Schooner Nellie Coleman

Information from  Jeanne Rinear rancher@alaska.net

My grandfather, Lars R. Ostnes, joined the crew of the schooner "Nellie Coleman" in 1903. This schooner was built in 1883 and weighed 160 tons. The American fishing schooners were admired at home and abroad for their sailing qualities, seaworthiness and beauty. Previous to 1903 she had been used in the gold rush trade to Alaska with Capt.A. S. Ross as commander. The schooner "Nellie Coleman" fished out of Seattle in 1903, 1904 and 1905 for the Seattle and Alaska Fish Company. Lars and his crewmembers were a part of the growing Bering Sea Cod fishing fleet.

With two other schooners in the fleet they caught 311,500 fish. On the "Nellie Coleman" double ended dories would be let down from the mother ship and using oars, the men would fish with pole and line. They would return to the mother ship with their daily catch. Usually there were at least two men to a dory since they were quite large and very heavy. Lars,  however being six feet four inches and very strong was able to handle his dory alone. This was an accomplishment unheard of in those days, considering the cold, rough seas, wind and the ever-present fog.

In 1904 Lars returned to the Bering Sea and with one more  schooner added to the fleet the catch was 384,324 fish.  During one of the Bering Sea's storms in 1904 the captain,  evidently going mad, had climbed the mast with knife in mouth and proceeded to cut the rigging. After subduing the captain the crew was able to return to Seattle. Lars decided to end his commercial fishing career and left the crew in Juneau, Alaska that autumn. It turned out to be a good decision as the "Nellie Coleman", under new command, was lost at sea the next year..

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Friday, 18-Feb-2005 09:46:40 CST