Some people may not even notice the difference, but the floating fish market on the Newport Bayfront known as the Chelsea Rose is no more. It has been replaced by … the Chelsea Rose.
The original Chelsea Rose, believed to be more than 110 years old, was kept going for as long as possible. It has now been replaced at Port Dock 3 on the Newport Bayfront by a replica that looks very similar to the original.
“We hauled it out twice in our time and did extensive work,” said owner Cody Chase, who purchased the original Chelsea Rose when he was just 18 years old, with help from his father, Mark Chase, a recently retired fisherman who owned and operated the F/V Norma M.
When Cody Chase bought the Chelsea Rose in 2004, it was already in need of considerable work, but Chase saw something worth saving. His plan wasn’t to take the boat out fishing on the open ocean, but rather to use it as a place to sell fresh fish direct to the consumer. “We worked to keep it going for the purposes we wanted to do with it. I never had the idea of fishing it or anything,” he said.
But age finally caught up to the Chelsea Rose, and Chase was left with no option other than to scrap the boat and find a replacement. But he and his partner, Cari Brandberg, really liked the look and the functionality of the vessel, so ultimately they decided to build a replica.
“We’ve been planning it out for probably about four years now,” said Chase. “We had a lot of hoops to jump through and timelines to get through and then finally get everything lined up.”
“She was un-repairable, and we knew that,” Brandberg said of the original Chelsea Rose. “We knew (scrapping it) was the only avenue.
“We knew with a new vessel we wanted more room but the same look,” added Brandberg. “The only way to do that was to build a replica like this. We love the accessibility of the Chelsea Rose. She’s easy to come to, it’s easy to have a counter, it’s the perfect set-up for a store, but we knew that we needed some more deck space and more storage. We needed more room for fileting because the business has grown so much, and we don’t want anybody to get turned away from the dock by a line. So we want to be more efficient.”
Bob Muret, of SeaCapt Mobile Marine Services, built the boat at the Port of Newport International Terminal. “We started in late September (of 2018),” he said. “It was built on 16 sawhorses, basically.” The weather proved to be challenging at times, but “it was a neat project, I loved the project,” Muret said, “and we had help from many people.”
On Wednesday, June 5, a crane lifted the new boat into the water, and by the weekend, the new Chelsea Rose was open for business at Port Dock 3.
“We’ll be able to hold about twice as much fish,” Brandberg said of the new vessel, which is four feet wider and about eight feet longer than the original. “We will be able to filet, potentially, twice as much fish at a time because we’ll have two filet tables on the back instead of the single filet table.”
There will also be more freezer space. “A new thing that Chelsea Rose has been doing is we offer vacuum-packed, flash-frozen fish, said Brandberg. “We will be able to offer that more to our customers this coming summer, and we’ll be able to offer a lot more efficiency.”
What remains unchanged is the mission to sell the freshest seafood possible.
“One thing about the Chelsea Rose, and most fishermen that sell around here know, if you’re going to sell to us you have to have good quality, and if you have good quality fish, you have a market with us,” said Brandberg. “We do sell our own fish, but we also help out all these other boats that don’t have time to sell their own fish. We’re able to get that quality fish right here from Newport, right to the people here in Newport.”
They also can accommodate whatever the buyer needs. “A lot of our business is pre-order now,” Brandberg said. “And we’ll divide it up for families, we’ll do whatever they need. A lot of people want to split fish or they want it the way they want it, and that’s what we specialize in.”
A grand opening to celebrate the new Chelsea Rose will take place the weekend of June 28, 29 and 30, and there should be plenty of fresh halibut with the commercial fishery for halibut being open earlier that week. Following that weekend, the Chelsea Rose will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
People who would like to find out what fish is available or who would like to pre-order can call 541-961-5683. More information can also be found online at newporttuna.com and on Facebook at Chelsea Rose Seafood. The boat is tied up at Port Dock 3, right next to Pacific Seafood and across the street from Ripley’s Believe It or Not.