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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

August 26, 2009 at 3:44 PM

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Launch of historic Norwegian boat at Pacific Fishermen Shipyard

Posted by Gabriel Campanario


9:56 a.m. [Click on sketches to see larger]

If you went to the Ballard SeafoodFest last month, you may remember the Nordic Spirit, a 19th century Norwegian coastal fishing boat that was on display at the Nordic Heritage Museum tent.

You don't see boats shaped like dragons every day around here so this morning I went to Pacific Fishermen Shipyard in Ballard to see it get back on the water after more than 30 years in dry docks. General manager Doug Dixon was very optimistic about the launch. "I'm putting 10 to 1 that she floats," he yelled out loud to everyone gathered for the occasion. "I'm taking all bets!"

Pacific Fishermen Shipyard was established by Norwegian-American fishermen in 1946. What better place to have the 150-year-old vessel restored. "This boat was built by Norwegians and restored by Norwegians whose grandfathers fished in the waters of Norway," said Dixon minutes after calling the launch a success.

The fishing boat was originally brought to the United States in the 60s and used as a sailing billboard for Volvo's motorboat engines division Volvo Penta (see photo), explained Erik M. Stangvik, development director for the Nordic Heritage Museum. Then he broke me the news about the dragon head and tail that make the ship conjure images of Vikings rowing in the Nordic seas. They were added then as part of the advertising gimmick.

But cosmetics aside, the vessel is a historic craft worth seeing. On Sunday it's expected to sail from Salmon Bay to Fishermen's terminal to commemorate the 100th anniversary of another Viking-style ship sailing these waters during the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The Norway Day Celebrations at the terminal will also feature traditional Scandinavian music, refreshments, photo and video exhibits. The event goes from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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