Written by Jen Finn
T-boned quahogger gets fixed; Underdog is pushing 1,000 hp
Mike Light knew he had a big project ahead of him when he went next door to what had been the Young Brothers boatshop, measured the doors leading into the building and realized that the fiberglass hull due to arrive by trailer at his shop was too big to go through the doors.
So Light had the hull left next to his shop, Light's Fiberglass in Corea, Maine, purchased some trusses and erected a plastic-covered building over the 43' x 20' 4" Novi hull.
The hull had been lengthened and widened before it got to Corea, but no other work had been done. "We'll put the engine in and build right up from there, the deck, wheelhouse, everything," Light says.
The boat's owner, Chris Burke of Addison, Maine, will use the boat for quahogging when it is completed in September.
Light says he's "not big on molded tops," so the boat will have a stick-built split wheelhouse. "I normally don't like to talk anyone into doing anything, but I talked him into a split wheelhouse. It's easier to build than a winter-back. All it is is solid walls with doors. The only added expense to a split wheelhouse is an extra set of controls and cables," he says.
Burke has been looking for a used Detroit Diesel to put in his boat. "He really wants a Detroit," Light says. In mid-June, it looked like he had found a 60-series Detroit Diesel.
The first week of June, another Novi was unloaded from a trailer at Light's Fiberglass. The Lady Katrina is a quahogger that Light says was T-boned last fall.
"He was towing and another quahogger was cruising and not paying any attention," Light says. The Lady Katrina was hit at the wheelhouse.
"It stove him up bad, came into the wheelhouse probably two feet," Light says.
Fortunately, the damage started about 6 inches above the waterline, so the Lady Katrina was not in danger of sinking.
"On the port side, it took out the hull, washboard, the split wheelhouse and cockpit floor. He had to back out of the Lady Katrina after he hit him," Light says.
Once Light and his crew start working on the Lady Katrina, it shouldn't take more than a month to complete the repairs.
On a smaller note, Light's Fiberglass is putting a trunk cabin and wheelhouse on a 21-foot fiberglass skiff owned by Justin St. Claire of Gouldsboro. The outboard-powered boat will be used for lobstering.
About 35 minutes up Route 1 at Main Street Auto in Jonesport, Ellery Alley was getting the 29-foot Underdog ready for another lobster boat racing season.
The first week of June, the boat was across the Moosabec Reach at her builder's, Ernest Libby Jr., getting some new fiberglassing and having her bottom smoothed up.
This spring, the Underdog's 540-cubic-inch Merlin block had a larger cam put in, as well as a pair of Holley 1250 Dominator four-barrel carburetors. Last season the boat ran with a single carb.
These are not carburetors found in most automobiles, trucks or the engine room of boats still running gasoline engines. Holley says the carbs are "designed for use on drag race engines."
"Hopefully, recaming and adding a carb will give us a little more power," Alley says. New bearings in the engine's lower end were also put in. "We are hoping it will push us to 950 to 1,000 horsepower," Alley says. (Last season, the Merlin was producing about 825 horsepower.)
"This will broaden the horizon," he adds, referring to the fact that in 2007, the Underdog didn't have the horsepower to match up to Galen Alley's Lorna R.
But jogging up to the line at this year's races, both Ellery and Galen are looking out for Wesley Shute's Daydreamer.
"I'm not worried about Galen, and Galen's not worried about me. But we are worried about Wesley Shute," Ellery says.
Shute, of Cape Jellison, has the 30-foot Southshore-built Calvin Beal–designed Daydreamer. Shute had some engine problems, but Ellery says he's heard that Shute has everything back together. Shute's engine carries a blower, and Ellery estimates it puts out 1,300 to 1,400 hp.
The first race was slated for June 21 at Boothbay Harbor. — Michael Crowley
58-footer destined for Alaska; Ore. yard decks dredge in steel
At Westman Marine in Blaine, Wash., the beginnings of a new steel 58' x 25' fishing boat are coming together.
By the first of June, the keel had been laid and the fish-hold bulkheads and wing tanks were being welded together. In May 2009, the completed boat, designed by Hockema & Whalen Associates of Seattle, will be delivered to Eric Rosvold in Petersburg, Alaska.
Rosvold, who also has a 58-foot fiberglass fishing boat "said he is building this boat for the future, for the next generation," says the boatyard's Bob Gudmundson.
The steel 58-footer will go purse seining, longlining and pot fishing. Reinforcements are being built into the deck to support a pair of winches in case Rosvold decides to go trawling.
"It won't be rigged for that now, but any boat built today has to be able to go into a number of fisheries," Gudmundson says.
The boat will have a bulbous bow, which Gudmundson notes has become quite common. Westman Marine has built four or five of them on existing 58-footers.
The bulbs were added to existing boats with the idea of saving fuel, and Gudmundson says, "You do gain some fuel savings, not a huge amount. But some of the guys have indicated improved sea keeping is a tremendous benefit."
The bulb will hold potable water. Behind it will be a 75-hp 18-inch hydraulically powered bow thruster.
A 600-hp Cummins Marine QSK will provide propulsion power. There will also be a pair of generators. A 68-kW genset will power a refrigerated seawater system for two fish holds, as well as the boat's electrical systems. Once the refrigeration has been brought down to the desired temperature, "they will switch over to a 27-kW generator to save fuel," Gudmundson says.
One thing that will be different on this boat is that the hull's hard chine will only be carried from the bow to amidships; from there to the stern, the transition from bottom plating to side plating will be in the form of a radius.
