Port of Seattle buys Salmon Bay Marina

The Port of Seattle has purchased Salmon Bay Marina, a privately-owned operation on five acres just to the west of Fishermen’s Terminal. The price: $15.6 million.

The Port said it bought the marina to protect maritime industrial land and support the growth of Fishermen’s Terminal. The Port has set a goal to double the size of the “commercial fishing business cluster” at Fishermen’s Terminal (you can see the Port’s plans here).

With five docks that support 166 slips, Salmon Bay Marina has been privately owned by the Draper family for 72 years. With the change to public ownership, the Port plans to remove houseboats but continue to serve other boats moored at the facility. The Port is also exploring the potential for “light industrial facilities that could support maritime and manufacturing companies in the area.”

“Salmon Bay Marina is a valuable waterfront property perfectly suited for continued maritime use,” said Eugene Wasserman, President of the North Seattle Industrial Association, in the Port’s press release. “I thank the Port of Seattle for preserving this industrial property that will provide jobs and tax revenue throughout our region.”

A study found commercial fishing activity at Fishermen’s Terminal generates $450 million in business revenue and nearly $40 million in state and local taxes every year, according to the Port of Seattle. The Port says it plans to take over operations at Salmon Bay Marina when the deal closes in 45 to 180 days.

Man in critical after water rescue in Salmon Bay

Updated 8:45 p.m. Firefighters have pulled a man out of Salmon Bay after a search involving the fire boat and a dive team.

He’s being transported to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.

Firefighters responded shortly after 8 p.m. to the Magnolia side of the water, off Nickerson near the Fishermen’s Terminal. The fire boat and a dive team was called in to assist.

Over half-hour later, Seattle Fire reported that they had found the man.

We’ll update as we learn more, and please remember to stay safe on the water this weekend.

Fire destroys luxury yacht at Fishermen’s Terminal

Update: Kyle Moore from the Seattle Fire Department says the fire started at 1:30 a.m. when the owner and engineer  heard “popping” noises while aboard the 105-foot “Safari Spirit” based out of Juneau, Alaska. They saw smoke and got off the boat, and called the fire department. When the SPD Harbor Patrol boat arrived, Moore says the fire was so big that it was in danger of catching other boats on fire. While hauling half a dozen boats in safe range of the fire, the fire department sprayed the boat with two hoses from the dock in addition to two fire boats that were pumping lake water onto the boat. After a short time, crews were forced to get off the boat because at that point, the boat was a total loss, and not worth putting the firefighters in danger, according to Moore.

(Photo courtesy of KING 5, which also shot video here).

However, with so much water being pumped into the bilge, the boat started to tilt to one side, endangering the dock. The crews then had to begin a process of simultaneously pumping water out of the bilge while still putting water on the burning boat, which what they’re continuing now until the boat is extinguished. Moore said the US Coast Guard and Washington Department of Ecology arrived to assess the environmental risks of the fire, as the boat contains over 1,000 gallons of fuel. The Coast Guard set up a boom around the area, which is a containment system in case of any fuel or oil spill. With so much fuel, woodwork and aluminum on board, Moore describes the blaze as, “an aluminum oven that just keeps burning.” He says the boat could be burning for days. Crews are still on the scene, working to completely extinguish the fire. Moore says the cause is still in question, and because of the damage, could be difficult to determine.

Earlier: A 110-foot luxury yacht caught fire early this morning at Fishermen’s Terminal, attracting a large fire response that remains at the scene later this morning as the vessel still smolders. No one was injured in the blaze.

The Seattle fire boat assisted firefighters on the ground, who ran hoses about a hundred yards down a dock to reach the blaze.

Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said the fire scene may be active throughout the day, as the aluminum body is still red hot from the fire. The “Safari Spirit” was owned by a cruise line, and it was moored at Fishermen’s Terminal for repairs.

Erica in Magnolia sent us this photo of the flames shooting high in the air. The fire was visible by some neighbors on the Ballard side, as well.

The yacht is completely destroyed, and there’s no word on what started the fire. We’ll update the story as we learn more.

Small oil spill at Fishermen’s Terminal

The Department of Ecology is responding to a report of a small oil spill originating from Fishermen’s Terminal and extending into Salmon Bay. The department told KIRO 7 that it looks to be “tens of gallons,” and investigators have yet to determine where it’s coming from.

An aerial view from KIRO’s helicopter (above) shows a sheen on the water at the Terminal. We’ll update as we learn more.

