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Harbor History Museum Launches Second Phase of Shenandoah Restoration

Shipwright Nate Slater and local volunteers are currently in the process of restoring the 87-year-old wooden fishing vessel Shenandoah at the Harbor History Museum.

This Saturday, Sept. 29, marks an historic day for the 87-year-old wooden fishing vessel Shenandoah.

The second phase of restoration for the 65-foot purse seiner will repair the aft deck and sections of the hull.

Shipwright Nate Slater leads the restoration efforts with a small corps of volunteers. The process will begin on the horseshoe (stern) of the wooden vessel, starting at 10am and will continue to around 1pm. Museum visitors can watch the ongoing restoration progress on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Shenandoah was launched in 1925 at the Skansie Ship Building Company on Gig Harbor’s waterfront. The vessel was owned and operated throughout her career by Gig Harbor commercial fishing families. The vessel was mostly used at the Salmon Banks off the San Juan Islands and around south Puget Sound. On occasion, she made her way to Alaska.

The first phase of restoration began in October, 2011, with removal of decking, replacing deck beams to the fish hold, addressing sistered framing (various support pieces that have been nailed to deteriorated pieces), creating deck access points, and installing safety features. Nate and his volunteers have also completed “tooling up” the boat shop, giving the volunteers a properly working and safe shop. Now, the crew begins removing rotted and damaged timbers and replacing them with fresh Douglas-fir using traditional shipbuilding methods and tools.

Along with the restoration, the museum is developing a variety interactive activities in the Maritime Gallery that relate to the commercial fishing industry and wooden boat building. There are currently three hands-on activities in the gallery that tie together the Shenandoah, the history of the harbor, and the restoration.

The Maritime Gallery is open to the public, and restoration work of the Shenandoah can be viewed Saturdays from 10 a.m. -1 p.m. For more information and updates on the restoration, visit the museum website.  

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