The Sea Hawk was built in Tacoma, Washington in 1920 (65 feet by 16 feet) and named the "Garfield" after President Garfield. She was used as a Pursainer, to fish for Mackerel and Sardines. Later when that fishery ended, she was named the Sea Hawk rigged as a Dragger. She fished for bottom fish and rock cod, dragging a net on the ocean floor from three (3) miles of the coast. I bought the vessel in 1976 (a very good time in my life). The Sea Hawk, of all the vessels that I have had, made love to the Sea. We worked well together. We worked out new grounds off the Santa Barbara Channel Islands and it paid off. My crew and I woke early one morning and started fishing. The first tow the Sea Hawk came to a stop as we were pulling in the net and then the Sea Hawk started to move backward at 1 1/2 Knots (around 3 miles per hour). My crewman yelled, "We are hung up on the bottom!". I said, "I hope the net does not pop up under the vessel". When the net "blew" out of the water, it was 15 feet high. Filled with rock cod (l8,000 pounds). I said, "Let's hang the doors and get the mud lines in and the bridles on the net reel, before the fish start coming out the mouth of the net. Everything went well and we had the net of fish along side. Now we had to get the fish onboard. The net was so full that the cod-end was to far away from the rail to grab the splitting strap, so we could start lifting the fish onto the deck. So one of my crew, took the single (a line that is 1 1/4" in Diameter) that we lift the cod-end with, in one hand and jumped onto the fish floating next to the Sea Hawk and walked on the fish to the splitting strap and hooked it up. I have pictures of what we did and I will tell you the story with pictures. For a Captain, I could not of had a better crew. I hope you enjoy the story of Photographs from the Past.

The Sea Hawk making a tow off San Miguel Island and
a diagram of the Drag Gear that I used.

This Table of Terms will help you
TOWLINES Towlines are used to tow the net on the ocean floor. The towlines are marked off every 25 fathoms (6 feet to a fathom)
A good example: If making a tow in 100 fathoms of water you would have 250 fathoms of towline out. It is very important that the markings on the towlines
are even.
DOORS Doors are used to spread the net open. They run on the ocean floor and can be ajusted to spread more or less and to dive more or less. Good Doors are very important.
MUDLINES Mudlines are wraped cable or cable with rubber hose over it. They stir up the ocean floor, making clouds of mud (like a fence)on each side to heard fish into the net. The Mudlines are around 60 fathoms long.
BRIDLES Bridles are around 20 fathoms long and the botton of the Bridle hooks to the Footrope and the top Bridle hooks to the Headrope. So as to let the net open.
HEADROPE & FLOATS The Headrope(made of rope ~ not wirerope) on the net has the floats attached to it so the net is held open. The floats are speacially made for fishing deep water. Spacing is very important so as to let the net fish even. To many in the same place will lift the footrope off the ocean floor, letting the fish escape.
FOOTROPE The Footrope(made of rope ~ not wirerope) is the lower lip of the net opening. I hung 3/8" chain from the footrope (scalloped) and with enough spacing so the chain could drag on the ocean floor and pull the footrope close to the ocean floor, so flat fish could not escape.
BODY The Body of the net. The net fish's like a giant horn of plenty on the ocean floor. The netting in the Body is larger 7" mesh webbing, so it has less resistance against the water. The netting fish's in a diamond shape as all of the net does.
INTERMEDIATE The Intermediate is between the Body and the Cot-end. It is built of 5" mesh webbing and has a taper from the Body to the Cot-end.
COT-END The Cot-end is where the fish end their journey. The Cod-end is a heavier 5" mesh webbing. It is made with another Cod-end inside of the first. The reason is if the Cod-end catches on a rock or coral it will tear 3 or 4 meshes in the outside Cod-end and it will only tear 1 or 2 on the inside Cod-end. It will cut down the loss of fish.
SPLITTING STRAP The Splitting Strap is set to split around 5000 lbs of fish per lift. A single cathead line is used to lift the fish on board and hold it while a crewman pulls the Pucker String and dumps the fish on the deck. The Pucker String is made back up and the Cot-end is put back into the water and filled with more fish and so on until the net is empty. Oh yes ! In the picture you see another line from the Splitting Strap to the Body of the net with a yellow float ~ This is a "Choo-Choo Line, so if we can not reach the Splitting Strap, we can grab it to get to the Strap. Sometimes with 18,000 lbs of fish ~ that is hard to do.

