Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Whidbey Island's own Sea Fighter

The Sea Fighter - Originally called the "X" Craft

I've gotta admit that seeing the pictures of the Navy's new Sea Fighter catamaran makes me kinda proud, since it was built right here on Whidbey island in Western Washington state, by Nichol's Brothers boat builders. Around here it's called the "boat yard", or just "Nichol's".

Back when I was in High school (just after Noah docked the ark!), I got to know the "Nichol's Boys" pretty well. Frank, the the head of the clan, brought his wife and kids (eleven brothers and sisters) to Whidbey island in the early sixties, as I remember.

The took over a small, old-time machine shop on the end of Holmes harbor that had been previously run by Red Cameron, (another local character, but that's another post!).

The old metal lathes and other machines were more or less worn out. They were all driven by flat leather belts that came down to the machines from shafts and pulleys hooked to the ceiling. Wooden one by fours hung down from the cone clutches on the overhead shafts so you could start and stop the machines.

Frank managed to keep his family fed by doing repairs to the local farmers and loggers equipment, while a bit at a time, re-building and fixing up the old machinery, maybe a small fishing boat, or modifying one for a fisherman who couldn't afford to get it done anywhere else. Above all, Frank was a master inventor and machinist, and much of what he knew he passed on to his sons.

As years went by, the boat yard became more and more successful, and their reputation grew. More and more employees were hired, and the business continued to grow to where it is today, one of the largest employers in the county.

They started out with practically nothing, and built it, through a lot of hard work, into a family business of which they can justifiably be proud.

That's the American Dream, isn't it!

5 Comments:

At Tuesday, July 12, 2005 2:58:00 PM, Blogger H2SO4 said...

Very cool story..

Just goes to show you what a little elbo grease and some common sense can do..

Sometimes the success of a man is not known to his generation, but to the generation of his children.

H2SO4 - DH

 
At Wednesday, July 13, 2005 9:37:00 AM, Blogger Murdoc said...

Nice. Thanks for the tip.

Get me a ride on that creature!

 
At Wednesday, July 13, 2005 7:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't just look good. The damn thing can do 50 knots while turning! Another good example of Washington State engineers.

 
At Saturday, November 03, 2007 2:56:00 PM, Blogger Dave said...

I has all those same thoughts also until I did some research and discovered all the area's where Matt has failed miserably.

That property is zoned Light Manufacturing (nothing close to what he has expanded into)and he doesn't bother at all with the permit process for anything he does...looks like his fines add up to about 400k...so far, which I doubt they've paid any of

Their operation should have been closed down years ago....Matt certainly knows boats but he doesn't have a clue about much else.

There won't be any bringing that company back...at least not in its current location.

How would you like to be one of the owners of the 3 boats sitting there not completed...thats a result of mismanagement

I would guess they will end up being launched and completed at Dakota Creek or in Seattle

Spend some time and do the research if the real reasons behind this are of interest to you

Another BIG problem for Nichols is a history of not being able to complete multi-million dollar projects on time

 
At Saturday, November 03, 2007 3:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

once a employee there, know how hard we all worked and my heart goes out to all those family, its hard times, with any lay off, now with no positive outlook to look to going back to work there.good luck guys

 

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