The Boats & Gear blog is overseen by our Boats & Gear editor, Michael Crowley. It explores new construction projects, electronics, gear and equipment for the commercial fishing industry.
Thursday, 02 May 2013
No doubt about it, the marine diesel engine is a lot more efficient and practical than the engine envisioned by Rudolph Diesel in 1892 when he filed for a patent for his first engine at Germany’s Imperial Patent Office.
Today’s diesels are smaller, more fuel-efficient and burn cleaner, but they aren’t as versatile as some earlier 20th-century diesels. Imagine this, you’re ending a really long trip. Nothing’s gone right, what with breakdowns, few fish and the guy overseeing the filling of the fuel tanks before you left port was a bit drunk from the night before and thinking only about the wonderful time he had. So, all the tanks weren’t filled and now you’re a couple hundred miles from the nearest port — it’s blowing 80 with 30-foot seas — and you’ve just run out of fuel. It doesn’t help that the wind is setting you down on a lee shore.
Minus refined diesel fuel, your engines are silent and useless. But if it was 1930 instead of 2013, the diesels might still be operating and you wouldn’t be in a sweat.
In the January 1930 edition of Atlantic Fisherman there’s an ad for an engine company that tells the story of Capt. C.T. Pederson. Pederson was with the Northern Whaling and Trading Co., and was doing a little whaling east of the Mackenzie River, which would put him in the Beaufort Sea.
Westerly gales had “slammed the ice pack in on the coast… We found our way blocked,” Pederson recounted. It took five days to blast and buck their way free. In doing so, “We burned up so much fuel, without making any headway, we naturally ran short of diesel oil.”
But not to fear, for that engine, an Atlas Imperial, ran on more than just diesel fuel. Into the fuel tank was dumped “the cook’s savings of pork grease, rotten whale oil, remainder of diesel oil, a quantity of used lubricating oil, aviation gasoline, coal oil, distillate and gasoline.”
The Atlas Imperial, according to the ad, never shut down. Now that’s a versatile engine. Upon reading this, the challenge for outfits like Caterpillar, Cummins and MTU is to get their engineers — I mean these are people from places like Caltech, Stanford and MIT, they can do it — to build a diesel that continues to meet today’s standards for air emissions and fuel efficiency, but in a pinch, can operate on a smorgasbord of fuels.
That would be an engine Capt. Pederson would appreciate.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
National Fisherman’s June issue has a story on the pending classification and load line regulations for new commercial fishing boats (page 34). Those regulations are part of a larger group of requirements that started out with the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 and were followed by the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012.
Fishermen need to pay attention to these regulations, as they will be affected in terms of money and time. For instance, existing boats 79 feet or greater in length that undergo a major conversion will be required to comply with alternate load-line regulations; boats operating outside of three miles will be required to have a complete record of equipment maintenance and drills; boats will be required to have a dockside exam once every five years. (The Coast Guard says only 10 percent of boats have a dockside exam each year.)
The skipper operating outside of three miles must take a training program. In terms of safety standards, there will no longer be a difference between state-registered and federally documented boats. That means state registered boats will have to pack more expensive — but probably more reliable — safety gear. And that cellular telephone you’ve been passing off as your form of emergency communications — not allowed. It must be a “marine radio.”
Click here for a summary on the Coast Guard’s update of commercial fishing vessel requirements that was released by the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners Association to its members on March 12, 2013.
Tuesday, 05 March 2013
Maine lobstermen have always had a thing about being faster than the other guy. Even back in the days of the sloop boats, there were impromptu races out to the grounds and back in. That intensified once fishermen started strapping — first gasoline and then diesel — engines to the bottoms of their boats.
Individual towns began sponsoring races and then participants formed an association — the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association — with classes, points and even a year-end banquet.
Every year the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association meets during the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, which is held the first week in March at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. Those sessions have pretty much focused on the here and now: electing officers, hashing out rules and regulations and deciding if races should be added to the schedule.
Last year the group took a step back — way back — by instituting a Maine Lobster Boat Racing Hall of Fame. To make that list, a person had to have contributed to lobster boat racing. It could have been as a racer, key organizer, boatbuilder or engine builder.
