ILWACO — On a rainy January morning, Ted Martin was chasing a dream.
A longtime commercial albacore fishermen and fixture on the Ilwaco waterfront, Martin is currently closing one chapter and beginning another in the Ilwaco boatyard.
“The price was right and these are well-known boats,” he said while standing beneath the bow of a 33-foot 1984 Chris-Craft Gulf Commander, which he dubbed his “retirement boat.”
Martin said he plans to sell his commercial tuna fishing vessel (F/V Bambi) and re-invest the money in the Chris-Craft, which he bought last spring.
Still, a “bit of engine work” and a “whole lot of interior work” remains before the Chris-Craft will be ready for its next role, Ted said. But the option to buy and overhaul the 38-year-old vessel was an easy one.
“I did this in Canada a lot, re-built yachts. It’s nothing new to me,” he said.
Martin conceded that the twin turbo-charged Volvo Penta six-cylinder diesel engines could be the biggest undertaking,
“One of them has been fired up already, but the other hasn’t, so we’ll see.”
Martin has owned a variety of boats over the years, he said, including his latest addition, acquired last spring.
“In northern British Columbia I had water taxis, fast-freight boats, down on the coast I was a salmon fishermen in B.C., then I emigrated to America. Now it’s time to retire and take it easy. So Bambi will be up for sale in the spring, then I’ll go from there,” he said.
Martin hasn’t settled on an asking price for Bambi, a vessel that served as regular fixture along the Ilwaco waterfront for years, but acknowledged the market may be tough, particularly for a fishery that’s fallen on hard times in recent seasons.
“Right now is not a real great time to sell a tuna boat,” he said.
As for now, Ted is mostly focused on the future and the adventure the Chris-Craft could bring.
“l’m going to take it up to the Tri-Cities and do a lot of exploring around the Columbia and Snake River up to Lewiston, Idaho,” he said.
Martin plans to disembark “as soon as Bambi sells” but hasn’t been in a big hurry with the majority of the necessary prep work on the Chris-Craft still awaits.
“It could go up this summer, but maybe next year, because I’m re-building it right now inside and out. I’m converting it into what I want it to be,” he said
He acknowledged he wasn’t sure how long the trip to Idaho via river would take, adding “It’s not something you do overnight. A couple years maybe, just fish and explore here and there as you’re going.”
He first found the boat in Ilwaco, but may one day take it as far as the Mississippi.
“A friend of mine bought it and the trailer, because he wanted the trailer. Then I bought the boat because I was looking for something similar to rebuild into what I want. I want to live on the river part of the time and do a lot of fishing and traveling. If you go to Lewiston, Idaho on the Snake River, you can then truck it over to the Mississippi I’m told. And that just opens up a whole new world.”
While a majority of the heavy work remains, Martin has already restored the vessel’s original name.
“It’s called the Dream Chaser,” he said.