Thea Belle
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Previous Names: YTL 159, Chris Foss, Gold Stack, Sturdy, Coral, Benjamin, Belle
Boat Type: Tugboat/Towboat
Boat Status: Retired
Document #: 290041
Owner: Captain Jim and Dorothea Bennett
Current Moorage: Port Orchard Yacht Club, Port Orchard, WA
Boat State: Washington
Boat Country: USA
RTA Member: Yes
Year Built: 1941
Builder/Designer: United States Navy
Built For: United States Navy
Length: 65
Beam: 17
Draft: 9
Hull: Steel
Power: Cat 379A
HP: 550

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Boat History / Other Notes:
After being built for the US Navy in New York in 1941, YTL 159 sailed through the Panama Canal and over to Pearl Harbor to help clean-up the damage caused by the Japanese bombing. She then sailed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and worked there as a yard tug until the early sixties, when Foss bought her and named her the Chris Foss. In the mid-eighties Foss sold her to a tug company in San Francisco, and she saw several different owners in the Bay area. Jim Bennett bought the Belle in June of 2008 and renamed her the Thea Belle (in honor of his first and probably last wife, Dorothea). Jim and three friends sailed the Thea Belle to Puget Sound in August of 2008. About four miles outside the Golden Gate bridge they entered fog so thick they could only see about 200 feet. The a gale hit and they encountered ten to twenty foot seas and continued in the fog for seven days until reaching the Straits of Juan de Fuca. They went in to Fort Bragg, Eureka, and Newport while coming up the coast. Each entry was about eleven P.M. at night, in the fog, in the storm, over the bars, through the jetties, and into each harbor. The Nobeltec GPS system was amazing and accurate allowing them to navigate to each

entry buoy. Off the Washington coast the generator through a belt and had to be shut-down. We couldn't get it started again after replacing the belt, and soon lost radar, navigation, and still in the storm and fog. We still had a weak VHF and called the Neah Bay Coast Guard. We didn't know our exact location, but a tug and barge went by and relayed our location to the Coast Guard. They arrived in about forty minutes and guided us into Neah Bay. The next morning we left Neah Bay for Port Townsend where the generator was fixed by Port Townsend Shipwrights. The weather was gorgeous from Neah Bay to Port Orchard.

Captain Bennett has since removed the shaft brake, 1943 271 diesel engine/110 volt DC generator, 110 volt DC water pump motor and pump, the 110 volt DC compressor, and exterior ladders. Bennett built a new pilot house and installed it in August of 2011, built exterior steps and railings, rebuilt the air starter, installed upper engine controls, installed a five thousand pound capacity crane, converted one existing tank for engine make-up water, replaced an old fuel tank with a new potable water system, rebuilt much of the engine cooling and fuel systems, replaced the oil coolers on both the engine and transmission, flushed the keel coolers, remodeled the captain's cabin and crew quarters, installed plumbing, radiators and a diesel boiler, built racks for the new Zodiac life boat, installed a new portable CO2 fire system, and added many storage cabinets in the engine room. Yet to do, although the list will never end, are finishing the upper pilot house, installing new fire monitor, pump and piping, and new window panes and portholes.

During the haul-out at Port Townsend in September of 2011 new zincs and bottom paint were installed. Empty weight of Thea Belle is about 85 tons and gross weight is about 100 tons.
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