Handmade aluminum boat to set sail

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2002

DILLINGHAM (AP) -- A descendant of the sailboats that once dominated Bristol Bay has resurfaced in grand fashion in the boatyard at Peter Pan Seafoods.

Kirk Dodge, a local welder, has constructed a 64-foot aluminum sailboat that is nearing completion. The Roberts Motor Sailor is about a week away from launch time and is notable for its size and body.

''It's the first aluminum sailboat that I've seen around,'' former harbormaster Pat Durbin said. ''It's been about 10 years since I've seen a sailboat larger than the one Dodge is building now. There have been other sailboats around, but none of them have been quite that size.''

Dodge decided to build the boat about eight years ago when the price of airplanes was rising. Although he wanted a plane for travel, making a boat out of the relatively inexpensive aluminum made more sense. With plenty of aluminum boat work knowledge, Dodge began his project.

''It's been mostly construction,'' Dodge said, who has worked mainly on the boat alone. ''The plans got most of the thought process out of the way.''

The result is a vessel fit to live on.

Once the boat's cabin is finished, it will include three staterooms, a galley, a bathroom and shower, a pilothouse and an engine room.

''There isn't one room inside that's complete, but I plan to keep doing a lot of work once the boat is in the water,'' Dodge said.

Dodge and his family are planning to move to Sitka. He expects to complete the project in two years, but still hasn't figured out what he'll do with the boat, which remains nameless.

One possibility is setting up a charter service.

''I plan to spend a lot of time on the boat in Sitka,'' Dodge said. ''There are just so many things to do in the water down there.''



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