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WA Ferry - The Issaquah - Mt. Baker
A Washington State Ferry plying between the San Juan Islands and Anacortes with Mt. Baker in Background

Working boats are those that haul our freight, catch our fish, transport us where bridges don’t go, and rescue us when we are either unlucky or foolhardy at sea. These are hard working craft with hard working captains and crews.

Pleasure boats are often elegant and great for sport. We've all seen the graceful sailboats with their colorful billowing spinnakers and sailors’ hair blowing in the breeze. And then there are the really big giant multimillion dollar yachts that for many of us elicit varying parts of envy and repugnance. I believe that far too little attention is paid to the real boating troopers who toil daily in all kinds of tides and weather. In this photo diary I highlight these intrepid mules of the waterways. No fair weather sailors here.  

I live on a bay at the edge of the Salish Sea. We have a wonderful harbor that moors both pleasure craft and working boats, including a sizeable fishing fleet that fishes both locally and in the waters of Alaska.

Most of these photos are taken on or around Bellingham Bay including Squalicum and Fairhaven Harbors. A few photos are from the nearby San Juan Islands and the Northern Puget Sound, all parts of the Salish Sea. Some boats are at dock while others are underway carrying out their various nautical occupations.

Please continue beyond the pile of coiled mooring lines for more working boats.


Two Large State Ferry systems are shown here:  Washington State maintains the largest ferry fleet in US. The second fleet is from the Alaskan Marine Highway which has its southern terminus in Bellingham.

WA Ferry - Kittitas
                            The Kittatas on the Mukatilo - Clinton (Whidbey Is.) Route

Alaska Ferry, the Columbia
                  Alaskan Marine Highway ferry, the Columbia loading in Bellingham, WA

Alaska Ferry
                                                        M/V Malaspina

M/V Matanuska - Alaskan Ferry
                                                        M/V Matanuska

A Water Taxi to the Islands
   A water taxi to shuttle foot passengers from Bellingham to those San Juan Islands not served by State ferries

An Island transporter
                                            A front loading island transporter

                                       SIGHT SEEING AND ADVENTURE CRUISES

         Lady Washington, a 112’ cruise and educational ship used in several movies.

Unfurling the sails

Hawaiian Chieftain
                                                      Hawaiian Chieftain

The Zodiac Schooner
The Zodiac is a 160’ gaff-rigged two-masted schooner that takes day tours or week long adventures

The Island Mariner
                          The Island Mariner, whale watching and educational cruises

                                                 FISHING BOATS

Squalicum Harbor is home port to a variety of salmon fishing boats. These boats include Purse Seiners, Gill Netters, Longliners, and Trollers. The harbor also moors a number of crab Fishers who catch primarily, the delicious and delicate Dungeness Crab. Some boats do double duty, switching roles dependent on what season is open.  

Purse Seiners

Seiner loading web
                                                  Loading the Seine net


Gill Netters

a small gill netter

Gill net Bow Picker

Gill Netter Bow Picker

Gill netter at Dusk - Stern picker
                                              Gill netters often fish at night

Hook and line fishing - Longliners and Trollers

A Troller, Greta

Troller in the fog


                                     Longliner, see hooks in photo below

Longliner hooks

Fish Buyers, Processors, and Sellers on the Water


Fish Buyer

Desire Fish Co.
    The Desire Fish Co. catches salmon in Alaska, flash freezes it and sells it in Bellingham’s Squalicum Harbor during the winter


Crab Pots

                                               Gill netter turned crabber
A crabber coming home

Crab Pots ready to soak


Freighter in the Bay

Alaska Reefer

Horizon Fairbanks

                               COAST GUARD, POLICE, SAFETY, RESCUE BOATS

CG Cutter the Terrapin
                                           CG Cutter: Terrapin

CG Buoy Tender at Sucia Island, Echo Bay
                                    CG cutter at Sucia Island, Echo Bay

Coast Guard at station
                                            Coast Guard rescue at station
Coast Guard on the fly
                                                Coast Guard in action

                                             Lummi Nation Tribal Police

NOAA enforcement boat
                                                NOAA enforcement boat
Canadian Life Boat
                                                   Canadian Life Boat
Vessel Assist brings fuel
           Vessel Assist is a valuable service, saving boater's bacon by delivering fuel when needed...

                                     TUGS AND BARGES GO TOGETHER

Barge tended by a Tug

Escort Tug awaiting its ship
                                             Escort Tug awaiting its ship

                                A barge in the Floating dry dock at Fairhaven docks

Arctic Challenger -Shell Oil
    Arctic Challenger - Shell Oil well containment barge, destined for Alaska off-shore drilling should it ever open up again (keep our fingers crossed)

A rusty rotting tug

Tug towing log boom
                                                    Tug towing log boom
Langara lodge
                                                Fishing Lodge Barge

M/V Jupiter Inlet - now a home
          The Superstructure of a former working boat, now a home at Point No Point.

The Web Locker

                                 Where the Fishermen Refuel - The Web Locker

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