Olive Oyl


100_2350We entered the workshop not knowing what might be inside. The sun was shining outside and when we walked through the door it took a second for my eyes to adjust.


A large wooden hull with a steel spine stood before me, in the middle of restoration, some kind of old fishing boat for sure. A sight that you just don’t see too often anymore, one of a historical boat being brought back to life.

The Port of Bellingham had seized it after a long period of moorage non- payment. She was left behind, neglected to the point of disrepair, she had become more of a liabilty than an asset. The Port needed to haul it out and dispose of it. Colony Wharf was contacted by the Port to do just that.

Jon Lopez is a marine carpenter at Colony Wharf and he saw something else, he saw an important and historic boat, it would have been a shame to let it go. He shared his thoughts with the folks at Colony Wharf, they said he could have it, they’d just give it to him. Of course the proper paperwork had to be processed, he had to go back to the port and get a bill of sale. For a “sale” to be completed there had to be a purchase price, so… one dollar was the purchase price.

2004 was the year that John and “Olive Oyl” first met.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jon moved it over to his work area and began to fully inspect his new project. He pushed a screw driver into the wooden hull, it went right through. He inspected the decks, all rotten. This was a BIG project.

Olive Oyl was built in 1927 on the Duwamish River by Andrew Berg, a Norwegian boat builder who later moved to Blaine and became an important boat builder in the Skagit and Whatcom County area (another story for Cruising to look into). The boat has worked its whole life to this point, fishing in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California over the years. John and his wife plan to use it as a pleasure boat upon completion.

Most of the work to date Jon has done himself, although there has been some bartering along the way. Jon traded work with one of the other companies at Colony Wharf, they had an old William Garden Designed wooden boat that needed refastening, and Jon needed the diesel engine rebuilt. They traded services with each otherI have to say, I envy Jon Lopez. This is a wonderful project.

Our plan here at Cruising is to continue to check in on the “Olive Oyl” (and Jon) and follow it until she goes in the water (scheduled for spring of 2013). We hope you will follow along with us!

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