Ten people were inducted in 2012:
• Gus Alley, a racer and organizer;
• Benny Beal, who captured a lot of attention 30 years ago when he raced Benny’s Bitch and then the Stella Ann, a 50-mph-plus boat;
• Isaac Beal, who had the Christopher, a dominant boat in the gasoline class;
• Merle Beal, for nearly three decades a constant presence in the 38-foot wooden Silver Dollar;
• Richard Duffy, of the boatbuilding shop Duffy & Duffy and an avid racer;
• Jerry Farrin, who organized the Merritt Bracket Lobster Boat Races in Pemaquid;
• Will Frost, a major influence on lobster-boat design and whose torpedo-sterned lobster boats, the Red Wing and Thoroughbred, were known for their speed in the 1920s and ’30s;
• Corliss Holland of Holland’s Boat Shop and a constant threat in the 32-foot Red Baron;
• Ernest Libby Jr., who designed and built the Marguerite G., which won the World’s Fastest Lobster Boat title four years in a row;
• Arvid and Alvin Young, of the Young Brothers boatshop and builders of the Sopwith Camel.
Then last Saturday (March 3), lobstermen went into the Samoset’s Rockland Room and elected five new members:
• Freddy Lenfestey, whose wooden Laura W. was a dominant force in the 1970s;
• Louis Stuart from Cundys Harbor, who raced the Voop, which had a cored hull with a double skin of glass on each side, lacked a keel, a windshield, and went close to 70 mph with a 1,000-hp engine;
• Andy Gove, who raced the Uncle’s UFO, a 36-foot Northern Bay with a 900-hp Mack;
• David Taylor of Boothbay, who was always on the race course with his Misty, a Crowley 33;
• Brian Robbins, an important force in the development of the racing association.
There weren’t any major rule changes at this year’s meeting except to alter the cubic-inch displacement on gasoline engines. Classes have been based on a displacement either up to or over 502. Now the line of demarcation is 525 cubic inches.
One race was added to the schedule. It will be at Long Island, which is just off Portland, on June 30. That brings the number of races to 13, from Portland to Eastport.
The opening race is scheduled for June 15 in Boothbay.
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
The Coast Guard’s latest release, “Safety Alerts, Safety Advisories, Lessons Learned 2008-2012” won’t be on the New York Times’ best-seller list, but it’s something fishermen and boat owners should read.
It contains 43 safety alerts that have come out of the Coast Guard’s Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis over a period of five years. Here’s a brief look at some of the points in the report.
The document includes a few safety alerts having to do with faulty safety equipment. One is a March 2012 notice of problems with Mustang inflatable PFDs. The culprit is faulty hydrostatic inflation systems, which may not inflate. The safety alert identifies which products are affected.
Then the August 2009 alert warns EPIRB users of servicing companies using unapproved 406 EPIRB replacement batteries. “These unauthorized battery installations would likely result in a failure” reads the safety alert. That’s something worth knowing.
Some of the safety alerts serve as a reminder that when you do one thing to your boat — upgrade fishing gear — it almost always affects something else — stability. Take the safety alert for November 2008 on fishing vessel stability:
A “major marine casualty” occurred because of improper loading of fuel, water, fishing gear and the catch. The crew was using an outdated stability book “that failed to account for heavy fishing equipment that had been removed from the vessel as well as new fish processing and equipment additions when it changed fishery operations.”
Then again there are just plain dumb things. These are usually committed in an attempt to fish harder and faster, without bothering to think of consequences. A safety alert for February 2012 discusses how a number of people have died or been injured because of “several catastrophic failures of masts, booms and lift cables” on purse seiners. Some of these evidently happen when a crewman tries to increase the lifting capacity beyond its design capacity.
Did you know that 42 percent of all marine casualties on fishing boats are the result of flooding that could have been prevented with watertight doors? A December 2008 safety alert has several suggestions for maintaining watertight doors. Even if a door is closed it might not be watertight. That’s because the door gasket has been painted or the gasket has deteriorated.
Then there’s an interesting breakdown of why a relatively new boat’s CO2 fixed firefighting system failed in an October 2010 safety alert. The crew put the fire out with portable extinguishers, but if they had needed the CO2 system for machinery spaces it wouldn’t have worked.
Not all of these safety alerts pertain to commercial fishing boats. The alert titled “Danger Aloft” is one. An 18-year-old was engaged in a “rite of passage” on a tall ship by crossing between masts on the spring stay when he slipped, fell to the deck and died. Still, this is informative for fishermen if only because it emphasizes the need for safety equipment and training, especially for greenhorns.
Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Back when fuel cost a lot less than it does today and fish were more plentiful, the subject of “efficiencies” was not something that concerned a large number of fishermen. But now with rising fuel prices, aging fleets and fish tougher to find, a lot more fishermen are asking how to make their boat more energy efficient.
Here are a few ideas taken from a paper presented by Terry Johnson with the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program at last November’s Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle.
• Slowing down brings the quickest results — hear this, Maine lobstermen who love beating the other guy out to the grounds and back in a 36-footer that might have an 800- to 1,200-hp diesel. Every knot increase in speed requires about a 50 percent increase in full. Above hull speed the rate of fuel consumption goes up even more.
• Having a clean bottom and good antifouling paint saves up to 3 percent.
• Lengthening the boat to increase the waterline length by 25 percent improves hull efficiency up to 20 percent.
• Replacing paravane stabilizers with antiroll tanks or gyro stabilization might save 10 percent in fuel usage.
• Switching the engine out for a new one of the same horsepower saves 5 to 20 percent, depending on your operating profile. If the engine is consistently running below its maximum rated output, get a smaller engine.
• Put a fuel-flow meter on the main engine and save up to 10 percent.
• Getting rid of heat buildup in the engine room definitely reduces fuel consumption. Adequate ventilation brings in cool air; cool air contains more oxygen and, therefore, better combustion in the engine. A 30-degree reduction in intake-air temperature results in 2 to 3 percent reduction in fuel consumption.
• Check the engine exhaust. It should be invisible. If it’s black you’ve got bad injectors or inadequate air supply. White exhaust indicates an overheated engine, leaky head gasket, burnt valves or incorrect timing. Blue exhaust means you’re burning oil from worn piston rings, valve guides or there’s a leaky turbo seal. Whatever the color, it’s time to call the engine guy.
• Lastly, if you really want to make a fuel-saving statement and get on the local TV program, flying a 300-square-foot sail can save one gallon of fuel per hour in a 26-knot wind. At least that’s what I was told. Now, with some sail needles, a sewing palm and used sailcloth from the local yacht club, this would be a good winter project. You bet.
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
All right. Listen up!
This Christmas business is getting right down to the wire. I know, you’ve been out hitting the stores with gift lists for the wife, kids, parents or girlfriend. That’s good.
But you also need to develop a list for yourself. You know better than anyone else what you need out on the grounds. Sure, you don’t want to spend the money, and you can get by for a couple more trips wearing those oilskins that only leak a little. Well, frugality is a good thing, but, heck, this is Christmas. It’s one time you can splurge — I don’t mean a case of Jack — and not feel guilty about it.
So, for the reluctant fisherman, I thought I would provide some suggestions, all from National Fisherman’s 2012 Boats & Gear pages.
We’ll start off with ditching those oilskins that have caught a few too many hooks, tested the sharpness of a dressing knife or are just plain and simply worn out.
In our August issue, Grundens offers its Deck Boss bib pants made of breathable, three-ply waterproof nylon that’s designed to withstand repeated encounters with barnacles, scallops, wire, you name it.
For a jacket and bib that are entirely different from the normal oilskins, check out the Stormr neoprene foul-weather gear from Henderson Sports Group in the September issue. This is a high-end neoprene that’s cut very thin, is a high stretch material and waterproof and windproof. There’s a microfleece lining on the inside, and the garments have about 5 pounds of positive buoyancy, which would help you stay afloat if you go overboard.
Something that’s not going to cost you very much — I knew you’d like to hear that — and makes good safety sense is SCRAMP or small craft motion program in the July issue. This is an iPhone app with a real-time motion display with stability indicators on your boat’s acceleration, heave, roll, pitch and yaw. Plug in the degrees of roll, pitch and heave that are acceptable and when those levels are reached an alarm is triggered.
If the worst happens and you end up in the water with no one around, you might wish you had purchased the Smartfind S10, an AIS man-overboard beacon that’s also described in the July issue. This is one of the first devices to work with AIS. Activate the S10 and any boat or shoreside facility with an AIS class-A or class-B receiver within 10 miles will display your position on a chart as a distress signal, the direction and speed you are drifting, and the course to pick you up.
Well, we will assume you don’t go over but are out on deck, plugging away — day after day, night after night — and not catching much. Nothing helps ignore the frustration, cold, and boredom better than good tunes blasting away. I wouldn’t want to try to select your music, but the April NF, featured ASA Electronics’ satellite-ready marine stereo. It has an AM/FM tuner, electronic–skip CD protection, and you can play any portable music device through the audio input.
