National Fisherman

The world is our oyster

McDonald’s revealed recently with great fanfare that their chicken nuggets are now made with — you guessed it! — real chicken. Am I supposed to be impressed? I guess so. Over the last few decades, we as a culture have steadily moved away from eating what Michael Pollan describes in “In Defense of Food” as things your great-grandparents could identify as food.

16Nov NF EditorsLog

While it’s nice to see that we might be moving back to focusing on eating food made from recognizable ingredients, it strikes me as counterintuitive that the federal government (and anyone scrambling to make fast cash on the sky-is-falling notion that the world is running dangerously low on protein) is moving in the opposite direction.

Some recent political swings in fishery management suggest that Washington — and in some cases the states — may be entrenched in the habit of dismissing the value of well-managed commercial fisheries (which put protein on consumer tables) in favor of recreational fisheries. Capitol Hill seems to be stuck in a time warp in which U.S. fisheries are unmanaged and perched on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile, NOAA celebrates annually the overwhelming success of our federal fishery management policies. Do they talk to their colleagues? Maybe they just stick to the weather.

At the same time, the federal government is apparently nearly giddy over finfish aquaculture, going so far as to approve genetically modified salmon for human consumption via the Food and Drug Administration and promote open-ocean net pens.

We’ve come so far in recognizing the damage caused at every trophic level by factory farming and producing animal protein sources on an industrial scale — from honeybees to personal health to farmland and ocean health. And yet we are failing to recognize the intrinsic value in our wild-capture fisheries, even selling them off for the chance at farming fish on a grand scale. Fishing is not just the last industry of the American cowboy spirit. It’s the last vestige of our essential human connection to food as nature intended — wild and free and available to everyone.

I’m no luddite when it comes to human evolution, but I recognize the value in maintaining a connection to what made this planet our home in the first place. More is not always better. In fact, it’s quite probable that we have exactly what we need already. We just have to take care of it.

*                 *                *

On a lighter note, I am very much looking forward to seeing this year’s Crew Shots. Please send photos taken in 2016 to, and be sure to include Crew Shots 16 in the subject line. We will also need to know names of those pictured (from left to right) the boat, home port, location (if not the home port), fishery and gear type. The more information you include and the larger your image, the better your chances are for getting into the magazine or on the cover!

 The deadline for submissions is Oct. 31, 2016.

» Read more Editor's Logs here.NF Nov16 CVR

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Copyright © 2016 National Fisherman. All rights reserved.

Water over the stern

On a cold New England November morning, a skipper and one deckhand boarded a 40-foot scalloper and got underway for a day trip. A small craft advisory had been issued for the area with 3- to 5-foot seas and 15- to 20-knot winds out of the northeast. 

Consequences USCGreports

When they arrived at their first spot just before 11 a.m., they noted about 25 lobster trap lines that crisscrossed the area. They set out the starboard scallop dredge and proceeded in an easterly course at 7 to 8 knots.

After about five minutes, the dredge became entangled in some of the lobster gear. The deckhand, who had been a lobsterman, estimated that the trap line was made up of 20 traps and weighed about 2,250 pounds. The weight of the trap line on the dredge resulted in a decrease in the boat’s speed down to 2 to 3 knots, and the boat listed to starboard aft.

The skipper pulled the throttle back to slow-ahead. This helped take some of the tension off the wire attached to the dredge, while maintaining enough to keep the wire out of the propeller.

However, the wind and sea conditions, coupled with increased tension on the scallop dredge wire, turned the boat in a SSW direction. With her stern freeboard reduced by the added weight to 6 inches, water started washing up over the main deck through the dredge retrieval opening and freeing ports in the boats transom. The skipper came back out on deck and took over operation of the winch to try to bring the dredge alongside, but the boat became entangled in a second lobster trap line. The second entanglement redirected the boat to a more westerly heading and exposed its stern to oncoming sea conditions; water started downflooding into the compartments below.

Around 11:15 a.m., the skipper spotted the main cargo boom over the starboard rail and then told the deckhand to attach the wire running from the main cargo boom to a pad-eye that was welded on the top of the dredge. The skipper intended to use the cargo boom winch to lift the dredge up and out of the water so the lobster trap lines could be freed or cut from the dredge; the starboard gunwale was now nearly underwater. Trying to cut the gear free was not working.

The skipper headed back into the pilothouse and told the deckhand to release the tension on the lower starboard side winch so the dredge would drop away from the side of the boat. He would simultaneously place the throttle full-ahead to try to reposition the boat. This maneuver allowed the starboard side winch’s wire to go slack. The cargo boom’s wire, which ran through a block that was 19 feet above deck and 11 feet above the starboard winch’s block and tackle, assumed the full load of the scallop dredge (and entangled lobster gear). 

Around 11:20 a.m., the boat started listing harder to starboard and began going further down by the stern. The boat rolled over and the deckhand was thrown into the water. He grabbed onto the rub rail of the overturned scallop boat.

