It was just over a year ago that I first heard about the trawler Progress. I remember being fascinated with this story about a West Coast trawler limping into Dutch Harbor from an ill-fated pollock trip to the Bering Sea. The boat was nearly incapacitated by a rogue wave that blew out its pilothouse windows and fried the electronics.
It’s a compelling survival story all around, but for me all the more so knowing there was a woman at the helm — one with a 1,600-ton nearshore master’s license and a damage control certification. Captain Tiffany McKenzie stepped in with well-honed critical thinking skills to get her crew safely to port, after which the Progress and her captain would begin the long journey back to Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Ore.
What started as a window replacement turned into more than a year’s commitment to a total overhaul, including a sponson and lengthening. The naval architecture team at Hockema Whalen Myers made painstaking adjustments to the design to preserve the trawler’s classic lines while adding 15' x 11' to the 114-footer and keeping the GRT low.
Boats & Gear Editor Paul Molyneaux happened to bump into McKenzie at the yard this spring and got the full story firsthand. He shares his report on the Progress on page 24.
Just south of Reedsport, the California Dungeness fleet is in a fight for its life. Freelance contributor Nick Rahaim continues his coverage of the beleaguered fleet’s next phase of defense — facing accusations of excessive whale entanglements and a lawsuit from an NGO the fleet had been working with. For three years, industry stakeholders have invested considerable time and effort in a Fishing Gear Working Group. Volunteers have been working to reduce risks of whale entanglement as the fishery’s season has been pushed later and later by domoic acid threats, slow meat fill and price wars.
Stakeholders say there’s no evidence that their gear is exacerbating whale deaths. The commercial Dungeness fleet does not own all the lines in the water. But in the face of a lawsuit, the state of California felt compelled to back down, settle and cut the season short on the spring end for at least the next two years. Get the details on page 22 of our July issue.
Bristol Bay’s fishermen hope their seasons won’t be dashed by the looming Pebble Mine proposal. Read an impassioned plea on page 11 from Georgeanna Heaverley, a Cook Inlet gillnetter who hopes the state will protect its fishermen.