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, 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
Thursday, 02 October 2014
David Peterson, a boatwright in Trinidad, Calif., has two passions he’s willing to share with readers of this magazine: One is repairing wooden commercial fishing boats, which is how he makes his living, and the other is historical research. The more the research involves older wooden fishing boats, the happier he is.
That National Fisherman and its readers benefit from those driving forces is clearly seen in Peterson’s story “A tough act to follow” in our November issue. It’s the story of the Corregidor, a 71-year-old fishing boat that started out in 1943 albacore and mackerel trolling off Southern California. A decade later she was in Eureka, Calif., where she is still fishing.
Peterson’s story is a tale not only of the Corregidor but also of her builder, Ora Wesley Murray, who as a 12-year old in 1893 left his parents in Coffeyville, Kan., to be a cowboy and drive cattle to Colorado.
Then there’s a couple of tough old Corregidor captains, William “Red” Gillette, the boat’s original owner and George Collins who brought the boat to Eureka. Peterson tracked down Gillette’s great granddaughter on Ancestry.com and she provided information and the photo that opens the story with the Corregidor tied to a pier in San Pedro, Calif., during WW II.
There’s also the explosion that blew planks off the Corregidor and a boarding sea that flooded the wheelhouse. But enough teasers: Check it out for yourself on page 28.Add a comment
Thursday, 25 September 2014
Littering probably isn’t the problem it once was in this country. Many towns have recycling centers and there are fines for littering. In Massachusetts, if you toss your cigarette out the window on the Interstate it’s not just a slap on the wrist and a lecture on keeping the roads and neighborhoods clean, it’s a crime.
Once you leave land and head out to sea there’s a different kind of littering: it’s not something you see but it has an impact. When fishermen — commercial or recreational — lose or discard traps or nets it becomes what’s called derelict fishing gear. And when that gear still catches fish it’s ghost fishing, affecting targeted and non-targeted species.
In Southeast Alaska it’s estimated there are 3,072 derelict traps holding 6,525 Dungeness crabs at any given time. Those figures are a part of a NOAA ghost fishing study entitled “Out of sight but not out of mind: Harmful effects of derelict traps in selected U.S. coastal waters,” that appeared in the September 2014 issue of Marine Pollution Bulletin.
There have been regional studies to try and understand the degree of trap loss but there haven’t been any that look at ghost fishing as a national problem with species specific ecological and environmental impacts.
NOAA is trying to do just that by, initially, bringing together data from seven fisheries — Dungeness crab in Alaska and Puget Sound, blue crab in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, spiny lobster in Florida, and coral reef fish in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The NOAA study focuses on the number of derelict fishing traps in each fishery and their impact on fishermen, target and non-target species and the habitat.
Various methods were used to locate abandoned or lost fishing gear, including divers, side-scan sonar and cameras mounted on a towed sled, ROV or fixed arm from the boat.
The highest density of abandoned gear is in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay with 28 to 75 derelict fish traps per square kilometer. Puget Sound had 44 per square kilometer, and 32 percent of those traps were ghost fishing, with 21 dead crabs and 49 live crabs taken from them.
The fishing grounds around St. John Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands had the lowest density of lost traps at 5 per square kilometer.
The estimated time traps ghost fish varies from 0.3 years in the Virgin Island to more than 6 years in Alaska. Though as the report notes, “some of the traps surveyed were still ghost fishing, which suggests that our estimates of ghost fishing time are conservative.”
The economic impact of ghost fishing can be considerable. The report’s authors estimate that in Puget Sound each year derelict fish traps kill 178,874 Dungeness crabs worth more than $744,000 or 4.5 percent of the annual average harvest.
The report concludes with some suggestions for a derelict fishing trap management program. That includes educating fishing communities on the impact of derelict traps, removing derelict traps, low-cost disposal options and new trap designs. To read the Marine Pollution Bulletin article in full, click here.Add a comment
Tuesday, 16 September 2014
If your fishing boat is less than 79 feet then starting Dec. 19, it looks like you will have to start complying with the EPA’s Small Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels Less than 79 Feet. That’s the whole title; the shortened version is sVGP. It’s designed to reduce incidental discharges for boats operating within three miles of the coastline and in the Great Lakes.