Update: Department of Ecology spokesman Larry Altose says the spill is diesel fuel and hydraulic oil that likely originated from one or more commercial vessels, but investigators have yet to pinpoint the source. The spill is very small, but workers in the marina are attempting to clean up whatever they can.

Fleet blessed at Fishermen’s Terminal

For the 82nd straight year, a gathering at Fishermen’s Terminal prayed for the safety of the men and women who harvest fish in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. This year, the captain and crew of Ariel received the blessing.

“Be with us now as we consecrate the vessel, Ariel and bless all the labors of those who work at sea,” said Pastor Erik Weiberg from Ballard First Lutheran Church. As is customary, he handed the captain a symbolic flag.

Brian Wartman accepted the flag and handed it to his son and co-captain, Adam, who raised it above the boat. A family operation, Ariel will head to Alaska in June to fish for salmon. Also at today’s ceremony, Mayor Mike McGinn, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Council Chairperson Bob Ferguson and Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryan.

This was the first time in 21 years that Rev. Malcolm Unseth, who passed away last April, did not conduct the blessing of the fleet. A tile has been placed in his honor at the Fishermen’s Memorial.

One of the names placed among flowers at the base of the memorial is Capt. Phil Harris, best known for his role in “Deadliest Catch.” He died in February after suffering a stroke off-loading crab in Alaska. Fishing is one of the nation’s most dangerous professions, especially here in the Northwest.

Battle over fee, storage at Fishermen’s Terminal

Updated: The Port of Seattle is proposing a $25 daily fee for fishermen selling their catch at Fishermen’s Terminal as well as a plan to reduce storage space at the facility. To Pete Knutson, an outspoken fisherman and a member of the Fishermen’s Terminal Advisory Committee, it’s all part of a long-term plan to squeeze the fishing industry in favor of expanding development and attracting more cruise ships. “Given the history of Port promises to fishermen, a long-term commitment to the fishing industry at Fishermen’s Terminal is an arguable assumption,” he wrote in a long letter (.pdf) to Port commissioners.

The $25 fee would apply to fishermen’s who are selling raw and frozen fish from their boats. The Port says the daily fees are designed to “level the playing field” between the fishermen and the owners of the Wild Salmon Seafood Market, reports the Seattle PI. Meanwhile, the Port is revamping the storage sheds because the shelving blocks fire sprinklers, a spokesperson told the Times, not because it’s trying to make it difficult for fishermen to store their gear. And the Port strongly denies any plans to push out fishing boats and redevelop Fishermen’s Terminal. Still, even a Port commissioner says development is inevitable in the decades to come. “Mark my words, it will happen in our lifetime,” said Lloyd Hara in a December email to fellow commissioners. (Thanks michncraig for the link!)

Scenes from the Fishermen’s Fall Festival

Hundreds braved the rain at Fishermen’s Terminal to celebrate the return of the North Pacific fishing fleet at the annual Fishermen’s Fall Festival.

One of the most popular events is the wild salmon filet challenge.

These guys are fast. The salmon, by the way, went straight on the BBQ. Yum. Other attractions included live music, demonstrations, a trout pond, oyster art, fish prints and face painting for the kids.

Kids could also build their own wooden boat. What could be cooler than that?

J.P. Patches, perhaps? Due to the rain, the turnout looked a little lower than average, but great fun was had by all.

Big turnout at ‘Deadliest’ fundraiser

Throngs of people turned out for Sunday’s fundraiser at Fishermen’s Terminal for the Fishermen’s Memorial fund.

They were there to tour two of the boats and meet many of the captains and crew from the Discovery show Deadliest Catch.

Fans waited their turn for a tour for a $10 donation. We overheard one man say to his wife, “We didn’t know there were this many fans of the show.”

And some of the Seagals were there, too. The boat “Sea Star” began offering tours at the Terminal back in June, and it seems it’s suddenly one of our area’s most popular tourist attractions. All the money raised from the tour’s today goes toward the Fishermen’s Memorial, which helps ease the financial burden of surviving family members of fishermen lost at sea. A very good cause.

Not Tom Cruise’s yacht at the Terminal

Updated: The SeattlePI’s Big Blog got us momentarily excited with the rumor that Tom Cruise’s yacht, named Suri, was parked at Fishermen’s Terminal. The blog post vanished half-hour after it appeared, deepening the mystery. But now the Big Blog has posted an update with word that the yacht is not owned by Tom Cruise but a “very wealthy private American owner.” If you want to see it, too late, as it pulled out this morning, on its way to New Zealand.