All of Bob’s Posts

  1. 9/11/2012  How Pacific Ocean Perch Got its Name
  2. 9/17/2012  Surprise from the Deep
  3. 10/15/2012 1966 and the Soviet fishing fleet appears off the Oregon Coast
  4. 10/31/2012  The Perch Spot and the Fisherman’s Black Book
  5. 12/11/2012 Flight over the Soviet Fleet, 1967
  6. 2/11/2012  A trip to Nanaimo and a last visit with Jergen Westrheim
  7. 12/29/2012  A Welcome to Charles R. Hitz
  8. 1/9/2012 The Russians are Coming Here, 1965
  9. 5/24/2013  Dayton L. Alverson – My Mentor
  10. 6/20/2013 Return to the Oregon coast – April 201
  11. 7/7/2013  Dogfish shark–World War II–My brother Jim
  12. 10/5/2013 Pacific Explorer-The First Trip-South America.”
  13. 11/26/2013 Pacific Explorer and its Four Fishing Vessels
  14. 03/01/2014 Drawing on our History–a Book Review
  15. 05/22/2014 Pacific Explorer–Second Trip–Getting Ready–Part I
  16. 05/28/2014 Pacific Explorer-Second trip-the Bering Sea, Part II.
  17. 06/04/2014 Pacific Explorer–Ed Best Photos
  18. 06/20/2014 Visit R/V John N. Cobb, 2013
  19. 06/27, 2014 Exploratory Fishing
  20. 07/14/2014 R/V Washington–First Exploratory Cruise
  21. 09/01/2014 PACIFIC FISHING PROJECT – Conclusion
  22. 09/20/2014 R/V JOHN N. COBB Visit – August 2014 
  23. 10/11/2014  R/V John N. Cobb–July 1960–Bob’s First Inspection
  24. 10/31, 2014 M/V DEEP SEA – Exploratory Cruise # 2 – June 1947
  25. 11/12/2014 Birth of the COBB – January 1950
  26. 01/16/2015 HALIBUT DRAWING – 1976
  27. 01/30/2015 Tom Dunatov–A Friend
  28. 02/13/2015 The Deep Sea and the Fish and Wildlife Service
  29. 03/9/2015 Fish Flour and Cobb midwater trawl  
  30. 03/17/2015 R/V COMMANDO – College of Fisheries – Puget Sound  
  31. 04/04/2015 R/V COMMANDO-College of Fisheries–Offshore  
  32. 06/03/2015 My First Trip on the Cobb  
  33. 08/11/2015 Setting the Trawl–My First Cobb Trip
  34. 08/28/2015 Western Flyer–Built as a Seiner
  35. 09/21/2015 Western Flyer–2015 Wood Boat Show
  36. 11/12/2015 Western Flyer–Converted to a Trawler
  37. 01/02/2016 Retrieving the Trawl-My first trip on the Cobb
  38. 01/25/2016 FIRST CATCH – My First COBB Trip
  39. 05/16, 2016 Washington Trawl Fishing Log
  40. 06/29/2016 Soviet Invasion of POP-1966
  41. 11/09/2016 FIELD ROCKFISH KEY
  42. 12/28/2016 Cobb 2017 – A Good Year
  43. 02/26, 2021How Ron got the Cobb

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How Ron got the Cobb

          It’s been three years since I posted anything on Carmel Finley’s historical blog.  The last posting was made on 12/28/2017, “COBB 2017- A Good Year”   which was my 42nd posting.  She is still in her new home port of Winchester Bay, Oregon, where she is getting the loving care she deserves, by her new owner Ron Sloan who is restoring her.

          I kept track of John N. Cobb her after she was decommissioned in 2008, when she was transferred to the Seattle Maritime Academy, a part of Seattle Central College.  She sat under the Ballard Bridge for 7 years and during that time I visited with the port captain of the Academy a number of times.  On one visit he asked me to take 4 boxes of files that the Government had supplied to the ship for safe-keeping.  I stored them in the NOAA building at Sand Point which contained the records of the Fish and Wildlife Service Exploratory Fishing and Gear Research Base that existed between 1950 and 1970.  The Cobb was the exploratory vessel built for this group in 1950 and then in 1970 she became part of the NOAA fleet.  