Thursday, 11 September 2014
If you started building a boat 50 feet or over after July 1, 2013, its design and construction has to be under the review and periodic monitoring of a classification society, such as American Bureau of Shipping or Det Norske Veritas.
That's going to jack the price of the boat up at least $250,000. It's been assumed that one way to avoid the extra cost is to utilize a keel built before the July 1 deadline. Some boatbuilders constructed two or three keels with that in mind, earmarking some of the keels for a particular boat while the others would be sold at a later time.
The 2012 Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act did say that building a keel prior to July 1, 2013, qualifies as having begun building a boat, thus avoiding the classification process and cost. But here's the rub: if the keel was built for your boat you are pretty much in the clear and can wait two, three maybe four years to build the rest of the boat.
But if you've gone into a boatyard after July 1 and bought a keel built before the deadline, thinking it will allow you to escape having to class the boat, you are probably wrong and will still need to have the boat classed. Basically you just bought a bunch of steel or fiberglass, but it's not a keel, at least from the Coast Guard's standpoint.
"When the keel is laid, the common sense interpretation would have to be that the keel is identified with a vessel," says Jack Kemerer, chief of the Fishing Vessel Safety Division in the Coast Guard's Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance.
"Just saying we cut steel June 13, 2013, before the deadline, unless you can identify the keel with a particular vessel, it's probably not going to be accepted," Kemerer says. "It should be classed."
Thursday, 04 September 2014
"Go West, young man" was supposedly advice author Horace Greeley gave in the mid-1800s to young men burdened by a lack of opportunity among the cities and farms of the East Coast. These days that expression is being turned around as a few West Coast fishermen are looking to the East, primarily to Maine, when it's time to build a new boat.
That's particularly true for boats in the 40-foot range. We look at one example of this trend in the boatbuilding story that begins on page 28 in the October issue.
When Jerry Brum a Dungeness crab fisherman out of San Mateo, Calif., was thinking about upgrading from his 32-footer, a friend suggested he take a look at a 45-footer owned by another Dungeness crab fisherman. That 45-footer, a fiberglass boat built in 2009 at H&H Marine in Steuben, Maine, got Brum's attention.
Brum liked the looks of the boat and signed up with H&H Marine to build him a slightly smaller version of the Osmond Beal design, at 40' x 14' 10". It's not easy working out the details of having your boat built when the boatyard is 3,000 miles — give or take — away. It takes trust on the part of the fisherman and the boatbuilder.
Brian Robbins, the article's author, leads the reader through the building of the Miss G, until Brum has a boat that offers plenty of working room and carrying capacity, yet enables him to work the Miss G by himself if need be.
Monday, 25 August 2014
Ask most small-boat fishermen what they think of powering with electric motors instead of a diesel or gasoline engine and, if they are being generous, they will probably tell you, "It's a nice idea but not practical for a working boat."
But there are indications that attitude might be slowly changing. A good example of that changing attitude is the pair of EP-10000 electric motors from Elco Motor Yachts that has replaced a 175-hp Detroit Diesel 6-71 in an 86-year-old, 40-foot dredge tender on the New York canals.
The engines are mounted in tandem and take up less space and weigh less than the Detroit.
New York's Canal Corp. is comparing the performance and maintenance costs of the twin Elcos against the Detroit for maneuvering dredges and dredge barges on the canal.
So far the EP-10000 electric motors — equal to about 100 horsepower each — are delivering 15 percent more horsepower to the shaft than the Detroit and push the dredge tender to its maximum hull speed of about 8 knots.
It costs about $5 to $6 a day to recharge the dredge tender's 36 Absorbed Glass Mat batteries. Now compare that to filling up with diesel fuel after a day on the fishing grounds.
Besides the dredge tender, electric motors from Elco Motor Yachts currently power a 65-passenger water taxi in Florida and a 66-foot passenger-carrying boat that a Canadian museum operates. Elco is also talking with another Canadian outfit about powering a passenger-carrying 60-foot catamaran with an EP-10000 in each hull.
A Maine fisherman is on the list of potential customers interested in using electric motors, as is a logging company with several small tugs. The logging outfit is especially interested in the electric motors' "green" benefits, since the tugs operate in protected waters and will be penalized for any oil spills.
