The Motor Vessel David B


The David B Today

The Motor Vessel David B was built in 1929 and has recently been fully restored for new service as a passenger vessel. The she has two decks: the main deck and a below-deck level. As you wander the main deck, you’ll find the pilothouse and galley. The pilothouse includes the bridgedeck with the helm, some passenger seating (and some great views as we travel up the Inside Passage or among the San Juan Islands). Step down from the bridge into the cozy galley, with our charming Heartland Sweetheart wood-burning stove. Relax in our comfortable dining area with its wrap-around windows, seating for eight, and a spectacular view of the scenery, birds, whales, and other wildlife we might pass along the way. The below-deck level is comprised of the accommodations, engine room, and storage areas.  As you climb down the ladder, you’ll discover staterooms for eight (even though we only carry eight passengers on any given trip).  Each stateroom includes its own private head (toilet) and sink. There are three double staterooms with queen-size beds, and one double stateroom with bunk-style beds. Also, below deck there is a public head with a luxurious cast-iron bathtub (with a shower), a sink and a toilet.   The engine room, storage spaces and crew cabins are also located below deck. A big part of the experience of cruising on the David B is that she is still powered by her original Washington Iron Works three-cylinder diesel engine.

The David B’s History

The David B was built in 1929 at the Lake Washington Shipyard in Houghton, Washington for the Libby, McNeil and Libby Co. She worked in Bristol Bay, Alaska at the company’s cannery in Ekuk on the Nushugak River for about 25 seasons.  Many vessels like the David B were built to tow small sail-powered boats to the salmon fishing grounds. This method was used to get around a federal rule that prohibited engines in fishing boats. The David B would tow a string of as many as twelve to fifteen boats to the grounds, then pick them up for their return.In the 1950’s the Nushugak River in front of the cannery changed course, forcing the company to move its operations elsewhere, and leaving the David B stuck on the beach. Decades later, the boat was pulled a quarter of a mile across the beach and relaunched. New owners brought her by barge to Seattle. In 1998, Northwest Navigation acquired the David B and began restoring her for passenger service. All of the deck beams and decking have been replaced, and a new trunk cabin has been built. All the systems (such as navigation and electrical) except the engine, have been replaced or rebuilt. Hours of loving care have been spent to get the vessel working again after her fifty-year retirement and to give her a new life in the small ship cruise industry.

Particulars of the David B

Built For: Libby, McNeill & Libby
Built By: Lake Washington Shipyards, Houghton, Washington. (Now Kirkland, Washington)
Length: 65 Feet
Beam: 16 Feet
Draws: 7 Feet
Frames: Oak
Planking: Douglas Fir
Engine: Washington Iron Works 3-Cylinder Diesel
Staterooms: Four
Heads: One shared with bathtub/shower, sink and toilet – Four private heads in staterooms, each with sink and toilet.
Electricity:110 amps

The David B is the perfect alternative to the mainstream cruise ships for anyone searching for a specialized cruise that is out of the ordinary, and on an uncommon boat.