          Twice I had the opportunity to act as a guide for the Cobb, once in 2013 and the other in 2014 when the Northwest Seaport held an open house at the Historic Ship Wharf on Lake Union.  Shannon Fitzgerald, an officer of the Northwest Seaport had made arrangements to tow the vessel there.

          I had no idea that the Cobb was sold in July 2015, but learned about it on July 21, 2015 when I received a surprise E-mail from co-worker Mike Webb who spotted her alongside a shipyard in Ballard, a part of Seattle near the Chittenden Locks.  He’d asked a man walking by him if he knew how long the Cobb had been there?  Who answered “about 10 days?”  Mike said “I thought it was at the Seattle Maritime Academy, who owned the vessel,” which perked his interest and he asked how Mike knew the Cobb, Mike said, “I’d worked directly with the ship since 1980”.  He told Mike that he was the new owner and asked if there were any drawings, and that is how I got in contact with the new owner.

          On October 15, 2015 I delivered 4 boxes of records containing the blueprints of the Cobb and met the new owner, Jeff Webb, who is not related to Mike.  He told me that he was moving the vessel in December to install a Caterpillar diesel engine.  I hadn’t heard anything about the Cobb for about 9 months and was getting curious about her location, so checked Wikipedia and found that she was located at Port Townsend, WA.  I called the Port and talked to one of the officers, and he invited me to visit the vessel on July 15, 2016 which I did.

          I was told that she had been towed to the Port Townsend Marina and abandoned.  The afterdeck (Fig 1) was stripped of all the fishing equipment – the net reel, the stations and the trawl winch next to the house and the hatch coaming were removed (Fig 2).  The most damaged item, the hydraulic steering was removed and the only way the vessel could be steered was by an emergency hand tiller (Fig 3).  

          The port took the responsibility so that the Cobb would not become another derelict, like what had happened to the Deep Sea, which ironically was charted by the U.S. government in 1949 to conduct exploratory trip #2 while the John N. Cobb was being built.  The King Crab fishery that reached its peak in 1980 was started by Deep Sea which in her last days became known as an abandoned derelict that caught fire and sank in 60 feet of water while anchored in Penn Cove, Washington on May 12, 2012.  Whidbey Island’s Penn Cove is famous for a successful thriving commercial mussel industry, which had been threaten by oil pollution from the sunken vessel.  She was finally refloated and taken to the scrapyard to be dismantled.

          The port also took responsibility so the Cobb would not cost taxpayers for the expenses occurred while she was at Port Townsend Marina.  The Port Townsend Leader the local newspaper published an article – “Port Battles State over Derelict Boat.”  In the article the Port District Executive Directory stated; “We would like to convey the vessel to a purchaser who has both the technical and financial capacities to make the vessel seaworthy and return it to service.”  They had two active bidders with others who requested bid packets, but were discouraged by the potential repair coast.

          On December 7, 2016 I received an E-mail from Ron Sloan who understood that I had an interest in the Cobb and hoped he would get her.  On April 27, 2017 he E-mailed me that he was selected as the new owner of the Cobb and the deal was finalized the day before. 

          The John N. Cobb was towed from Port Townsend, Washington, arriving at her new homeport of Winchester Bay, Oregon on August 18, 2017.

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Another new book on Pacific fisheries history!

We’re delighted to see a wonderful new addition to the history of fisheries in the Pacific The University of Alaska has published this authoritative history of the Pacific cod fishery, by James Mackovjak.

If ever a book was a labor of love, it is this, we’re not sure how long James has been working on it, but the volume is extremely comprehensive, from the early days of the development of the fishery, to the competition with foreign boats, and the emergence of the modern fishery.

For some reason, it seems cod has been overlooked when it comes to the story of the development of Pacific fishery. It is one of the oldest fisheries, and it’s the second-most important fishery in Alaska, in terms of the poundage landed. But other fisheries, especially king crab, and, of course, salmon, are more studied.

This will be a substantial contribution to the development of Pacific fisheries and we’re happy  to see the book in print at last!

