My family was so touched by the March 30 Michele Thomas column, “Raising of the vessel Stormy,” that I am moved to fill in a bit more of Stormy’s history.
My father, Charles Edward Hakala, owned the Stormy approximately 44 years ago. He docked her at Harbor, Ore., and commercial-fished on her for a while.
I was about 12 or 13 years old then and spent a couple of months living on the Stormy with him, as his “boat-puller,” as they called young boys then who were hired to help on commercial vessels. I was the only girl living on and helping with a commercial fishing venture at that time. I still have my commercial fishing license from that summer.
My father had worked on commercial fishing boats on the Columbia River when he was a young teenager, and being of Finnish bloodline, he always had commercial fishing in his blood.
At the time he fished the Stormy, she had no electronics, to speak of. He had a CB radio that would only receive, not transmit. He used a $2 transistor radio to head toward the harbor, in the dense fog. He would turn it around until the signal from a local radio station came in strongest; then steer her in that direction!
Often times we were the last boat back to the harbor. We would be almost there and he would say to me, “Honey, I bet there is one big fat lazy salmon out there that is just now coming out to eat, let’s make one more run around and ‘get him’!”
Pretty soon the Coast Guard would be calling over the CB, “Stormy come in now, it’s getting late, Stormy, come on in.”
My dad was a great seaman, was in the Navy 20 years and taught his grandsons to navigate among the rocks, and taught them the waves and how to know where they were in the ocean. He had a smaller boat then and only fished for pleasure, but, he always loved the Stormy — as did his wife, daughters and grandsons.
We never lost track of her over the years, making several trips to see her. We saw the changes she went through. The very top deck added, rigged to fish for crabs, etc.
We have followed with great anticipation and tears as we saw her survive the first wave of the tsunami, with the Misty Rose crowding her, then saw her empty slip at the dock, then she was floating free in the harbor, then her demise. Our family lives in Grants Pass, Ore.; we have followed every bit of news we could get.
We have fond memories and love for the Stormy over many years. Please forward our deepest feelings of loss to Charles Schnacker and his son.
I could not help but think, when you said a rainbow had appeared as Stormy was raised, that it was my Dad, Charles Hakala, reclaiming her as his own, this time from heaven. If so, she truly does have a captain again. Mr. Hakala passed away approximately 15 years ago.
Sherry L. Watson, maiden name Hakala, is a Grants Pass resident and a former deckhand on the Stormy.