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, 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.
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
On July 4th, Millennium Marine celebrated the grand opening of its boatshop in Eastport, Maine. After building boats for nearly 70 years in Escuminac, New Brunswick (first under the name Guimond Boats), the boatyard’s owner, Cory Guimond, shifted the company’s operations just over the border.
Fourteen people were on the payroll, and the owners anticipated they would employ 30 by the end of the year. The yard had two fiberglass 49-feet 11-inch boats under construction for West Coast fishermen.
Then Wednesday, July 23, at about 12:30 a.m., a fire started in the bow of one of the boats. The damage wasn’t discovered until 6:30. Fortunately, the building’s sprinkler system extinguished the fire, but not before one and possibly both boats were destroyed, and the shop suffered smoke and water damage.
The fire consumed the bow of one boat, and the sprinkler system filled up the second boat with water. The water’s weight caused the boat to fall over on its side. “The stands couldn’t hold it. The crash was so intense the building shook,” says the boatyard’s John Miller.
Though without the sprinkler system, “the whole building would have gone up,” adds Miller. The sprinkler system not only saved the building but the molds for building fiberglass hulls, as well.
“I would never ever dream of going back to a building without a sprinkling system,” Guimond says.
The fire started in a trash bucket in the bow of the boat that burned. The fire inspectors “deemed it to be caused by catalyst or chemicals that had a reaction and spontaneous combustion,” says Guimond. “The guys were doing a clean up and put materials and dust in a bucket, and that’s exactly where the fire started.”
Miller anticipates the insurance company will allow the two boats to be removed the last week in July and though the shop crew is currently doing some limited fiberglass work, the earliest Millennium Marine will be back to building boats will be the first week in August.
In the meantime, the yard’s crew has “been scrubbing every inch of the building, from top to bottom,” says Miller. On July 28, he said it was “pretty much back in order.”
Thursday, 24 July 2014
There are all kinds of reasons for buying a new diesel: air pollution requirements, better fuel consumption, weight savings (so you might go faster), a good maintenance record, or having the dealer and his mechanics near your dock when the engine needs servicing. But how about the engine’s ability to keep running after it has rolled 360 degrees?
What happens when a boat capsizes is engine oil gets into the cylinders through the crankcase ventilation system. That destroys the engine as a result of uncontrolled combustion.
Obviously, this is an extreme rough-weather situation or one you might find yourself in if you were crossing a bar at the mouth of a river, but MTU has a solution for this potential problem and designed its 8V 2000 M84L to keep running after rotating 360 degrees on its own axis.
The secret is a valve in the crankcase ventilation that closes based on how far the boat is inclined and opens when the boat returns to an upright position — hopefully it does.
MTU tested the engine using a rollover stand that was “capable of realistically simulating a genuine lateral rollover.”
Truth be told, the Series 2000 engine with the rollover feature wasn’t designed with fishing boats in mind. Though there are some fishermen out there nutty enough to be curious about the notion of rolling over, recovering and continuing to steam along as if nothing had happened. If you know one, best not to ship with him.
The intended target of MTU rollover work is 31-knot, 65-foot lifeboats for the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institute. Those boats do now and then capsize and are designed to right themselves.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
Ask any lobsterman who enters Maine’s summer races which one he would most like to be at, and Stonington is probably at the top of the list. The race’s organizers always have good prizes. This year it was a Carolina Skiff with an engine, and then there’s the party the night before the Sunday race.
That the party’s reputation extends beyond the lobstering community explains the roadblocks this past Saturday evening and the presence of more than the usual number of Hancock County sheriffs.
But the next day there were no barriers on the water for the more than 100 boats that signed up to race.
Thirty-one events were scheduled for Sunday from a race for skiffs 16 feet and under, powered by an outboard no more than 30 horsepower with a skipper 16 years or younger to the fastest boat afloat races — no age limits on skippers and no horsepower limits.
Robbie Eaton in Making Knots won the skiff race.
The most anticipated races were the diesel and gasoline free-for-alls, followed by the Jimmy Stevens Cup for the fastest working lobster boat and the Fastest Lobstah Boat Afloat.