By 11:28 a.m., the lobster boat that was working nearby arrived alongside the scallop boat and retrieved the deckhand from the water. 

 It was about 12:37 p.m. when the scallop boat slid below the surface and sank in 190 feet of water. The deckhand was borderline hypothermic. The skipper was never located.

Lessons learned

Four years prior to this incident, the scalloper was converted from a stern net dragger to a starboard side only scallop dredger. Modifications increased the weight of the vessel by 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, moved the highest weight bearing point of the vessel from 14 feet above the deck to 19 feet above the deck, and reduced the stern’s freeboard to only 12 inches. No stability evaluation was conducted afterward. When alterations to a vessel can affect its stability, a competent authority should approve the alterations before they are undertaken.

 Stability is one of the most important factors in every fishing vessel’s overall safety. Without reducing the importance of life-saving equipment, take all precautions and use every possible means to ensure you go to sea in a stable vessel. Fish safe!

This article is based on U.S. Coast Guard reporting and is intended to bring safety issues to the attention of our readers. It is not intended to judge or reach conclusions regarding the ability or capacity of any person, living or dead, or any boat or piece of equipment.

NF Nov16 CVR

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Copyright © 2016 National Fisherman. All rights reserved.

2016 Highliners

National Fisherman has honored Highliners for almost 40 years. This year, we add to the honor roll our latest award winners representing the East Coast and Southern states — Robert T. Brown Sr. of Avenue, Md.; Ben Hartig of Hobe Sound, Fla.; and Sonny McIntire of Ogunquit, Maine.

In keeping with the spirit of the awards, each of our winners is a fisherman and then some. Brown, Hartig and McIntire have all made personal sacrifices in their contributions to the industry.

Brown has led the Maryland Watermen’s Association since his dear friend, longtime colleague and now fellow NF Highliner, Larry Simns, crossed the bar in 2013. Simns left big shoes to fill, but Brown has held the group steady and moving forward with some significant strides of his own, providing strong leadership that would doubtless make the watermen’s founding president very proud.

Hartig’s leadership also has a local effect, but his many terms on the South Atlantic council have afforded him a widespread influence on the region’s fishery policies and standards for data.

Although Sonny McIntire hasn’t held an explicit role of leadership through an official organization or management group, his guidance of young fishermen removed barriers to entry for a whole generation around his home town of Ogunquit, Maine. His skill and natural aptitude for fishing may have qualified him as a leader and fleet highliner, but it is his willingness to take on the role of teacher and mentor for the many young fishermen who learned from him that makes him an NF Highliner.

Robert T. Brown Sr. 
Working for watermen

 By Larry Chowning


As president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association for 40 years, the late Larry Simns lobbied for and battled political odds in support of Maryland’s commercial watermen. 

With Simns’ passing in 2013, Robert T. Brown Sr., 66, of Avenue, Md., took over the helm of the association, and he is aggressively pursuing efforts to keep Maryland’s commercial fisheries alive and financially viable.

Brown grew up in St. Mary’s County, Md., just across St. Patrick Creek from where he lives and runs his seafood businesses, Shop Cove Seafood and Shop Cove Aquaculture. 

His father, Frank, and grandfather, Sam, were Maryland watermen, too. “You can keep on going back, too, and you will find that most of my ancestors worked the water,” says Brown.

In 1964, Brown started haul seining in the summer with his brother, Tucker, on the Potomac River. “People talk about all the rockfish we catch now. By God, we would catch more fish in one night then than I’m allowed to catch in one year now. And that was an average catch on that night,” says Brown. 

Brown started working on his own in 1966 when he bought a 16-foot Deagle V-bottom boat, powered by a 50-horsepower Mercury outboard engine that he used to oyster after...

Ben Hartig
Pioneer in politics

By Maureen Donald


Ben Hartig has been a full-time commercial fisherman since the mid-1970s — a profession that seemed natural to a young man who grew up in and around Florida’s East Coast fishing villages. One of his favorite childhood haunts was the Juno Fishing Pier. When he was old enough, he started working there. He quickly graduated to serving as a mate on a headboat, followed by a variety of marine-related jobs: managing a tackle shop, captaining a snapper-grouper vessel, becoming a partner in wholesale/retail seafood market. A stint in the Army served him well, providing the funds to purchase his first boat — the die was cast. There was little doubt Hartig would spend a life on the water, but as it turned out, also in the conference room. 

It was Hartig’s career on the water that spawned his interest in fisheries management — a combination he is the first to admit is quite the balancing act.

“I decided early on that we [fishermen] need to take an active role in fisheries management in order to preserve our industry,” Hartig says. “We can never forget that we are as much a part of the process as the resource. We can’t and shouldn’t eliminate our impact on the industry.” As a result, Hartig has been in the federal fisheries... 

Sonny McIntire
Teaching with tunas

 By Jerry Fraser


It was a bluebird summer day in the late 1960s.

