Written by Jen Finn
Two Mass. boatyards merge; tuna boat is wheelchair kindly
In August, two New England boatyards, each with more than 100 years of hauling and repairing commercial fishing boats, joined forces.
Fairhaven Shipyard & Marina in Fairhaven, Mass., bought out its neighboring shipyard, D.N. Kelley & Son, also in Fairhaven, with only about half a mile — by water — separating the two boatyards.
Fairhaven Shipyard & Marina was started in 1879, and D.N. Kelley & Son in 1864. Until it was sold, D.N. Kelley & Son was the oldest family-owned boatyard in America.
Now, both those names are gone and have been replaced by Fairhaven Shipyard Companies. The former Fairhaven Shipyard & Marina is now called the South Yard and D.N. Kelley & Son is the North Yard.
What the merger means for the commercial fishing industry, says Fairhaven's Kevin McLaughlin, "is that we can be a lot more responsive. We'll be able to turn jobs around more quickly because we have a larger work force. We can bring resources from one yard to another."
McLaughlin says that in November a scalloper is due in for repowering, but in early October it was mostly maintenance work for the 10 or 11 fishing boats in the two boatyards.
"It's bottom painting, shafts, zincs, cutlass bearings, piping work, things like that," McLaughlin added.
Both boatyards have been primarily repair yards for commercial fishing boats, workboats and yachts. Though in 2007, Fairhaven Shipyard & Marina built the 83-foot dragger Elizabeth. It was the first boat built by the boatyard and the first dragger built in New England in nearly 20 years.
In Walpole, Maine, a Calvin Beal 34 fiberglass hull was trucked to Farrin's Boatshop on Sept. 29. "We'll finish it off, right from the bare hull to turnkey," says the boatshop's Bruce Farrin. The hull will be completed as a tuna boat for a Maine owner. The owner is a paraplegic, so the yard will make accommodations for wheelchair use.
Wheelchair access to the boat will be through the tuna door at the stern. "There will be an aluminum ramp there so he can wheel himself aboard," Farrin says.
A second ramp will lead up into the pilothouse. The pilothouse is to be built of lightweight composite panels and constructed with a step up into the cabin. The navigation station is being designed so the controls and steering are at wheelchair level.
Headroom in the pilothouse will be enough for the average person, Farrin says. Visibility for the owner in his wheelhouse is accomplished by raising the cabin floor and "keeping the windows low enough that he can see out of them and be able to see over the trunk cabin," Farrin adds.
This is the second boat Farrin's Boatshop has completed for a paraplegic. The first one was built 12 years ago for Friendship, Maine's Danny Reed. Farrin says that boat "was a little more elaborate." It had a Stidd Systems helm seat that was hydraulically controlled.
However, Farrin sees an advantage to the way the pilothouse on the current boat is being built in that the "owner won't have to go through a lot of transfers" to run the boat.
Beneath the main deck will be a 500-hp Cummins diesel, as well as a live-bait tank. Tuna that are caught will be kept in portable on-deck coolers.
Since the boat will be mostly rod-and-reel fishing, there will be a fly bridge but not a tuna tower.
The boat will have a microwave, refrigerator and head, and 110-volt lighting, as well as DC lighting. A portable generator, not a stationary unit, will provide the electrical power.
The boat's owner currently fishes out of an older Down East boat with twin engines. "One reason he wants a new boat," Farrin says, "is the older boat isn't set up as well for his needs as this one will be."
In South Bristol, Peter Kass and his crew at John's Bay Boat Co., a longtime builder of wooden lobster boats is finishing up a 41-footer. The boat should be completed by mid-November. She will be used for part-time scalloping and lobstering by Scott Burgess of Yarmouth, Maine. — Michael Crowley
Oregon yard gets biggest job; bulb makes seiner smoother
In November 2007, Ray Cox, the owner of the boatyard Tarheel Aluminum in Charleston, Ore., bought the boatyard next door, Giddings Boat Works. The boatyard's name remains the same, and when Cox and his crew get done with their current project, he says, "It will be the biggest boat to ever come off the Giddings Boat Works' ways."
That project is the 95-foot dragger Chellisa, which is being sponsoned. In the process, the boat is getting a new wheelhouse, gantry and main engine. Cox notes that this is the second time the Chellisa has been sponsoned, and she was previously lengthened.
The Chellisa had a 27-foot beam when she showed up at the yard, and when she leaves in December to head for Alaska, she will be going out with a 33-foot beam.
The sponsoning work is being done to improve the boat's stability and allow her to more easily carry a large load.
"Before," says Cox, "when he loaded the boat up, it was pretty much underwater." The additional beam will provide reserve buoyancy to increase the boat's freeboard.
The old hull plating will stay in place with the new steel plating and frames welded to it. Cutting holes in the original plating, allows voids between the plating and sponson shells to be used as fuel tanks.
The bow had to be cut off and replaced with a new bow to keep the Chellisa's length in line with its fishing permit. "With the sponsoning, we were going up so much higher if we had followed that angle on the bow, it would have made it too long," Cox says.
The old wheelhouse was completely removed. Its replacement is wider and taller. "Actually, it's a three-story wheelhouse," Cox says.
Cox still owns Tarheel Aluminum, and having the two boatyards next to each other is convenient. "If things are slow at Tarheel, I can send my people to work on whatever needs done here. And I have some equipment like a press brake and pipe bender over there. It's just more versatile."
