SOUTH COAST — The Hawaiian Chieftain is an annual visitor to Coos Bay in the spring when the tall ships sail into port, but is now undergoing serious maintenance for three months.
According to a press release from the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, two main sections of the Chieftain’s hull and aft cabin windows need repair, a new bowsprit requires fabricating, and rust must be removed.
“This past June, we hauled out Chieftain for her biannual maintenance in Port Townsend, Wash. where a team of professional crew and contractors combined forces to evaluate … maintenance needs and craft a plan that will keep her sailing for another 30 years,” the release said.
Certified Inspection Services Inc. did an ultrasound on the Chieftain’s hull and main mast, discovering two sections in the hull that “needed significant repair,” the release said, adding that “this is expected for a steel vessel of her age and workload….”
Port Townsend Shipwrights evaluated the tall ship and “determined that we will need to fabricate a new bowsprit and repair aft cabin windows,” the release said.
Standard maintenance will include rust removal, priming and bottom paint as well.
The lowest bid from contractors to make these repairs came in just under $200,000.
“Since that is more money than we have on hand, we are investigating other options to keep the cost down, including having the welding done by our partners at Tongue Point Job Corp in Astoria who have done solid work for us before,” the release said.
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Grays Harbor Historical Seaport is also looking to secure funding through grants, but are moving forward with rust removal, priming and paint so the tall ship can be transported.
Because these repairs will take at least three months, the Chieftain is being taken out of the water during that time.
“This is an obvious shift in our operating model, but a mandatory one,” the release said.
Meanwhile, the Lady Washington tall ship will continue its tour until she is also shut down for usual winter maintenance.
“Funds raised in our new sails campaign will be used for Lady Washington (unless a donor specifically designates that they want funds to go toward another expense),” the release said. “It is critical that the Lady continue to be able to sail throughout this period of single boat operation. We will still have the jib, spritsail, fore top, fore course, and main top sails left to purchase… Chieftain’s entire set of sails have already been ordered with money raised from the campaign.”
GHHS is asking for help from the public to direct any retired welders or shipwrights who want to work for a stipend, room, board and sailing to email Marine Operations Coordinator Roxie Underwood at email@example.com.
“(The) Hawaiian Chieftain has been faithfully serving the public for the last 30 years, providing history education and workforce development to generations of mariners,” the release said. “We look forward to celebrating Chieftain as she gets back in the water in the year to come… Thank you for your continued engagement and commitment to the safe operation of Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington.”