National Fisherman

Boats & Gear 

Michael CrowleyThe 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.

Last week, National Fisherman Assistant Editor Melissa Wood wrote about the halibut schooner exhibit “Highliners: Boats of the Century” that opened on Saturday at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle.

It reminded me of when I was driving a forklift at Seward Fisheries in Seward, Alaska, taking carts of halibut from the unloading dock into the plant. Every boat that came in, I was asking for a “chance.” In college I’d read too much Jack London and drank too much cheap red wine not to recognize the potential for an adventure when I saw it and these boats had it written all over them.

Then one morning a couple guys from the cannery came screaming up to the Quonset hut where I was living in their old beater of a car: “You’re on. They’ll take you!” they shouted.

attuOne of the crew on the halibut schooner Attu had gotten himself wrapped up with one of the Seward lovelies the night before, and no one could find him. So his stuff went on the dock and my gear went aboard.

But about two-thirds of the way out Resurrection Bay, the skipper started feeling guilty, turned back to Seward and eventually found the guy — and didn’t leave me on the dock.

Thus began several years of halibut fishing, all but one year on schooners. I never saw it as a regular job — every trip was that adventure I’d been dreaming about.

Like the time we were fishing near the Pribilof Islands and decided we wanted to take a short break from fishing and go into St. Paul for a drink and something to eat. So we anchored up, threw all the gear out of the ancient wooden dory that was on top of the house, swung it out over the side and started to lower it to the water. But it had been forever since anyone tried that so the rotten line on the boom parted, the dory dropped into the water, the plug popped out of hole in the bottom of the dory and it started to sink.

The vision of booze and a break from hauling several thousand hooks a day was too great, so a couple of us jumped into the sinking dory, shoved a rag into the hole and started bailing. Eventually we rowed the couple hundred yards to shore and spent the afternoon on St. Paul.

I’d never been ashore on the Pribilofs before that, and I’ve not been since, but the way I got there was a most interesting way to go.

The crew of another halibut schooner would tie up in Sand Point (a port in the Shumagin Islands) at night, and if they’d been away from land long enough, they would drift off into the dark and go “peeping.” Nope, we never did that.

Halibut schooners are the best sea boats in the North Pacific and Alaska, and the Attu was as good as any. Unfortunately, a number of years after I left the boat, a substitute skipper got lazy when going into a small bay and drove the Attu onto a ledge and broke her back. There she still lies.

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Owners of fishing boats less than 79 feet will want to keep an eye on a proposed EPA regulation called the small Vessel General Permit (sVGP). If enacted, it would be the first regulation under the Clean Water Act to address discharges incidental to the normal operation of commercial vessels less than 79 feet in length.

2014 0206 sVGPLast year Congress renewed the EPA’s Vessel General Permit, which affects boats 79 feet and longer. It’s designed to reduce incidental discharges for boats operating within three miles of the coastline and in the Great Lakes. The sVGP would be a scaled down version of the Vessel General Permit.

A small portion of the Vessel General Permit requires the use of “environmentally acceptable lubricants for all oil-to-sea interfaces, unless technically infeasible” — that affects parts like stern tubes, thrusters and rudder bearings. The idea is to cut down on what the EPA says are “millions of liters of oil being released to the aquatic environment every year.”

Owners of larger boats also have to keep seals and equipment maintained to regulation standards, with fines for noncompliance.

There was a Congressional moratorium on applying permit coverage for incidental discharges to commercial fishing and recreational boats under 79 feet. But at this point, it looks like the moratorium will expire on Dec. 19, 2014.

What that will mean for boats less than 79 feet is unclear, as the potential regulation for the small Vessel General Permit is still in a draft form and hasn’t been released.

Boat operators may be required to use environmentally acceptable lubricants, or EPA may tone down the ruling to a recommendation to use an environmentally acceptable lubricant.

If the ruling requires a change for smaller boats, then operators will be paying about $1,200 for 100 liters of an environmentally acceptable lubricant versus $350 for non-environmentally acceptable lubricants. They would probably also have to change the oil-to-sea seals.

The ruling is likely to include something about engine oil control, fish-hold effluent and fuel management. Though these will probably be a list of suggested best management practices.

Owners of smaller boats can save themselves some surprises by inquiring at their local EPA offices about the small Vessel General Permit now, rather than waiting for the final rule to be handed down.

Photo: USCG

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OK. Just about everyone in America is aware that for this past decade, Congress has been on record as being mostly a dismal, lackluster, do-nothing, divisive group of men and women.

2014 0130 LimitseinerUnfortunately, at least as far as commercial fishermen are concerned, they did do something, and it’s not good. I’m referring to the Classing of Vessels section of the USCG Authorization Act of 2010. It requires commercial fishing vessels built after July 1, 2013 (originally it was July 1, 2012), that are at least 50 feet long overall and operate beyond three-mile demarcation line to meet survey and classification requirements.

Fifty feet is a completely arbitrary number made without any thought as to how it affects boat owners and the fishing industry. It’s time that the Classing of Vessels section is repealed.

Do fishing boats need more safety standards? Some probably. Boats under 79 feet fishing in unprotected waters in the winter — cod potting in the Bering Sea, crabbing off the West or trawling in the Atlantic — do need higher safety standards in terms of stability and watertight integrity.

But the seiner working the protected waters of Southeast Alaska in the summer needs a less stringent set of requirements.

Now, under the Authorization Act, instead of new safety rules, boats being built now for working in harsh conditions and those being built for relatively mild weather are subject to being judged by classification societies.

Classification societies aren’t up to the task of making judgment calls on the design and building of small boats: offshore supply boats, ships, big tugs, factory trawlers, yes, but not small fishing boats. They don’t have the mindset and most haven’t even started at developing rules for small fishing boats. One classification society will try to use its under-90-meter rule. That’s 295 feet, which is hardly something you would want for a 58-footer.

Then there’s the cost: $50,000 to $75,000 just for the design work: total cost, maybe $250,000 more to build a 58-footer.

Some politicians might have had good intentions, but by throwing classification societies into the building of a new boat, they had little understanding of what they were doing. It’s time to repeal that mistake. So talk to fishing organizations and put some heat on Washington.

Photo: New classification rules threaten to skyrocket the cost of construction for the popular 58-foot limit seiner, like the recently launched Magnus Martens built by Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Ore.; Jessica Hathaway

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CLASSEDIn the mid-1920s, the government, that is the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, laid down the Alaska limit rule on boats in Alaska’s purse-seine fishery. Henceforth and forever boats built for that fishery were to be no longer than 58 feet.

Over the years designers and builders learned to deal with that length restriction, turning out extremely handsome boats, and though they could not get longer they did get wider. The 58-footers were also extremely seaworthy, enough so that several are being used in the Bering Sea’s cod-pot fishery.

It turns out that ruling might not be exactly “forever,” as the government has stepped in with a new ruling that impacts fishing boat design: part of the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act — supposedly done in the name of safety — says boats 50 feet and over that operate beyond three miles have to be classed. (I say the government “stepped in” as naval architects and boatbuilders — people who understand boats and safety — were not consulted. The rumor is that a certain Democratic congressman from Massachusetts who recently retired was a driving force behind the Act’s “class” and other requirements.)

Classing a boat will cost prospective boat owners a lot of money. One boatbuilder estimates it will drive up the cost of a new boat by as much as 30 percent. “It could put me out of business,” says Howard Moe at Little Hoquiam Shipyard in Hoquiam, Wash.

As a result, boatbuilders are coming up with designs they are calling 49 footers — actually 49 feet, 11 inches — to slide in under the 50-foot class rule. Little Hoquiam Shipyard and Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Ore., are two boatyards with such designs. Pat Pitsch at Strongback Metal Boats in Bellingham, Wash., has built a 46-foot seiner.

If 49 feet becomes the new 58 footer, all in the name of safety, then ironically the ultimate question becomes “by forcing fishermen to go with a boat nine feet shorter have the politicians put fishermen in harm’s way?”

As Fred Wahl says, “Sending someone to the Bering Sea in a 49-foot boat instead of a 58-foot boat is not the right direction for safety!”

Or because of cost, how many fishermen, instead of building a new boat, will stick with their old boat that’s sorely in need of major renovations? Probably too many.

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Sisu is not the name on engines commonly found in fishing boats. However, in Maine Sisu has received some recognition, as it’s the diesel bolted to the engine mounts of Travis Otis’ First Team, a Northern Bay 36 that wins most of its races on Maine’s lobster boat racing circuit.

The engine in Otis’ boat is the 6-cylinder, 645-cubic-inch 84CTIM, which puts out 410 horsepower at 2,100 rpm. That’s enough power to send the First Team (named after the Army unit his dad served with in Vietnam) up a Maine racing course at 39 mph.

F/V First Team guns it down the lane in the Portland, Maine, lobster boat races, with Travis Otis at the wheel.

Besides lobstering, Otis, with his father, Keith, operates the boatshop Otis Enterprises Marine in Searsport and is also a dealer for Sisu Diesel. That means they are among the first to find out when Sisu is bringing any new marine engines into this country.

At 410 horsepower, Travis has been running Sisu’s most powerful marine engine. It has served him well, but now he’s got his eye on two engines Sisu will be introducing over the next year or two.

The first is the 7-cylinder 98CTIM, a 9.8-liter diesel with a rating of more than 500 horsepower at 2,100 rpm. It’s a bit longer than its predecessor, but at 1,900 pounds only about 180 pounds heavier. The Tier-3 engines are now being marinized in Finland and should be available the third quarter of 2014. 2014 0109 BG Engine

There’s not as much information on the second marine engine coming out of Finland, other than that it’s a 16.8-liter V-12. The marinized version is still in the planning stages, but should come in around 900 horsepower. Expect that engine to be available sometime in 2015.

For more information, contact Otis Enterprises Marine Corp., 85 Prospect St., Searsport, ME 04974; tel. (207) 548-6362, or the Sisu distributor for North America: West Mount, 970 Farmington Road, Farmington Falls, ME 04940; tel. (207) 778-3778; www.westmountweb.com.

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All right! It’s that time of the year again. After months of busting your hump on deck — through good trips and losers — now there’s time to lean back, relax and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

That is as long as the Christmas gift shopping is done. If you’re really organized it’s out of the way; if you’ve slacked off — well you’d better get on it because we’re coming right down to the wire for old Saint Nick.

In either case, I bet there’s one person you’ve forgotten, and that’s you. I know, you had to buy stuff for the significant other, the kids and parents and a few others. But no one knows better than you what you need, and at Christmas it’s perfectly all right to treat yourself.

To help with your personal gift selection, once again I’m providing a few Christmas ideas from National Fisherman’s 2013 Product and At a Glance pages.

For the fishermen working northern waters, the months of December, January and February are especially cold. One place that cold always works its way down to is the feet. With that in mind, it would be hard to turn down the Heated Insoles from Thermacell that are highlighted in this year’s January issue.

Put the insoles in your boots, and a wireless remote control lets you adjust the heat level. Can’t be a simpler way than that to keep your feet warm.

Speaking of boots, in the April issue is Bogs’ Highliner Pro, a boot that was designed especially for commercial fisherman. It features a Bio Grip outsole that has plenty of contact area with the deck, so it’s slip resistant as well as being chemical resistant. And the boots have a wide steel shank for good support. Match the Highliner Pro with the Thermacell Heated Insole, and you should be very comfortable on those wet, cold, crappy winter nights.

Since we are on the subject of personal comfort, how about Grundens Weather-Boss jackets and pants? They have a heavy-duty nylon liner, coated on the inside with a waterproof, breathable barrier that prevents you from getting sweaty or cold. The pant legs come with a bottom zipper, letting you pull them on or take them off without removing the boots.

If things go south when you are on the grounds and you end up ditching the boat, you need a way to ensure that you make it back for the next Christmas. The Ocean signal RescueMe PLB in the March issue just might be what you need.

It’s said to be 30 percent smaller than other PLBs, can be operated with one hand and has a well-designed antenna that transmits your position with its 66-channel GPS. At the same time a strobe light goes off.