Posted in Pacific Fishing History Project | 2 Comments

More about Bell Shimada–the man, not the ship

Bell Shimada, photo courtesy of the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

It was great to see the Bob Hitz post in this collection of stories the University of Washington School of Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries has been publishing as part of its centennial.  They have published a biographical sketch of Bell Shimada, adding much information about what has been available about this scientist who died in a plane crash in 1958. If his name sounds familiar, he’s been commemorated by a research vessel home ported at Newport, but his personal story should be more widely known.

The post provides much information that is new to us, and we’ve been interested in him since we first found his translations of Japanese fishery documents when we were working on our thesis in the late 1990s. He popped up again when we were researching the Supreme Commander Allied Powers documents at the national archives. And when we started to look at O. E. Sette, there he was again, stationed in Honolulu, at a time of enormously stimulating work in what we now call fisheries oceanography.

There is much valuable information here about his career at the University of Washington, cut short by the University’s expulsion of Japanese students in 1942 and his internment in Minidoka, Idaho. He volunteered for combat and was sent to the Pacific, ultimately arriving in Tokyo as part of the Occupation. After the war, he worked with Sette in the Honolulu, before accepting a job at the newly created Inter-America Tropical Tuna Commission in La Jolla.

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What Bob has been doing…


Bob Hitz

We’re extremely pleased that Bob Hitz and some of his writing are featured in this University of Washington School of Aquatic Sciences celebration of its centennial.

There’s an official event in April, but we are interested in the memories of some of the alumni, both student and faculty, and that includes Bob.

It is exciting to see the school celebrate its birthday but dispiriting that the actual event is so firmly focused on the future there is no acknowledgment of any past. But then fisheries scientists are firmly uninterested in how they got to be fishery scientists. Still this is a major accomplishment that the School is recognizing.

Founded in 1862, the University of Washington was already offering courses in ichthyology through the Zoology Department, but supporters wanted an actual fisheries school. They included Miller Freeman, publisher of Pacific Fisherman, and Trevor Kincaid, head of the university’s Zoology Program.

The organizational structure was modeled on the world-renowned Imperial Fisheries Institute in Japan, where practical instruction and research had been underway since 1897. Kincaid suggested a two-year program with a concentration of classes in administration, technology or fish culture during the second year. Six years later, the school was established in 1919, with John Nathan Cobb (1868-1930) as its director.[1]

Cobb laid out his vision for the school in 1920, not to train fishermen or scientists, but something in between, “men of executive ability with a through understanding of the fisheries.”  According to biologist J. Richard Dunn, Cobb’s approach to the School reflected his experience with the fishing industry and the practical needs of the commercial industry. It would be a program in applied fisheries science and management. For Cobb, the salmon industry needed scientists, but it also needed men to run the fish companies and manage the growing complexity of the annual Alaskan fishery.

The faculty remained small, with a great deal of turnover, probably the result of the low salaries. There were two tracts of study, fish culture and fisheries technology. Enrollment was strong during the first decade, ranging from 30 to 117 students a year. The first graduating class was in 1922, and the first Master of Science degree in 1924. By 1928, Cobb could boast that 40 graduates had found work in some branch of the fisheries.[2]

[1] Robert R. Stickney, Flagship: A History of the Fisheries at the University of Washington

(Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1989), 6.

[2] J. Richard Dunn. “John Nathan Cobb (1868-1930): Founding Director of the College of

Fisheries, University of Washington, Seattle” Marine Fisheries Review 65, no. 3 (2003): 5.

Posted in Environmental History, fisheries science, History of Science, History of Technology, Maritime History, Pacific Fishing History Project, R/V John N. Cobb, William F. Thompson | Leave a comment

If Wilbert Chapman was on Twitter….


President Harry Truman goes fishing, photo courtesy of Truman Presidential Library and Life magazine


…I guarantee we’d all be following him, and I don’t follow anybody. One of the interesting things about him was how modern he was in creating a following. I’ve been through a lot of his papers, including is State Department files, and they are filled with requests from people asking for reprints of his papers and his talks. The requests came from all over the world.

