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Preview: TRIXTER – From Alaskan Mail Boat to Family Cruiser

October 12, 2016

Every once in a while, a charming old work boat like TRIXTER comes along that does exactly what they do best: provide a warm and cozy space for getting friends together on the water. From Alaskan mail boat to family cruiser, TRIXTER has always been good at her job.

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– Hey, Blake.

– Sean, good to see you, how’s it going?

– Good.

– Sean, we saw Trixter motoring out of the wooden boat festival across Port Townsend Bay, and this boat completely captivated my attention. What can you tell us about her?

– Well, this is a 34-footer built in 1934, a handsome design, cedar on oak. You guys want to come aboard and take a look?

– I’d love to.

– All right. It’s built by the Protherow brothers down in Seattle, Bob and Frank Protherow, and Bob Protherow’s the co-founder of the boat school, so it’s cool because it’s got a history that’s tied to the school, and in the early part of their careers, where they started that shop in ’29, I believe, and so this is just a couple of years within them starting that shop, so you see a lot of elementary details and techniques of the Protherows in the construction of this boat, in certain areas, so it’s kind of fun to point out to students and show them what’s in this vessel. From what I’ve heard, there were a couple of these built, a pair of these, and they were mail carriers from Puget Sound up to Alaska and back, so I don’t know if they were the postal service or what, but they carried cargo, essentially, back and forth. This one is the only one that’s around. The other one sank, I think, while underway.

– Wow.

– Yeah, the layout’s pretty simple, but for what it is, a little 34-footer, there’s a lot of space on board, so–

– Wow–

– A couple of berths back aft, a little galley, stove, head, full head in there, ice box.

– And this kind of massive cabin pylon running here.

– Yeah, the construction, I think, was unique that way with, uh, the Protherows used some fairly large sheer clamps in here, and those extend up here into the cabin itself but then also extend all the way through the boat, and you can get a good look in the head, you’ll see it’s actually a stack, it’s probably six or seven inches wide, two inches thick, but it’s a bunch of layers that are fastened together, and so they had this multiple-layered, real beefy sheer clamp in here, which I think is also a reason why the boat still has some good shape to it, too give a lot of structure.

– So the boat’s steamed-in oak frames–

– Uh huh–

– With cedar planking?

– Uh huh, yup, western red cedar planking.

– And screw-fastened?

– Ah, screwed-fastened but galvy, so it was probably originally a lot of nails. It’s been refastened and some planking done about five, six years ago, so the hull’s in decent shape for what it is.

– This is just full width of the boat and just an amazing cabin–

– Yeah–

– [Blake] It’s really disguised outside with that really heavy rail running off her topside.

– [Sean] Yeah, the layout’s pretty generous, and it’s simple, but I think it works out really well. You’ve got three different compartments, four, I guess, with the aft deck, lots of room to hang out. The boat can sleep six when it’s fully set up. You’ve got room back aft for some crab pots, go crabbing–

– [Blake] Enclosed heads–

– [Sean] It’s great, enclosed heads, yeah.

– Very sweet. So just kind of a watertight shower stall that you put together?

– Yeah, this was actually all in place when my Dad and I bought the boat about a year ago, and the head, we haven’t touched anything in there, but probably one of the nicest parts of the boat, actually.

– So kind of an amazing, I mean, this is a wet bar?

– This is a wet bar, yup. As far as I know, that’s original as well. You check out the old ice box in here, still working just great, but yeah, center of the boat.

– Engine-driven Reefer compressor?

– Ah, originally had that in there as well, but that’s been replaced.

– Galley space, a wood stove, kitchen sink arrangement, so diesel.

– It’s diesel, it was propane before, so the nice part now is I’ve got a single fuel source on board, enough to carry propane, so I’ll tap into the diesel tank–

– All right.

– And run it up to here.

– Very cool, let’s check out the wheelhouse.

– Kind of a card table.

– Yeah, it’s got a great cruising capability to it because you can have six, eight, ten people on board and everyone can kind of go hang out in their own little area forward, back aft, on the deck, up here, hang out and drive around. It’s awesome for the Pacific Northwest, the weather up here, so rainwise, you know, you’ve always got a covered spot you can kind of dodge in.

– Beyond that can, and out of the weather and still hang out.

– Yup, yup, so it’s a good boat that way. This boat, obviously, is pretty funky. Most everything in it is original or has been kind of modified in some way, so, obviously the boat was re-powered at one point with an Isuzu C240, and that’s as far as I got with that beautiful panel there.

– It’s got this amazing kind of patina, this old kind of leather-sided settee, and very comfortable space, so this just folds to create a very private aft cabin?

– [Sean] Yup, both of the cabins get sealed off from the pilot house.

– This is a nice forward cabin here.

– [Sean] Yup, now it’s kind of tool storage.

– Twin berth, and a bureau and a couple of settees on either side eventually?

– [Sean] Yes, eventually I’ll get sides for that. A little boat like this still got a separate, fairly generous chain-locker up there, you know, store a lot of the fluids, oil, back-up, all that stuff up there, it’s great.

– Boy, you can really see that clamp detail up here. It’s kind of, you know, one, two, three four pieces of inch-and-a-half square stock, through-bolted, to form this very robust sheer clamp, but then up here, these build stringers, one, two, three, and then including that sheer clamp, those run the full length of the boat?

– Yeah, yeah, so it’s good that way.

– A very rugged, I would imagine, flexible enough hull to kind of absorb and be able to take a beating.

– Uh huh, yup, definitely.

– It’s all galvy-fastened, and there’s something to be said about the good galvanizing back then. You look at all the fasteners and bolts that are used in just the sheer clamp alone, those are all original, and if it’s maintained right, they’re in good shape.

– Engine under the wheelhouse here?

– Yeah, there’s an older Isuzu C240 down there, carries about 60 gallons of fuel. It’s a pretty efficient little engine and propels the boat to seven, seven and a half knots cruising speed, so it’s super practical for cruising around the Sound, it’s great.

– [Blake] Burns very little fuel?

– [Sean] Very little fuel.

– How do you use this boat?

– Well, the main reason for getting the boat was to get my family out on the water, and you know, around here sometimes there’s great sailing days, sometimes not and definitely in the winter. I feel like this is a boat you can use year round here which is really nice, and in the winter a lot shuts down, so this summer, for example, we were taking out the boat weekly just to go for a quick cruise, you know, a couple of hours, see Port Townsend Bay, have some cocktails, beer, just hang out with friends, so it’s been awesome that way. It’s a good little boat.

– [Blake] Well, thanks for taking a few minutes and showing us Trixter–

– [Sean] Yah–

– [Blake] And, yeah, I look forward to seeing her out here again in the future.

– [Sean] Yeah, thanks for coming down.



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