Comments from the dredge tender's crew indicate that there are significant onboard environmental benefits: There's no smoke with the electric motors, it's easy to have a conversation and there's no vibration.
The environmental benefits plus the cost of recharging batteries at the end of the day — versus paying for diesel fuel or gasoline — just might catch the attention of some commercial fishermen.
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
The last race of the season on the Maine lobster boat racing circuit once again took place during Portland’s MS Harborfest, which raises money for the Greater New England chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Sixty-one boats showed up for the Aug. 18 races. Besides being an opportunity to contribute to the MS Society, take part in a race in front of a large crowd gathered along Portland’s Eastern Promenade, there was the opportunity for lobstermen to leave Portland with 100 gallons more diesel fuel in their tank.
Global Partners in South Portland donated 1,600 gallons of diesel to be divided among 16 races. At the end of the day, the festival’s organizers held a drawing among the participants in each race; you didn’t have to win a race to get the 100 gallons, you just had to compete.
Several of the faster boats — Foolish Pleasure; Wild, Wild West; and Uncle’s UFO — didn’t show. That left it up to Whistlin’ Dixie, a Holland 40 with a 1,000-hp Cat; Thunderbolt, a South Shore 30 with a 496 Chevy — horsepower unknown; and Mojo Inc., a Holland 32 with a 560-hp FPT diesel to provide most of the high-speed entertainment.
Unfortunately for Thunderbolt, she blew her transmission, so at the end of the day, Whistlin’ Dixie came out on top at about 45 mph with Mojo Inc. at number two.
The Black Diamond, a Holland 32 owned by Islesboro’s Randy Durkee had a unique distinction among the boats in Portland; Durkee’s Black Diamond was the only boat to show up at all nine of the lobster boat races, from Portland to Moosabec Reach.
The Black Diamond, with a 454 Chevy, usually wins her races in Class C (376 to 525 cubic inches, 24 feet and over) running in the low-30-mph range.
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
OK, it’s time for Crowley’s first annual Accident and Mortality Award for the publication that best depicts — in narrative and graphic form — how you can injure yourself or worse out on the water.
This year’s trophy goes to the Marine Accident and Investigation Branch’s 2013 report. The MAIB is a branch of the British civil service, and its report does not limit itself to one sector of the marine industry. If you screwed up while operating a boat — whether it was a recreational RIB, a commercial fishing boat or a containership — your mishap is likely to be in this 95-page report. It might appear in the form of an accident summary, a part of an artful graphic, or a color photo of your boat in fine condition and one showing it after the accident — if it’s still afloat — with a description of the safety issues you ignored and recommendations for improvement.
An example is the St Amant, a scallop dredger that lost a crewman overboard. That’s on page 19 and includes recommendations to the boat’s owner and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The owner was told that to improve onboard safety the crew should be equipped with PFDs and personal locator beacons, and “robust housekeeping procedures” are needed to “minimize the risk of trip hazards and clutter on deck.”
The failure of fishermen to wear PFDs is evidently as big a problem in the United Kingdom as it is in this country. One of the MAIB recommendations to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency called for legislation to make “compulsory the wearing of personal flotation devices on the working deck of fishing vessels if it becomes clear that current efforts to encourage fishermen to wear this equipment voluntarily are not successful.”
Some general statistics for United Kingdom fishing boats in 2013: 18 boats were lost compared to nine in 2012. The 10-year statistical average is 20. Fifteen of those were boats smaller than 50 feet. Four fishermen died, a historical low. There were nine cases of traumatic amputation out of a total of 33 fishermen injured.
Anyway, it’s all here. So take a look at and measure yourself against what is happening across the pond.
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National Fisherman Live: 10/21/14
In this episode:
North Pacific Council adjusts observer program
Fishermen: bluefin fishing best in 10 years
Catch limit raised for Bristol Bay red king crab
Canadian fishermen fight over lobster size rules
River conference addresses Dead Zone cleanup
National Fisherman Live: 10/7/14
In this episode, National Fisherman Publisher Jerry Fraser talks about the 1929 dragger Vandal.
NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association will host its 4th Annual Marin County Dinner at Marin Catholic High School, 675 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Kentfield on Friday, Oct 10, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.