On the Waterfront

Published on Thu, Feb 26, 2004
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On the Waterfront

by Jan Hrutfiord

The group of 18 Whatcom County residents Saturday morning, February 21, met with one goal in mind - to find a way to preserve the Dakota fishing vessel as a symbol of Blaine�s historic fishing heritage. Spearheaded by Terry Galvin, not in his official role as city of Blaine Community Development Director, but as a private citizen with a dream of preserving a way of life that is fast disappearing from local waters, the group started to plan.

With cups of coffee in hand, this diverse group of men and women, business persons, students, retirees, former fishermen, relatives of former crewmembers on the Dakota, and members of the Westman family (who own the boat and building) sat in the Dakota Fisheries office where countless fishermen have met over many years. They talked about how they saw the old fishing vessel being used, how they would like to participate in the project, and also how the building and dock of Dakota Fisheries fit into the picture.

Finding the history not only of the Dakota but of the fishing fleet and industry of Blaine was one of the ideas put forth, to be used in different ways; not only as a museum of the fishing industry, but also in a book or video tape to help preserve this local industry�s story. All agreed that the building is in a perfect location to be utilized by many different groups of people, from artists, to birdwatchers and other tourist related parties.

Plans for creating a non-profit organization which would take over the Dakota, dock and building started to form. Information on costs of keeping up the boat and restoring it for use as a floating museum were discussed. Over the course of the gathering there was lively discussion addressing funding, with ideas ranging from private donations, grants, and funds raised by rental of office spaces, to leasing the dock for crab buyers as has happened in past years emerged.

A six month goal to find funding for the project was agreed on. A tour of the building and the boat Dakota was then provided, bringing forth more ideas and plans.

They will be meeting again, this group of men and women, and any others who are interested in our local fishing history. Contact Terry Galvin for more information on this group, at 332-8311, or watch the Coming Up section of The Northern Light.