Multi-storey ship appeals to Port Townsend for repairs


Recent visitors to the Boat Haven Marina in Port Townsend may have unwittingly witnessed a brief visit to a powerful and historic boat with an equally historic name: the Sacajawea.

Owners Brian Hofstetter and Jessica Rollins and the crew stopped in town to do some repairs after transporting north from California. The group was on their way to Ketchikan, Alaska to begin a charter project in which customers will have the option of staying on the boat while navigating the Inside Passage.

“Until about September 15, we’ll be doing round trips between Wrangell and Juneau. [Alaska]”Hofstetter said of his plans for Sacajawea.” They’re going to the Tonga National Forest and various other green attractions. “

The upcoming adventures of Sacajawea should be familiar to the old maid. Before being privately owned, the Sacajawea had another name: the Robert Gray and the Don J. Miller. It also had the Navy call sign LT666 during WWII. Some of the many previous wakes left by Sacajawea have included tours in the service of the Army Corps of Engineers, surveys for the US Geological Survey and perhaps even underhand hydrographic survey work in the strategically critical region of the Aleutian Islands during the Second World War.

After the war, in 1946, the LT666 was redundant and transferred to the San Francisco District of the Army Corps of Engineers as Robert Gray.

Its current owners aren’t sure when the ship came into the hands of the USGS, but documentation from 1970 suggests they were responsible for installing the ship’s current engine.

Working for the USGS as Don J. Miller II – in honor of revered geologist Don John Miller – the ship returned to its survey work in Alaska in the late 1960s.

Construction of the Sacajawea was completed in 1936 at the Lake Washington Shipyard using a design by naval architect WC Nickum.

According to her owners, the Sacajawea was also the first ship of its kind to be fitted with a dual diesel-electric propulsion system.

Coincidentally, WC Nickum’s grandson Will Nickum is helping to plan future efforts to refuel the ship with clean energy using a hybrid propulsion system.

After purchasing the ship in 2018, Hofstetter and Rollins made the choice to rename the boat Sacajawea, in honor of the woman Lemhi Shoshone who helped guide Lewis and Clarke on their journey to the Pacific Northwest. Fittingly, Sacajawea will continue his journey helping a new generation of explorers answer the call of the wild.

“It’s really a support for people to go out and see nature; for them to get closer to nature than they normally would, ”he said. “The guides who are on board have been doing it for 35 years and they really know their way. “

Hofstetter added that some of the trips will include expert photography tours that will give passengers on board a chance to hone their skills by photographing the wildlife they encounter on the trip.

In addition to the owners and clientele, those traveling to Sacajawea will include a pair of guides, an engineer, a captain, an executive officer and a cook.

“It’s a historic experience, it’s not a yacht,” said Hofstetter. “She’s an opportunity to experience what it’s like to travel the same way her historic crew traveled. You don’t stay in a white room with thin linens.”

“That being said, Jess put 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets on all the beds and she’s interested in people having a good time and not bullying him completely,” he added. “It’s always a very authentic experience.

For its important roles at major historical events, Hofstetter and Rollins requested that the Sacajawea be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information on boating aboard the Sacajawea, visit or call 650-440-7220.

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