Written by Jen Finn
When I came around the corner to the dock at J.M. Martinac in Tacoma, Wash., where the Northern Leader was being completed this spring, I caught my breath. I knew I was going to be climbing aboard Alaskan Leader Fisheries' 184-foot Bering Sea longliner — the world's second largest — but there really is something enchanting about watching an innovative boat come to life.
I carefully picked my way around the workers' pneumatic lines, spools of wiring and power tools in awe of the scope, size and mission of this fishing boat. Her crew will be able to freeze and hold about 1.6 million pounds of fish and will be the first U.S. fishing boat to stay on the longline with the use of Z-drives. Get the scoop on this Alaska groundfish boat from Boats & Gear Editor Michael Crowley on page 28.
You'll find a boat project of a totally different kind, though no less inspiring, in a restoration project on Washington's Puget Sound. In Port Townsend, deckhand and writer Sierra Golden discovered a gem in Jason Crosby and the 65-foot Genius. Crosby grew up fishing on the Genius, which was built by his relatives at the Skansie yard in Gig Harbor in 1920. The Genius changed hands out of the family in the late 1990s, and Jason bought it back at auction last year. Since then, he's been splitting his time between fishing, fixing the nearly 100-year-old wooden boat, filming the progress, raising money to continue the project and bringing up his 3-year-old son, Chatham, with his fiancée, Cathryn Coats.
If you don't get your fill of the Genius project in the story on page 26, check out Jason's documentary clips at nationalfisherman.com.
While you're at our site, look for more photos from Assistant Editor Melissa Wood's firsthand account of Maine's 2013 elver fishery on page 22. Though we call it an At Sea story, Melissa's trip carried none of the dangers of a typical ocean expedition for fish. But she could have traded her survival suit for a Glock. This Maine fishery takes place on remote riverbanks where wilderness meets the Wild West ever since the price for baby eels spiked in 2011. Tales of epic busts, armed robberies and political power plays made it an irresistible story for Melissa.
I hope you'll find these stories and the other offerings in the pages of this magazine as alluring as I do. As disparate as a massive steel longliner, a century-old wooden boat and a dipnet fishery may seem, they are all part of this industry's elaborate tapestry. We love sharing your stories. As always, thanks for reading.
— Jessica Hathaway
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