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American-Pacific Whaling Company Fleet

This north Pacific whaling fleet once operated from Bellevue. Six stubby steam-whalers, the Tanginak, Moran, Paterson, Kodiak, Unimak, and Aberdeen, were all oil burners, with speeds of from 10 to 12 knots and crews averaging 12 men each. During the season from June to October a good catch averaged about 60 whales per boat. The boats worked out of Port Hobron and Akutan in the Aleutian Islands, hunting blue, humpback, sperm, and right whales off the banks in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Twice a year the Bellevue wharfs would be crowded with members of families, watching the departure and return of the seamen for the five-month season in the North. A favorite song of these North Pacific and Bering Sea whalemen was:

Bad luck to the day,
I wandered away
And to the man who said I’d make a sailor.
He wrote my name out
To be tumbled about
Aboard an old-fashioned whaler.

Although whalers no longer line Bellevue’s wharfs, a sojourn along Lake Washington still reveals many noteworthy maritime vessels; however, the launches tied up to the many private docks are primarily pleasure boats.