'Working Boats'

“Working Boats” is by Bellingham, Washington author Tom Crestodina.

Tom Crestodina is a Bellingham, Washington, artist who works seasonally as a fisherman in Alaska, and he is the perfect person to have produced a wonderful new book called “Working Boats.”

While the book has been published by Little Bigfoot, the children’s imprint of Seattle-based Sasquatch Books, I’ll wager that children up to the age of 105 will find much to enjoy in these pages.

The experience begins when you first crack open the book, and find endpapers that provide a visual primer in one of the essential skills sailors need to know — knot-tying. Simple but elegant visual diagrams illustrate how to tie a clove hitch, a cleat hitch, a bowline knot, a cat’s-paw and more.

And that’s just the start of this fascinating exploration of a maritime world that Crestodina clearly loves. In detailed, full-page spread drawings, the artist shares ten different boat types that have been designed to perform specialized jobs — some on inland waters, and others on the high seas.

Five are fishing vessels: a salmon troller, salmon seiner, halibut schooner, gillnetter and a King crabber. For each watercraft, the artist shows not only a cross-section view of the boat, he also provides “exploded” views that detail what each deck of that boat looks like, from the wheelhouse up top, to the working deck, and down below the water line into the engine room and hold.

For the fishing boats, he demonstrates how the fish are harvested, whether through nets or longlines or crab pots. (Some of this will be distressing for the likes of vegetarians — there are matter-of-fact descriptions of fish gut removal and depictions of holds piled high with live crab.)

Crestodina also shows how both law officers and scientists monitor the catch to enforce fishing limits, and he touts the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery as “one of the best examples of successful renewal resource conservation in the world.”

While the fishing industry is always deadly for fish, it’s also dangerous for fishing crews. This book describes the extreme conditions they have to contend with, from high seas to freezing sea spray. It also delves into some of the safety gear stowed away onboard every vessel – flares, fire extinguishers, life rafts and more.

And of course, there are boats specifically designed to aid mariners – and dockside workers, too. Among the ten boats Crestodina describes are a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a fireboat.

The artist, who has studied at the Seattle Maritime Academy, includes details on engine rooms, diesel engines, water cannons, sea cocks and more throughout these pages. But beyond the mechanical aspects, he also describes the day-in, day-out labor required of the folks who work aboard each of these vessels.

Rounding out the assortment of working boats in this book are the double-ended ferry that plies Puget Sound waters for the Washington State ferry system, a NOAA research ship and the hardworking tugboat. From bow to stern, “Working Boats” is an engaging visual treat, and a fount of interesting information.

The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes this weekly column focusing on books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at barbaralmcm@gmail.com.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.