Written by Jen Finn
Lobster boat picks up 7 feet; 30-footer has plenty of speed
In late November, a lengthening job on a 50-foot Wesmac lobster boat was completed at Finestkind Boatyard in South Harpswell, Maine. Tommy Clemons wanted 7 feet added to his lobster boat, the Obsession, to "make the boat run a little better. Before it was a little bit bow up," says the boatyard's Mark Hubbard.
Adding 7 feet to the Obsession increased her waterline length, and now, Hubbard says, "she handles a lot better. It also gained more deck space and an additional lobster tank."
Instead of building the extension piece in place on the boat, Wesmac made up the new stern section in two pieces in their 50-foot mold. Then Finestkind Boatyard adjusted those to fit the hull.
"Obviously it was not exactly the same because the boat's shape changes as it goes aft. We had to do some modifications but it was slicker than trying to build the whole thing from scratch," Hubbard says.
The sternpost and skeg didn't have to be moved back because the mold the hull was built in can accommodate a 54-foot hull, so "the skeg was quite well back to start with," Hubbard notes.
A Wesmac 46 bare hull was due in at Finestkind Boatyard at the end of January to have an engine and shafting installed. The engine going in the boat is a 1,005-hp Caterpillar C18. Once the engine is installed, the boat's owner will finish off the boat. The owner is the same Tom Clemons who had the Obsession extended.
Hubbard says Clemons got the 46-footer because the Obsession wasn't as fuel efficient as Clemons thought it would be. "He's stepping down to the 46 because it is a lot narrower," Hubbard says. (The 57-foot Obsession is for sale.)
Finestkind Boatyard also repaired a fiberglass 40-foot Novi lobster boat owned by Harpswell's Terrance Kenny that had an engine room fire. The fire was pretty much confined to one engine bed. "The damage was very localized. The engine came out, a new engine bed was built and the same engine went back in," Hubbard says.
An engine-room light fixture that fell on the oily deck probably started the fire. "That's what they are assuming," Hubbard says, "because the whole light fixture was laying where the engine bed had burned. It was probably smoldering quite some time."
Flower's Boatworks in Walpole, Maine, built a 30-footer from its South Shore mold, dropped a 205-hp Caterpillar 3056 and shafting into the boat, built the deck but didn't bond it down, and then gave everything to the boat's owner, Mike Fahey in nearby Bremen to finish off.
When Fahey took it out on sea trials, the 30-footer hit 26.1 mph. "That's goin'," says the boatshop's owner Ken Flower. "The boat is balanced good. It's just a regular-built boat but it goes pretty easily," he adds.
The 30-footer has a 2.5:1 gear in it and swings a 28" x 26" wheel. Flower had to drop the skeg down 4 inches to accommodate the prop.
Flower has had a number of calls from out-of-state fishermen looking for smaller boats that are more economical to operate. He says one Massachusetts lobsterman is talking about downsizing from a 42-footer to Flower's Boatworks' 30-foot South Shore hull. Flower feels that the "day of the expensive lobster boat has gone by."
He says one fisherman "put a 1,000-hp Cat in his boat, ran 300 traps and burned 350 gallons. You've got to think twice about that now."
Using one of its 36-foot hulls, Flower's Boatworks also built a boat for John Risebrow, a Wickford, R.I., tuna fisherman. The Blixen's fiberglass hull is cored with Divinycell, while the custom-built enclosed house and deck have Nida-Core sandwiched between layers of fiberglass.
The boat has a fish hold, bait hold and underwater lights. The accommodations are better than usual, as the Blixen will be used as a pleasure boat when it's not fishing.
Down below is a V-berth and a double bunk, enclosed head with a separate shower and a galley. The Blixen has a 575-hp Caterpillar C9 main engine with a 2:1 ZF marine gear turning a 26" x 31" prop.
Flower's Boatworks is also building a 33-foot bass boat, a 36-foot fly bridge cruiser and finishing up a house-top mold for its 38- and 36-foot hulls. — Michael Crowley
Seine skiffs will go to Alaska;
Wash. tribe gets fisheries boat
In mid-February, a new seine skiff was due to be completed at Rozema Boat Works in Mount Vernon, Wash., and construction on a second seine skiff was expected to start.
The first skiff measures 20' x 11' and the second one is 18' x 10'. Both skiffs are going to Alaska ports. One is for a seiner in Juneau and the other will go to a fisherman in Sitka.
Seine skiffs are very utilitarian boats, and they look it. With a length-to-beam ratio of less than 2 to 1 they are a bit tubby and push hard through the water. Speed burners they aren't.
"Ten knots at full throttle, they'd be doing good," says Rozema Boat Works' Dirk Rozema. They are stout boats with quarter-inch aluminum plating on the sides and bottom.
The accommodations are simple and frugal: an engine box, towing post welded into the back of the engine box, steering and engine-control console (usually on the starboard side and forward of the towing post), a seat, radio and depth sounder. On the bottom of the hull two long skegs support the skiff as it is pulled up the seiner's stern ramp and onto the deck.
Seine skiffs have one job and that's to pull out the seine. So bollard pull is all-important. "A good amount of pull is what it's all about," says Rozema.
To get the necessary pull, Rozema says the skiffs the boatyard builds use a cast aluminum steerable nozzles instead of the normal rudder and prop arrangement. "That increases the bollard pull, given the horsepower we've got," Rozema says.
A 330-hp John Deere provides the power for the larger skiff. The 18-footer will have a 305-hp Cummins diesel under its engine cover. Matching those engines up with 28-inch steerable nozzles increases the bollard pull 20 to 30 percent over a prop and rudder setup, Rozema says.
The diesel steerable-nozzle combination gives the 20-footer about 8,500 pounds of bollard pull and a little less for the 18-foot skiff with the smaller engine. Though you might think the two skegs would adversely affect a skiff's maneuverability, that doesn't seem to be the case.
"There's enough thrust that they don't seem to hinder the skiff, and we open them up — cut holes in them — so water can pass through the skegs," Rozema says.
Last winter, Buffalo Boats was rebuilding a couple of older boats for commercial fishermen. This year, the Bellingham, Wash., boatyard is building two new fiberglass boats. At the end of February one of Buffalo Boats' own 32' x 11' 4" models will be launched as a fisheries patrol boat for the Upper Skagit tribe.
"This will be a patrol boat and a commercial [Dungeness] crab boat," says the boatyard's Roger Allard. Buffalo Boats built a similar boat for the Lower Skagit tribe two years ago. The crew of the boat will also be responsible for testing crabs for firmness. "When the tests show that molting is over, then they will open an area up," Allard says.
For patrol duties the boat has a radar arch with blue flashing lights and a couple of spotlights. For fishing there's a hauler and on-deck totes with water circulating through them for storing the crabs. "They deliver daily," Allard says, as a way of explaining why nothing more elaborate is required.
The 32-footer's main engine is a 330-hp Volvo Penta D6 that's hooked up to a Volvo Duoprop outdrive. "She'll cruise at 30 knots," Allard notes.
The crab fishery for the Upper Skagit tribe starts in June and takes place mostly in the Skagit and Saratoga Passage area of Puget Sound.
The second Dungeness crab boat that's under construction measures 26' x 9'. This is all open deck except for what Allard describes as "a side cabin, kind of like a telephone booth. It's a steering station with a windshield and a cover on the starboard side."
The 26-footer will have a 300-hp Cummins with a Mercruiser Bravo II outdrive. A lot of fishermen favor outdrives, Allard says, because "they are more efficient [than shaft and prop arrangements] and they can haul their gear a lot faster. Guys with shaft drives can't run their gear as fast. The maintenance is lower, but they burn more fuel." — Michael Crowley
Boat hauled after hitting buoy; pound-netter gets new planks
Kerry Hall of Mathews, Va., had just finished washing down several of his gillnets in January when he decided to go out a little further in Davis Creek and wash down the deck of his 42-foot deadrise wooden boat, the Travis B.
It turned out to be a mistake. As Hall and his mate were looking the other way, the Travis B ran into a steel buoy at the head of the creek. The buoy nailed the port side between the stem and amidships. The collision knocked the deck and cabin trunk loose, caved the side in and pushed the pilothouse sideways.
Grover L. (Lee) Owens Jr. of Port Haywood, Va., is doing the repair work. Owens learned the boatbuilding trade from his father, Grover Lee Owens Sr. of Deltaville, Va., one of the most admired wooden boatbuilders on the Chesapeake.
The younger Owens is one of a new breed of traveling boatbuilders who doesn't work out of a boatyard. Hall hauled his boat at a marina on Gwynn Island, Va., and Owens travels daily to work on the boat.
"We are going to put a new cabin and pilothouse on her," Hall says. "Lee says it will cost as much to repair the old one as it will be to build a new one."
Owens installed six 4" x 4" fir frames on the port side and used galvanized bolts as fasteners. They found some rotten wood on the starboard side and replaced six frames there as well.
Hall decided he wanted to raise the sides of the boat by 6 inches. Owens installed two fir planks atop the side planks the entire length of the boat. Now, the top plank will be almost flush with the top of the stem.
"It gives me more height, and I hope it will keep a little bit more water off us when we are underway," Hall says. "It will make me feel like I'm in a bigger boat."
Alton Smith and Edward Diggs built the Travis B in 1966 at Port Haywood. At the turn of the 20th century, Smith's father, Lennie, was a pioneer in the development of deadrise and cross-planked bottom construction. Alton learned the trade from him and retired in 1968. The Travis B was one of his last boats.
"The collision didn't knock the paint off the buoy," Hall says. "I don't know what would have happened if I had hit her head-on. I went home and told my wife about it and she said, 'You're lucky you didn't get hurt.'
"I said, 'If I had been lucky, I would have missed the damn thing!'"
Reedville Marine Railway in Reedville, Va., has several projects underway. On the rails is the 38-foot Joyce, a deadrise pound-net boat. She is getting a new bottom from just aft of the cabin to the skeg. Boatbuilders Frank Fife and Taylor Dawson are doing the work.
Reedville Marine Railway is watermen friendly and allows commercial fishermen to work on their own boats or provides boat carpenters like Fife and Dawson to do the work.
Tommy Lewis of Northumberland County, Va., owns the Joyce and uses the boat to work pound nets in the Potomac River. The new bottom planks are 1 7/8-inch juniper. Fife says Lewis plans to have a round stern installed on the boat.
Inside the boatbuilding shed, George Butler, owner of the railway, is building a 21-foot wooden deadrise skiff for a recreational boater. The strip-planked sides are juniper, as are the bottom planks. The strip planks are glued together with Pro-Set, which Butler says is an excellent, but expensive, adhesive. One tube costs $30 and will fasten three to four planks.
Butler recently expanded his boatbuilding facilities with a 32' x 45' addition. Most railways on the Chesapeake are not doing much expansion these days.
Butler, 57, is young for most boatbuilders and is in a good location, as the pound net fishery in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay is still relatively strong. Pound-net operations require the use of several small wooden skiffs for installing a pound's poles and nets, and he builds one or two a year for fishermen.
He currently has an order for a 16-foot deadrise skiff and to install a mast in the Chesapeake Bay buy boat Elva C. The 48-foot boat is owned by the Reedville Fisherman's Museum in Reedville, Va., and lost a portion of the mast on its way to a buy boat rendezvous at Tangier Island in August 2008. — Larry Chowning
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