From the Oct. 23, 1964 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Chilmark Sword, the first vessel designed especially for long-lining swordfishing, made her home port, Menemsha, for the first time Saturday night, fresh from her shakedown cruise from the Blount Marine Corp. at Warren, R.I., and she and the brothers Larsen were hailed with justifiable pride by Chilmarkers of all persuasions.

The big steel vessel came into the Bight on a high tide Saturday night, and after a day occupying a considerable portion of the dockage at Dutcher, she went out again on the high tide early Monday morning. But while she lay at the dock on Sunday, an almost continuous stream of visitors made tours of her deck, loft, fo’c’s’le, captain’s quarters and engine room, and peered down into the cavernous fish hold.

Doubtless many of them reflected, as did Benjamin C. Mayhew Jr., selectman of the town, on the enterprise of the Larsen family, of which the Chilmark Sword stands, at one and the same time, as a product and a symbol. On the Island as elsewhere the fishing profession has long been lamented as a dying one, too arduous, too seasonal, to chancy to be attractive to the generations that followed the old-timers.

Meanwhile, the Larsen brothers, Captains Bjarne, Louis and Dagbard, chose to follow in the footsteps of their father, the late Capt. Daniel Larsen, and not only stayed in the profession but also planned positively and constructively for their futures in that profession.

While for the Vineyard in general, the fishing industry descended to a very poor second — way, way, behind the twentieth century phenomenon economists and chamber of commerce people like to call “the resort industry,” — for the Larsens fishing remained an industry of primary importance. They recognized that it was not a dying profession, but a changing one.

Fishing methods, like those of any other field devoted to the harvest of food products, have been subjected to a continual revolution in technology, but in recent decades that technology seems to have grown lickety-split, and fishing commercially has become an occupation with an almost incredible amount of science involved in it.

A visitor to the Chilmark Sword needed only to see the loft, or wheel house, and its gleaming array of scientific navigational and fish-finding aids to have his whole notion of the profession altered. Virtually the only symbols left of the old, storied days of seafaring were the big helm, for manual steering, and a compass.

Even these traditional objects take on an air of latter-day complexity, though, when found in the company of radar, loran, citizen’s brand radio, fathometer, automatic fishfinder, automatic pilot and other controls set into a room finished in a clean, smooth Marlite, a Formica-like material, simulating mahogany.

Technological advance can be seen in the other parts of the boat, too, in the enormous engine room filled with machinery and apparatus requiring a skilled knowledge to operate, in the comfortable and attractive quarters for the crew and for the captain not too far removed in elegance from the accommodations to be found on a pleasure boat, in the galley looking like a model kitchen, with cabinets and drawers of blond Marlite, with gleaming sink, grill and coffee urn (although science has apparently not improved on the good, old, comfortable black iron stove for cooking, for it sits, complete with hissing kettle), in the compact heads with accordion-like folding doors, and last but certainly not least, in that part of the boat devoted to fishing by the incredibly successful long-line method.

It is apparent even to a non-fisherman that the Chilmark Sword is a painstakingly planned operational entity, designed to meet the needs of contemporary man, not only in regard to the efficient performance of his duties but also in regard to his well-being. The romance of the sea takes on a new coloration.

The Larsen brothers, already successful representatives in their field by virtue of diligence, sagacious planning and vigor, have in the Sword demonstrated further their faith in the industry which was once the foundation of the Vineyard’s economy.

With understandable devotion, when the profits are considered, the Vineyard has given almost its entire attention to the seasonal resort business, to the detriment of other industries that would seem “naturals” for a well-balanced Island life, ones that would support more of the Vineyard’s sons and daughters than it now does.

The Larsens have gone a long way toward showing that endeavors other than those connected with resort life can reach fulfillment. Furthermore, they have offered to take on crew from the Vineyard if they can find qualified men. One assumes that a large part of the qualifications is a demonstrated willingness and enterprise not unlike that of the Larsens themselves, who have succeeded in making the Vineyard’s poor-second of an industry once again a very important industry indeed.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox