When I was a young boy, I had a big book of ships that included cut-away images of some of the vessels. The British transatlantic passenger ship Queen Mary was one. I was fascinated to see not only the luxury salons, but the engine room and propeller shafts. I still find such representation of vessels uniquely fascinating. As a youngster, I was also something of a wharf rat and I would occasionally talk my way onto fishing boats and tugs to see their inner workings.

Now, thanks to seine-boat skipper and illustrator extraordinaire Tom Crestodina, I can indulge my fascination to my heart’s content in the pages of his recently published book, Working Boats: An Inside Look at Ten Amazing Watercraft.

Capt. Crestodina is well-known amongst the Alaska fishing fleet for his often-humorous representation of trollers, seiners, tenders and others. Many of his framed prints grace the fishermen’s homes as well as those of appreciative collectors. Plus, his booth at the annual Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle is always a popular hang-out.

It isn’t only fishing boats that get the Crestodina treatment in his new book. Most of the vessel types familiar to the people who work the waters from Puget Sound to Alaska are represented in his new book – from ferries to fire boats. Two big, beefy Caterpillar-powered tugs inspired by the Western Towboat company fleet are shown. Graphic descriptions of their Z-drive propulsion and a container barge are provided along with the workings of a diesel engine.

Five types of West Coast fishing boats are illustrated, with cutaways showing great detail. Three of the five – troller, seiner and Bristol Bay gillnetter – fish for salmon, and Crestodina provides knowledgeable detailed drawings of the workings of each gear type. He gives similarly detailed illustrations and text for a Bering Sea king crabber and a classic Norwegian-style, wooden halibut longline schooner.

If a photo illustration is worth a thousand words, Crestodina’s cut-away drawings give us more like 5,000 words each. This has allowed him to squeeze more information into 56 pages than can be seen anywhere, except perhaps for a technical paper for heart surgeons. Where a cutaway view of the boat’s profile isn’t enough, he employs additional drawings and text to provide information on navigation, safety at sea and the dangers of icing up in winter storms.

Washington State, like Alaska, has many islands and also many car ferries. The book also includes the workings of a Z-drive tug, old and new fireboats and a NOA research vessel, among others.

The largest vessels included are a car ferry and a NOAA research ship. A Coast Guard cutter is paired with illustrations of their role in rescues at sea. As with the other boats, the author/artist doesn’t stop with a simple profile; he illustrates and explains the role and function of each vessel through additional drawings as required.

It’s no cliché to say that, for the mariner inclined – from 8 years to 80 – this is the one book that does it all.

The workings and very real dangers of fishing on a Bering Sea crab boat.

For more information, or to order the book (it’s currently available pre-order, for a November 8 shipping date), click here.

Alan Haig-Brown is a marine photographer and writer based in New West Minster, British Columbia, Canada. He contributes to a variety of commercial marine and commercial fishing magazines.

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