Archive for the ‘General Club News’ Category

Olympia Harbor Days 2014

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Even a monsoon couldn’t dampen this years Harbor Days festivities.  Friday was a beautiful day and most boats were on the dock at Percival Landing by friday morning.  Rex and Tana Hasart on RW Confer hosted the RTA potluck on Friday night and everyone had a great time catching up with friends on the back deck.



One of the highlights of the weekend was the arrival of Bob Peck’s new tugboat, Kathy M.  Here’s a little video of Kathy M and Smitty J  with the added bonus of the steam launch Folly. I think the Kathy M was the most coveted boat on the dock.

Saturday started out cloudy, there was a monsoon in the early afternoon and then it cleared up nicely by late afternoon.  But even the damp day didn’t discourage folks from coming down to look at the boats.  Saturday morning also brought a new tug to the docks, Shannon (ex Shannon Foss, Judi M) came down for Harbor Days.  She’s a great looking tug and I loved the engineers seat in the engine room.

We certainly hope Capt. Cindy Stahl and crew make it down again next year. In fact Shannon was given the Spiffy award for being the neatest and classiest boat.  

Saturday night was the Skippers dinner, always a good time for captains and crews.  Bob Peck gave out the Harbor Days plaques to all participating boats and there was a drawing for a $150 fuel gift card.  Snee Oosh (Dunlap towing) was the lucky tug in the drawing.  The Lucky Eagle Casino not only catered the dinner, but also gave away free stays at their hotel at each table.  Karla Fowler, who does the great logo boat artwork, was honored for all her years of Harbor Days artwork and there was a small display of her art at the dinner.  A very sweet example of this years logo boat artwork (Reliable) is presented at the dinner in the form of a cake for desert.

Sunday was race day. All the tugs paraded out led by a couple of the visiting Lord Nelson Victory tugs that were in for one of their rendezvous.  Pet Tug acted as the start line and Thistle Dew ( a member of the RTA for many years) once again acted as the finish line boat.

Here are the race results……

Small Craft  

Mary Anne      13:04

Sandman         13:30

Joe                    13:32

Atka                  15:19


Under 400 hp

Reliable          10:08

Snee Oosh      10:32

Teal                  11:04

Thea Belle       12:39


Over 400 hp

Galene              7:11

Shannon          7:54

RW Confer      9:12


We had a bit of a snafu with the start broadcast for the race though, many tugs could not get the race channel on their radios, so only knew that the race was starting when one of the other tugs would begin racing.  It seems there are two channel 20′s and the one they were using for the race was not always available on older VHF sets.  On Galene there are three VHF units and one handheld, luckily the handheld unit was able to receive the race broadcast.

Back on the dock the winning skippers were congratulated and  Bob Peck, Harbor Days Harbormaster handed out the winning  trophies on the back deck of Galene.   


For more photos and videos of this years Harbor Days, check out the RTA Facebook page.   It’s a public page so you do not have to have a Facebook account to see the page.  



An invitation from Port of South Whidbey’s Harbor at Langley Wa.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Port of South Whidbey Harbormaster Duncan McPhee has extended an invitation to members of the Retired Tugboat Association to attend the Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the newly finished harbor expansion project geared towards larger vessels.  There will be entertainment and refreshments along with speeches and the ribbon cutting.  The date is April 25th and they would love to have some cool looking larger vessels docked on their new dock for the grand opening (and what’s cooler than a vintage tugboat, right?) .  The folks at Langley are very accommodating and friendly and it’s exciting that this area will  now be accessible by larger boats.  Sounds like a perfect impromptu spring rendezvous.

For more information and to reserve a slip, contact the Harbormaster:

Duncan McPhee
Harbor at Langley
228 Wharf st.
Langley Wa. 98260
V.H.F. 66a
Port of South Whidbey
P.O. Box 872
Freeland Wa. 98249


Hilbert Bartels – A Celebration of Life

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

We were sad to learn that Hibert Bartels had passed away last month.  Hilbert and his wife Jeanne were members of the RTA, they own the Island Champion, a WWII Army Tug.  Jeanne has sent along Hilbert’s obituary and directions to the Celebration of Life his family is holding for him next Saturday, Dec 14th from 4-6 PM in Everett at the Van Valey House.


