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Physical Description

The M.V. Westward is a classic wooden motor vessel constructed in 1924 in Dockton, Washington. She is 86 feet long, and her beam measures 18 feet 8 inches across. Her draft is 9 feet 5 inches and displacement is 137.5 tons. She is powered by her original four cylinder Atlas Imperial diesel engine which provides 110 h.p. (horsepower) at 325 r.p.m. (revolutions per minute) and gives her a cruising speed of eight knots at 290 r.p.m.. The Westward has a fuel capacity of 2,200 gallons for a cruising range of 2,500 nautical miles, and she carries 1,000 gallons of fresh water with a reverse osmosis water maker.

She has a cannery tender type hull and the interior cabin spaces of a yacht, with accommodations for up to 11 passengers and six crew. Her design is significant as a transitional or hybrid form between a traditional work boat and a lighter more elegant leisure boat. The Westward is a fully operational motor vessel which retains a high degree of integrity and has been carefully maintained and periodically restored over her 83-year career.

Hull Construction

The Westward is stoutly built of old growth vertical grain Douglas fir timbers with galvanized steel ship spikes, lags and bolts. The hull is a deep “V” shape with heavy-duty plank on frame construction. Frames are 8 inch by 8 inch sawn fir, spaced at 18 inch centers, with 2¾ inch fir planking, 2 inch fir ceiling (structural interior planking), and a full-length 2 feet 6 inch by 3 feet single-timber keel of Oregon pine.  Beams are 3½ inch by 5 inch with braced knees.

The sheer line (upward curve of the deck when viewed from the side) is fair and graceful. The plumb stem is constructed of purpleheart, a tropical hardwood that replaced the deteriorated original fir stem during the Westward’s 2005-06 restoration. The horseshoe-shape flared stern is one of the vessel’s most notable characteristics. The bulwarks (planking between the sponson and the deck edge) have rows of bronze portholes on each side. Mooring cleats and hawse holes are evenly spaced along the deck edge. Varnished wood anchor guards on the port and starboard bow contrast with her light gray painted hull, and black and burgundy trim, to give the Westward her distinct and classic appearance.

Deck Configuration and Deckhouse Exterior

The Westward’s deck profile includes an open foredeck, a raised pilot house with attached deckhouse behind, and an open aft deck. The deck is flush (it has a continuous surface, bow to stern, without steps), with 2½ inch square fir planks. Side and aft decks are covered by deckhouse roof extensions, supported by evenly spaced reinforcement pillars made of metal. Boarding gates are midship and aft to port and starboard.

The anchor winch (remarkably, one of many components of the vessel’s original equipment) is immediately aft of the bow. A raised opening called a fidley in the center of the open foredeck provides access to the below deck crew’s quarters via a wooden ladder. The three-quarter length deckhouse is constructed of fir and cedar, with mahogany and teak trim, and is divided fore to aft as follows: pilot house, salon, galley/crew dining area, and utility areas. Access to the deckhouse is provided by five varnished wood splash-tight joinery doors to starboard and three to port including Dutch type doors in the galley/crew dining area and the engine room access. Five drop type single light wood framed windows measuring approximately 17 inches by 25 inches provide forward and side visibility from the pilot house. Slightly larger windows line both sides of the deckhouse except in the utility spaces and engine room access trunk.

The upper deck (deckhouse roof) is open for storage of lifeboats and other watercraft. The original wood plank yacht tenders have been replaced by a variety of auxiliary watercraft including a 14 foot inflatable utility boat, a 16 foot rowing tender, and several sea kayaks. An inflatable emergency life raft is also stored on the upper deck. Two pair of davits holding electric winches fitted with sheaves and pulleys are fixed to the upper deck and are used to raise and lower auxiliary craft. A funnel (exhaust stack) rises from the engine room through the deckhouse roof to a height of 7 feet above the roof, and displays a “PC” logo for vessel owner Pacific Catalyst Expeditions LLC.

Fore and aft tapered wood masts rise 46 feet above the waterline. The Westward’s original design included steadying sails. There is no evidence of such sails being utilized in the past; however, the current owner has set sails for steadying and motive assistance. The foremast is used as a signal mast and the aft mast and boom are equipped with an electric winch to facilitate loading of stores and equipment. The masts are stayed by galvanized cables which extend through chain plates to the hull. A metal rung ladder extends to the top of the aft mast.

Deckhouse Interior

The pilot house interior space measures 9 feet across by 8 feet 6 inches fore to aft and is 6 feet 6 inches in height. A centered wood console includes a brass steering stand and wheel. The wheel is 46 inches in diameter from spoke to spoke, and is made of teak and oak. Engine controls and navigation equipment are located throughout the cabin. An overhead chart table and built-in settee are aft. Overhead is painted open beam. Original brass fittings are used throughout the deckhouse. Interior access to the salon is through a wood joinery door to port aft and two steps down.

A spacious and elegantly furnished salon measuring 12 feet across by 16 feet fore to aft, and 6 feet 6 inches in height, is aft of the pilot house and has several windows on both sides. Windows follow the sheer line and so are not quite square. Forward at centerline is a semi-enclosed stairwell leading to below deck spaces. The cabin’s port side is lined with built-in teak cabinetry and a settee with storage below. Aft athwartship (center rear) in the main salon is a wood burning fireplace surrounded by built-in teak cabinetry and bookshelves with a center mirror above. The cabin’s starboard side has a navigation station  forward with a built-in locker below. The starboard side of the salon continues with a settee and a
varnished teak single drop leaf eight to ten place dining table. Overhead is painted teak detailed open beam, and the deck is painted wood. An aft starboard interior doorway provides access to the galley/crew dining area.

