Like a chocolate-covered cherry, there’s more to the 56-foot seiner Freedom than meets the eye.

“There’s actually a 48-foot Chignik seiner inside of that boat,” says Bruce Marifern, of Petersburg. As the story goes, the Freedom began its life as the jig for a mold that eventually became a shallow-draft seiner synonymous with the salmon fishery at Chignik on the Alaska Peninsula. What transpired in the years since Marifern acquired it was a stretch job, which brought it to 53 feet.

“We went back to Delta to look for a 53-footer, and we couldn’t find one,” he says. “So we lengthened it.”

But Marifern says the stretch job, which put the boat at 53' x 15' compromised its stability. Two years later, in 2013, they added sponsons, which widened the boat out to 20 feet.

“It brought stability to our family,” says Marifern.

Marifern adds that the family operation includes his wife, Barbara; their son, David; and daughter, Sam.

“My two kids put themselves through college on that boat,” he says. “And lately a lot of neighbor kids have been doing the same.”

Charlie Ess is the North Pacific Bureau Chief for National Fisherman.

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