In loving memory

Hilbert John Bartels

March 15, 1941 – November 23, 2013

Beloved father, husband, and friend to many.

Hilbert died at Providence Hospital in Everett, Washington on Saturday November 23rd at 6:29pm.

He was born in Hilversum, Holland, the son of Johanna and John Bartels. They moved to Belgium during the Second World War, where his father was decorated for his work in the underground. It was then that his passion for flying and aviation began. After living through the occupation in Belgium, they took passage way on a ship to Los Angeles, California where he graduated from Culver City High School in 1957 at age 18. He then attended UCLA for 4 years.

Hilbert spent his life in aviation and boating, his two main passions. He was successful at running several businesses including TASCO, after a decade of working at Emerson Electronics. During the TASCO years he supplied a lot of electronics used in Flight Testing of new Boeing airplanes. He was also a pilot and used his twin engine airplane for both business and pleasure.

Boating became more of a passion in the later years- at which time he purchased a 1944 97 foot tugboat called the Island Champion which became lifelong project. He even had his office located on the tug for a time.

He is survived by his wife Jeanne, sons John, Dan, and Colin, and daughter Ann, and his 3 grandchildren Giana, Steven, and Sarah.

He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. He will be forever loved and appreciated for all that he did and all that he was.

Hilbert’s heart, personality, smile, and laugh will be missed by all.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (

A celebration of his life will be held from 4:00-6:00 PM Sturday December 14th at the Van Valey House located at 2130 Colby Avenue in Everett, Washington. Driving Directions:











A new addition to the website, The Bosun’s Locker

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

While chatting with a fellow RTA member, the idea of having a place on the website where we could have a list of RTA member recommended craftsmen and vendors came up.  So we created a page on the website called the Bosun’s Locker, where members could post their recommendations for the benefit of other boat owners.

To share your wisdom and experience with others, send an email to and we will post them on the site.  This will not be a place for people to advertise their own services or wares, we have a classifieds section for that, this will be a place where we can get first hand accounts from actual customers.

If anyone else has ideas for the website, news etc.  Please let us know.  Any member can submit a news item or story.



Tugboat Art

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Have you always wanted a tug but just don’t want to pay for moorage or upkeep? Artist Mark Wilkinson of Plunger Cove Studio will build you the tug of your dreams, send him a photo and he’ll create a beautiful artistic rendition of that boat.   Maybe you or someone you know used to work on a particular tug, even if that tug is no longer afloat, Mark can recreate that special boat.

The Tug Ivanhoe - photo courtesy of Plunger Cove Studio

Ocean Gordon of Mercury Tug and Barge - photo courtesy of Plunger Cove Studio

Mark also creates what he calls “whimsical watercraft” sculpting little tugs and work boats from scraps of wood, rusty nails and other found materials. His technique gives his boats a true vintage workboat feel, like they’ve been towing logs and pushing barges for many years.

Roamer - photo courtesy of Plunger Cove Studio

Plunger Cove Studio can be found at the Granville Island Market in Vancouver, B.C. and at various art shows in the area. Mark has a real passion for tugs and it shows in his artwork.  Check out his website and facebook page for more info and photos.

Mark Wilkinson at his booth at the Granville Island Market - photo by Juliann Tallino

RTA members learn new skills

Monday, December 3rd, 2012


F/V Shenandoah – 1925

Owning a vintage tugboat is hard work, they require a lot of upkeep and having the woodworking/shipwright skills to do the work yourself is a big help.  Even if you hire out all the work, it’s good to have some knowledge of how this work is suppose to be done.  This past weekend the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor held a planking workshop lead by their resident shipwright Nate Slater.  Participants received hands on instruction on the removal and replacement of a large plank on the vintage fishing vessel Shenandoah, built in 1925 in Gig Harbor.

Master shipwright Nate Slater works with students to plane down a large hunk of clear doug fir for the new plank

Several RTA members took advantage of this opportunity to learn some new skills that would help them in the upkeep and restoration of their own vessels.  The Harbor History museum plans on having more of these hands on classes and they’re also looking for volunteers to help with the restoration of the F/V Shenandoah.

