Board Hopefuls to Champion Marine Trades | Working Waterfront

Laura Jean Schneider
ljschneider@ptleader.com
Posted 11/18/21

 

 

Two folks joining the Port Townsend Marine Trades Association board this fall will be some of the youngest members yet.

Melanya Nordstrom, a finisher for the Port Townsend …

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Board Hopefuls to Champion Marine Trades | Working Waterfront

Posted

 

 

Two folks joining the Port Townsend Marine Trades Association board this fall will be some of the youngest members yet.

Melanya Nordstrom, a finisher for the Port Townsend Shipwright’s Co-op, was recruited by shipwright Diana Taley. Pete Stein, who recently started a collective of skilled boat people, caught the eye of current board member Robert D’Arcy.

Both in their early 30s, the two are excited about serving an annual term with the marine volunteer-run nonprofit.

“I lucked out and found some older mentors here in the yard,” Stein said during a recent conversation.

He and Nordstrom sat under an awning in front of Sunrise Coffee Company, sipping mochas topped with generous froths of whipped cream as rain drizzled down.

Stein’s path to the marine trades included apprenticeships, “tailgating” old-timers and learning by doing.

“I’ve worked in both of the big shops here,” he said of Boat Haven.

But working for others wasn’t his larger dream, where he envisioned himself “working for myself or running my own shop.”

He decided to start his own business when he turned 30, currently under his name, in the old Shipwright’s Co-op building.

“I’d rather start now, and build it up,” he stated matter-of-factly.

Although Stein is exclusively a carpenter, a handful of independent craftspeople who share the building with him provide varied services that allow complete vessel overhaul.

Nordstrom has a relationship with the Marine Trades Association that goes back to her high school years, when they awarded her a scholarship to attend the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.

She sees a future in the marine trades; according to a 2018 economic impact study prepared by Martin Associates,
2,243 jobs in Jefferson County flowed from the waterfront.

“I intend on being here long-term,” she said.

As with Stein, Nordstrom owns a home in the area, but expressed concern that housing shortages are hedging out skilled craftspeople. The Trades Association has the ability to draw more attention to the fact that housing is a problem, she added.

As the boatbuilding and repair sector of the county’s marine trades sector brings in a whopping 60 percent of the total revenue, and provides nearly 20 percent of county jobs, boat folks are feeling the crunch.

The two craftspeople feel they were sought out to carry forward a rich tradition.

“The next generation,” they said in unison, both breaking into smiles.

Then they got serious.

“Aside from any threat of the port no longer being a port,” Nordstrom said, “I kind of leave the infrastructure to the professionals.”

Stein added that his biggest concern, too, is that the port will sell to developers who can lay down big bucks for the waterfront property.

Their characteristic optimism returned as they polished off their coffee, speculating on their new roles.

“I want to do a boatyard Olympics,” Nordstrom said.

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