Written by Jen Finn
Lobsterman, 19, goes for thirds; islanders love their wood shed
Alec Peasley must be something of a driver. You have to be to have bought three lobster boats in the past seven years. The most recent is the Atlantica, a 34' x 12' Calvin Beal Jr. design. Prior to that was a used 30-foot Holland and before that an outboard-powered skiff. I know. You are going to say a skiff isn't much of a boat and doesn't cost a lot of money. But seven years ago, Peasley was in the seventh grade.
"He's had the fever ever since then," says Peasley's dad, Buster, adding that in the skiff days Alec's mother went as sternman.
Now, 19-year-old Alec "needed something a little bigger," than the Holland, Buster says. With a hull and top from S.W. Boatworks in Lamoine, Maine, the Peasleys, along with Carol Dodge, who works for Buster, finished off the boat in six weeks at Buster's shop, Peasley Marine, in Brooksville, Maine.
Shortly after the boat was launched in October, Alec had 105 traps on deck, and Buster figured he might be able to load some more on. That's along with a bait box and an aluminum tank that holds 900 pounds of lobsters.
Beneath the Nidacore composite deck, each side of the hull houses a 7-foot-long lobster tank. "It's his dream to fill up those tanks," Buster says. "He thinks they'll hold 1,000 pounds of lobsters."
For power there's a 305-hp Cummins hooked up to a Twin Disc gear with a 2.5:1 reduction. That combination has pushed the Atlantica to 22.8 knots. "I thought if she goes 20, we'll be some tickled, but that wasn't a problem," Buster says. "She won't be racing," he adds, "but she's a good workboat."
The Atlantica's 305-hp Cummins burns four fewer gallons a day than the 315-hp Cummins that was in the Holland hull.
The Williams family from the Maine island fishing community of Stonington and Peter Kass at John's Bay Boat Co. in South Bristol, Maine, definitely have a history together. In 1990 Kass built a 38-foot lobster boat for Robert Williams. In 1995, Williams' son, John, steamed away from John's Bay Boat Co. in a new 41' x 13' 6" lobster boat. Then on Nov. 17, the younger Williams again pulled away from Kass' dock to head into the Gulf of Maine and then across East Penobscot Bay to the island of Deer Isle. Only this time the lobster boat measured 44' x 14'. These are all wooden boats. That's all Kass has ever built and will build.
Williams' new boat is the Khristy Michelle, the same name that was on his previous boat. However, the new version, while 3 feet longer, carries only 6 inches additional beam. "The idea," says Kass, "was to keep some of the characteristics of the [first] boat and try not to make one of those modern fat boats and keep the weight back and have a finer hull."
To that end, the bulkhead was pushed back a foot from where it would be "in a modern boat," Kass says, "so it is finer forward." Not only is the weight of the engine moved aft, but the weight of the wheelhouse as well. "So the hull is finer forward. We are trying to make a more fuel efficient boat," Kass adds.
It also makes a good sea boat. Kass contrasts the underwater lines of his boats — "bottom is sharper, getting bottom area more in depth than in width, which is a better shape for a sea boat" — with many contemporary fiberglass lobster boats. "As you go forward they just shoal right up," he says. "That helps them lift and plane, but I don't think it's a good sea boat."
Williams' new boat is powered with a 500-hp Cummins, the same horsepower as the previous boat.
After the Khristy Michelle left South Bristol, the crew at John's Bay Boat Co. started in on the next lobster boat. This one is for Ben Weed, another Stonington fisherman. At 44' x 15' it's a little beamier. She will also have more power with a 615-hp Cat C18.
Behind Weed are three more lobster boats to build, all for Stonington, lobstermen. When those boats are finished, Kass will have built 13 lobster boats for the island community. — Michael Crowley
Longline, gillnet, bubble bath; fire turns Buffalo into phoenix
At Distinctive Finishes in Haines, Alaska, John Schumacher has specialized in taking 25- to 30-year-old boats, gutting them, then giving them a flush deck and a modern cabin. Now, ever since he bought Hansen Boat Co.'s 44-foot fiberglass mold, Schumacher has expanded his line of boatbuilding options to include new boats.
Schumacher says the Hansen Boat Co., which is in Everett, Wash., "built 12 boats out of the mold, before they switched to steel." He thinks the molds have been in storage since the 1980s. The hull that comes out of the mold "looks like a Delta 42, a shallow-draft seiner for places like Chignik [Alaska]," Schumacher says, who also worked at Delta Marine in Seattle for 12 years.
Even though the hull design goes back many years, Schumacher feels "there will be a very big demand for the boats. The fleet is 30-plus years old and no one is making these boats." He points out that Delta Marine recently pulled out its molds for the 58-foot wide-body design. "They've been sitting for 20 years," Schumacher notes.
The fiberglass hull he is currently finishing off is for Haines fisherman Jim Szymanski and measures 44' x 14' x 3' 6". When the boat is completed, the combination longliner and gillnetter will look a lot different from a Hansen-built 44-footer. "We did a lot of changes," Shumacher says.
The 44-footer of 30-some years ago would have had the cabin's front windows "down on the deck," Shumacher says. "We moved the cabin back and put a 5-foot trunk cabin up front, and the windows were raised 18 inches."
That provides a lot more room. There's more space on the wheelhouse level, as well as down below where there is a master stateroom, galley and bunks. Then there's that bathtub.
Szymanski's wife, Randa, will be going fishing with him, and she wants a bathtub, says Schumacher. So he custom built one out of fiberglass. It's probably safe to say a Hansen 44 would not have had a bathtub.