Aft of the salon is the galley/crew dining area, measuring 12 feet across by 11 feet fore to aft, and is 6 feet 5 inches in height. The galley is dominated by a four burner gas range and oven forward to starboard of the centerline. A stainless steel splash shield and storage cabinetry is built-in, with an “L” shaped counter top, a sink and dish bins to port. Aft are working and serving counters, refrigerator/freezer unit, other appliances, countertop eating areas and additional storage lockers. The space is open beamed, and deck and overhead are painted wood.

Aft of the galley to starboard is a Dutch door leading to a laddered engine room access trunk. This ladder also provides upward access to the upper deck. Aft of this trunk entryway is an enclosed utility/storage room also accessible from the starboard main deck. Aft of the deckhouse is a large open mahogany deck area measuring 17 feet across by 17 feet fore to aft at centerline, and 6 feet 2 inches in height. The aft deck is rounded at the stern following the shape of the hull. An extended upper deck of painted teak open beam provides overhead shelter. Varnished wood and glass panels extend for 8 feet on either side of the overhead deck extension and provide a weather enclosure for a built-in cushioned settee locker. A lift type covered hatch is to centerline leading to the lazarette storage area below deck.

Below Deck

The configuration fore to aft below deck is as follows: chain locker at the fore, crew and captain’s quarters, staterooms, engine room, and lazarette (storage and steering systems), with watertight bulkheads dividing each section. Berthing spaces accommodate up to six crew, and staterooms accommodate up to 11 passengers.

The chain locker stows 600 feet of anchor chain (300 feet on each side) which secures two 300-pound Navy Patent anchors. The anchor chain exits the chain locker through stainless steel hawse pipes surrounded by varnished wood anchor guards. The chain locker is accessible from the foc’s’l (a contraction of forecastle, the traditional name for the below deck cabin space in the bow).

Crew quarters in the foc’s’l measure 6 feet across at the fore, widening to 15 feet across at the aft of the cabin following the shape of the hull. This space measures 16 feet fore to aft, and is 7 feet 5 inches in height. The anchor winch motor controller is centerline forward. The foc’s’l contains three single berths, under-berth storage drawers, a wardrobe, built-in shelving and settees, an enclosed head (bathroom) with toilet, shower stall, vanity and wash basin, with separate entry to the captain’s stateroom. The captain’s stateroom contains two berths with storage drawers, lockers and a built-in desk. Spaces are painted wood, and overhead is open beam. Watertight portholes provide natural lighting.

Aft of the forward crew quarters are four staterooms and two enclosed heads, all divided by wood joinery doors opening off of a central corridor. Staterooms measure between 100 and 120 square feet, and between 6 feet 8 inches and 7 feet in height, and contain single and/or double berths, built-in storage lockers, wardrobes and shelving. Overhead is painted wood, and watertight portholes serve each space. Staterooms were completely refurbished in 2000.

Aft of the staterooms is the engine room, which measures 16 feet across by 20 feet fore to aft, and is 6 feet 6 inches in height. The engine room contains the main engine, a four cylinder diesel auxiliary generator and twin 1,000 gallon fuel tanks. Aft of the engine room is the lazarette, which includes storage space, the waste water tank and the vessel’s steering mechanism.


The Westward’s most remarkable physical component is her original Atlas Imperial diesel engine, manufactured in 1923. The engine was not installed in a traditional sense; rather, the vessel was actually constructed around the engine. The engine is a 4 cylinder 9 x 12 diesel, having the model number 4HM763; 4 refers to the number of cylinders, HM stands for heavy marine; 763 is the measure of the cubic inches per cylinder, each of which has a 9 inch bore and 12 inch stroke. The engine is 12 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 7 feet in height, including 1 foot below the floorboards and 6 feet above the floorboards of the engine room. The current owner operates the engine at 290 r.p.m. for a cruising speed of about 8 knots.

The Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine Company manufactured high quality marine and stationary engines in Oakland, California from the early 1900s through the 1940s. Diesel engines were developed in the late 19th century and their use became widespread as an element of World War I technology. After the war, Atlas Imperial quickly became the engine of choice for work boats, replacing earlier steam engine technology. In 1922, the Atlas Imperial manufactured the first full diesel engine using all United States patents, a significant milestone in American industry. According to Atlas engine expert Dan Grinstead, the Westward’s engine is the oldest Atlas marine diesel engine still working commercially.1 The only known older example of an Atlas Imperial full diesel engine is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History.

The Westward’s Atlas Imperial engine employs an air-start lever/valve at each cylinder to supply pressurized air into each cylinder in order to get the mammoth engine revolving. As 220 pounds of air  pressure is introduced into the starting system, the massive flywheel begins to rotate as the engine turns over. Each starting lever is then pulled separately to inject fuel into the cylinders; the engine is started, quite literally, one cylinder at a time. Shortly after the Westward’s engine was built, the starting system in subsequent Atlas engines was changed to a more conventional single starting handle.

Over 100 points on the engine must be oiled by hand every two or three hours while the vessel is underway. This Atlas engine has propelled the Westward from Seattle to Alaska countless times, down the West Coast to Central America, through the Panama Canal to the Atlantic Ocean, and around the world on a five year, 47,000 mile journey.

1 Dan Grinstead, Interview, 11/14/06.


As a working vessel, the Westward has undergone periodic restorations throughout her career, with minimal changes to her original appearance. During the historic period, the aft deckhouse was extended approximately 4 feet to its present length of 39 feet and the aft deckhouse cover was extended all the way to the stern. Historic photographs show that during a short period of the 1930s, the aft deck was completely enclosed; however, this alteration has been reversed and her original open aft deck has been restored. Mechanical and electrical systems have been periodically upgraded. Work on the hull, decking, and other exterior features has involved replacements in-kind of historic materials based on original plans
to preserve her original appearance.



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