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.
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The Marinebeam Ultra Long Range RLT illuminator, which lights up objects up to 700 yards away, and other reviewed products could make a great Christmas gift for some lucky fisherman (read: you).
Yup. It’s near the end of December and darn near Christmas Eve. Kids are humming carols and dreaming of eight tiny reindeer gently landing a sleigh full of toys and the jolly old guy on their roof.
Your boat is tied to the dock or buttoned up for the winter and you are out and about with a pocket jammed with lists of Christmas gifts. You better get with it because there’s not much time before those gifts need to be under the Christmas tree.
Unfortunately, you almost always forget someone. Who's that someone? You know, it’s you. So I’m here to remind you that it’s not unlawful to treat yourself with a Christmas gift, and if that gift comes in handy out on the boat than so much the better — and hey! I’m not talking about a slug of Jack.
To assist with your personal gift selection, once again I’m providing a few Christmas ideas from National Fisherman’s 2014 Product Roundup and At A Glance pages. Here are four items that will be a worthy gift for you-know-who.
A fire is one of the worst things that can happen on a boat. Put it out quickly and things will usually be all right. Let it go and the boat is history. To make sure you are around for many more Christmas celebrations, I would suggest the DSPA-5, an aerosol-based fire suppression and extinguishing system in the January 2014 issue.
Pull the pin on the handheld, disc-shaped canister toss it in the fire area and close the door. It takes 8 seconds to fire off. A simulated engine-room fire was out in 7 seconds and a galley fire in six seconds. Can’t beat that — other than not having a fire at all.
OK. So you’ve dealt with the fire thing. It was pretty stressful; listening to some tunes might help you relax. NF’s March issue spotlighted an add-on module for the Fusion 600 Series stereos. The MS-BT100 lets you stream audio via Bluetooth with mobile device controls. So wherever you are on the boat — rock out!
Here’s something from our September issue that will come in handy on a boat or on land, whether looking for a marker buoy or the dog that’s taken off into the woods. It’s the Marinebeam Ultra Long Range RLT Illuminator. That’s a long-winded name for what looks like a regular flashlight.
Unlike a flashlight, however, it lights up boats, mooring buoys and dogs at 500 to 700 yards away. The secret is a very concentrated beam without any spillover light.
For the last item, I’m going to stray from the original premise of thinking of you. You take the kids out on the boat, right? Well, just as you need to be wearing a PFD, so do the kids. From NF’s May issue comes the Lil’ Legends, a Mustang Survival PFD for kids from 0 to 90 pounds.
Lil’ Legends came about because so many parents complained that their kids wouldn’t wear life jackets because they were uncomfortable and didn’t fit. So get your kid one of these. It will give you peace of mind and keep him alive. Can’t be a better gift than that.
See you next Christmas with another list. Ho ho ho!Add a comment
Thursday, 11 December 2014
It looks like 68,000 commercial fishermen can take a long, deep sigh of relief. That's how many fishermen would have been affected by the Environmental Protection Agency's pollution regulation with the long-winded title Small Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels Less than 79 feet. The shortened version is sVGP.
The regulation was designed to reduce incidental discharges for boats operating within three miles of the coast and in the Great Lakes. But yesterday afternoon — Dec. 10 — that requirement was put on hold when Congress passed the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2014, which included a three-year extension of the moratorium on vessel discharge permitting. The moratorium was due to expire Dec. 18.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) had pushed for a permanent moratorium but that effort didn't succeed.
Enactment of the sVGP would have required things such as annual inspections, plenty of paper work and the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants in all machinery that might discharge the lubricant into the water.
That last requirement could be expensive. It's estimated that environmentally acceptable lubricants can cost $1,200 for 100 liters versus $350 for regular lubricants.
Now that's something fishermen won't have to worry about — at least for three years. That assumes President Obama signs the bill and there's no reason to think he won't.
Tuesday, 02 December 2014
A fisherman goes overboard, swirled away by wind and waves, never to be seen, or a boat slides stern first beneath the surface, dragging its crew with it. Left behind is a fog of grief — memories of what had been and the pain of knowing there's no going forward with that person.
For families of fishermen in the North Pacific and Bering Sea fleets, a group that has stepped forward to aid those left behind is the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial, an organization that promotes safety at sea and tries to ease the emotional and financial burdens of bereaved families.
It provides grief counseling at no charge, and when the son or daughter of a deceased fisherman is ready for college, they can apply for scholarships funded by the memorial.
