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DIAMOND NN 59 SAILBOAT RESTORATION PROJECT

The Trident Seafood Corporation recently donated the Diamond NN 59 Bristol Bay sailboat to Drayton Harbor Maritime, a rare and iconic symbol of our maritime and fishing heritage. The old sailor was built in 1906 for the Alaska Packers Association Diamond NN cannery on the south Naknek River in Bristol Bay AK. DHM’s new acquisition hailed out the same cannery as the Bristol Bay sailboat displayed in the APA Museum at Semiahmoo. 

The first of this type was used on the Sacramento River, in the early 1860s.  Pioneer salmon canners George and Robert Hume bought one of these boats and a year later took it to use on the Lower Columbia River to gill-net King salmon. The boat proved wholly satisfactory, and the type was extensively built, not only in the San Francisco area but also on the Columbia River. By 1876 there were 500 of these sturdy sailboats salmon fishing on the Columbia. Soon there were thousands of these fishing on the Columbia River where this type became known as the Columbia River Salmon Boat.

The double-ended Columbia River salmon boat had different names in different regions, in San Francisco they were called the “Columbia River salmon boat” on the Columbia River they were known as a sailing gillnetter. In Bristol Bay they where were known as the “Bristol Bay sail boat”, “Bristol Bay double-ender”, Bristol Bay gillnetter and ”Bristol Bays”. 

These sailboats made their way up to the Puget Sound and were also numerous on the Fraser and Skeena Rivers in B.C. Canada. By 1884 these husky seaworthy rowing and sailing boats were fishing in Alaska's Bristol Bay. This period we generally date from 1884, the year the first cannery went into operation until 1951, the first year in which power boats were allowed to fish. The rougher conditions of Bristol Bay required a huskier boat, consequently more ribbing and length was added. Most Bristol Bay Boats were just short of 30 feet, limiting out at 32 feet by law.

Diamond 55The vessels were lengthened about 39 feet long and slightly less than 10 feet wide, and also equipped with a pair of 14-foot oars. There were no cabins, so the two-man crew used the sailboat’s sail as shelter was needed. When canneries introduced commercial fishing in Bristol Bay in the 1880s, the boats were brought to Alaska aboard square-rigged sailing ships.  Followed later on steam ships. More than 8,000 of the boats were mass-produced for the Alaskan Bristol Bay salmon fishery in the years that followed. Their manufacture continued until motors were finally permitted in Bristol Bay in the early 1950s.
DHM’s first goal is to ready the sturdy double-ender so it can be presented to the community by entering it into 2014, 4th of July Parade. While continuing its restoration effort as time and funds allow with the goal of getting it back in the water in sailable condition. The sailboat will be working as a kinetic adjunct to the APA Museum’s stationary sailboat and twin fixed to the floor at the museum. The Diamond NN 59 when duty calls will be moored at the Plover dock at Semiahmoo, and while in this role will be out-fitted as she would have been when fishing for red salmon in Bristol Bay AK.  Further, the Diamond NN 59 when properly out-fitted and back in the water and under sail might be the only one of these type boats left in existence. Further, Drayton Harbor Maritime’s Community Sailing School will be using the sailboat to teach sail training to youth and adults.

Click here to see a video of the Bristol Bay Diamond NN Sailboat

DHM has begun a capital campaign to raise the approximately $16,000 that will be needed to complete the restoration effort, the majority of the cost will be replacing damaged frames (ribs), rotted planks on the hull, to this aim DHM started a fund raiser called: “Plank Owner.”

Shipwright/Sea Captain Mike “Jake’ Jacobson who helped construct the tall ship Lady Washington and is one of the ship’s Masters on a rotating basis will be in charge of the sailboat’s restoration effort and later its heritage sailing program. Capt. Jake has determined that at least 16 planks need to be replaced. Each plank will cost about $500 to purchase, cut, fit and install and cork.
Donors who want to be “Plank owners” will know their $500 donation bought and installed one of the 16+ planks that will be needed to enable the sailboat to once again set sail on the water.

“Plank owners” will receive a certificate of appreciation for their donation of $500.00. Have their name(s) listed on a brass or bronze plaque aboard the sailboat. Further Plank Owners will receive a souvenir DHM Burgee and a complementary three hour sail for four aboard the sailboat on Boundary Bay and know their donation bought a plank.
Any donation towards’ the sailboat project can be written off to the IRS because DHM is a 501©3 chartable tax-exempt non-profit organization. For those who may want to donate less or instead donate goods or services, or volunteer, we will gladly find a place for you to help as well as it will take the community being involved to save this important link to our maritime past.

Sailing for SalmonAny donation towards’ the sailboat project can be written off to the IRS because DHM is a 501©3 chartable tax-exempt non-profit organization. For those who may want to donate less or instead donate goods or services, or volunteer, we will gladly find a place for you to help as well as it will take the community being involved to save this important link to our maritime past.

To learn more about Sailing for Salmon in the Alaska's Bristol Bay, click the image to your right.