon the cool sea breeze would be rushing up the Columbia River. This thermally induced westerly, of course, would oppose the out going current over the Columbia River bar at the river's mouth. This created a nasty steep sea, and if you wanted to gillnet here you needed to pick your net from a high bow. The net was kept in the open hold just forward of the house, and set off the low freeboard stern.
Photo by Ned Johnson 
The forward face of the house was round so that nothing would hang up as you powered into the sea with your net running out along side the house and over the transom. There must have been hundreds of these built, the first being about 1905. It would have been a sailing double ender that someone powered, sawed off the stern, and planked on a transom--they evolved from there.
      I bought the boat from a competent guy named Ned who had used her to commute between Anacortes and his summer home on Stuart Is. His wife thought that ARV lacked in creature comforts, and as there was nowhere to sit comfortably, much less recline, she was probably right. Ned ended up with something modern and faster.
      Ned had an Uncle named Arv, a taciturn Norwegian who had worked for CRPA for many years. He over-saw the maintenance and ultimate disposal of their bow picker fleet. Ned asked Uncle Arv to keep an eye out for a good one to restore. ARV was selected and Uncle Arv did much of the work.
      When I got her she needed a new shaft, prop, sternbearing, and some work on the stern post.
      What's this got to do with the Chinese you might ask? Well, clearly I'm getting to that point.
      ARV was hauled out at Cap Sante South in February. I spent several days working on her in Anacortes and returning to Shaw each night. By Thursday I had a launch scheduled for 1600 hours, and planned to run her to Cap Sante Marina that night. The trouble was, it had started to blow NE and the temperature was falling rapidly. By the time the travel lift was lowering her into the water the salt spray was freezing on the float. The wind was still only in the 20s, but there was no sun and it was nearly dark.
Launching day, Cap Sante South, Anacortes, WA.
Photo provided by boat owner, Skip Bo


I had a young yard man on the float with me, to help with the lines. The lines were arranged on deck so they could be easily snagged with a boat hook as the boat moved aft out of the slings. The problem was the wind blew the stern just out of my helpers reach. I quickly suggested that I put my hands in the back pockets of his Cap Sante coveralls so that he could lean out more. This worked like a charm, he hooked the line, dragged it off the stern and I pulled him back almost vertical--when his back pockets--completely tore off in my hands!! Yard man completely disappeared under water!! In the interim I stuffed the pockets in my coat, grabbed the floating boat hook and stern line, and as yard man's head broke the surface I dragged him out by the shoulders.
      The day was over for yard man. I gave him $20 and told him to take the rest of the day off, but above all to get out of the wind. He beat a hasty retreat.
      I guess I had been thinking of the pockets on my Levis that you couldn't have yarded off with a steam donkey! Much later I pulled one of yard man's pockets from my coat, neatly sewn in one corner was a label--
'Made in China'."
Above text by Skip Bold, March 2013
For the Saltwater People Historical Society.
ARV is Skip's second log entry for the S. P. H. S. The first can be viewed here

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