Bristol Bay fisherman builds house to fix boat

Posted: Sunday, June 25, 2000

The Bristol BayTimes

An Alaska AP Member Exchange

DILLINGHAM (AP) -- The deck of the Wave Dancer, a fiberglass stern-picker fishing boat, is snugly ensconced in its own building. Its prow isn't so coddled, however -- it protrudes out into the elements.

It looks as though the Wave Dancer is struggling to emerge from a chrysalis. In a sense, she is being reborn.

Her owner, fisherman Max Martin, has been working all winter to put a new engine into the Wave Dancer and remodel the deck.

First he put the boat up on blocks and then he built a building around the deck to shelter him from winter's teeth as he toiled to bring new life to the sturdy little boat.

The engine of the 22-year-old boat, which Martin bought seven years ago, had finally grown too tired to push the boat through Bristol Bay's sometimes stormy waters, so Martin decided to put in a bigger engine.

He built the deck up to be flush with the original boat sides and created eight individual compartments to hold the salmon, each with its own hatch cover.

''It will carry about 7,000 pounds of salmon,'' Martin said. ''That isn't a lot out here, but it's enough for me.''

Then he put new railing and siding around the now flush deck, all of which involved a lot of welding, he said.

''The last thing to do is get the engine running. We'll be ready to go by fishing, if I have to row the boat out there,'' Martin said.

Martin admitted it would probably have been easier to buy a new boat.

''Call me sentimental, but I'm attached to this boat,'' he said.

Martin's wife, Suzy, who also rolled up her sleeves and worked in the bowels of the boat, doesn't look hopeful that this will be the last of the big projects.

''Oh, it'll be something else,'' she said.

When the boat is finally ready to join battle in this summer's sockeye fishery, the building that has sheltered the vessel during its transformation will remain for another purpose -- a two-car garage.

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