Flying Bird

From last year:

One of my earliest memories as a boy growing up on the shores of Puget Sound was a ride on the Kalakala or “Flying Bird” in the language of the native Chinook. Given the less elegant nick-name of Silver Slug by the skeptical locals, she must have been quite a site on the cold waters of the Sound when Seattle was still near to her birth as a frontier logging town. By the time I set foot on her decks she was far removed from her glory days and would soon suffer the undignified fate of being beached near Kodiak, Alaska and utilized as a salmon cannery for the remainder of her years, but she was the first boat I had ever been on that rightly could be called a ship and I was awestruck by her streamlined Art Deco lines. The hull had a reputation as being cursed since becoming stuck on the ways at launch and she didn’t disappoint over the decades, being involved in a number of mishaps and collisions, usually at the expense of other craft and docks due to her Merrimack like hull design.

Rescued from her Alaskan tomb a few years ago and towed back to Seattle with much civic fanfare, there was talk of restoration and renewal but it seems the curse holds. Lack of money and interest eventually doomed the Flying Bird to a backwater berth in an industrial district, crumbling a little further with each passing winter and now without even the modest blue collar work she ably performed in her later years to sustain a sense of pride in what she once was, she fades away, mostly forgotten.

I remember.

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5 responses to “Flying Bird

  1. Awesome.

    I’m from the area, so I appreciate you taking the time to post this.

  2. One of the many things I miss about living near Seattle as a kid.

  3. The Kalakala may be rusting and rotting but Sylvester is still on duty at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.

    In the great scheme of things I wish we’d figured out a way to restore the Kalakala and disband the Seafair Pirates.

  4. I haven’t laid eyes on Sylvester in a long time.

    The Seafair Pirates were more fun back when they practiced public drunkeness and kidnapped women off the streets. They are to pirates as The Seattle Storm is to “real” basketball.

  5. Your dad would have really enjoyed that history of the Kalakala. It was still in operation when he was on Whidby Island back in 1947 for basic training in the Army before he left for Japan with the occupation troops.

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