If fishing boats could talk, the Norseman would tell the tale of two owners —neither of whom outlived her in their quests of taking the wooden vessel trolling for salmon or to their favorite haunts to fish cod and IFQs for halibut.
The Norseman was built in Canada in 1959 and purchased in 2011 at an estate sale in Ladysmith, British Columbia, after the former owner died.
Alan Ryden, the more recent owner, brought the boat to Port Townsend, Wash., to rework its ribs and planking, then ran it north to his home port of Kodiak, Alaska, where he rigged it to fish his longline shares for halibut. Ryden had spent years deckhanding and skippering crab boats out on the Bering Sea, and at 54, he’d hoped to scale back in the intensity of commercial fishing, says his sister, Susan Selk.
“He’d always dreamed of owning a wooden troller,” she says. “He spent almost a year… stripping, recaulking and painting from top to bottom, bringing her back into prime shape.”
Ryden’s fishing dreams were cut short when he died of cancer in 2014.
Selk inherited the boat. Though her original plan was to sell the boat right away, she and her husband, Ken, found a soft spot in their hearts after they ran it from Kodiak to Homer last fall. This spring, they sanded the hull and repainted it.
“We still hope to find the right buyer for this little gem, someone who will embrace and enjoy the wooden boat life,” says Selk. Until then, she says, she and her husband will be taking it out fishing and anchoring in secluded coves.
“We have really tasted the dream my brother had of the Norseman as a sweet little fishing boat,” she says.