Andy Gove’s Uncle’s UFO, a Northern Bay 36 with a 900-hp Mack, won the Jimmy Stevens race at 43.7 mph, followed by the Lisa Marie, Blue Eyed Girl and Gramp’s Bird.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, or WTF as it is better known, a 28-foot Northern Bay with a 560-hp Fiat, was first at 47.4 mph in the Fastest Lobstah Boat Afloat race. For part of the race Little Girls, a 28-foot wooden lobster boat, with a 675-hp gasoline engine, was in the lead, but WTF pulled out ahead at the end. They were followed by Wild Wild West, Uncle’s UFO and Miss Katie.
There were a couple of no-shows. In the week since the Jonesport-Beals Island race, Galen Alley couldn’t fix his oil pressure problem on the 2,000-plus-horsepower Foolish Pleasure. And Alfred Osgood’s Starlight Express with a 900-hp Mack sporting four turbos reportedly had a heat exchanger problem solved but not in time for the race.
The next race is Aug. 9 in Winter Harbor.
Thursday, 10 July 2014
It’s that time again. The time when Maine lobstermen forgo hauling traps for a day or two and steam to whatever harbor happens to be hosting a race that weekend.
The first 2014 race was held June 14 at Boothbay Harbor, followed by Rockland, Bass Harbor and Jonesport-Beals Island. But if you missed those, there are plenty to come before the last race on Aug. 17 in Portland (see the full schedule below).
The big race at Boothbay was between Roger Kennedy’s WTF, a new 28-foot Northern Bay with a 560-hp Iveco, and Shawn Alley’s Little Girls, an older 28-foot wooden lobster boat with a 675-hp gasoline engine. It was close, but Little Girls took the race at just under 50 mph.
Alley’s luck ran out on him the following day at Rockland as the Little Girls and Thunderbolt, a South Shore 30, were pushing it hard, running up against the 50-mph mark, when a rod went spinning through the block of Little Girls’ engine.
The following Sunday, 73 boats showed up at Bass Harbor. WTF and Thunderbolt were joined in the fastest lobster boat race by Uncle’s UFO, a Northern Bay 36 with a 900-hp Mack, and Wild, Wild West, a West 28 with a 1,050-hp Isotta Fraschini.
This time WTF was the first across the line at about 47 mph.
The Jonesport-Beals Island race along Moosabec Reach was moved forward a day to July 6 because of the arrival of tropical storm Arthur. That made race day a Sunday, which accounts for a number of boats not coming to the starting line, as in that part of Down East Maine, a lot of older fishermen won’t race on the Sabbath.
Sixty-six boats did come to race (84 showed up last year). Among them were at least two new boats. Patrick Feeney replaced his 40-foot Wayne Beal Fraid Knot that ran an 855-hp Cat with a new Fraid Knot. This one is a 46 Calvin with a 1,150-hp Cat C18. The Hakuna Matata, a Libby 41 with a 700-hp Cat C12, was another new entry. But neither of them, despite their horsepower, could best the smaller and more slippery Janice Elaine, a 38 Northern Bay with a 610-hp Cummins, in the race for the fastest working boat. The Janice Elaine hit 34 mph.
Galen Alley’s Foolish Pleasure, a custom hull based on a wooden lobster boat with more than 2,000 hp and the speed record of 72 mph, came out to strut her stuff, but low oil pressure hampered her efforts. Still she was able to best Little Girls, which had picked up a new engine after blowing up the previous one, at a miserly 42 mph.
The whereabouts of Thunderbolt and Wild, Wild West remain a mystery. Thunderbolt was seen being trucked across the bridge to Beals Island, but she never showed up for any of the races.
Those questions might be answered this Sunday at Stonington, which always has a good turnout and plenty of white-knuckle races.
The final races of the season are:
Thursday, 03 July 2014
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently released a very detailed analysis of injuries suffered by the crews of freezer trawlers and freezer longliners operating in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska from 2001 to 2012. The 11-page report published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine looks at fatal and non-fatal injuries; lists the nature of the injury, such as fracture, amputation, laceration, contusion; and notes the task being performed when the injury occurred, such as processing, handling frozen fish and hauling the gear.