RTA members Bill Soderberg (Tug Iver), Marshall Rydell and Harry Rydell (Tug Joe) use a bandsaw to cut the new plank

To see more photos from the workshop, click here.





A thank you letter from Northwest Seaport

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Several RTA members worked with Northwest Seaport to put on the event “Gold Rush Tugs” last Sunday, Sept. 29th.  The Arthur Foss (the newest entry on the RTA boat roster)  is a wonderful historic boat here in Seattle and hopefully events like these will help the NWSeaport to restore and protect this iconic tug.  The RTA presence included several tugs, Elmore, Reliable and Blueberry and a small display about our organization on the stern of the Arthur. Visit the RTA Facebook page to see videos of the Washington running on the Arthur and the Atlas running on the Elmore.

Here’s the text from the letter:

On behalf of Northwest Seaport board, staff and members, I wish to graciously thank you for your commitment to Gold Rush Tugboats.  Your sponsorship, partnership, volunteer commitment, and donations made this engaging event possible.  Families joining the fun really enjoyed themselves.

Together, we created and celebrated a first of-its-kind event at Lake Union Park’s Historic Ships Wharf.  In a conversation with Dee and Sara Meek, owners of the 1890 tugboat Elmore, we developed the idea of Gold Rush Tugboats to highlight Elmore & Arthur Foss, workboats of the Klondike Gold Rush era.  In fact, tugboats Blueberry & Reliable and steamship Virginia V welcomed visitors throughout the gorgeous day.

Northwest Seaport volunteers, staff and friends hosted nearly 400 people aboard Arthur Foss.  Moreover, Northwest Seaport re-established working relationships with you and others from Fremont Towing Company, Old Tacoma Marine, Retired Tugboats Association, National Park Service-Seattle Unit, Steamship Virginia V Foundation, Don McCune Library, Maritime Folknet, Buca di Beppo and author, Chuck Fowler.

Northwest Seaport is moving forward.  Staff, crew from our Job Skills and Work Exchange program and contractors completed many summer projects on Arthur Foss. I am happy to report they repainted nearly the entire ship, rebuilt the fuel pump and grey water system, fixed the rig and finished general maintenance projects.  Folks have been saying, “She looks great!”

Most recently, 4Culture awarded Northwest Seaport a $25,000 Landmark Challenge Grant.  The “challenge” is that we need to raise matching funds to unlock the award to revitalize electrical, pump and fire systems aboard Arthur Foss.  Your participation this weekend gives me great hope that Northwest Seaport will find matching funds quickly.  Please support our effort to make Arthur Foss a living ship museum by making a financial contribution and/or introducing us to potential donors.

Also, I invite you to become a Northwest Seaport member.  Your support is critical to our ability to serve the public.

Best Regards,
Otto Loggers

Maritime Workshop at the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Thought this may be of interest to those members with big wooden tugs.  The Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor is hosting a Maritime Workshop on how to re-plank a wooden work boat hull.

December 1 & 2

Maritime Workshop: Planking; 2:00-5:00pm
The first of a series of maritime workshops taught by shipwright Nate Slater will begin this fall. This workshop will focus on wooden boat restoration. Participants will remove derelict planks from the 64-foot fishing vessel Shenandoah and learn traditional repair techniques, including making a pattern, grading and cutting plank materials, installation, and corking and paying of seams. Cost is $30 per person for Harbor History Museum members, $40 for non-members. Space is very limited due to one-on-one instruction provided. Contact for more information. Pre-registration is required; call (253)858-6722 to register, payment will be taken at time of registration.

Gold Rush Tugs

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

The Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Museum at South Lake Union has invited the Retired Tugboat Association to help them celebrate both the Arthur Foss and RTA member tug Elmore and the role they played during the Alaskan gold rush.  Both tugs will be open for tours, Sunday September 30th.  For more information go to the NWSeaport  website.


Spring Rendezvous at the Net Shed

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

We had an amazing turn out with over 50 folks representing 18 tugs. Our thanks to De Whittier for hosting the rendezvous, what an amazing space to have a party! RTA members new and old brought an incredible amount of food to make it one of our best potlucks ever.

We’re looking for ideas for a summer rendezvous sometime in July maybe? Someplace economical for our larger tugs.