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.

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.

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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.

bibWe’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 andstormr 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 scrampSCRAMP 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 smartfindaround, 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 stereoto 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.

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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.”

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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.

BeerGardenPayneBrosIt’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.

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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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If your survival equipment includes either Mustang’s MD2010 or MD2012 inflatable personal flotation devices sold in 2011, you want to get it to a Mustang Survival factory ASAP. Add a comment

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In December of last year, a lobsterman was setting lobster traps aboard a 77-foot offshore lobster boat out of Newport, R.I. The crew was working in 19-foot seas and 45-knot winds near the Gulf of Maine’s Jeffreys Ledge. Add a comment

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If you have wanted to build a boat and have the money stashed away or there’s a group of willing investors, now would be a smart time to build that boat. Smart because if you wait until after July 1, 2012, the same boat — as long as it is 50 feet or longer — will cost a lot more money. Add a comment

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On March 1, 2011, the Coast Guard put out an announcement: “Beware of E15 fuels in boats.” Add a comment

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Well, they say much of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil blowout is gone, and areas are being opened up for commercial fishing. Then again, oil is still in some nearshore areas and probably will be for some time to come. Add a comment

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National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 7/17/14

In this episode, National Fisherman's Boats & Gear Editor Michael Crowley talks with Mike Hillers about the Simrad PX Multisensor.

 

National Fisherman Live: 7/8/14

In this episode:

  • Obama proposes initiative on tracking fish
  • Council retains haddock bycatch limit
  • Columbia River salmon plan challenged
  • Virginia approves reduction in blue crab harvest
  • Ala. shrimpers hope to net some jumbo profits

 

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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