The hull is solid fiberglass, while "all the bulkheads and everything is Nidacore," Schumacher says. There's no wood in the boat except where the 350-hp Isuzu is mounted.
On deck are hatches for six fish holds. Schumacher isn't sure what hold capacity will be, but said when Hansen built the boat it held about 45,000 pounds.
Szymanski's 44-footer should be finished this June. On his next boat, Schumacher plans to raise the bulwarks to provide even more room down below.
Two and a half years ago Buffalo Boats' shop in Bellingham, Wash., burned to the ground. Everything was lost but the boatshop's fiberglass hull and cabin molds. It's taken a long time, but Buffalo Boats is building again in a new facility in Bellingham. "This shop is a lot nicer," says Buffalo Boats' Roger Allard.
Allard has sent a 32-foot sportfishing boat to Canada, and is building a 26' x 9' crabber for a Swinomish-tribe fisherman in LaConner, Wash. "This one is all deck with a side cabin on the right side that's like a little telephone booth," that's open on back, says Allard.
With a single 250-hp Honda on the stern, Allard says, "It will be a rocket."
Earlier in the year, in a somewhat convoluted building project, a fisherman had Allard take a Glass Fab hull that had been a bowpicker and build "an enormous cabin on it. It was ugly by my standards," Allard says.
When the boat's owner ran out of money, he gave the boat to Allard, who then gutted it. He found a new buyer for the 29-foot boat, and then built a cabin for it. Allard says, "The boat looks pretty good. It's a smaller cabin with a bigger deck so he can go crabbing with it."
Allard will also be adding 3 feet to a 32-footer he built eight years ago. The boat, which is used for halibut longlining and charter fishing, will also be getting a new 350-hp Cummins main engine. — Michael Crowley
22-footer to target bass, eels; largest buy boat still working
Wally Bowler of Buoy 8 Ship Store in Saluda, Va., delivered a Bayport 22 to Keith Hoffman of Lindenhurst, N.Y., in September. Hoffman is using the boat in the commercial hook-and-line fishery for striped bass and for running American eel pots.
The 22' x 7' 9" fiberglass boat is powered by a 150-hp Yamaha outboard with a top-end speed of 50 mph. "It's a very dry boat and it handles well and tracks well," says Bowler, who markets the boat, which was designed by Gillie Boatworks of Deltaville, Va., and built by Wave Rider Manufacturing of Topping, Va.
Hoffman's Bayport 22 was built with several custom features, including a center console and rod holders strategically located in the washboards for the hook-and-line striped-bass fishery.
Hoffman also had a 40-gallon fuel tank installed under the deck and near the stern. Atlantic Metal Products in Topping fabricated the tank of 3/16-inch 5052 aluminum. The tank has three baffles to reduce the movement of fuel inside the tank when the boat is turning or running in a heavy chop.
The boat's sides are 8 inches higher than normal, and the flare was extended in the bow," says Bowler. "When underway, the flare and extended sides help knock the water down and away from the boat."
Bowler says another Bayport 22 is being built on speculation. It will be an open boat with a small anchor locker in the bow. "In this new style, we are going to install a step-up in the bow so a commercial or recreational hook-and-line fisherman can step up on the steps to cast. This one will also have a center console," he says.
In September, the 72' 2" x 24' 6" x 5' 5" Mobjack, a Chesapeake Bay buy boat had some in-water work done at Chesapeake Marine Railway in Deltaville, Va.
The boatyard replaced most of the rub rail with white oak, anchoring it in place with stainless steel fasteners. They also tore out some decking, replaced it with fir planks, and rebuilt the starter on the air compressor. "The starter was locking up so it needed to be taken apart, reshimmed and resealed," says the boatyard's Jon Farinholt.
The boat's owner, Jonathan Westbrook, plans to use the Mobjack for pleasure and for planting oyster seed in Chesapeake Bay. The Mobjack was built by Linwood Price in 1946 and is the largest working Chesapeake Bay buy boat.
She was the fifth largest wooden buy boat built in the Chesapeake Bay region. The largest was the 97' 6" x 28' 2" x 7' 7" Marydel, built in 1922 at the same boatyard where the Mobjack was being repaired.
The second largest buy boat was the Chesapeake, measuring 92' 9" x 24' 9" x 7'. The Chesapeake was built by Lepron "Capt. Lip" Johnson of Crittenden, Va., in 1936. Next was the Elizabeth at 75' x 15' x 5' and built in 1913 by J. Wood Tull of Irvington, Va. The Fisherman was the fourth largest, measuring 72' 9" x 22' 2" x 5' 5" and built by E.J. Moore & Son in Crittenden in 1921. The Fisherman was enlarged in 1926 to 96' 2" x 23' x 5' 5". Over the years several other boats were lengthened, making them larger than the Mobjack, but today she's the only one left of all those buy boats.
"The Mobjack is quite a special boat," says Farinholt. "We love to see the old wooden boats at our yard because so many of them were built right here on this spot."
Prior to coming to the Chesapeake Marine Railway, the Mobjack spent several years at Smith's Marine Railway in Dare, Va. The boat was tied up in a lawsuit because the previous owner refused to pay Smith's for repair work. Eventually the railway assumed ownership of the boat and sold it to Westbrook. Before the Mobjack left the Dare, the boat was hauled to have its bottom and wheelhouse painted and some repairs done to the deck. — Larry Chowning
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