Tug of the Month: ATKA

Atka in Budd Inlet at Olympia Harbor Days (lg Evans Marine Images)

ATKA was designed by Albert Glaser and built by Albert and his son Alan Glaser beginning in 1972 and completed and launched in 1974-75, at Eagledale, Eagle Harbor, on Bainbridge Island.  Albert was owner and skipper through 2005, when his son Alan took over those duties upon Albert’s passing.  Albert was at one time a member of South Sound Maritime Heritage Association (SSMHA).    

When Albert left the military as a young man, he worked in several of the boat shops on Bainbridge Island, and also for Capt. Halverson of the tug Susan H.  He then spent 12 summers working as head carpenter at a cannery in Bristol Bay, Alaska. In 1962, he built his own boat shop on Bainbridge, building 17 to 30 foot Bristol fishing skiffs for the Alaska fishing grounds, which he would tow from Bainbridge to Seattle for sale and shipping. Albert retired in 1988, but still did occasional repair work on local boats. When Robin and Kae Paterson rebuilt the tug Joe (formerly, the Joe Foss) in 1987, Albert designed and built her new trunk cabin and wheelhouse. He also built the small tug Barf for Fremont Tugboat.

Atka heading to the OHD Tugboat Races (lg Evans Marine Images)

ATKA’s length is 26 feet, with a 10 foot, four inch beam, and she draws 3 feet, 6 inches. Her first engine was a 260 Gray Diesel, generating 50 horsepower, which failed in 1978 and was replaced by a 10 horsepower Saab Diesel, a dependable engine that moved ATKA at only 5 knots. In 2000, a 62 horsepower 236 Perkins Diesel was installed, giving ATKA a speed of eight to nine knots. That same year, the tug was entirely refurbished.

Tug Atka’s Wheelhouse (lg Evans Marine Images)

ATKA has been part of 32 Olympia Harbor Days (OHD) events since 1976, and may hold the record for individual vessel participation.  She was present in 1976, 1981, 1985 through 1987, 1990 through 1992, and 1994 through 2017.  Albert Glaser was installing an engine in 1977, and so couldn’t bring ATKA to OHD, but he made the trip without the tug, and went out for the race on Franz Schlottman’s Sand Man.

As noted elsewhere, in 2016, ATKA finished 2nd in the Small Tug event as a result of her incredible sportsmanship in assisting, with Cedar King, the tug Maggie B. after the Maggie had engine trouble 200 yards from the finish.  Peggy Buse, widow of Mike Buse, and their son, “Tug” Buse, were aboard Maggie, and it was a commemorative race for the boat and for Mike’s memory.  He always dreamed of winning an OHD race.  Alan Glaser and the skipper of Cedar King, Gary Sanford, realized this. Maggie was leading when her engine blew, and the other two boasts stopped, came alongside, and pushed Maggie over the line as the winner.

Atka with tug Cedar King when the race stopped to help tug Maggie B in distress (OHD Stock Photo)

A handsome photo of ATKA at the 2017 Harbor Days races was prominently featured in the January/February 2018 issue of the Kiwanis International Magazine, page 27 or can be seen here.    

Stern View of Atka at Percival Landing, Olympia (OHD Stock Photo)

We at Olympia Harbor Days look forward to many more visits from this beautifully crafted tugboat.

Sources:  Interview with Alan Glaser, 2018.  Kiwanis Korner, a monthly newsletter of Olympia Kiwanis Club, 2017.  Kiwanis International Magazine, January/February 2018.  Archives of Karla Fowler, marine artist and historian.  Tugboats on Puget Sound by Chuck Fowler and Capt. Mark Freeman, Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

About Les Eldridge:  Les is president of the South Sound Maritime Heritage Association and author of a number of maritime histories, a series of novels on the American Civil War at sea, and a book of humorous verse.  He lectures frequently ashore and afloat, and narrates the OHD races each year.  For more, see EldridgeSeaSaga.com.

Tug of the Month is sponsored by Olympia Harbor Days Tug Boat Races and Festival, an Olympia Kiwanis Club event free to the community.  It takes place every Labor Day weekend on the Olympia waterfront.  It is in its 45th year. For attendance information, see www.HarborDays.com, or on Facebook @ OlympiaHarborDays.  Questions to Executive Director Carol Riley at info@harbordays.com.

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