There were so many requests, that quite early in his public career, and certainly during his State Department days, he developed the habits of incorporating a great deal of background detail into his daily letters. This habit means that his letters are tremendously informative, tremendously useful for a historian.  His correspondence network by 1949 was so large, he copied people extensively on his letters, and I imagine his letters were forwarded on to others. He was the great expert, the man who had fished in the equatorial Pacific.

“From New Caledonia up through the New Hebrides and Solomon’s to Green Island and back to Guadalcanal I traveled by small fishing craft, trolling all the way,” he wrote in April 1945 from his desk in San Francisco.  He had seen fish in commercial quantities and he wanted American boats to start catching them as soon as possible—or else the Japanese or the Soviets would dominate this high-seas resource that Chapman compared to buffalo on the Great Plains.

Chapman’s letter is widely circulated, I found a copy in the files of Washington Senator Warren Magnuson. By June of 1945, President Harry Truman is in Seattle fishing with Nick Bez.


A portrait of Nick Bez, by Karsh of Canada. Permission of the Bez family.

The Truman Proclamations are issued in September.

There are two proclamations: the first deals with oil and gas, the second with fishing. The fisheries side of the proclamation marks an enormously important event in world fisheries, you could liken it to the gun being fired at a race, since it certainly set off a race for nations to rapidly expand their fisheries.

During the next year, Representative Joseph R. Farrington of Hawaii would write a bill to provide for the exploration and development of high seas fishing in the Territorial and Island possessions in the subtropical Pacific. There will be $350,000 for the research lab in Honolulu, $700,000 for three vessels, and $355,000 for operating expenses. Annual budget will be $650,000. For a nation that hadn’t spent much money on oceanographic research since the 1930s, it was a lot of money.

Chapman was in the thick of the fight to pass the Farrington Bill; legal scholar Harry Scheiber has written a great deal about this.[1]

Chapman wrote to Seattle’s Nick Bez, asking him to bring the bill to the attention of President Truman. “It is quite possible that our fishermen could be shut out of potentially rich fishing areas in the Pacific in the future under the terms of our own Proclamation,” Chapman wrote. Bez was busy overseeing the reconstruction of the Pacific Explorer, one of the wartime projects that survived after the war.

“We have strong potential competition in the area from Japan and Russia. Both of these nations are moving more alertly than we are.”[2] If Bez wrote to Truman, the letter has been lost, but Bez undoubtedly threw his support behind Chapman’s efforts to ensure that American boats could expand into the central Pacific.



[1] Harry N. Scheiber, Pacific Ocean Resources, Science, and Law of the Sea: Wilbert M. Chapman and the Pacific Fisheries, 1945-70, 13 Ecology L. Q.381 (1986). Available at:

[2] ATA files, Box 26, Folder “Dr. Chapman’s Report (Pacific Fisheries, etc.),” Chapman to Nick Bez, Dec. 2, 1946.

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Wilbert Chapman and World War II

I haven’t written much about Wilbert Chapman on the blog. He’s in both my books, and in various academic papers, but there is not much about him in these pages. I’m going to be writing a series of posts about him, to tie into some of the other content that is available on the blog. Chapman is considered  by several scholars, me included, to be a central figure in the development of post-war fisheries, fisheries science, and oceanography. He left voluminous records, housed at the University of Washington Special Collections, his last employer, Ralston Purina, paid to have his papers archived and I think it’s a couple of hundred boxes. I have happily trawled through many boxes and the man had his fingers in many, many pies.

Both Harry Scheiber and Arthur McEvoy have written about Chapman; Scheiber most extensively. Like me, they basically summarized his career after 1945, when he became a leading voice for the expansion of fisheries and oceanography in the Pacific Ocean. He was appointed an attaché for fisheries within the State Department and he negotiated two treaties creating new international commissions that are still in existence, as well as greatly shaping the peace treaty with Japan. He later worked for the American Tuna Association out of San Diego (the address for the office was One Tuna Lane, I just love that), and for Ralston Purina as director of research. He died in 1970.

Chapman spent spent 14  months in the Pacific. At the behest of the “Great White Father,” Chapman writes that he “spent the better part of fourteen months wandering from base to base in the Central and South Pacific, starting fisheries on a semi-commercial scale…”     The book is about from April to September of 1944, fishing in the Solomon Islands. It was published in 1949.

