Archive for Fred Wahl Marine Construction

Another Great Time at Pacific Marine Expo 2011!

Attending Pacific Marine Expo (also known as Fish Expo) each year is as much a fall tradition in our family as Thanksgiving dinner or choosing a Christmas tree. It is the perfect way for us to kick off the holiday and Dungeness crab seasons, and we always leave the event looking forward to and pumped about all that lies ahead.

This year’s PME brimmed with heightened energy and cheer. There were more vendors than ever, the freebies at each booth were awesome, and almost the entire crew from National Fisherman magazine came out to publish the Show Daily after the show publication was put on hiatus for a couple of years.

I was excited to see the Show Daily back in effect because I have great memories of a decade ago when I ran around the Convention Center with my recorder and notebook, attending PME workshops and listening to speakers, taking notes, then running upstairs to sit down and type it all up into short news bits for the Daily.

I can’t believe what little-to-no-turnover occurs with the editing, publishing, and art gang at National Fisherman. Seriously. Even after ten years, I still see Jerry, Linc, Jen, Michael, and Michael at Fish Expo. These are the original characters that were in place when Jerry Fraser first gave me my fiFrst professional writing gig as a correspondent for the magazine long ago!

So, I feel pretty okay when I see Jerry in the NF booth at PME and make my annual pitch for work I’d like to do or see in the magazine.

“Hey, how’s it going?!” I say. “Great! It’s good! Yep, here’s Eva and Vincent. George is around here somewhere. Yes, Dad’s here, too! I know, crazy, another one on the way, huh? Say, about what we talked about last year, here’s what I was thinking…”

I try Linc next.

“Hey, Linc! Longtime no see! Remember when we ordered those Cosmopolitans years ago? Mmm, those were good. Hey, what do you think about this idea I’ve been working on….?”

I see Jes, who actually took over as senior editor of NF last year.

“Jes! Hi! Great to see you. Magazine looks good! Yep, pregnant! Due in only eight more weeks! Can’t wait! Hey, I wanted to get in touch with you about this thing I’ve been tossing around….”

Then I have a laugh.

“No? Still not interested? That’s okay. I’ll be back again next year!”

We spent all day at PME and saw fishermen we knew, a neighbor or two, a relative, some of George’s longtime/sometime business partners (along with the spec sheet for the new $10 million Bering Sea longliner they’re having built).

We also ran into one of our favorites, Fred Wahl, along with his lovely wife. Of course, Fred Wahl and National Fisherman magazine is how George and I first met. You can read more about that here.

“There they are!” Fred called in our direction when we spotted each other across the aisle. “No strollers this year, eh?” he asked.

That’s when I pointed to my seven-months pregnant tummy.

“Ah!” he said.

The children also had a great time and were incredibly well-behaved. Their first stop was the Xtra Tuff booth, where Eva and Vincent received their free pair of Xtra Tuff boots. They also got t-shirts and red cups at the booth this year, and I came away with two luggage tags made out of my business cards.

George scored a free hooded sweatshirt and ball cap from the Redden Marine Supply booth, I went around collecting tons of pens, and the children collected candy, flashlights, and keychains. George also scooped up lots of tablets with lined paper (including one with his favorite…graph paper!).

The guys at the Toyota Industries booth were especially kind; they let Eva and Vincent sit inside the enclosed forklifts pushing buttons, honking horns, and pulling levers for the better part of an hour. Vincent also had a good time helping the ice-maker demonstration folks pick up renegade ice from the floor.

We spotted a fancy Porsche in the parking garage on our way into the show and again on our way out. “Must be a Deadliest Catch guy,” we said to each other. When I spotted a fellow wearing a Time Bandit jacket during the show, I did wonder for a moment if that Porsche belonged to him!

A great day for all, to be sure. Can’t wait for next year. Even if we’ll be hauling the stroller back out. :)

Ten Years Later and Going Strong.

Ten years ago, I sat on the floor of my bedroom on a dark and wintry December evening, poring over several back issues of National Fisherman magazine that focused on boat building. I was preparing for the latest assignment I’d taken as a freelance writer for National Fisherman. It was an assignment for which I did not feel qualified; the building of the 2.5 million dollar fishing vessel, Shemya, at Fred Wahl Marine Construction.

I’d written a few short articles and one large feature for National Fisherman in the seven months since I’d started writing for the magazine, but I knew next to nothing about building boats. For my first feature, I’d convinced a longtime fishing family friend, Ryan, to take me out to sea on his vessel for a story on the sardine fishery out of Astoria, Oregon.

While very familiar with fishing, having grown up in a fishing family and fishing myself in Southeast Alaska for several summers, I was not schooled in the art of boat building. And this time,  I’d be interviewing strangers, not friends. I decided I’d better refresh myself on basic terms before I could even hope to conduct a coherent interview.

I called Dad.

Dad had commissioned the building of his own boat a decade earlier, and I figured he could give me a crash course on the subject.

“Hull plating?” I asked.

“The steel on the outside of the boat,” Dad answered.


“The vertical piece of steel at the bottom of the boat, the center of the boat. The backbone of the boat.”


“The bow of the boat at center line.”

I had no idea what that last one meant, but I kept going.


“The partition between two different areas of the boat. A wall. It separates the boat into compartments.”

“Power train?”

“The engine, reduction gear, shaft. And the prop.”

“Prop…?” I asked.

Propeller,” Dad answered.

I’m not sure, but I think I began to detect the faintest note of weariness in Dad’s voice. I knew Dad was proud of my work for National Fisherman; after all, it was he who’d first suggested I try my hand at writing for the magazine and encouraged me to contact the editor, Jerry Fraser.

