PITTSBURG -- She definitely has seen better days, even though her yellow paint is still bright.

"When you get closer you can see the damage," said Rosemarie DiMaggio, curator of the Pittsburg Historical Society.

She's talking about the 28-foot-long boat perched on a platform on dry land at the Pittsburg marina entrance as a monument to the city's commercial fishing past.

A closer look reveals warping wood and other signs of deterioration in the boat's interior brought on by decades of exposure to the elements.

Some local groups, including the Historical Society, would like to restore the Bristol Bay gillnetter that once fished Alaskan waters. The boat was built in 1928 and donated to Pittsburg in 1984 by local fisherman Joseph "Squash" Papetti.

"I've talked to other organizations and they're jumping on the bandwagon, fundraising or lending labor, or providing expertise," said Paul Flores, a member of the Historical Society. "We're not going to make it seaworthy, but we are going to give it a little face-lift."

Pittsburg is also on board with the effort.

"The city will be coordinating with some local volunteers and charitable organizations to get this done," city manager Joe Sbranti wrote in an email.

When Pittsburg had an active fishing industry, many local fishermen would head up to Bristol Bay, Alaska, and use the gillnetters to fish for salmon when the six- to eight-week season rolled round each year.


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"A lot of old-timers went to Alaska year after year. They fished in Pittsburg and they also fished in Alaska," DiMaggio said.

"It was powered by wind and sail. My father and grandfather fished on those," said Flores, who retired from the city after serving as its former harbor master and recreation director.

But while the Pittsburg fisherman came back after the salmon season was over, the gillnetters stayed in Alaska.

"During the offseason, they used to beach the boats and cover them," Flores said.

Before the restoration effort can begin on the donated boat, a plan of action will have to be worked out on the best way to go about the restoration effort, he said.

"It's going to take time," Flores said.

"It's going to be a very delicate operation," DiMaggio said.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.

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