A classic pilot-house cruiser, this 1929 Stephens Brothers boat was built in Stockton, CA, one of eight or nine boats using the same blueprints.
Seven Bells has won the top restoration awards at classic wooden boat shows across the Pacific Northwest, from Victoria to Seattle. The boat was originally a private yacht, then served as an anti-submarine net tender in San Francisco Bay during World War 2, known by its Navy ID of YP121. The hull is of Port Orford Cedar, the house is teak, and the soles are fir. It has been reclaimed and fully restored twice, in 1947 and then in 1999, with many gallons of varnish and paint, much new wood, leather, and fittings. New Yanmar diesels were added in 2013. Seven Bells now is moored at the north end of Lake Union in Seattle.
Seven Bells - poem by Elizabeth Rice Handford, 2002
Wild cacophony of sound,
Onus of duty, earth-bound.
Two bells, three--
Strident voices make demands,
Clanging noises, begging hands.
Four bells, five bells, six--
Life is real--hurry, scurry!
Life is earnest--flurry, worry!
But seven bells!
Lines loosed, engines thrum,
Tide chuckles against the bow.
Come, oh, come away with me now!
Succumb with me
to the magical mystery
of Seven Bells!
Seven Bells has an overall length of 43 ft., is 11.6 ft. across the beam, has a 4 ft. draft, and its gross weight is approximately 20,000 lbs. The hull uses sawed white oak frames with Port Orford cedar carvel planks. The boat has bronze fastenings, a teak deck and trim (bright work), plumb bow, and a flat transom. In 1988, the two original gas engines were replaced with Chrysler-Nissan diesel engines. Seven Bells' official number listed in Coast Guard documentation is 229189.
Between September of 1998 and April of 2000, Seven Bells underwent a complete restoration, including structural hull work, new or reconditioned decks, new plumbing, electrical and electronics systems, refinishing of exterior and interior teak, new cabinetry, upholstery, soles and overheads, hard dodger added over aft cockpit, and engine refitting.
On June 17th, 2001, Seven Bells was selected for the People's Choice Award at the Bell Street Rendezvous on the Seattle waterfront. On September 3rd, 2000, at the Classic Boat Festival in Victoria, British Columbia, Seven Bells was awarded the prize for Best Restored Power vessel. In August 2001, Seven Bells was runner-up for the People's Choice Award at the LaConnor Vintage and Classic Boat Show. In July 2017, Seven Bells won the Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival People's Choice Award.