Fish Tugs of the Greatest Lake
Built at the Johnston Bros. Shipyard, Ferrysburg, MI in 1900. The 58-ft. x 12 ft. steel-hulled, steam powered vessel was originally a yacht. Up until 1918 the boat was in the passenger service in the Grand Haven area.
From 1919 to 1925 use is listed as fishing, although not listed in MVUS this is most likely when she was owned by Fairchild Fishery, Frankfort, MI. From 1926 to 1933 Victor Edholm had the boat at Chicago. From 1933 to 1935 Charles Koppelman Chicago, was owner. From 1935 to 1937 Arthur Lehmann, Chicago, was owner.
From 1937 to 1938 Andrew Trost, Chicago, had the boat, and in March of 1937 had her for sale, the reason being that the boat was too large for his fishing operation. She was listed as having an 80 hp. Wolverine gas engine for power.
Shortly after this John Lange, Chicago, bought the boat and brought it to Bayfield, WI, where it was fished by LaPointe Bros. Fishery until the 1950s. In the mid 1940s the boat was re-powered with a 135 hp. Chrysler Royal gas engine. Zenith Dredge Co., Duluth bought her from LaPointe and converted her to towing, and installed a Cummins diesel. The boat is presently owned by James Melin, Ashland, WI.
During the 1938 herring season, newspapers told of an accident in which the steel hull of the SEA BIRD proved the undoing of another local boat, the DONNA MARIE:
Fish Boat Sunk In Collision Near Duluth Last Sunday
Entire Crew Saved; Craft Sinks in 20 Minutes
The fish boat Donna Marie owned by Ted Bodin of Houghton Point, sank in 160 feet of water about 15 miles of Duluth last Sunday following a collision with the steel fish tug Sea Bird, captained by Allison Boutin of Bayfield. The Donna Marie sank approximately 20 minutes after being hit squarely in the middle of nearly cut and to.
Both boats have been engaged in herring fishing during the past several weeks.
Cause for the accident was given as lack of vision on the part of the Sea Bird crew due to ice-coated windows. The Donna Marie was lifting nets at the time and her crew saw the Sea Bird approaching and presumed that the boat was coming alongside to compare catches, a frequent practice among fishermen. However, when the Sea Bird continued its head-on course without checking speed, the Donna Marie'screw realized their danger and sounded the whistle. The warning was unheard by members of the other crew due to noise of the Sea Bird's motor. Boutin explained that he was sailing by compass about six knots an hour when the crash occurred.
Immediately after the crash the Donna Marie crew leaped aboard the Sea Bird. Ted Bodin, skipper of theDonna Marie, was injured by cuts and bruises when the impact of the crash threw him through the pilot house windows. Members of the Sea Bird crew stated they thought they hit a log.
The steel hull of the Sea Bird was uninjured and the crew immediately tied a line to the Donna Marie and attempted to tow the damaged boat into port. In less than 20 minutes the disabled craft was under the water and the tow was abandoned.
The Coast Guard cutter Diligence of Two Harbors was called and attempted to raise the Donna Marie the following day. They were successful in locating the boat and partially raised her, but were unsuccessful in completing the job. Just what plans Mr. Bodin will follow in attempting salvage are unknown at the present time.
The Donna Marie was a new 38-foot wooden fish craft built by Mr. Bodin and Frank Muhlke last summer. She was launched at the Bodin Fishery dock at Houghton point on July 31, 1938. During the late summer it was used for trolling service and this fall has been doing contract fishing for the Sam Johnson Fish Co., Duluth.
The Sea Bird is a 60 foot steel boat recently brought to Bayfield from Lake Michigan for herring fishing purposes. Both boats were fishing in Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior about six miles offshore and 15 miles of Duluth Harbor.
Bayfield County Press, October 13, 1938
contents copyright 2002-2016, Harvey Hadland and Bob Mackreth