The Lu-Lu Belle was built by her owner and Captain, Fred Rodolf. Captain Fred took his own sketches of the boat he wanted to build to John Anderson, a Naval Architect working for Ed Monk, who drew them up to specifications. The plans were approved by the Coast Guard in Washington D. C.. In November of 1976 Captain Fred purchased a 65 foot Kelly Hull from Westport, Washington and went to work. For the next 10 months Captain Fred became Carpenter Fred and in September of 1977 the Lu-Lu Belle became certified by the United States Coast Guard. In 1978 Lu-Lu Belle was sport fishing out of West Port Washington.
In 1979, the Lu-Lu Belle and her crew were leased to run Columbia Glacier Tours between Valdez and Whittier. For the next 6 years Captain Fred and Admiral Megan wholesaled the boat out to a couple of large tour companies, continuing to run tours between Valdez and Whittier.
In 1985, Admiral Megan and Captain Fred bought some property and built an office on Kobuk Drive in Valdez. When 1986 came around Captain Fred was ready to operate on his own doing Columbia Glacier and Wildlife Cruises with his family. He has run all of his own cruises since 1979 and has logged 5,241 Columbia Glacier cruises. His enthusiasm for sharing Prince William Sound with his guests is readily apparent as he shares his wealth of information and stories in a lively narration. He often goes off the beaten path looking for everything that swims and flies.
The cruise can vary in length anywhere from 7 to ? hours. The iceberg conditions at the Columbia Glacier are always changing, and the glacier face has moved approximately 14 miles from where it was in 1979 when we first started doing our cruises. There is no way to predict how long it will take to get to the glacier face; but if any boat can make it to the face, it will be the Lu-Lu Belle. Please don't watch your clock, because the crew does not.
Lu-Lu Belle has a snack bar aboard for your convenience. The food is extra but reasonable and you are welcome to bring something if you wish. We just request no red juices or red wine and no plastic or metal coolers inside the boat. You can keep the coolers on the outside decks. No strollers are allowed on board.
Over the years the Lu-Lu Belle has undergone a number of changes. The greatest change was the addition of 10 feet to the stern in 1999. This operation once again involved a Naval architect, Rick Etsell, approval by the U.S. Coast Guard, a new stability test and recertification by the Coast Guard as a 75 foot boat.
The Lu-Lu Belle is powered by two 650 horsepower 6 cylinder 993 cubic inch Luggers. They are turbo charged and can produce a cruising speed of 20 knots.
And how about that name... Lu-Lu Belle? When asked, Captain Fred says the first boat he built was a real "lulu", a comical little double ender so he decided "Lu-Lu Belle" was a fitting name. Each successive boat he built became the new Lu-Lu Belle including his prettiest, the present "Good Ship Lu-Lu Belle". The Lu-Lu Belle has been the home for Captain Fred and his wife Megan for the past 46 years.