The Investor’s First Season: Mark Coulthurst Goes Fishing

Mark Coulthurst’s story belongs to Blaine, WA., a small farming and fishing community between Bellingham and Vancouver, B.C.. It was there that the 1982 fishing season would begin. There that Mark and his crew pulled together their plans, and their gear, for a successful season.

Blaine Pier, Mt. Baker in background (circa 1940; Whatcom Museum)

Mark Coulthurst: Doing the Bellingham Scramble (excerpts), by Doug McNair.

The Investor, one of the John Schubert-designed, Delta “combination” boats, was at the net loading dock, a salmon skiff tied alongside and a herring seine and skiff waiting to be loaded aboard. As crewman Dean Moon outlined the next few months’ itinerary, the Coulthurst style of operation emerged: something boiling on every burner.

Dean Moon (Blaine High, 1980)

With three gill-netters in tow, the Investor was headed out for Petersburg and Prince William Sound where it would tender roe herring while Mark gillnetted. Coulthurst would then team up with Dave Harrison on the Rachel II for the Togiak herring run, prior to taking the Investor to Cordova for an interlude of Dungeness crab and/or halibut, before the Southeastern Alaska seine season gets underway.


Somewhere in there, Mark would pop home for some time with his family and then, in July, bring up his wife, Irene, five-year-old Kimberly, and three-year-old John to spend the salmon season with him.

Togiak herring fishing

On this drizzly, blustery day in Blaine, the tents were going up for a six-month, non-stop, three-ring circus. The first real clue about the ring master was a voice, coming up from the engine room; a deliberate, matter-of-fact cadence, tolling out spare parts numbers to skiffman and engineer Roy Tussing. It didn’t quite go with the face that followed: a face that just didn’t go with a $750,000 seiner and the reputation Bevis had outlined.

The shopping list of belts, filters, and socket sets complete, Coulthurst settled in at the galley table just as his wife Irene popped in. Irene was crew before she was a wife and really missed being onboard when Kim and John were younger. So the Investor was planned as a family boat. This year, the Southeastern salmon season will be not only the focal point of Mark’s fishing but a time for the family to be together, a priority item in the Coulthursts’ business plan.

Blaine Harbor map (courtesy Port of Bellingham)

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2018). All rights reserved.


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