It’s a very mixed book. His main focus is the frustrations of trying to catch fish in a war zone, and the interpersonal conflicts among the three GIs and five “very black, and very stalwart men of Segi.” In addition to Chapman, there were three other scientists on the project.  Robert Smith died of complications from tropical diseases (Chapman does not make it clear), while Milner B. Schaefer contracted rheumatic fever and was spent 14 months of the war in military hospitals.  He died at the age of 60, so his health was probably permanently impaired by his time in the military.


Chapman left San Francisco in September of 1943. The Central Pacific Command asked him to spend a few days advising them about finding fresh fish to keep the troops. The “few days” stretched to three months and 20,000 miles of air travel. His plan to set up units on military bases, so troops could catch their own fish, using a fishing kit that had been designed by Reginald H. Fielder, a federal fisheries advisor. I am still searching for more about this fishing kit, but haven’t found anything. He spent nine month in the Gilbert, Ellice, and New Caledonian islands, hiring local fishermen and teaching them to use the gear, and setting up units on roughly 20 different military bases.

“This is a complete kit that can be used to catch almost anything edible that swims and compact enough to be loaded on a plane,” Chapman wrote in a draft press release about his wartime service.  “Now the kit goes along with our troops as they move to new bases.”[i]

The food situation is critical, in November of 1943 the upper Solomon Islands were so recently secured from the Japanese there were no lines of supply. Rations were dry and in short supply. After his scouting party, he finds the project has been transferred from the Navy to the Army. Chapman writes that the “plan of action which I submitted for the establishment of fisheries in the whole South Pacific area was turned into the Navy,” but then disappeared “and I was never again able to find the slightest trace of it.” It was up to the Army to implement a plan that had never been formally received.

Needless to say, this does not go well.  Chapman narrates the story in a light-hearted way,  with a dash of natural history as he collects specimens of fish for identification back at the Academy of Sciences.

But revisiting this story tells me two things: that there was a military plan during the war to expand American fishing deeper into the Pacific, and how these experiences shaped Chapman’s vision of the expansion of American tuna fisheries into the Pacific. Chapman returns to San Francisco at the end of the war, determined to expand American tuna fishing deep into the equatorial Pacific.

[i] University of Washington Special Collections, Chapman papers, Undated Box 4, Folder 1


Posted in Albacore tuna, American Tuna Association, Carmel Finley, fisheries science, Fishing, History of Science, Maritime History, Ocean fishing, Pacific Fishing History Project, Wilbert M. Chapman, World History | Leave a comment

One More Time, What am I Doing?


Dr. Wilbert McLeod Chapman, University of Washington Special Collections.

I’m feeling a little pompous for having grandly announced I’m writing again, and certainly on something predictable, at least for me. I am trying to make my work more accessible, because it is important to have new stories about the natural world and the linkages between people, fish, and oceans.

I intend this book to tell a story of how fishery science developed in the Pacific Ocean. I know this will strike some people as very parochial; Sidney Holt has told me many times my work needs to be more integrated to into Atlantic fishery management.

But this Pacific story interests me a lot more, I think because so little of it is known, and it is such a complex and multi-layered story that needs to be discovered. Development in the Pacific was fast, fisheries starting and crashing with a decade (soufin sharks.)

This is material I have explored several times before. But I have a new set of questions to ask, and a desire to make some new connections with the research I did in graduate school. One reason this is important is that we lack foundation stories in many of the sciences, how the science was created and shaped, and the assumptions that were built in

Broadly, I am still interested in how American foreign policy continued to shape fisheries science after 1945, with the establishment of the Pacific Oceanic Fisheries Investigations, established in Honolulu, the conduit for Japanese oceanography research to be incorporated into western science.

