From Classic Yachts to Fish Packers: Their Stories
Comrade Comes Home
In 1930, Herbert William Davis Jr. collaborated with the marine architect H.C. Hanson to design what would be called a cabin cruiser. Her name was Comrade, 38′ x 10.5 ‘ of Port Orford cedar and oak frames with a Hercules gas engine, she was built on the shores of Seattle’s Lake Union in the Northlake yard of Franck & McCrary. Two unique features went into the design at Herbert’s request. As Herbert was 6’2″ the overheads were raised and he wanted to see forward from the galley. Hence the bridge, salon and galley are all on the main deck. At that time, other yards on Lake Union were busy designing and building the “Lake Union Dreamboats” with their house set aft, the salon and bridge glassed in and the galley below. Comrade was different, she was one of a kind, and became a forerunner of the soon to be popular cabin cruiser.
The Davis family used Comrade well, frequenting much of Puget Sound into the 30’s. It was on one such excursion that Herbert’s son, Richard Davis walked a Manchester beach and met Mildred Schmitt, his wife to be. His dad sold the boat after 6 years of cruising but Mildred would never forget Comrade. Family conversations upon sighting Comrade made an impression on Richard and Mildred’s daughter, Mary Lou Harris. Years later Mary Lou arranged a cruise with the then owners, the Birdseye family, with her daughter Kathy (Weber) aboard. “My mom has tracked Comrades’ history her whole life, and retells stories of her parents’ first beach meeting.” said Kathy. In 2017, Mary Lou contacted the Birdseye family and offered some photos of that one time cruise, and found out Comrade was for sale. Kathy Weber with her husband Bill Shain bought it, returning Comrade, after more than 70 years, to the family. “Now we’re learning how to be boaters.” Kathy said.
Comrade was hauled out at Boat Haven Marina on October 10th, 2019 and placed on the hard at Haven Boatworks. As Bill remembers, “As we were tying up, the Haven Boatworks owner, Stephen Gale, met us. “What’s wrong with this boat.” he asked. We got it hauled out and within 15 minutes they started inspecting the hull. They decided: “You know, when you come back in 10 years we’ll deal with the planking on this boat.” By that time Comrade would be 100 years old.”
The shipwrights got to work replacing the 1967 54hp Westerbeke (Perkins) diesel with a Yanmar 57hp diesel, rewired the electrical and replaced the fuel tanks. “In the end we worked with almost 3/4 of their staff of almost 40 people.” said Bill. “They were really skilled people. We now have a 10 year plan of annual maintenance at Haven.”
Comrade, who’s curious naming is lost to history, went back in the water on December 16th to return to the covered moorage at the Port of Everett Marina. But she’ll be back – annually.