For three decades beginning in the 1890s, shipyards on the west coast built a fleet of wooden schooners for the profitable halibut and cod longline fishery. The vessels were mainly built from the fir forest of the Pacific Northwest. The last schooner was launched in 1932. It's estimated that 150 halibut schooners once worked along the west coast, Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. Today, less than a dozen classic schooners carry-on the longline tradition.
The Gulf of Alaska is ideal habitat for photographing fishing boats of all kinds. Several years ago, I put together this website to share a few of my schooner and longliner photographs. On this site are nearly three dozen of my favorite longliner portraits. See the Halibut Schooner Thumbnail Gallery. All the vessel images were shot around Seward and Alaska's North Gulf Coast. Many of these vessels are gone, in dry dock or retired from fishing. The remaining fleet of classic schooners is gracefully aging. Many of them tie-up at Fisherman Terminal in Seattle. A few schooners, like the heavily built FV Tordenskjold, have survived the brutal conditions of the North Pacific for more than a century.