“Sea Bear”, built in 1932, was originally named “Forester” and was built for the US Forest Service Ranger Boat Fleet in Alaska, where she served from 1932-1964. As “Forester”, she plied SE Alaska waters for over 30 years, conducting patrols, rescues, and surveys.
After leaving the Forest Service in 1964, she went into private ownership and was renamed “Sea Bear”, working first as part of a bear guiding operation and then as a timber skidder, all in SE Alaska.
In 1969, Bill Clapp of Seattle took ownership and nurtured her back to her current state in his nearly 5 decades of ownership. Bill restored her, added a flybridge, made some alterations to the cabin, and installed a new engine (Sea Bear’s 3rd), after she sank tied up to the dock when Lake Washington froze during a cold-spell, bursting her raw seawater strainer. While homeported in Seattle, Sea Bear made many trips up to BC and Alaska.
She has berths for 6, a daybunk in the wheelhouse, 2 heads, a shower, genset, reefer & freezer; a Dickinson oil stove, a freshwater maker and icemaker. With tankage for 800 hundred gallons of fuel, she cruises at 8 knots at 1350rpm, @7.5 gallons/hr.
We bought her from Mr Clapp in 2018 and re-located her back to Alaska, motoring her up the Inside Passage and across the Gulf of Alaska to her current homeport of Cordova, Alaska.
I was a career fisheries biologist with the US Forest Service and am now a commercial fisherman, both in Alaska. My wife Darcy is also a fisheries biologist with the US Forest Service and had worked on the last of the steel-hulled Ranger boats in SE Alaska. We both feel that it was fate that brought us to Sea Bear.
We are caretakers more than boatowners. Designed by the famed boat builder H.C. Hanson, she has Purple Heart stem and Keel, 5 1/2″ thick Oak ribs on 13″ centers, and Douglas fir decks and planks.
Sea Bear possesses a unique historical pedigree and is a living example of the highly skilled and refined, hand-built, artisan craft of Pacific Northwest wooden boatbuilding during the 1930’s. We feel honored to be part of her history.
When I am on her, I think of the journeys Sea Bear has made and the people she has brought together in her 89 years on the North Pacific Coast.
In 11 years, Sea Bear will be 100 years old. We hope to be around for that, and hope to continue preserving her in the spirit of HC Hanson, the shipwrights past and present, and dedicated caretakers like Bill Clapp.
One dream is to take Sea Bear through the Northwest Passage, up & over the top of Alaska and east through Canada and Greenland beyond. And then after, we hope to find the next caretaker who will usher Sea Bear into her second century on the water.
-Text from Worldwide Classic Boatshow, March, 2021.