If you have any questions. Please E-Mail and I will be glad to answer them for you.


"The Admirer"

Started fishing out of Avila Beach, California and later Santa Barbara, California. 1976 to 1982. Good memories.

Putting Ice in Hold

"Underway, Heading for San Miguel"

Evening at anchor, San Miguel Island
Arrived at San Miguel Island. Had dinner and listening to the Sea Lions and Elephant Seals play on the beach. They swim under the Sea Hawk and make sounds that echo through the hull. A good nights sleep and we will awake one hour before sunrise, have breakfast and start fishing.

Good Morning ~ Making a two hour tow in 85 fathoms. The idea is to avoid rocks or snags on the bottom as we tow the net on the ocean floor. The first tow lets you know witch way the current is running. Everything looks good. It has been a slow 3 months and we have worked out these new tows around San Miguel and hope that it pays off.

A nice day off San Miguel. Starting to haul in the gear, we are going forward at 1 1/2 knots and when the net came off the bottom the Sea Hawk slowed down to a STOP, and then started to go backward at 1 1/2 knots. One crewman said, "We are hung on the bottom". I said, "No the net is off the bottom and on it way to the surface. Hope it doesn't come up under the boat".

The net blew out of the water so fast. If there was a Seagull sitting in the water and the net blew. It would have thrown it 40 feet into the air. The net blew out of the water and was a good 15 feet high. "OK", I said, "Let's get the Doors hung off and the Mudlines in and the Bridles on the Netreel, before the fish start to come out the mouth of the net". Everything went well.

On the Netreel and headed down swell at 1 1/2 knots. Reeling in the Net. Once we get the Net on the Netreel, we well pull it into the Intermediate. Then we will put a sling around it and lift the Net into the air turning the Sea Hawk to Starboard, bring the Net along side so we can start putting the fish on board.

The Sling is put around the Intermediate and lifted, so the Net will clear the Davit, that holds the Door on the starboard side, right side of vessel. (Port side is the left side of vessel)

The Sea Hawk is put in a position where the Starboard side of the vessel is facing up-swell, so she will drift downhill. Holding the net of fish away from the side.

That's alot of fish! They average 3 to 4 pounds each.

Got to get ahold of the Splitting Strap.

Don grabs the Single Line and jumps on the the fish floating in the Net and walks to the Splitting Strap and hooks the Single to it.

Lifting the first fish aboard. Then the Pucker String is pulled, dumping the fish on the deck.

The Pucker String is made back up and the Cot-end is put back into the water. It is filled with fish again and the process is done over and over again until all of the fish is aboard.

Rail to Rail and knee high.

Well ~ Let's make another tow. Running to set back and hopefully do it again.

Tie Pucker String and get ready to set back and make another tow. Hopefully as good as the last one.

Got the net on the bottom, making another tow so now the work starts. We have to put the fish in the hold. We put them in the slaughter bin. From there the fish are separated by what kind of fish they are. Like Rock Cod, English Sole, Petrale Sole, Ling Cod and so on. The Rock Cod are placed in a layer and then Iced. All the fish are iced to hold for (4) four days. We have a single hook that is straightened out and used as a pew, to put the fish in the slaughter bin.

Another good tow it is a "Great Day". We loaded the Sea Hawk in 1 1/2 days and started in to Santa Barbara, California to unload. As we came into the harbor I will put the feelings we had in these words. "We went to sea and fought the elements, found the fish and brought them home. The feeling added up to SELF-SATISFACTION". Not many men and women have that feeling, but my crew and I will relish that feeling forever.

Tied to the dock and sorting the fish to be unloaded.

On the Dock the fish buyer's men dump the fish into bins and ice them down again. Then taken to the plant, to be processed and delivered to the restaurants and markets. Restaurant owners would wait for the Sea Hawk to come in, just to get the fresh fish. We were talking about this once and we estimated that we put over 60 people to work. That was a good feeling, too.

One of the best compliments I ever had was a Santa Barbara resident with some friends of his said, "The only time you see this boat in the harbor ~
It is unloading fish!".
Thank You, Marv France


Cien D
Santa Barbara, California