“Sovereign One” sets sail on the Salish Sea

“Sovereign One” sets sail on the Salish Sea

Originally posted: 09/15/2023

By Molly Bryant, Puyallup Tribal News

The Puyallup Tribe has obtained a new shellfish monitor boat named the Sovereign One.

The boat is better equipped to navigate rough waters than the previous monitor boat, according to Big Bean Flores, a senior shellfish monitor who has been working in the department for more than 10 years.

Flores first pitched the idea to Nancy Shippentower, the director of the Shellfish Department. He explained how the old backup boat was beyond new repairs and how the Tribe could benefit from a bigger, more substantial vessel.

Flores began his search after receiving approval from Shippentower and Tribal Council. Searching online one morning, he spotted the perfect boat—a custom-built aluminum catamaran.

Flores visited BRIX Marine to tour the shop and see the boat in person. There, he made a few small customizations. He added a commercial electric davit and a VHF radio that would allow the monitors to listen to the Coast Guard channel and the channel that the other dive boats use.

The boat had all of the bells and whistles. It is a 35-by 13-foot catamaran with two hulls and twin 425-horsepower Yamaha motors. It also has insulation and heaters, which is invaluable during cold winter months on the water.

The main purpose of the Sovereign One is to keep the shellfish monitors safe, allowing them to perform their duties more effectively.

As monitors, they have an extensive range of responsibilities. They are tasked with making sure divers are digging within the correct boundaries and in water that is between 18 to 70 feet deep. At the end of the day, they ensure that harvested shellfish are weighed.

Monitors are also responsible for determining if the weather is safe for shellfish harvesters. The new boat contains the necessary technology to monitor the weather patterns.

Flores says none of this could be possible without the help and support of Nancy Shippentower and Tribal Council. He said he wanted to thank Shippentower for “hearing our concerns for needing a more rough-water capable vessel and pushing for it.”