Homer Alaska Layout image
Homer Alaska Layout image
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story last updated at 6:16 PM on Wednesday, June 1, 2011

inua: efficient and sleek

Boat of the week

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer


Among the big commercial fishing boats in the Homer harbor, one halibut longliner stands out: the F/V Inua, Homer's only motorsailing commercial fishing boat. Ketch rigged, with a tall mast forward and a shorter mast aft, the boat harkens back to the 19th century. Built in 1983 by owner Jon Kinsey, the Inua is a thoroughly modern fiberglass vessel made for the most modern of reasons: high fuel prices.

When Kinsey looked at boat designs, the gas shortages of the late 1970s and rising fuel prices in the early 1980s led him to consider a fuel-efficient boat that, if need be, could be sailed to fishing grounds.

"It was the beginning of the greening of fishing," Kinsey said. "There was a real scare there was not going to be fuel available."

At 3 to 5 gallons an hour, Kinsey estimates the Inua uses a third less fuel than a regular motor-powered fishing boat. Its 120-hp diesel engine can get the Inua up to 7.5 knots cruising speed, and with sails up, hit 11.5 knots.

"I wasn't wanting to," Kinsey said of one time when the Inua went that fast.

Travis Goodrich, Kinsey's stepson and the Inua's captain, said he remembered once when the Inua sailed up the Dixon Entrance and caught 80 mph winds. He looked out the window and saw spray.

"The boom was doing a rooster tail in the water," Goodrich said.

"I remember seeing Travis on the jib flying all the way out on the rail," Kinsey said of another time sailing.

Kinsey bought a Skookum fiberglass hull and built the Inua from the superstructure up in the back yard of his home, then in Port Townsend, Wash. He started the boat in 1981 and finished in 1983. The design is a 53-foot layout, but with a custom rounded stern to allow better working room, is actually 54 feet. The ketch design allows space mid ship for a fish hold. With 15,000 pounds of lead in the keel, the Inua doesn't roll easily, particularly with another 25,000 pounds of fish in the hold. That stability makes the Inua a good safe boat.


Photo by Michael Armstrong

F/V Inua crew member Jeff Folks, left, and Jordan Dyer, right, work on halibut longline gear before the motorsailer set out last Thursday for a fishing trip.

"I never worried about my life," Kinsey said. "You always knew you could survive about anything, not that you wanted to."

Normally, the Inua runs on its engine. Sails add about a knot to the ship's speed, Kinsey said.

"If the conditions are right, if we gain time, we'll put the sails up," Goodrich said.

"It's like having a spare (engine). He might have to tack to Hawaii to get back to here," Kinsey said.

Kinsey, now 67, fished on the Inua about 20 years, from the 24-hour derby openers in the 1980s until IFQs came in. Good- rich now captains the Inua. Last Thursday, he and his crew — Mike Nease, Jordan Dyer and Jeff Folk — were preparing to head out for a 10-day halibut fishing trip.

With his wife Heidi, Kinsey has five children between them, all raised fishing.

"They learn a lot on those boats," he said of his children. "It's like a farm boy. You find a fisherman's son, they know how to work."

The Inua gets its name from the Bering Sea Eskimo word for the spirit world, Kinsey said. He said Eskimos who see the boat often comment on it and like the name. "Inua" also refers to the spirit of an animal being hunted or fished. Ancient Eskimos carved images of the animals on spears or hunting tools. The idea is to show respect to the animal's spirit.

"It will allow the fish or seal to come back," Kinsey said. "I thought that was a pretty neat principle."

"It sails well. It's a beautiful boat," Goodrich said.

"The Inua's worked great for a fishing boat," Kinsey said. "It's a good friend."

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

Homer Alaska Layout image Homer Alaska Layout image