One purpose of the study is to give boat owners, the Coast Guard and academic researchers information they can use to design equipment and develop work practices to eliminate as many injuries as possible.
They could start with the freezer trawler fleet, which had a fatal injury rate nearly twice that of the freezer longline boats, while the non-fatal injuries were 22 percent higher.
A majority of the non-fatal injuries among the freezer trawler boats took place while handling frozen fish in the freezer holds. Those accounted for 139 of the 409 injuries. Many of those injuries took place while stacking blocks of frozen fish. Second on the list was processing fish in the factories with 72 injures. The level of severity went from minor to serious.
There were 25 fatal injuries in the freezer trawler fleet with 20 deaths stemming from the sinking of the Arctic Rose in 2001, followed by the sinking of the Alaska Ranger in 2008.
Three of the five remaining deaths came as a result of falling overboard, one from being struck by a trawl cable and another from being hit by a hydraulic door.
In the case of the freezer longlining boats, a majority of the accidents took place on deck. The roller was the culprit, inflicting the crew with lacerations, punctures and avulsions from flying hooks. There were 61 injuries, mostly from working the roller. The freezer hold, responsible for 51 injuries took second place.
The freezer longline fleet had nine fatalities between 2001 and 2012. Three people died when the 180-foot freezer longliner Galaxy caught fire and sank in the Bering Sea in 2002. Three of the remaining six deaths were by drowning, two from blunt force trauma after being caught in a conveyor belt, and one from asphyxiation after being exposed to Freon in a confined space.
The injury rates for both the freezer trawler and longline fleets may be much higher as the report's authors note some injuries were unreported. "Not all injuries were accounted for in this study," the report says, "and thus the true risk of injury exceeds the amount measured in this study."
Still, it's obvious that enough people are being injured and dying that work should be done to make onboard work areas safer.
Thursday, 26 June 2014
New Bedford’s State Pier hosted Commercial Marine Expo on June 11 and June 12. The surrounding docks were packed with scallopers, draggers and some gillnetters and clam boats.
Near the entrance to the show floor, was Notus Electronics, one of 119 exhibitors. Notus, based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, brought its latest product, which is particularly appropriate for New Bedford with its large scallop fleet.
The Dredgemaster is a wireless sensor that mounts on a scallop dredge and monitors how much wire is out, the dredge’s pitch angle and the heel angle. All three are critical factors when towing a scallop dredge. Run out too much wire and you lose the optimal angle of pitch for the front of the dredge — about 9 degrees. And you don’t want the dredge to roll over when it’s being set or towed.
Notus Electronics has been building sensors for the commercial fishing industry for 22 years. It’s not a newcomer to the game. But Commercial Marine Expo did have some newcomers to the fishing industry with interesting products.
One of them was Enforcer One out of Fayetteville, Ga. Enforcer One brought its line FireAde products, which are designed to extinguish both class-A and class-B fires.
Some products extinguish fires by cutting off the source of oxygen, but FireAde is a cooling agent that removes heat from a fire. It works so well that you are supposed to be able to spray your hand with FireAde, then aim a torch at your hand and not feel any warmth.
FireAde is a compressed foam concentrate that is added to water, in amounts from 3 to 6 percent. It leaves a layer of foam over the area that prevents additional combustion. The manufacturer also claims that from an environmental standpoint, FireAde is “relatively harmless.”
Now those are just two out of 119 good reasons to have gone to the show. Stay tuned to NF Live for video coverage of the show!
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
As a kid I remember sitting in a theater and watching a movie that had tuna fishing scenes in the Pacific. It seemed like great fun. The sun was out. The ocean was a beautiful blue, and it didn’t look like work at all. It certainly was better than mowing lawns and raking leaves, which I did to pay to get into the movies and buy a box of popcorn.
A new report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on the hazards the U.S. distant water tuna fleet faces certainly would have straightened that kid out quickly.
“Commercial Fishing Morbidity and Mortality U.S. Distant Water Tuna Fleet 2006-20012” is the first baseline assessment of hazards in this fishery. The findings are that those working on these boats, compared to most other fishing fleets in this country, are at a high risk of suffering a fatal injury, with falls overboard being the leading cause of death. There’s also a very high risk for nonfatal injuries, including head injuries, asphyxiation and finger amputations.