In Bellingham, Wash., Seaview North Boatyard had three seiners hauled for repairs. The 1950s-era seiner Lummi Boy was out of the water to have a plank replaced, a new cutlass bearing and some butt-joint repairs to its wooden hull. The boat's owners are part of the Lummi, a Native American tribe in western Washington.
A wooden Alaskan seiner built in 1940 had her shaft and bearings replaced. They were just worn out, says the boatyard's Rob Christensen.
The Empress, a newer 58-foot steel seiner came into Seaview North the first week in October for miscellaneous welding work and to be retrofitted with a bulbous bow.
The bulb will probably be a 42-inch propane-style tank. It is being retrofitted to the hull to reduce the boat's pitching motion and improve her fuel consumption, Christensen says.
At one point there was some discussion about putting a new bow thruster on the boat, but the thruster the boat currently has proved to be sufficient.
Christensen says a couple of boats from Alaska are due in over the next few months for repowering jobs.
The boats are taking advantage of funding from an Alaska program started in September to get fishermen to change over to modern fuel-efficient engines.
South of Bellingham, in Port Townsend, Haven Boatworks, which specializes in wooden boat restorations and repairs, recently had the 58-foot Bergen in for "some bulwark work and to replace some guards," says the boatyard's Stephen Gale.
The Bergen, a house-forward wooden boat built in 1939 comes into the boatyard at least once a year. "The owner takes really good care of the boat," Gale says.
Comparing the Bergen to other wooden boats in the Pacific Northwest fleet that make annual trips to the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, Gale says, "The Bergen is a youngster. There are boats out there quite a bit older."
One of the older boats he mentions is the Constitution, which was built in 1913 and has been into Haven Boatworks for repairs in the past. Another is the Grant, which was built in 1925. "That boat is immaculate. You can eat your lunch off the top of the keel," Gale says. — Michael Crowley
New scalloper built in Florida; 'Bama yard recycles shrimpers
Duckworth Steel Boats of Tarpon Springs, Fla., just launched the third of four sisterships bound for the Atlantic scallop fishery. John W. Gilbert Associates of Hingham, Mass., designed all four boats.
The recent launching was in August. It was the 93' x 28' x 14' 6" Horizon for the O'Hara Corp., fishing out of New Bedford, Mass. Horizon is a sistership to the Polaris, launched in 2007; the Wisdom, which went in the water February 2008; and the Arcturus, which is still being built.
Arcturus is the final boat in this series. It is replacing an older scalloper that carries the same name, says the boatyard's Junior Duckworth.
In September, Horizon was on its maiden scallop trip.
The four double-chined steel boats are identical in size and are all powered by Caterpillar 3508 engines rated for 900 hp at 1,600 rpm. The Cats are coupled to Reintjes WAF 561 marine gears.
None of the boats have freezers, but there is room for adding freezer units in the future. The scallopers carry seven-man crews but are designed with space for 11 in case regulations ever allow that large a crew.
The Atlantic coast scallop fishery continues to provide work for southern boatyards, and Duckworth has certainly profited from the success of the fishery. He is talking with a Virginia scallop firm about building a boat.
Steiner Shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Ala., bought six used shrimp boats at a federal auction in 2006 and has sold all six to foreign commercial fishing markets.
Steiner sent two of the boats to the Republic of Croatia in central Europe to fish for bait, two to Nigeria on the west coast of Africa for shrimping, and in September, two boats were nearly ready to go to Venezuela on the north coast of South America for tuna fishing.
"These are boats that really did not need a great deal of work," says the boatyard's Russell Steiner. "We sandblasted the hulls, rebuilt the Caterpillar engines, added refrigeration, serviced the generators and took care of any routine maintenance.
"We were able to purchase the vessels at a reasonable price and this has allowed us to pass that savings on to the buyer," he says. "Fishermen from other countries can also buy the boats cheap here because the dollar is down."
All six boats measured 90' x 23' x 12'. The boats for Croatia are fishing in the Mediterranean, while the boats for Nigeria are in the Atlantic, as are the two Venezuela boats.
The shrimpers Steiner bought were part of the Cat fleet. Sixteen shrimp boats went on the auction block, and Steiner bought the Crazy Cat, Alley Cat, Black Cat, Country Cat, Bayou Cat and Bear Cat.
The single-engine boats are powered by rebuilt 3412 Caterpillar diesel engines. A Caterpillar 3304 powers a 65-kW generator on all the boats.
"We knew the history of the Cat fleet, and that helped us in our decision to purchase the vessels," says Steiner. Ocean Marine of Bayou La Batre built two of the boats in 2000.
"We aren't the only yard around doing this," Steiner says. "Several yards have been purchasing used shrimp boats and refurbishing the boats for overseas markets. We are certainly hoping that the commercial fishing business is going to improve domestically, but in the meantime we are all looking for ways to keep going."
Up in Virginia, the commercial oyster season started Oct. 1, and prior to that watermen were hauling their boats to prepare for the opening.
Oystermen Michael Bristow, owner of the 42-foot deadrise Danny Boy, and his brother, Willie Bristow, owner of the Honet, had their boats on the rails at Cameron's Marine Services, in Urbanna.
The Honet and Danny Boy are classic wooden deadrise boats that tow a 22-inch-wide oyster scrape on the Rappahannock River oyster beds.
Michael Bristow said he and his brother were doing routine maintenance on their wooden boats. "Once crab season is over, we get the boats up on the rails to paint the topsides and bottom and to take a hard look at the boats out of the water to see if we have any problems."
The boys learned from their late father, waterman Joe Bristow, that a wooden commercial fishing boat requires constant and dedicated attention. — Larry Chowning
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