Lummi Nation teen builds boat for senior project

Students like Lucas Kinley give Lummi Nation Chairman Cliff Cultee hope for the future of tribal fishing.

Kinley built a 32-foot aluminum boat for his senior project at Ferndale High School. He named it Golden Eagle for his high school’s mascot, and plans to use it for crabbing, shrimping and long-lining.

“It’s really good to see some of our youth thinking long-range with the guidance of their parents,” Cultee said. “To be able to say, ‘I’m in this for the long haul,’ and still be continuing with education. That’s good to see those two things go hand-in-hand.”

A fourth-generation fisherman, Kinley started setting crab pots when he was 8 years old and has been running a boat since he was about 13. He had an idea a few years ago to build a boat with the help of a family friend who builds boats professionally.

Ferndale High School’s senior project requirement motivated Kinley to embark on the project.

“His friends were building things like speaker boxes,” said Ellie Kinley, Lucas’ mother. “He decided to build a boat.”

Although many modern boats are assembled like jigsaw puzzles from pre-cut pieces, Kinley made his boat from scratch, starting with a 34-foot sheet of heavy duty aluminum.

“It’s how boats were made in the past,” he said. “It’s been quite the adventure. I learned a lot about welding and how everything fits together. All the little things that go toward building a boat.”

Kinley plans to study welding and diesel technology at Bellingham Technical College in the fall, although he doesn’t plan a future career in boat-building.

“Since as long as I can remember, I’ve been around boats,” he said. “Fishing is something I’ve always done, something my family’s always done.”

For more information, contact: Kari Neumeyer, NWIFC information officer, 360-424-8226 or [email protected].