Halibut schooner fleet heads out for another season

“At least seven (maybe more) of these beautiful fishing boats exited the locks together this morning and steamed by my office,” Ron emailed us on Wednesday.

“I only got my camera out in time to catch the last two. They were all painted up and ready for work. Anyone know what they are or where they are going?”

According to our news partners, The Seattle Times, this small fleet is headed to Alaska for halibut season. The halibut fleet, which used to be about 130 schooners is now down to less than a dozen, the Times reports.

Marvin Gjerde, the 61-year-old skipper of the 99-year-old Tordenskjold says in the video below, “It’s probably the oldest working fleet left in the United States.” This nearly century-old fleet “has helped establish Ballard as a hub of the North American fishing industry,” the Times article states.

Video and production by Danny Gawlowski of The Seattle Times.

The parade that Ron saw out his office window was coordinated by the Fishing Vessel Owners Association and a fishermen’s union that is documenting the aging fleet. Seeing seven of these schooners together is an unusual site. Gjerde tells the Times, “We usually head off to Alaska one or two at a time, and once we leave town everyone is on their own.”

Here is a link to the full article by Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton.

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7 thoughts to “Halibut schooner fleet heads out for another season”

  1. Great write up and very cool that there is video too. I love those boats. I had the incredible experince of working on a wood schooner though it didn't have the vinatge as these. Still it was crafted in the same style and a wood hull. I am no longer a fisherman, but whenever I see the fleet from the bridge, I feel the tug, and think what if. Long may they ply the sea! I look foreward to the documentary.

  2. That first pic of The Aleutian looks a lot like something my grandfather Ed Sundquist might have built. He was Ballard born and raised. It gives me a huge thrill to think some of his vessels might still be on the water.

  3. I had the wonderful opportunity to help crew the ALEUTIAN last September from Ketchikan, down to Seattle, where she spent the winter.

    What a wonderful old girl! If I recall she was built in 1911 so she's got a heck of a birthday coming up soon.

    My good friend Pat Hunter was at the wheel this past weekend when she was caught going through the locks.

    Frank Nowakowski
    Craig, Montana

  4. My Grandfather, Selmer Sund fished on one of these boats more than fifty years ago. He fished on the “Lindy”. Would anyone know how to find any pictures of the Lindy? It would mean a lot to my family. Thank you, Ron

  5. Ron Steinman,

    My Dad has owned the Lindy for the last 30 years and I grew up fishing on it. Send me your email and I’ll try to put together some pictures for you. Most of mine tend to be from behind the rail but I could make a point to get some for you. If you’re ever in Petersburg, AK area look us up for a tour.

    All the best,
    Haley DesRosiers


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