The classic fishing vessel Genius, built in 1920 at the Skansi shipyard and owned and operated for many years by the Crosby brothers, is once again back where she belongs, in the Crosby-Bezich-Skansi-Nielsen family of Friday Harbor and Gig Harbor.
Jason Crosby, grandson of Leonard Crosby and great nephew of Buddy Bezich, Berniece Skansi and Einar Nielsen, now owns the beloved purse seiner. Jason, who was raised in Friday Harbor like his mother and grandmother, began his fishing career at age 12 with his twin brother Christopher. He has spent the last 30 years fishing on the West Coast, including Alaska, most recently out of Ventura, California.
The Crosby twins, along with Jason's fiancÃ© Cathryn plan to completely rebuild the Genius to keep her in the family, and preserve a significant part of maritime history.
If you would like to be part of this effort, which will also be filmed for a documentary, please donate to A GENIUS Project.
The following is from the article "Classic Vessels of Gig Harbor's Past, Where have they gone?" by Lee Makovich.
More than 78 years after she was launched from the Skansie Shipyard in Gig Harbor, the Genius experienced a rebirth of vast proportions. The extensive rebuilding may not be one that will be glaringly evident to the casual observer. No, perhaps not. This undertaking is more a reconstruction of the inner Genius, her spine and her backbone so to speak, together with subtle refinements to her exterior. That this major rebuilding was only required after nearly 80-plus years of service, is an indication of the quality of workmenship and the prime materials that were available at Gig Harbor shipyards in an era long past.
The Genius was one of 10 purse seiners constructed at the Skansie Shipyard in 1920. Built for the late Nick Babich Sr., her original power was a 50 h.p. Frisco Standard gas engine. When Nick had his brand new 68-foot Sonia built at the same yard in 1928,. the Genius was sold to long time fish buyer Nick Skansi who operated the vessel as a tender in the Puget Sound area until his death in 1939.
In 1940, the late Gerald Crosby took over the operation of the vessel from his father-in-law. For the next 60 plus years, the Genius was one of the most well known and recognized tenders ever to pack fish in Puget Sound. Crosby eventually replaced the old Frisco Standard with a D13000 Cat diesel, which still powers the vessel today. In the 1980s, the Genius was rigged for salmon seining and Crosby along with his brother Leonard fished her at the Salmon Banks until the late 1990s.
Tom Nolan of Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands eventually purchased the Genius from Gerald Crosby's son Gary. He, too, had seen her at the Harbor waterfront, as well as observing the boat in operation when fishing at the Salmon Banks in the San Juans.
Some time after her purchase, Nolan had the vessel hauled out of the water at the boat repair facilities in Port Townsend. He was planning on re-caulking and re-nailing the planking on the old hull, along with whatever other maintenance that might be required. The Genius had received a new pilot house some years ago, which still remains in nearly new condition. Consequently, the work would be concentrated almost exclusively to the area below the guards.
As we all know, tearing into an old wooden hull for the first time in over 80 years will undoubtedly produce a greater project than one might anticipate. Nolan was also keenly aware of this fact but his plans for the vessel were longterm and he felt that this was the proper way to keep the Genius vital and active for an indefinite period of time. Well, nearly 3 months, 50 new frames, 44 new planks and 7,000 galvanized screws later, the good old Genius was ready to be put back into the water to begin life anew.
The classic purse seiner Genius continues to be part of the Gig Harbor fishing fleet's living history. And who knows? Perhaps, 80 years or so from now, someone else will be contemplating another long range plan for the future utilization of the good old Genius.
Some tasks in A Genius Project are as follows:
1. Remodel fo'c'sle and galley cabin
2. Bring up to date all electronics and power
3. Refurbish all deck boards
4. Cork and seal Deck
5. Repair all planks as needed
6. Clean out fuel tanks
7. Sand and grind off all rust and old paint
9. Finish aluminum boat works around stern and bow
10. Repair anchor winch
11. Add picking boom with PL3 picking winch
12. New valve bank to control hydraulics
- Carol Crosby Sessa
- Judy Ebert
- Judy Ebert
- Judy Ebert