The fishing vessel K-HI-C is seen in St. Paul Harbor on Nov. 5, 2013. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has proposed major renovations to the 40-year-old boat owned by Kodiak High School. (James Brooks photo)

The K-Hi-C has taken Kodiak High School students to sea for 40 years. Now, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game would like to renovate the 42-year-old fishing vessel — at no cost to the Kodiak Island Borough School District.

“It’s an awesome thing,” said teacher Jane Eisemann, who has been using the K-Hi-C as a floating classroom for 17 years.

Eisemann teaches basic seamanship, maritime science, and wilderness survival to Kodiak High School students using the K-Hi-C, which was built in 1974 and is owned by the Kodiak school district.

In a unique partnership, the K-Hi-C is shared with Fish and Game, which uses it for field work in the spring and summer, when school is out of session. Eisemann and her students have reign in fall and winter, while Fish and Game pays for fuel and maintenance.

Two-hour jaunts out of St. Paul Harbor allow students to learn piloting skills and how to handle the electronics of a working fishing boat. Eisemann also has a smoke machine and other equipment she uses to teach students how to handle shipboard emergencies.

“We’ve had a very unique relationship with Fish and Game,” schools superintendent Stewart McDonald said Monday night during a discussion of improvements to the boat.

While the K-Hi-C has been kept in shape throughout its lifetime, it needs extensive work, said Jeff Wadle, a management biologist for Fish and Game. The boat needs to have its deck replaced, and Fish and Game would like to extend the boat from 42 feet to 48 feet while that work takes place.

It’s a $250,000 project, but there’s a catch — the state isn’t willing to pay for that work on a boat it doesn’t own.

“When I proposed this to our HQ, they basically told us we couldn't do it because we don't own the boat,” Wadle said.

Fish and Game has requested the school district work out some kind of arrangement that allows Fish and Game to own the boat even as students continue to use it. “We would then be able to take over any major repairs,” he said.

McDonald said he’s open to the idea, but it’s ultimately the school board’s decision. “Our concerns obviously would be don’t sell the boat or don’t take the boat away from us,” he said.

The school board will vote Nov. 18 whether or not to explore the idea of a transfer. The process is a two-step one: The Nov. 18 vote is to open negotiations. If that passes, the school board will be asked, some point in the future, to approve or reject an agreement.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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