Helena Star (Updated)
January 19, 2012 4 Comments
- IMO: 5120350
- Length: 51.4 meters
- Beam: 8.45 meters
- Tonnage: 498 GT
- Year of Build: 1947
- Builder: Westerbroek Scheepswerf, Westerbroek, Netherlands
- Name History: PACIFIC STAR (1977-? “Registered”), HELENA STAR I (1977), MONICA STAR I (1976-77), FRATERNITE (1950-76), VIOLETTE ERICA (1947-50)
How does a Dutch coaster from the forties wind up on the other side of the world? Why was it renamed so many times during a short period in the seventies? What is it doing sitting amongst various forlorn vessels at a marina? And how long have there been shrubs growing on its deck?
Well, I may not be able to answer all of those questions, but I can try to tell her story.
She was originally built as one of dozens of coasters that plied the waters of northern Europe carrying a variety of goods. Though not particularly out of the ordinary, the Violette Erica wasn’t a a bad looking vessel, displaying the care that the Dutch put into designing their small freighters.
She continued in this trade for almost thirty years, changing her name to Fraternite along the way. Then, in 1976 she made a drastic change, heading for a new life homeported in Panama, and receiving another name change, this time to Monica Star I.
Here’s where her story gets a bit hazy. There isn’t too much detailing what happened to her after that point, except that she changed names twice over the next year, and in 1977 was seized by federal agents, apparently for smuggling marijuana.
Since that point, she has been resting in the Salmon Bay area of Seattle, no one willing to claim her, hence the foliage slowly taking over her decks.
Someday, perhaps, someone will come to her rescue. Or, she may just suffer her fate at the end of a scrapper’s torch. Whatever the outcome, until that happens, she is accompanied by friends, various other derilict vessels that haunt the same portion of Salmon Bay.
In March of 2011, the Helena Star was seen departing Salmon Bay under escort of Western Towing’s tug West Point. The report was, from the towing company, that she was headed for the Mason Marine Services dock on Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway, not far from another relic rotting away, the old ferry Kalakala. Suspicions are that she was to be scrapped at Schnitzer Steel, a big-time scrap metal outfit on the Hylebos.
However, her end hasn’t come yet, and as this photo from December of 2011 shows, she is still moored their, wasting away alongside another longtime Salmon Bay denizen, the interred longliner Golden West (formerly Chiwoo).