In collaboration with Shellei Addison
Flying Fish Books
GET THE BOOK: Mirene 100, 1912-2012 at Blurb.
Price is $101, plus tax and shipping
230 pages, Fully illustrated, approximately 400 photos including rare historic black and white images,
contemporary full color photos, and nautical charts. Original text includes detailed descriptions which chronicle
Mirene's century of service afloat along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to the San Francisco Bay
Interviews and personal profiles round out Mirene's story of maritime good.
This book was assembled in 2012-2013 by Ryan Phelan, Stewart Brand, and Shellei Addison as a tribute to Mirene’s one hundred years of fortitude.
Initial historical research began in 1982 at the Coos Historical and Maritime Museum in North Bend, Oregon and with a visit to an extraordinary amateur maritime archivist, Victor West, who for decades collected photos of Northwest coast ships.
In 2012, researchers at the Coos Historical and Maritime Museum turned up additional historical photos and news report that helped chronicle Mirene’s adventures over these past 100 years. Contact was made with the families of those who commissioned and built her in 1912 and they too generously donated photos and family lore to the story. Interviews were made to record personal memories. File boxes of the current owners (Phelan and Brand) were rifled through for pictures they and others had taken since 1982. New photos were commissioned from Dusan Mills.
In 2012, Mirene also got new paint, new varnish, serious service on her engine room, repairs to a bad leak along the drive shaft, and a general refreshening with which to take on her second century.
The tugboat Mirene still has her original hull and original name from 1912, when she was built in Coos Bay, Oregon, by the Kruse & Banks shipyard as a 64-foot gasoline schooner. Most wooden ships succumb very quickly to mishap, obsolescence, neglect, or rot. Extremely few last a century. When Mirene was being refitted in Sausalito in the 1980s, a waterfront local commented,
“Some boats have all the luck.”
Originally destined for work in Alaska as a cannery tender, Mirene wound up working the Oregon and Washington coast carrying cargo and passengers from river to river, surviving going aground, fierce storms at sea, and close calls with fire. Converted to a tugboat with a large diesel engine, she towed log rafts on the Columbia and Willamette rivers and became the founding vessel of The Mirene Company, which ran a fleet of tugs out of Portland Oregon. Later she worked at sea as a fishing boat.
In 1975 a creaking Mirene was sailed down the coast to Sausalito to die. Her engine, steering wheel, and hardware went to salvage, and what was left became a derelict houseboat, part of the rowdy Dredgetown community.
In 1982 Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan bought the hulk for $8,000. The abundant maritime talent on the Sausalito waterfront brought Mirene back to life, first as a respectable houseboat on the South Forty Dock, then as a working vessel cruising the Bay Area from Petaluma to the Sacramento Delta to the Pacific Ocean swells she was built for.