Now get out there, splurge on yourself and have a Merry Christmas.

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Last weekend prognosticators of the radio, TV, newspapers and Web were all saying New England’s first storm of the season would hit on Saturday, December 14th. And they were right. Many places got a foot of snow and a lot of wind late Saturday night. While people died in automobile accidents that could be blamed on the storm as it swirled across the country, no boats in New England — at least as far as I know — went down and no lives were lost.

If only mariners caught in the storm on Saturday, December 14, 1839, had the benefit of the weather predictions that we enjoy. That was 174 years ago. The day started out mild and clear, pleasant enough that many boats hoisted sail and left a safe anchorage for Boston, New York and other points south.

During the night, the wind turned to the southeast and the first of three gales — the others were December 22 and December 27 — swung into New England near midnight, with Massachusetts receiving the worst of it.

When the storms were over, 150 people were dead, 90 boats sunk and nearly 200 dismasted, driven ashore or otherwise damaged. Most of the boats were coastal schooners, for this was before the railroad lines and highways that allowed goods to be trucked and freighted up and down the Atlantic coast. If you wanted wood, flour, coal, sugar, corn — you name it — the stuff was hauled on a coastal schooner.

With the exception of possibly one boat, the schooner Transport, which capsized December 28, no fishing boats went down in the December storms. Part of the reason might be that the Georges Bank winter fishery started in 1830 and most of the fleet, especially from Gloucester, was offshore. (That doesn’t mean the winter offshore fishery was a safe place. Between 1830 and 1873, Gloucester lost 1,250 men and 281 schooners, with most of them in the offshore fishery.)

If in fact that’s where the Gloucester fleet was, there were still some Gloucester fishermen to help out in the December storm. In Gloucester — in the words of one account — “such a scene of terrific and horrible ruin has not been witnessed in that harbor within the memory of the oldest resident, a man of 104 years of age, who has always lived there.”

More than 50 boats were driven ashore, dismasted or carried to sea in Gloucester and about 50 lives lost. Many of the dead were scattered along the beach. In one case the “body of a woman lashed to the windlass-bitts of a Castine [Maine] schooner.”

But at the height of the storm, as recounted in a 28-page booklet “Shipwrecks of December, 1839, and Burning of the Lexington,” the boys of Gloucester stepped up:

“In the midst of this scene of terror, the hardy and noble fishermen of Cape Ann, fully proved that a sailor’s jacket seldom covers a craven heart. They manned two boats, the Custom House boat and the Van Buren; and fearlessly risked their lives for the safety of their fellow creatures. Vessel after vessel was visited by them; they made their way over the tops of mountain waves, and through the gaping chasms of the hungry waters; and from the very teeth of greedy death, plucked many a poor, despairing, and exhausted fellow; bringing him safe to shore. Excellent, generous men!”

Noble men indeed!

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2013 1212 NorthernIt definitely appeared unusual, if not strange. I’d been walking the aisles of Pacific Marine Expo searching for new ideas, different ways of approaching old problems.

Looking at the profile drawing on the wall of Northern Marine’s booth, I thought “OK. I haven’t seen that before on a fishing boat.” The artist’s rendering displayed a 58-foot seiner, but instead of sporting the normal cylindrical shaped bulbous bow that juts straight out from the hull’s forefoot, this bulb seemed kind of squished up, while pushing up from the forefoot to the waterline and not going out very far.

George Roddan, a Canadian architect, designed the hull (which packs 210,000 pounds below deck) and bulb using computational analysis. The bulb was designed to give the 58-footer a 10-knot speed. Early reports from the first 58-footer launched by Northern Marine put the speed at 10.8 knots, with a 750-hp Cummins QSK19.
BG 2013 1212 Thermashield
Don’t feel alone if you haven’t heard of Northern Marine. Located in Anacortes, Wash., Northern Marine is a newly created branch of New World Yacht Builders, and this is their first commercial fishing boat.

Also on the show floor, I’m always on the lookout for safety products, especially from outfits new to the show, which is what I found at the Nautilus Lifeline booth. As I remember, they had one product, a marine rescue radio with GPS.