In fact, no scholarship applicants have been turned away in recent years. In the current 2014–15 school year, 10 students received scholarships at a cost of $186,577. Money for the scholarship fund is raised at the Seattle Fisherman's Memorial dinner. This year, as in the past, it was held at Chinook's restaurant in Fishermen's Terminal, the night before the opening of Pacific Marine Expo.
Sponsors for the dinner include seafood companies, equipment manufacturers, boatyards, banks, insurance companies, law firms, and, yes, National Fisherman. Most of them send representatives to the dinner.
A silent auction of more than 100 items started the dinner. In the mix were 30 pounds of crab ($400 value); a night for four at Seattle's Teatro Zinzanni, a celebration of cirque, comedy and cabaret ($600 value); a photograph of a dory taken in Tenant's Harbor, Maine ($100 value).
A dinner of crab, scallops, shrimp and Alaska king salmon followed, along with a skillet chocolate pecan pie. Then the serious auction got underway.
Seventeen big-ticket items were sold off in a live auction. They included a four-night stay in Maui or Kauai, plus $1,000 air credit that went for $4,100. A salmon barbecue for 50 at the bidder's home or Pacific Fisherman Shipyard sold for $3,600. Wine tasting and appetizers for 30 at Alexandria Nicole Cellars was a steal at $2,800 ($3,200 value).
Another banquet night fundraiser is the "Raise the paddle for Seattle Fishermen's Memorial." As the auctioneer called out levels of financial giving, you held up your bidding card to make a donation. In six minutes, the memorial netted $37,000.
At the end of the night, including donations from sponsors, more scholarship money had been raised then ever before — just over $300,000.
It's money that will be well spent. Michaela Long, one of this year's scholarship recipients and the daughter of Michael Long who was lost on the Aleutian Challenger, wrote Seattle Fishermen's Memorial:
"I am very thankful for this scholarship to help with the costs of school. I like knowing that this is helping my mom in covering the cost of college for me and my three brothers, as we are all in college this year. My dad would be very excited to know that I am continuing my education and that somehow the industry he loved so much was having a part in it."
Thursday, 20 November 2014
Hands that are painful to open, a sore back, shoulders that constantly ache — all these and more are aliments that seem to be part of the commercial fishing game.
“I had times when I couldn’t feel my hands when fishing,” says Jerry Dzugan at his Wednesday presentation on “Strains, Sprains and Pains: Ergonomics for Mariners” at the Keynote Stage.
Dzugan, now with the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, says, “All mariners have problems with these injuries but not much is being done about it.”
Dzugan and AMSEA are trying to change that with training sessions and presentations like yesterday’s showing fishermen that by changing tools and the work area they can be more efficient, comfortable and work longer with less pain.
Using a video with photos and drawings — plus audience participation — Dzugan showed the effects of improper lifting and bad posture.
Dzugan offered bits of advice: avoid twisting the spine to lift something; when cleaning fish, keep the work 4 to 6 inches below the elbow; keep a load close to the body; and tighten stomach muscles and exhale when lifting.Add a comment
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
If you want to build a new fishing boat that’s over 50 feet and fishes outside of three miles, it’s going to cost you a lot more money than it did before July 1, 2013, because it now has to be designed, constructed and maintained to classification society standards.
You will also run up additional costs on boats 79 feet and over that now must be load-lined. The new rules were developed in the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act.
If you're attending Pacific Marine Expo, you can learn how to negotiate through the Authorization Act’s rules at the Classification and Load Lines for Fishing Boats conference today at 3 p.m. in Room C1.
After giving a brief history of the new rules, naval architects Hal Hockema and John Myers, both of Hockema & Whalen Associates in Seattle, will guide you through both the issues involved with having a boat meet load line approval and working with a classification society. They’ll discuss what to expect during the designing and building process and after the boat is completed.Add a comment
Thursday, 13 November 2014
OK guys and gals. Listen up! It’s that time again. It’s time for Pacific Marine Expo. In case you’ve been dozing in the bunk for the past couple of months, dreaming of plugged fish holds and wild nights on the town between trips, well shake it up because PME starts next Wednesday, Nov. 19, and runs for three days at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field Event Center.
It’s the perfect place to find the newest fishing gear, electronics, clothing, engines — you name it. Just about anything that’s needed for your boat will be there. Lots of people have outfitted new boats and repair projects right on the show floor. Bring a shopping list and wander the aisles. I guarantee you a lot of things can be had at less than top dollar.