In a 1944 joint resolution, Congress had directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to survey the extent and condition of all marine and freshwater fishery resources, including the “high seas resources in which the U.S. may have interests or rights.”[i] In a report to Congress in February of 1945, Harold L. Ickes (1874-1952), the Secretary of the Interior between 1933 and 1946, wrote that Americans had to “take intelligently the leadership in world aquatic industries that seems about to be thrust into its hands.”[ii]

With the end of the war, Congress expanded on its 1944 resolution to expand
American fisheries deeper into the Pacific, both for tuna, but also for king crab and bottomfish in Alaska. Our colleague Bob Hitz has written extensively about these early research efforts.

My story starts in the 1930s, following three scientists, William F. Thompson, and three of his students, Wilbert McLeod Chapman, Milner B. Schaefer, and, a decade later, Bell M. Shimada, who are all at the University of Washington’s School of Fisheries in Seattle. It is the Depression, a very difficult time for all, but especially for fishermen who could not find markets for their fish. Thompson was director of the School of Fisheries; the position was part-time and paid $2,000 a year.

As always, I will be using the blog to share interesting tidbits as I come across them, as and to try to make connections with my prior work.  We’ll be doing some reorganization as well, so thanks for hanging in with us while we houseclean.

[i] Harry N. Scheiber, “Pacific Ocean Resources, Science, and Law of the Sea: Wilbert M. Chapman and the Pacific Fisheries, 1945-70,” Ecology Law Quarterly, 13 (38), 383-534, 394.

[ii] “Fishery Resources of the United States,” Letter of the Secretary of the Interior, March 1, 1945.

Posted in Pacific Fishing History Project | 1 Comment

Writing Again, at Last


I’m writing again.

I don’t know if anybody noticed, but there hasn’t been a lot of blog and that’s because I’ve been hung up on what the next book is going to be about. Now, as you can probably guess, it’s going to be about fisheries and fisheries science in the Pacific, because that’s what I write about. But what slice of the story to tell next?

I have also been very involved in teaching and learning about teaching at Oregon State University this past year. I spent parts of the summer and fall working on classes for OSU’s new undergraduate program in Marine Studies Initiative. I also taught my graduate seminar on the history of fisheries science during winter term.

My own work has taken a back seat (well, let’s be clear, I grabbed that back seat as fast as I could, there is nothing as dreadful as starting a new book unless it is trying to end a new book). I’ve made several stabs at starting to read my research materials but it hasn’t been sustained.

But I am finally starting again, and it is with a great deal of thought that has gone into how to tell stories about the natural world and our relationship with it.  One of the recent classes I taught in the Honors College was built around Blue Mind, by Wallace Nichols. He argues that we protect what we love. To me, that translates into how can we learn more about our interactions with the ocean? We do it through stories and making connections with the past.

Alert readers will remember Dr. Ellen Pikitch getting the Oscar Sette award from AFS, She asked me look in Sette’s career and, as always, research often leads to more research, not necessarily to answers. I tracked down Sette’s influential paper of 1954,* I found the footnotes, and so many of them were translations from the Japanese. And that made me think about again about somebody I have always been curious about, Bell Shimada. Here’s link to an early post about this young Japanese-American fishery scientist who died in an air crash in 1958.

Bell Shimada worked for Oscar Sette in Honolulu. But before that, he was one of three scientists sent to Tokyo, as part of a military operation to find research on Japanese fisheries science and oceanography. Historians of science are interested in how science is created, how decisions are made. In the case of the Pacific Ocean, American and Japanese scientists combined their understanding of how the ecosystem works.

A piece has been left out of this story, the Japanese contribution through military translations of scientific documents. I haven’t done a complete count of how many documents were translated, but I know many were about tuna (the Americans hoped to expand their tuna fishery into waters where the Japanese had pioneered a fishery in the Mandated Islands), and about salmon, and salmon hatcheries.

One of the factors that drove the rapid post-war expansion of fishing was money from governments, subsidizing the building of boats and equipment. But there were also military reasons to expand fishing, especially in the Pacific Ocean, after 1945.


*O.E. Sette, “Progress in Pacific Oceanic Fishery Investigations, 1950-1953,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Spec. Sci. Rep. Fish, 116, 75 pp.



