M/V Palco


I might have mentioned this before, but I like wood boats. A lot. Normally what draws my eye are the commercial fishing boats. However, as I've also mentioned before, I can't catch my ass with a handful of hooks. So, when I started hinting to my wife that I wanted to find a project boat to work on, she pointed out that we have a lot of people in our family. And maybe finding something that could pack people instead of fish made more sense. 

She knew it was going to be wood and need a lot of work. She had grown up on wooden fishing boats and had actually owned an Ed Monk designed wooden cruiser years ago. 

I saw the Palco for sale in the harbor. I saw that it was an Ed Monk Design, 42 ft long, and slept eight. It needed a lot of work.

I did my best puppy dog eyes to my wife, and next thing you know, I had myself a project.


When we bought the Palco, it had been renamed Kittiwake, and prior to that, Rejoyce. The previous owner had done some research into the history of the boat and he found that she had been built in 1962 for Pat Soderberg at Tripple & Everett Marine Ways, in Seattle.  As far as I know the boat spent most of it’s life in Alaska. 

Tripple & Everett Marine Ways had been Treutle Marine Ways, established in 1944, by John R. Treutle. He had transferred all the machinery and equipment, including the Marine Ways, from his previous yard in Cordova, Alaska. He had been operating there since 1927. The new yard was located on Spokane Street in Seattle, under the Spokane Street Bridge. It was over the Duwamish Waterway, between the industrial district and west Seattle. In 1947, he sold the yard to Donald B. Tripple and Warren A. Everett. They operated into the 1970’s though increasingly more as repairers rather than builders. 

Once we got the boat, we hauled it out on our small side railway. We finally saw just how substantial it was. There is a lot of boat under the water. The Palco draws five and a half feet in the stern, and four feet in the bow.

One of the cool things I discovered after hauling the boat was the bronze struts holding up the swim step. They had been custom cast, with the boat name and the year built.

There was ⅝” iron bark sheathing, in a band thirty inches wide, that went all the way around the boat. That sheathing is important in this part of the world, since some of the quieter bays and inlets can have thin sheets of skin ice anywhere from October to April. Driving through that in an unsheathed wood boat can be catastrophic, as the thing sharp ice acts as a chisel, gouging deep grooves along the bow and down the sides. The downside of iron bark sheathing, is that the planks and seams in this area are never looked at or maintained. Out of sight, out of mind. So I knew I needed to pull it out to look. 

The planking on the Palco is 1 ⅜” yellow cedar, over 1 ¾” x 2 ¼” oak frames, steam bent into place. The framing for the house and deck is fir. 

The rough plan I had was to replace planks as needed and reef, refasten and recork from the waterline down on the port side (it is the oldest to the shop door), then the starboard side. Once that is done, move the scaffolding and work on waterline up. Then deck and house, then interior. 

The iron bark was held on with #10 stainless steel flathead square drive screws. Over the screw eads, instead of wooden plugs, someone had carefully filled each hole with cement. What an incredible pain in the ass. I chipped each one out with a small slotted screwdriver, then cleaned out the square with a Phillips head screwdriver I had ground to a point. Then carefully try to remove them with a cordless impact driver. Quite often, I had to remove the bit from the driver and tap it into the screw head with a hammer, to get it to sit properly. Then slide the driver onto the bit, then remove the screw. Note to self; use wood plugs when you put it back together!!

Once the iron bark was removed, I was able to identify eight planks that needed replacing and proceeded with demo.

Once the planks were removed, I could see that the aft fifteen or so frames were cracked…most at least halfway through. So one more thing to add to the list. 

First, however, I needed to reef the port side below the waterline, then refasten from the garboard plank to up above the waterline.

Need to stabilize the remaining planks before subjecting them to the pushing and pulling and banging of the installing new planks and frames. 

…And that is where I’m at now. Working on the refastening. I am using #14 x 2 ½” hot dipped galvanized screws. The original fasteners were bronze ring shank nails. Bronze screws just aren’t in my budget. When I get done driving in the screws, I’m going to carefully put in a wood plug in case anyone ever wants to take them out.


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