The Surf Isle – the rich history of a beloved boat

Allison Hepworth - July 13, 2023

bc fishing bc fishing industry bc history fishing boat fishing family fishing tales life at sea smith sound sustainable seafood wooden boat

(Photo courtesy of Ritchie Shaw. The Surf Isle boat at the church in Smith Inlet circa early 1960’s)

Along the coast of British Columbia, there is rich history of the fishing industry and with it come tales of the boats lovingly bought and restored by fishers and boat enthusiasts.

A boat mechanic in his early life, Richie Shaw, who fishes sablefish for Skipper Otto took the plunge in 2021 and bought the ‘Surf Isle’, a sturdy 40 foot boat built in the 1960’s by Sather Boat Works, which was located in Queensborough, New Westminster, and specialized in building wooden boats (the last wooden boat built there was in 1989).

From an excerpt of the book entitled “A Boat to Take You There” by local BC author Gayle M. Goertzen, Goertzen writes about her time growing up in Smith Inlet, a remote area north east of Port Hardy. BC.  The ‘Surf Isle’, named after a small islet in Smith Sound was commissioned in May 1960 by the logging company Goertzen McGill Gildersleeve or GMG for short. Although the exterior was “white with wood trim and an elegant shape…. she was build to take (on) tough weather… and could haul freight and pull log booms (for GMG)”, shares Goertzen. “She took us on long trips to Vancouver, and she towed our homes to new places. We loved the sight of her… we dove off her roof and suntanned on her bow.”

(Photo courtesy of Richie Shaw. GMG family members diving off the Surf Isle boat)

Having set his sights on buying and refurbishing a wooden boat, when Richie saw that the Surf Isle was for sale, he jumped at the opportunity to downsize from his larger commercial vessel – the Tanza a few years ago. Although it was just the right size for him to go bottom longline fishing for smaller catches of halibut and sablefish, the boat needed considerable work to upgrade it with newer fishing equipment and drums, and to restore it to its former glory.

Very proud of the work that has been put into this restoration, Richie is considering listing his boat in the Victoria Classic Boat Show, in Victoria BC this September. If he does we will be sure to let our members know, in order to tour the ‘Surf Isle’ and admire this wonderfully preserved and well loved vessel.

(Photo courtesy of Richie Shaw. The Surf Isle boat circa 2022)

Allison Hepworth - July 13, 2023

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The Surf Isle – the rich history of a beloved boat

Allison Hepworth - July 13, 2023

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