There are also plenty of conferences and talks: some will help you fish safer, some will help you get organized to save time and money and a couple will explain pending rules and regulations. An example of the latter is the program on Friday, “An Update on Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Mandates and Development of Alternate Safety Compliance Programs” with the Coast Guard’s Jack Kemerer and Troy Rentz and Joar Bengaard, a consultant with DNV GL in Houston.
Then there’s the talk on a subject that periodically must drift across every fisherman’s vision. That’s Wednesday’s keynote address when John Aldridge, a New York lobsterman, talks about how, after falling overboard, he survived 12 hours in the water with only a pair of boots to keep him afloat.
At the end of the day, it’s time for happy hour in the ZF beer garden. Each day there will be a drawing there for a pair of tickets to see the Seattle Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Nov. 23.
So get there anyway you can: bus, car, plane, side-door Pullman — that’s a boxcar — and we’ll see you there. In the beer garden for sure.Add a comment
Thursday, 30 October 2014
Moisture can be a problem for radome-type radars, as Kevin Kinirons, who lives in Brick N.J., and works in the marine construction business, found out for himself.
Kinirons bought one of the first Simrad Yachting Broadband 3G radars for his 28-foot Pearson cabin cruiser in 2011. He likes it enough that he says he’d buy another one, even after dealing with a moisture problem that developed earlier this year.
Even though he says it was “fairly pricey,” he bought the broadband unit because of its advanced features. He also he liked that it weighed very little — 16 pounds.
Then this past spring the radar stopped working. He talked to a Simrad technician who told him to switch some wires. When that didn’t work, Kinirons says, “he told me to take the radome apart. I said, ‘There’s a seal.’ He says, ‘take the dome apart and check for moisture.’”
Kinirons says he pulled the dome apart and found “well in excess of a coffee cup of water. That seems to have shorted everything out.” All the metal inside the dome was discolored and “that was halfway up on the rotating part.”
The warranty had run out on Kinirons’ radar. However, Simrad said he was covered, “even though I was out of warranty time-wise.” Kinirons says he assumes he got warranty coverage because the moisture build-up problem “was a design flaw, kind of like General Motors.”
Simrad Yachting’s technical support team says there is a weep hole in the bottom. “They always had a weep hole. You can’t say they didn’t have a drain,” Simrad technician Mark Dexter says.
Dexter attributed the problem to improper installation, saying, “If it’s installed where the [the weep hole] is covered, it’s possible that as the radar heats and cools moisture could build up.” However the radar had been operating without any problems for over two years.
Dexter adds that Simrad, “in an effort to avoid this, they did make an engineering change,” referring to it as “a breather hole.”
A month after Kinirons sent back the damaged radar he received a new unit. The only money he had to put out was $60 for shipping. The new radome does what the old one didn’t — drains moisture. “They did put a drain in the back; it’s very obvious to see,” Kinirons says. He guesses it has a pressure-release valve that makes it difficult for moisture to enter the radome but easily vents moisture.
Now, he says, the new Simrad 3G radar “is working just fine. And I’d buy another unit today.”
Kinirons, who is a longtime National Fisherman reader, obviously doesn’t have to take his Pearson cabin cruiser out in snotty weather to earn a living hauling fishing gear, but he says he feels fishermen should know about the radome problem he experienced. If you’re in limited visibility and the radar quits “in a place like Maine or Alaska, you don’t just run aground,” he says, “you go up on the rocks.”Add a comment
Thursday, 23 October 2014
Operators in fishing fleets anywhere in the U.S. that operate outside 3 nautical miles should take note of what the Alaska Independent Tenderman's Association has done. Not doing so could cost you a lot of money and long-term aggravation.
First, you have to realize that beginning July 1, 2020, boats 50 feet and over that operate outside 3 nautical miles, were built before July 1, 2013 and are 25 years old by 2020, or are built on or before July 1, 2013 and undergo a substantial change to their dimensions will be subject to construction and maintenance standards in the Alternate Safety Compliance Program.
The program is an attempt to reduce the number of casualties in the fishing fleets. The question has always been what will those rules be? Will a Gulf of Mexico shrimper be held to the same standards as a Bering Sea crabber? For that matter, will an Alaska salmon tender have to adhere to the same construction and maintenance rules as an Alaska freezer trawler?
The latter comparison is what got the Alaska Independent Tenderman's Association's attention. Alaska's freezer trawlers and freezer longliners, the H&G fleets, were subject to something called the Alternate Compliance Safety Agreement, and for a while it looked like other fishing fleets would be held to the same standards.
"At the time we were hearing that if you don't do anything, the agreement would be applied to your fleet," says Lisa Terry, association's executive director. "We looked at that agreement, saw what they were required to do and mildly freaked out."