I worried, though, if I’d be able to pull this one off. Had Michael Crowley, the Boats and Gear editor, made a mistake? What would Fred Wahl think of a young lady coming down to Reedsport to interview him on the state-of-the art Shemya? Would I end up inadvertently insulting everyone and making a fool out of myself?

Of course, we all know how the story ended.

I wound up marrying the partner/captain that I interviewed that afternoon at the boatyard, and the rest is history. And ten years since we met (and added two kids, two dogs, one fishing vessel, one blog and a truck or two), I love that all the original players are still in the game.

The following are pictures of all the fellows (taken at this year’s Pacific Marine Expo) who had confidence that I could pull off a story out of my comfort zone, had patience with me as I did my work, and who mean so much to us a decade later.

At least, they mean a lot to me.

As George went around Fish Expo shaking hands with these guys–all of whom played a part in our meeting and eventual marriage–his greeting was accompanied by these words:

“I don’t know whether to shake your hand or give you a right hook.”

My dad, who said "You can do it."

The subject of my first feature for NF, Ryan. Also his sweet wife, Jenny, who was a player in my most recent feature for NF. And of course, G and me...holding a wine glass at a recent party.

Jerry, the Editor in Chief who gave me a chance at writing, Michael Crowley, who sent me on my first boat building story, and Jes, the new Editor in Chief of National Fisherman.

Mike Lee of Fred Wahl Marine Construction, who ten years ago answered my questions, gave me a spec sheet and a tour of the Shemya...all without letting on whether he wondered if this girl had any idea what she was doing.

The man himself, Fred Wahl, who made the official introduction between my future husband and me.

Ten years later...

A Tremendous Pacific Marine Expo 2010!

My family and I attended 2010 Pacific Marine Expo yesterday and had an incredible afternoon. Vincent slept through the first two hours of the event but rallied in time to enjoy a chocolate dipped sugar cookie in the shape of a salmon and to collect a few pens and candy.

Eva was a trooper the entire afternoon and even wore her own badge this year as we traveled up and down aisles, said hello to a ton of people and collected vendor goodies.

We really scored this year. Among our take were two nice-looking John Deere baseball caps, a frisbee, child sunglasses, foam killer whale toys, pencils, pens, pencil sharpeners, bike reflectors, yo yos, fish key chain clip-ons, cute little stuffed frogs, insulated beer bottle holders, and bumper stickers from Commercial Fishermen of America and National Fisherman magazine.

We had three generations with us (Dad, George and me, Eva and Vincent) and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. George and I saw all our old friends (the gang from National Fisherman and Fred Wahl Marine Construction), Dad saw a ton of fishermen he knows, and both George and Dad ran into their maritime accountant.

Oh, how could I forget the biggest score of all? Xtra Tuff was giving away FREE boots to all children! The only deal was the children had to wear them around Fish Expo while they were there. It was too cute seeing all of these little girls and boys with their Xtra Tuffs on! One lady was so very disappointed her young one wasn’t there to receive a pair that we handed over Vincent’s new boots, then trotted him through the booth again wearing a slightly different outfit and accompanied by a different parent.

Anyway, the Events Center was absolutely packed with vendors, extremely smiley attendees, and the energy was contagious. I’m so glad the 2010 Pacific Marine Expo was a success. I hope you enjoy a few of my pictures. I decided to ignore the large sign that clearly stated NO PHOTOGRAPHY so I could remember the day in detail.

I’m working on a separate post that will include my pictures of our National Fisherman and Fred Wahl Marine Construction friends. Stay tuned.

Eva proudly displaying her badge.

My girl loves to pose.

Vincent still sleeping...

Grandpa and Eva.

Thanks for the free boots, Xtra Tuff!

Vincent still sleeping...

Daddy, Sleeping Vincent, Posing Eva.

Three Generations.

Hooray for Grandpa, Pacific Marine Expo, and Free Boots!

Vincent's Awake!!

National Fisherman's Jerry Fraser with George and Dad.

It All Began with a Boat Building Story…

On December 16 a few years back, I traveled to Reedsport, Oregon to pay a visit to Fred Wahl Marine Construction. I was sent by Michael Crowley, the Boats and Gear Editor at National Fisherman magazine, to take pictures and conduct interviews for a feature story on a brand new, $2.5 million longline fishing vessel (Shemya).

Now, looking back, I’d guess that Fred Wahl and Mike Lee were not too pleased to have a young gal sporting lip gloss and long hair walk through their gates to write such an important boat building story! I will always be grateful to them for showing kindness and patience as I did my best to ask the right questions (coached the night before over the telephone by my dad).

I am also grateful to Fred and Mike for something else—just a little something—for introducing me to my husband, George. That’s right!  George was the Shemya partner and captain on the yard that day, and it was he that Fred walked me across the gloriously stormy and blustery yard over to the dock to meet.

George and I look forward to seeing Fred and Mike each year at Pacific Marine Expo. After missing a couple of Expos for reasons of pregnancies, crab seasons, and newborns, we finally made it back this year. We were pushing Eva and Vincent in the double stroller when we heard our names being called. We turned around and to our wonderful surprise, there was Fred, Mike, and Fred’s beautiful wife smiling and waving us over.

Thanks, Fred and Mike: I can’t speak for George (ha ha) but that day I spent in Reedsport at Fred Wahl Marine Construction was one of the most magical of my life. I’m so glad that Jerry Fraser and Mike Crowley at National Fisherman sent me on the story with full confidence that I could pull it off.

Here are two pictures of the Fred Wahl Marine Construction booth at Pacific Marine Expo 2008 (I didn’t notice the official Expo sign prohibiting photographs until we were leaving!):