An important part of maritime history has made its way to Grays Harbor County with the addition of two U.S. Coast Guard vessels at the Westport Maritime Museum.
The 36-foot vessels, more commonly known as motor lifeboats, were donated to the museum. The vessels, ages 88 and 72, left their former homes in Astoria and Warrenton, Oregon, and arrived at the Westport Marina last week.
Westport South Beach Historical Society Executive Director John Shaw was aboard one of the vessels as it entered the marina. He told The Daily World that the vessels will be included in “ a boat program to preserve and display historic search and rescue vessels of the West Coast.”
That’s a nice thing to hear, especially for me. I served in the U.S. Coast Guard for four years with my first billet directing me to the USCGC Basswood in Guam where I spent about 15 months on the buoy tender.
But unlike the two motor lifeboats, the 180-foot Basswood, which boasted a top speed of about 13 knots, was decommissioned in September 1998 after more than 54 years of service and eventually sold and scrapped, according to the Coast Guard Historian’s Office.
I can’t say I miss the Basswood, which afforded crews a rough ride in open seas largely due to its shape (think an elongated football cut in half) and that whopping top end speed.
Of note, it took three weeks to make the trip from Guam to Hawaii where we spent the summer doing drills and in yards (that’s short for fixing just about everything wrong with a boat or ship).
No such work needed for the 36-footers, which by all accounts looked pretty darn good powering their way to the marina. Westport is a fitting home for the motor lifeboats, which in 2019 became the first city in Washington to be designated an official Coast Guard City USA.
One of the vessels, the 30429, was recently donated by Raymond Carlisle of Portland, after he heard about the boat program. The 30429’s background includes service at Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor in Westport, as a general vessel and more specifically doing work on aids to navigation.
The other 36-footer, 36391, “is an extremely significant vessel, fully restored by Glen and Naomi Cathers and already of museum quality,” said Shaw to The Daily World.
“Glen and Naomi Cathers have done a fantastic job over the years having taken on the job of complete restoration of the 36391. The 36391 has a great backstory — Glen’s father served on the boat during his Coast Guard service as commanding officer at Point Adams on the Columbia River from 1936-1940. Glen was also a Coast Guardsman.”
The 36-footers are special, no doubt. And I would encourage people to go to the Westport Maritime Museum at 2201 Westhaven Drive, and take a look at the boats and all the museum has to offer. It’s definitely worth the time and effort.
Wyatt Haupt Jr. is the editor of The Daily World. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at 360-537-3923.