The Hansen Boat Co. of Everett, Wash., built the F/V Keta in 1976. Since then, the vessel has made a name for herself, landing king crab from the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. At 83 feet, the Keta was considered a small boat for working in the Bering Sea crab fishery, especially in winter. She is currently at Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Ore., undergoing her second conversion and growing into a 123-foot vessel.
According to Gary Isaksen, a Bristol Bay salmon fisherman and model-boat builder, his father, Bert Isaksen and two partners had the boat built.
“The name Keta comes from the names of the owner’s wives,” says Isaksen. “The K was for Kay Leland, and the E for Elsie Langeseter. The T is for Togetherness, and the A is for Arlene, my mother. It’s unfortunate my father is no longer alive to talk about the boat. He hung on for 93 years. He immigrated from Norway and fished Bristol Bay back when it was still sail.”
Isaksen recalls that his father sold the boat to Buddy Bernstein of Sand Point, Alaska, brother of current owner David Wilson, who has taken on a new partner, Leif Manus, formerly of Trident Seafoods. Both have graciously condoned this story but declined to be interviewed.
Sometime in the 1980s the Keta was reportedly sponsoned and lengthened at Marco Shipyard in Seattle out to 100 feet. A photo posted by Ralph Pelkey on Facebook purports to show her at Akutan, Alaska, in 1984, before she was widened.
Another fisherman familiar with the Keta, Dylan Hatfield, understands that the owners are putting crab quota from other vessels onto the Keta, hence the need to further extend and slightly widen the boat.
“She was laid up somewhere,” Hatfield says. “And as far as I know, they weren’t going to fish her, just as a tender.”
The Keta will still be a tender, and will likely be active again in 2022. The plan was to have the boat ready in April of this year, but covid-19 delays slowed the project.
Nonetheless, the team at Fred Wahl has hammered away at what has been the vessel’s biggest transformation so far.
“We cut off 60 feet and added 83,” says Mike Wahl. “She’ll be 123 feet overall.” According to Wahl, all the design and engineering work was done in-house by the yard’s people.
Wahl’s engineers scanned the Keta’s hull in April 2020, and the vessel arrived at in Reedsport in September that year.