Posted in Carmel Finley, Cold War, Environmental History, fisheries science, History of Science, Japanese fishery science, Ocean fishing, Pacific Fishing History Project | Tagged | Leave a comment


Fig 1 (1)

Cobb near the Ballard Bridge 2008                        Hitz Photo

By: Charles R. (Bob) Hitz       Blog # 42 Final                  Dec. 28, 2017

By December 2017 the John N. Cobb was finally getting the loving care that she deserved after she was decommissioned in 2008.  Since that date she has gone downhill.  She sat for about seven years under the Ballard Bridge, then was sold in 2015 to a new owner who began to modify her at Stabbart Maritime in Ballard on the ship canal, just inside the locks.  Wondering what happened to her, I looked her up in Wikipedia encyclopedia under the “R/V John N. Cobb” where the last sentence read; “She is located at Port Townsend, Washington pending seizure by the city and eventually will be scrapped.”  I called the Port and talked to Eric Toews, who invited me over to see her.  I made the trip there on Friday, July 15, 2016.

Fig 2

Cobb in 2015 in the Ship Canal                             Mike Webb Photo

Eric told me that the Wikipedia statement was incorrect, that they were going through the correct procedures for placing her for sale.  Once that was done they sold her to Ron Sloan of Reedsport, Oregon on April 26, 2017.  Ron was kind enough to E-mail me – “I just wanted to let you know I got the Cobb.  Deal was finalized yesterday.”  He is an albacore fishermen working out of Oregon, where the fisheries last from June to September each year.  He was then preparing to go fishing for the 2017 season, which is the time the weather is best to tow a vessel down the coast.

Fig 3

Cobb in Port Townsend 2016                                Hitz Photo

He had planned to tow her himself, but instead contracted another fisherman who towed her to her new home port of Winchester Bay, Oregon, arriving there on August 18, 2017, crossing the bar on a high slack tide.  In my opinion, towing a vessel down the coasts of Washington and Oregon is no laughing matter, so the vessel Sunnford and her skipper did a wonderful job.  Everything went well.

Fig 4

Start of the Temporary Cover 2017                        Sloan Photo

Before she left Washington I went over to Port Townsend hoping to meet Ron, but he wasn’t there.  However I met a retired engineer, Joe Johannes, who described what he had to do to get the Cobb ready to tow.  One of the problems was how to get the forward anchor winch operating after years of neglect.  That was important, because they had to disconnect the anchor from the chain, attach the tow rope to the chain and let it out to about 150 feet.  It would work as a shock absorber between the Cobb and the towing vessel so that the tow rope wouldn’t come out of the water due to ocean swells, violently jerking the vessels.  Then they had to retrieve the chain before they went across the bar into port.  The winch was frozen, and when he couldn’t get it to work, he took a sledgehammer to it which brought it to life once again.  The engine room was really dark because of the shore power and he needed to get light there so they could get one of the generators to operate, in order to have the correct navigation lights working during the tow.  Another major problem was to locate the steering gear which had been removed before Ron got the vessel, and reinstalling it before she could be towed.

Fig 5

Deck repairs inside the Cover 2017                       Sloan Photo

As soon as the fishing season was over allowing Ron to work on the Cobb, he built a temporary cover over the afterdeck to keep rain water out.  Once it was covered he sent me an E-mail; “The Cobb is finally stabilized! NO fresh water is entering the hull now.”  He also got the furnace working so that the interior was warm and dry and got the fresh water system fully operational, which gave them plenty of hot water to clean with.  He found the bilge full of oil that had to be removed and said it wasn’t fun, but had to be done.  He began to dismantle the main engine and replacing parts of the after deck which had started to rot.  He said that it is fortunate that he got her when he did – the rot hadn’t gotten to the deck beams.

Fig 6

Cobb and Nova 2017                                            Sloan Photo

Ron send a recent picture of the Cobb with NOVA alongside, she was one of his restorations and he uses her to fish for albacore.  It has a beautiful stern, completely different from the COBB’s cruiser stern.  Year 2017 has been a good one for COBB – she is loved once again and it shows.

Posted in boat building, Environmental History, Exploratory Fishing Base, fisheries science, Fishing, History of Science, History of Technology, Ocean fishing, Pacific Fishing History Project, R/V John N. Cobb | Leave a comment