The risks associated with the tendering fleet were not nearly the same as those the H&G boats face. So the tenderman's association elected to be proactive and develop a risk assessment study of their fleet to understand the scope, nature and causes of tender vessel incidents in the 17th Coast Guard district.
The group talked with the local Coast Guard, hired a consultant and gathered data from their own members, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Coast Guard database for the period from 2000 to 2012.
Based on the number of fatalities (three in three separate incidents) and the number of casualties — 21, caused by things such as fires, flooding, collisions, human error and a rogue wave — the conclusion was that the tendering fleet "is a relatively low-risk group," says Terry. "Since we are low risk, we should address our risks and not apply engineering solutions to structural risks we didn't seem to have."
The report is a 42-page document "The Simple Truths of Safety at Sea for the Alaska Tender Fleet: a Study of Tenders in the 17th Coast Guard District" that was presented to a recent meeting of the Coast Guard and the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Advisory Committee in Providence, R.I.
Beyond that, the tenderman's association has begun a voluntary inspection plan with the Coast Guard and is developing a best practices manual for the fleet. Terry says the goal is that when the compliance program takes effect "there won't be a transition. We'll already be doing a lot of what's to be expected."
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Falling overboard is the second leading cause of death among commercial fishermen. Over the years, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health office in Anchorage, Alaska, has done a lot to reduce the number of man overboard deaths in the fishing fleets by encouraging fishermen to wear PFDs.
Their efforts have had some successes: The Alaska Scallop Association has a 100 percent PFD policy while on deck for its member boats, and the 8-boat Mariner fleet of Alaska crabbers also has a PFD policy for its crews.
But NIOSH figures there’s still a long way to go so they’ve hired a fisherman to help promote PFD use. He’s Angus Iversen and appears to be a crusty old fart who is quick with a one-liner.
Actually that’s not completely true. He is quick with a one-liner, but Iversen isn’t a real fisherman, he’s a character portrayed by an actor who is the center of NIOSH’s Live to be Salty campaign.
You’ll find Iversen’s image on large posters and cardboard cutout displays in gear shops, trade shows and a bar or two. His image and pithy quotes also grace bumper stickers, beverage coasters and apparel stickers.
Fisherman or not, Iversen lets you know who’s boss. “If you can swim the Bering Sea, you’re a better man than me. And you aren’t.” That’s one of his favorites.
Go to the Live to be Salty website and print out posters, bumper stickers and beverage coasters featuring Angus Iversen and his views on fishing safety. And next time you’re at the local gear shop, try on a PFD. As Iversen says, “Sure PFDs get in the way. In the way of you DROWNING.”Add a comment
Thursday, 09 October 2014
With all the navigation electronics boats are packing around and on a day where conditions were said to be full light, no fog or squalls you would think a collision between two boats, especially when one of them is a 110-foot Coast Guard cutter, could be avoided.
But Sept. 23 at 6:38 in the morning, the steel hulled cutter Key Largo and the 42-foot fiberglass lobster boat Sea Shepherd found each other, nine miles East-Northeast of Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Winston Ledee, 57, the Sea Shepherd’s owner, and his crewman, Kenneth “Scott” Turbe, 30, saw the cutter coming at them just before it hit, according to one news account, and they jumped ship.
The U.S. Virgin Islands-based Sea Shepherd went to the bottom, leaving lobster traps floating on the sea’s surface. The two men were taken aboard the Key Largo and while neither was injured, both were shook up.
Three days later Ledee told the Virgin Islands Daily News, “Physically, I’m good. Mentally, I’m not. This is a nightmare.”
Two days after the accident, the boat recovery company Sea Tow, with four divers aboard, unsuccessfully tried to locate Ledee’s boat. The water depth in the area is between 600 and 2,000 feet.
According to the Coast Guard, three investigations are examining the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board will try to determine the cause of the accident and make recommendations for avoiding similar outcomes.
The Coast Guard is directing a safety analysis investigation to also identify causal factors leading up to the mishap. It is tasked with identifying organization and systematic changes to reduce such mishaps.
The Coast Guard’s Seventh District Commander is looking at accountability and assessing financial claims against the Coast Guard.
The Seventh District investigation should be the first completed. Results are expected by late November.Add a comment
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National Fisherman Live: 12/16/14
In this episode, Bruce Buls, WorkBoat's technical editor, interviews Long Island lobsterman John Aldridge, who survived for 12 hours after falling overboard in the dead of night. Aldridge was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Pacific Marine Expo, which took place Nov. 19-21 in Seattle.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.