A Halibut Schooner

I’ve had my prejudices when it comes to selecting east coast ships and boats to carve. Perhaps it’s that I’ve lived on the east coast, and sailed on the east coast. Recently a favorite Facebook group ( ships and shipyards before 1945) posted a photo and builders article of the west coast halibut schooner Republic. I was hooked and wanted to create a halibut schooner portrait.

There is no definitive book on halibut schooners. It’s hard to define a “type” there is so much variation. Some are transom sterned, but others like the one I’ve carved are canoe sterned. All had moderate deadrise ( not flat bottomed), and tended to be plumb stemmed, but not always. See the problem?
Common features included a midships fish hold, pilothouse aft of the mainmast, raised foredeck, and a “sorta schooner rig.” Described as auxiliary schooners, they depended on gas engines for propulsion. The sails were primarily for emergencies, or perhaps for use as steadying sails for stability. Old photos of halibut schooners frequently show them with a foresail and jib.


The main boom seemed to have served as a lift for dories when involved in the dory longline fishery; or as a cargo boom. I’ve no documentation of sails on the main. And, that’s why I’ve described it as a “sorta schooner rig.” The Republic was built in 1915 at the John Strand Yard in the Ballard area of Seattle. Extensively remodeled Republic is still afloat.

A hand-carved sailor’s model of the halibut schooner Republic

About the carving:
I’ve carved the hull bold in relief on eastern white pine. I like to place the boat on grain that suggests water and sky.
I applied the deckhouse and other details. After carving and gluing the added parts down with Titebond and cyanoacrylate, I sealed the carving and rubbed on a light coat of varnish.
I learned some new techniques and used some new materials in making this “sailor’s model.” That, in part, was the objective of doing this wintertime project. There is still a bit of finish work to do, and I am not completely satisfied with the railing.

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