On a rainy and cold, yet festive and energetic, January morning (and by morning, I mean 3:30 a.m.) my family and I joined hundreds of others gathered at J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding in Tacoma, Washington to watch the launch of the brand new 184-foot freezer-longliner, F/V Northern Leader.
You can read all about that exciting day, including specifics about the $25 million+ vessel, information about Alaskan Leader Fisheries, Inc. and other fun facts right here.
Six months later, my family and I joined another crowd of hundreds on a sunny July afternoon at the Port of Seattle to celebrate the Christening and open house of the Northern Leader.
George was unable to attend the launch in January because he was crabbing. (Actually, the captain of the Northern Leader, Shaun, also missed the launch because he was running the Bristol Leader in the Bering Sea.)
Yesterday, though, everyone was there! All of the Alaskan Leader Fisheries partners along with wives and children, mates, captains, the Governor Jay Inslee, and hundreds of others. Nick Delaney, Managing Director of Alaskan Leader Fisheries, and his wife Sally are longtime friends of George and mine. George has previously served as mate and captain on some of the vessels Nick owns, and Nick has served as mentor, friend, boss, and partner to George in both the earliest and later stages of George’s fishing career.
It was exciting to be included in both the launch and Christening of the newest Leader boat, even though we actually have nothing directly to do with the vessel. George was all smiles as he ran into one friend after another, people he fished with and for, and people he hasn’t seen in ten years or more since taking over my own family’s commercial fishing boat and operation.
Yesterday was also our son, Vincent’s, sixth birthday. What cooler way for the son and grandson of commercial fishing captains to spend his birthday than with his father and grandfather at an event celebrating a history-making fishing vessel? (Vincent also had cake and presents to look forward to upon our return home!) My daughters were in attendance as well and all three children were well–behaved, including baby Valerie.
It was fun for me to see G so happy. In fact, G might even head back down to Seattle for the sea trial of the Northern Leader before the boat heads north to Alaska in ten days. There, it will participate in the longline cod and sablefish fisheries of the North Pacific, Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands.
Anyway, I took many pictures of the event and one short video of the ceremonial smashing of the champagne bottle. Aside from the fact that this is the largest and most innovative, eco-friendly longline commercial fishing vessel built in the U.S. in over twenty years, it is clear that the teamwork, camaraderie, respect, love, family and friendship that went into building this vessel is what makes it extra special.
The idea for, the building of, and the celebration of the Northern Leader is proof that no matter how large or how expensive your commercial fishing vessel is, it can still be a “family” operation if the right people and the right attitudes are involved.
You can access a few quick videos I took of the boatyard launch right here, or click below to watch the champagne bottle smash at the pier.
Below is a thumbnail gallery of images I took during the event, both outside and inside the vessel. Click on an image to enlarge and get a better view, or watch as a slideshow.
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For more information on the Northern Leader and Alaskan Leader Fisheries, Inc., please see the post The Epic Launch of the F/V Northern Leader.