The company started out selling the waterproof radios to divers and other recreational users before deciding to enter the commercial market. The small handheld radio seems simple to use. Flip up the top and push the red button to send a distress message and your GPS position. The green button lets you talk to your own boat — if, say, you are in a skiff or suddenly find yourself in the water. The orange button is for talking to other boats on channel 16.

If you do go in the water, it’s best to be in an immersion suit, and the Stearns booth displayed the Thermashield 24+, which pushes the design level for immersion suits up a notch or three.

The normal immersion suit in 32-degree water provides a roughly six-hour window of protection from hypothermia. As the name says, the Thermashield 24+ gives you at least 24 hours.

Here’s where Stearns is different from every other immersion suit. With the suit zipped up, you blow into a tube, and that transfers heat from your breath — about 88 degrees — into a series of air bladders within the suit. Basically you use your core body heat to warm the immersion suit and yourself.

Stearns’ new immersion suit also comes with hard-sole molded boots, making it easier to walk on deck than when wearing Gumby-style footwear.

There were other new products at the show, including an engine from GE that probably was the biggest that’s been at PME, but the three mentioned here were showstoppers for me.

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11.19.13 beergardenAll right! Listen up! For all you commercial fishermen and boat freaks in the Pacific Northwest who have been asleep for the past few months, I’m here to remind you it’s Pacific Marine Expo time at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. The show starts Wednesday, Nov. 20 and runs for three days.

The show is loaded with new products and is the perfect place to see the latest fishing gear, electronics, clothing, engines — you name it. If it’s new, it will probably be there. And some of these companies don’t want to take home what they hauled to the show, so it can be a good place to make a deal. I’ve known of more than one fisherman who has outfitted a new boat pretty much from the stuff he’s been able to get at the show and didn’t pay top dollar.

On Thursday — if you like boats, and I have to assume you do — take a break from cruising the aisles and checkout Boatyard Day. That’s an area of the show floor where we will be talking about and showing slides of a number of the boats that have appeared in National Fishermen (as well as WorkBoat magazine) in the past year. There will be big boats, little boats, futuristic boats and fast boats — I’m talking close to 80 mph. That kind of fast.

At this point, I hope you haven’t spent all your money because every afternoon, there’s Happy Hour in the Beer Garden. Sit down, relax and have a cold one.  

See you there.

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2013 1031 PropRolls-Royce's new integrated prop and rudder retrofit package could cut the fuel bill for boats approaching factory-trawler size.

The first installation of Rolls-Royce’s Promas Lite on a commercial fishing vessel should be completed by the first of November at Vigor Shipyard in Seattle. The vessel is the 376-foot factory trawler Alaska Ocean owned by Seattle’s Glacier Fish.

There are three elements with a Promas Lite retrofit. A stainless steel hubcap goes over the propeller hub, while behind it is a prefabricated bulb that’s attached to the existing rudder. Then the propeller is either rebladed or replaced by one that allows maximum loading on the blade tips.

Put them all together and you have a streamlined waterflow across the rudder, as well as behind it. That results in increased propeller thrust, fuel reduction of 5 to 15 percent (It’s near the lower end of the scale when towing), and a reduction in emissions. It’s also possible that a reduced engine load will reduce the wear on the engine.

Promas Lite can go on single- and twin-screw vessels. While it has been installed on a number of cruise ships, this is the first commercial fishing vessel installation. The payback period should be two to three years.

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Page 3 of 6

National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 8/14/14

In this episode:

  • More cod cuts expected if NOAA data holds
  • Louisiana importing oysters to meet demand
  • N.C. sets new sturgeon bycatch rules
  • BP appeals to Supreme Court on spill settlement
  • Senate releases new Magnuson-Stevens draft

National Fisherman Live: 8/5/14

In this episode, National Fisherman's Boats & Gear Editor Michael Crowley talks with Frances Parrott about the Notus Dredgemaster.

Inside the Industry

PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative has appointed Matt Jacobson as its new executive director.
 
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The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will convene its Red Snapper Advisory Panel Wednesday, July 30, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the council office — 2203 N. Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, in Tampa, Fla. 

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