So now go out and buy yourself a present. Remember, Christmas only happens once a year.
Thursday, 06 December 2012
Aging fishing fleets, the high cost of diesel fuel and the need to operate at efficiency levels unimaginable 20 years ago are all good reasons to consider building a new boat.
If that’s something you are contemplating, a good place to have been last week was Seattle’s Pacific Marine Expo. More than one fisherman has purchased most of the equipment his new boat needs at the Expo, and a goodly amount of it can be had at a discount.
While there, you would have attended a conference on the design challenges you, the naval architect and boatbuilder will encounter. Labeled “Naval Architecture: Understanding the process, decision points and input requirements for designing you next vessel,” the conference was guided by Jonathan Platt of J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corp. and Johan Sperling of Jensen Maritime Consultants.
The rising costs of steel, maintenance and fuel, as well as better crew accommodations are some of those design challenges. “Until recently boat owners didn’t care about fuel costs. Today every single one asks, ‘How can we save on fuel?’” said Sperling.
Add to those hurdles new regulatory challenges for things such as wastewater management, weight, and stability. “Wastewater treatment can change the life of vessels,” noted Sperling.
In the old days — 30 years ago — designing and building a boat were separate options. Today, the boat’s owner, the shipyard and the designer have to work together. That means getting the regulatory agencies and the Coast Guard involved early. “It's important to be all working together on the project,” said Platt. Then when the construction starts, time, materials and your money won’t be wasted.
As Platt said, “Once we start building and we put 100 guys on a boat, it's like ants to a picnic. We want to give them the right sandwich.”
Tuesday, 04 December 2012
Dennis Payne’s eyes welled up and a flush spread over his face. He couldn’t believe what had just happened.
For three days — Nov. 27 to Nov. 29 — the ZF Beer Garden has been open the last hour of Seattle’s Pacific Marine Expo — free beer for anyone who enters and a ticket with a number on it. You win a pair of tickets to the Dec. 9 Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinal football game if your ticket stub’s number matches that of a ticket pulled from a pile of well over 100 other tickets.
It’s the last day of the show when just before 5 p.m. the winning ticket is drawn and the number called out. Silence. Then at a table up near the Beer Garden’s entrance, an older bearded fellow quietly asks a younger guy to read the number on his ticket — just to be sure.
The guy confirms that Payne, who is at the show with his brother Allen, has the winning ticket. Payne is near tears with disbelief because a year ago, his third brother, Paul, also won the drawing.
Dennis Payne (left), raffle winner, and his brother Allen Payne.
Since then, Paul died of a heart attack, and though the Payne brothers enjoy the Expo, Dennis wasn’t going to come this year. The only reason he came to the show is because Paul’s wife told him, “Paul would have wanted you to come.”
“I can’t believe it. I’m still in shock,” he says.Add a comment
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
You just bought a used boat and want to change its name. Foxy Lady is scrolled along the bow and across the transom, but all your life foxy ladies have given you nothing but trouble, and even if they hadn’t that’s not a name you can live with. Nope, you are going with a more guy-like, a more masculine name — Big Gun. Add a comment
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Callifornia crabbing: Here's a fun video shot on the decks of the Majestik while catching Dungeness crab off the coast of northern California.
Alaska fisherman and commercial fisheries activist Kevin Adams was elected chairman at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors meeting on May 9 in Anchorage.
The governor-appointed board consists of seven members: five seafood processors and two industry representatives actively engaged in commercial fishing. Adams was appointed to fill a harvester seat by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2004.
With 38 years of fishing experience in Bristol Bay, Adams has long been an active member in the Alaska fishing industry, ASMI says. He has worked for both the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and the Bering Sea Fisherman's Association, and represents Alaska fishermen on numerous boards.
The Northeast Regional Planning Body, a group of state, tribal and federal representatives from New England who are working to implement the National Ocean Policy and address critical New England ocean issues, is holding a series of public meetings in May and June.
The meetings are being held to discuss draft regional ocean planning goals and associated potential actions. The planning body seeks input on these goals and actions. Additional information on the group's progress can be found here.
The meetings will also provide an opportunity to review draft maps and products from initial efforts to gather information on the natural resources and diverse uses of the ocean, including fishing, transportation, energy and infrastructure, aquaculture, and recreation.