PITTSBURG -- For years, the yellow wooden boat that pays homage to Pittsburg's commercial fishing industry past has marked the entrance to the marina. But the boat's days are numbered due to dry rot and exposure to the elements. Soon, a restored 28-foot Monterey clipper fishing boat originally built by a Pittsburg craftsman in 1945 and used in local waters will take her place.
"The yellow salmon boat is falling apart. It's been falling apart for some time," Pittsburg Marina Harbor Master Van DePiero said of the wind-powered Bristol Bay gillnetter that fished both local and Alaskan waters and was donated to the city in 1984 by local fisherman Joseph "Squash" Papetti.
Efforts to restore the 86-year-old boat named Red Salmon proved to be too much of a challenge. So the city and Pittsburg Historical Society figured it was time for the old boat to go and be replaced by the Pescatori.
"We've pulled it out, and it's in my work yard," DePiero said of the Monterey clipper that is primarily white with blue trim. "We want to make sure it is sealed up really well and then give it a fresh coat of paint."
Plans also call for building a canopy over the Pescatori after the move to help protect her from the elements that doomed the Red Salmon.
Powered by a small engine, Monterey clippers were a huge part of the commercial fishing industry in San Francisco Bay, Monterey Bay and the Delta before they were replaced by larger commercial boats.
Monterey clippers suit local waters very well, he added.
"This kind of boat was predominantly used here in the river, because with the tides working, sometimes wind power wasn't good enough," he said. "You've got narrow waterways and a running tide, and if the wind isn't blowing, you aren't going anywhere."
Officials had hoped to have the Pescatori on display at the marina entrance in time for the upcoming Pittsburg Seafood and Music Festival on Sept. 6-7, but that's not likely to happen, according to DePiero.
What will become of the old yellow boat?
"There is nothing left of it," he said. "It's junk; the planks are all dry rot. ... When they try to move it, it will probably fall apart."
The Pescatori was built in Pittsburg in 1945 by John DeStefano for Martinez fisherman Luigi Pellegrini and was originally named the Renshaw.
"It's come back to where it was originally built," DePiero said.
The Monterey clipper has been berthed at the marina since 2007 after Historical Society members acquired it for $2,500 from a boat owner in Tiburon. Restoration work was done by Historical Society volunteers and marina workers. After work was completed in 2008, the boat was on display until it was relocated to prepare for the upcoming move to the harbor entrance.