TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – On the industrial side of north Tulsa, close to a steel yard and a highway, and, ultimately, Tulsa’s Port of Catoosa, lies the unique, front yard, dry dock of a nearly completed 74-foot long Chinese style Junk.
“I’m the only one who’s figured out how to build a ship here,” smiles Doug Jackson.
Jackson is both designer, chief builder, and future captain, a recently retired IT manager who took on a challenge that’s not occupied more than a decade of his life.
His ship is the “Seeker“.
“It came in here as flat plates of steel,” he recalls.
“Building a research vessel, the redneck version of Jacque Cousteau sounded fantastic.”
Doug grew up watching Jacque Cousteau’s undersea adventures.
When he helped a friend get ready for a long sailing trip he thought, ‘me too’.
“That idea just kind of rattled around back there,” he says. “I finally decided to take control of my fear and do it anyway.”
But what he really wanted was a proper research vessel, a platform for studying the world’s oceans.
Jackson started with a pile of sheet metal and built up.
“Our favorite saying around here is, ‘we build it right because we build it twice’.”
He and an army of volunteers procured from his social media installed a diesel engine and transmission from a school bus, sewed their own sails, and put Oklahoma red cedar on the cabin walls.
Along the way they added some really cool touches worthy of Jules Verne’s Nautilus.
“Yeah, yeah,” agrees Jackson. “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.
The latest addition to his big project was a stencil for the side.
The Seeker now has its name attached for the first time.
It might be as early as next fall but this 33-masted Chinese style Junk might just head down the Arkansas, the Mississippi, and then out to sea, a grand adventure worthy of the brave man who thought it up and then did it.
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