"I know of one other boat like it," Gudmundson explains. The radiused section "is designed to help move the hull through the water easier and save fuel," he adds.
Gudmundson says he's talking to other customers about building 58-footers.
"The problem for a lot of people," he says, "is that there is nothing out there for used steel boats that are worthwhile."
While Westman Marine has been building the new boat, a number of 58-footers have come in for preseason maintenance, including new zincs, bottom paint and prop repairs. All of these boats will be fishing salmon.
In Oregon, J&H Boatworks in Astoria is getting ready to build a 45' x 15' oyster dredge that will operate in Washington's Willapa Bay. Designed by Specmar Design in Scappoose, Ore., this is the second dredge built at J&H Boatworks.
"The other one was built in 2001. The boats are a little different, but they both are done to the same concept: steel hull, stainless steel deck and an aluminum house," says J&H Boatworks' Tim Hill.
The wheelhouse is aluminum because it is easier to work with than steel; it also weighs less, requires less maintenance and ultimately is less expensive, Hill says.
The decks are stainless steel because the metal stands up well to the constant abuse of having oysters dumped on it and requires less maintenance.
"They are either dropping dredge loads of oysters on the deck or basket loads," Hill says. In the case of baskets, the oysters are collected at low tide and put in the baskets, which are picked up by the boat when the tide comes back in.
The crew will use a twin-boom arrangement with hydraulic winches to lift and tow the dredges.
Design work for the barge was nearly completed in early June. Once construction starts, Hill estimates it will take four to six months to build the boat.
J&H Boatworks will be moving to a new facility in the port of Astoria. Hill says a new building will allow the boatyard to expand its services while continuing to build new boats and repair existing boats.
He says fishermen have been talking with him about having new, smaller boats built to replace their existing boat. A lot of them are talking about 58-foot boats. "There's some action there," Hill notes. — Michael Crowley
New travel lift for Texas yard; Bayou boats run in the family
Six 18-wheeler trucks rolled into Baron's Marine Ways in Freeport, Texas, in September 2007 and unloaded parts for a 220-ton travel lift, which was then assembled and is being used by Baron's Marine Ways to haul Gulf of Mexico shrimp and red snapper boats for maintenance work.
Ned Baron, the boatyard's owner, says he purchased the used Marine Travelift from a yacht company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"They were upsizing and had exactly what we needed," he says. "I checked on bringing it over intact by barge, but it was less expensive to take it apart and bring it in on trucks."
Baron's Marine recently installed new 3412 Caterpillar engines in four shrimp boats owned by Western Seafood of Freeport. "We do a lot of repower jobs on old shrimp boats," Baron says. "Everyone is trying to get more efficient with the fuel prices where they are."
"Western Seafood brings the engines to me. We pull the old engines out by cutting a hole in the back engine room bulkhead, and pass the engine through the ice hold on the side of the boat," he says.
"Then we get measurements off the new engine and transmission and modify the engine bed to accommodate the engine. We then set it in, weld the bulkhead back up, reinsulate it and then hook up the engine, shaft, and hook the hydraulics back up.
"The boats were all ice boats, and Western Seafood is making freezer boats out of them," Baron says. "They do most of their own refrigeration work, but we can do it."
Western Seafood plans to have Baron's repower two more shrimp boats.
Baron's grandfather and father were in the shrimping business. His father hurt his back in the early 1980s and had to give up shrimping, which led to the boatyard.
"I think he bought the shipyard so he would have something to do," Baron says. "I started working for my dad as a kid and took over in 1990."
The crew at the boatyard also works on tugboats and boats in the Gulf of Mexico oil fields and is converting a boat into a paddle-wheeler for charter use.
"We are seeing a lot of different types of boats coming in here now, but it all started because of commercial fishing," Baron says.
In Galliano, La., the Anthony Charpentier Machine Shop & Dry Dock — which has undergone a couple of name changes — is 98 years old. Owner Anthony Charpentier is looking forward to the yard's centennial.
Anthony's son is the fourth generation of Charpentiers to work in the boatyard that was started by his great-grandfather. Before Anthony, his grandfather and father ran the business, and at one point Anthony's father and seven uncles all worked there. Anthony, 53, has been running the yard for 28 years.
"My great-grandfather started a dry dock just up the road," he says. "He used to pull boats up with a big cathead and a mule. I don't remember that because I was just a tadpole."
The yard is located on Bayou Lafourche in the heart of shrimp country. The Cajun shrimp boat Miss Mutt was on the rails having routine maintenance work done prior to the shrimp season.
"We are just trying to patch her up so they can get through another season," Charpentier says. "I don't know what the boys are going to do. It don't take a smart man to figure out it just won't work when you go out and catch $5,000 worth of shrimp and have to pay $10,000 in fuel. It's going down, down, down. It's just so sad.
"We had talked about fiberglassing the entire bottom of the Miss Mutt, but all we ended up doing was a patch job with roofing cement and plywood because of the uncertainty of the shrimp business."
Charpentier says everyone in the seafood business is cautious. He thinks he will get work from commercial fishermen targeting red snappers. "Their boats aren't quite as big and expensive to operate, so we should see some work there when the season opens," he says.
The boatyard is getting work from oil field boats, which is keeping the business going. "That's where the money is right now," he says.
Charpentier says, "We will get work from other places here at the dry dock, but a lot of the shrimpers and their boats don't have anywhere to go." — Larry Chowning
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