No wonder the terms “morbidity” and “mortality” are part of the title.
The number of boats operating in the fleet — also known as the U.S. purse seine fleet — has increased from 14 to 39 between 2006 and 2012. The average length is 214.5 feet with 28 crew members.
During the report’s time period, there were 14 deaths and 20 nonfatal traumatic injuries. The report doesn’t count three fatalities involving non-crew members, a stevedore and marine pilot that fell overboard.
Nearly half of the fatalities were from falls overboard where someone was working a line or climbing on a net. There were three nonfatal falls overboard. In none of the cases was the victim wearing a PFD.
Besides wearing a PFD, recommendations to prevent falls overboard include installing rails and creating more enclosed workspaces.
There were deaths from asphyxiation from exposure to hydrogen sulfide in a holding tank. Then there was an intentional stabbing, where one guy stabbed two others after he had been drinking. One of his victims died.
Among the nonfatal injuries there’s “digital amputation,” a medical way of saying someone lost fingers. In one case a crewman put his hand into a blower fan blade while trying to maintain his balance. In another one person was lubricating a winch drum when someone else turned it on, severing three fingers.
There’s more gruesome stuff than this in the report, but many of the recommendations for injury prevention at the end apply not only to tuna boats, but other types of fishing boats as well. They are worth looking at.
Check it out.
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
A halibut schooner pulled up next to a Soviet factory trawler in the Gulf of Alaska. A rifle emerged from the schooner’s wheelhouse window and fired shots at the trawler’s bridge.
The skipper of another halibut schooner planted himself smack dab in front of an oncoming Soviet factory trawler, its nets out, dragging the bottom. The halibut schooner had set its gear: 10 strings, six skates to a string — with hundreds of baited hooks — lying on the bottom. A flagpole bobbing across the tops of rolling swells marked the ends of each string.
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
On Sept. 20, 2012, the 107-foot Moonlight Maid sank about 55 miles south of Seward, Alaska. No lives were lost, but it was a sinking that didn’t have to happen.
The 72-year-old Moonlight Maid had a fairly long life for a wooden fishing boat. She was built in 1942 at Peterson Boat Works in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., as the USS PC-0536, a 110-foot sub-chaser. After its wartime duties ended, the sub-chaser was transferred to the Coast Guard and renamed the Air Cormorant.
Then in 1951 a Seattle fisherman purchased the Air Cormorant, changed the name to Moonlight Maid and lopped off three feet of her length. Ownership changed several times, but for the past 30 years or so, the Moonlight Maid was operating out of Valdez, Alaska, as a salmon tender for the Prince William Sound salmon fleet, from late May to early September.
It’s not a fishery where a boat is going to suffer a lot of abuse, and weather wise it takes place during a mild time of year.
The Moonlight Maid had undergone some extensive repairs. Two years before she sank, the owners replaced 40 planks and rebuilt the transom. The repairs were said to have “addressed the worst rot and damage the boat currently had but did not address everything,” according to the National Transportation Safety Board Marine Accident Brief.
In September 2012, the Moonlight Maid’s deck was repaired, but the repairs did not address the “most serious recommendations” from the previous work. That included framing that should have been replaced.
On the morning of Sept. 20, the Moonlight Maid steamed away from Seward and out Resurrection Bay toward Kodiak 175 miles away. She was running into seas up to 12 feet, and the wind gusted to 27 knots.
Seven hours later, water was rising in a space before the engine room and a 3- to 4-foot length of planking was missing on the port side, and another section, 10 to 12 feet long, was loose. Four hours later the crew got into the life raft, and about two hours after that a Coast Guard helicopter hoisted them off the raft.
The Moonlight Maid sank in 100 fathoms of water near Seal Rock. Again, it didn’t have to end that way. Take care of a wooden boat and it can fish for a long time. A good example is the halibut schooners, several of which are more than 100 years old.
In all probability the planking let go because the frames were rotten and, perhaps, the fastenings were corroded. If you don’t maintain a boat — any boat, not just a wood boat — she will sink. As the NTSB determined, “contributing to the hull failure was inadequate maintenance of the aging wooden vessel.”
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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.