Carl McIntire Sr. idled the Priscilla Cameron across the harbor at Ogunquit, Maine, toward the dock where his son’s boat, Susan Ann, was tied. “Tuna! Tuna! Tuna!” he hollered.

Aboard the Susan Ann were Carl Jr., known as Sonny to most anyone who has fished bluefin tuna off New England, his two oldest boys, Bobby and Billy, then around 7 and 9, and three teenaged “Perkins Cove rats” — Steve Weiner, Tim Tower and me.

“Where? Where? Where?” Sonny hollered.Nearly 50 years later, it escapes me what we were doing sitting at the dock. I asked Sonny about it the other day and he didn’t recall, either. It must have been close to midday if his father was in. “Awfully late,” he said. One thing there was no questioning: We’d be heading out.

Sonny is among the most talented fishermen I have known, and when it comes to harpooning bluefin tuna, he may be the best that’s ever been.

Halfway out we blew a freeze plug out of the diesel and overheated the engine. Sonny carved a plug from a wooden gaff handle, added seawater, and we were...

Read full article in our November issue page 22.

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Copyright © 2016 National Fisherman. All rights reserved.



Maine shop builds wood-glass hybrid; longtime builder goes commercial

By Michael Crowley

The vast majority of Maine’s lobstermen work out of fiberglass boats, while a small number have a wooden boat. Each is comfortable with their choice for a boatbuilding material.

The vast majority of Maine’s lobstermen work out of fiberglass boats, while a small number have a wooden boat. Each is comfortable with their choice for a boatbuilding material.

But for the past couple of years, Richard Stanley at Richard Stanley Custom Boats in Bass Harbor has been trying to get fishermen to look beyond their fiberglass or wood comfort zone. 

To Stanley, it makes sense to combine the two materials — a wood hull with a custom fiberglass top. He’ll tell you a wood boat goes through the water much better than a fiberglass hull, though a wood deck and cabin can suffer from extensive maintenance issues. But put a fiberglass top over the wood hull, and you can keep out fresh water while drastically reducing maintenance. 

That’s been a tough sell to fishermen, who generally are reluctant to change their way of doing things — anything. But this August, Stanley built the molds for the first hybrid wood and glass boat. The 38' x 15' boat will be used for tuna fishing, lobstering, six-pack charters and as a pleasure boat. 

The hull he is building is a built-down style, and the fiberglass top is being built at Edgerly Woodworking and Boat Storage in Surry, Maine. It will be composite foam construction with 3/4-inch Divinycell on the sides and 1 inch on the pilothouse and cabin top. 

It will sit on top of the hull’s shelf, sheer clamp and sheer plank, and go down over the sheer plank, where it will be glued to the wood and then fastened to the hull with screws through the toe rail and guardrail. 

Combining the fiberglass top with the wood hull makes construction “a lot less involved,” says Stanley, “because you don’t have to put any deck framing in.” 

Another difference has the sheer clamp and shelf flush with the top of the sheer, instead of being lower to take the deck frames. “We’ll fill in between the [hull] frames and the sheer,” said Stanley, “so it will be all solid wood on top.” That’s about the only construction difference from a normal wooden boat. “From a distance,” says Stanley, “it will look like a wood boat, though it won’t have wood trim.” The trim will be painted on.

When the wood and fiberglass boat leaves the shop sometime next spring, she’ll have an open wheelhouse with maybe a winter back. There will be V-berths up forward, an enclosed head and a 550-hp John Deere for power.

When not working on the hybrid boat, Stanley’s crew has been repairing the Sea Chimes, a wooden lobster boat built by Arno Day in 1964. The repairs include recaulking the garboard seams, refastening some planks, refastening the deck and side decks, patching some rot in the stem, and patching the skeg. 

“The skeg had gotten worn out because the propeller was too close to the skeg and washed the wood out on her,” explained Stanley. “We patched that in.” 

In Boothbay, Maine, a 100 percent fiberglass boat is being finished off at Matthew Sledge’s shop Samoset Boatworks. It’s a Wesmac 38 that was trucked down from Wesmac Custom Boats in Surry, Maine, as a molded top and hull with two bulkheads and four stringers. She’s being built for a tuna fisherman in Manchester, Mass.

The boat’s owner had been fishing “out of a 26-foot Regulator,” says Sledge, “Now he’s jumping up to the big boys.” 

When the 38-footer is launched in mid-September, she will go out the shop’s doors with a 500-hp Cat C9 and a 6-kW Northern Lights genset.

The platform is composite, with Coosa board as the core material. Coosa board was also used for the cabin sole. 

A 215-gallon fuel tank is under the deck along each side of the hull, while a 115-gallon live well is on the centerline, from the cockpit sole to the aft deck. 

The boat’s owner wants rod holders every 18 inches around the perimeter of the cockpit, which amounts to about $3,000 worth of rod holders. When Sledge prepares the side decks for the holders, the holes are routed out and backfilled. Then G10 compression tubes are installed. “G10 is a pressed fiberglass tube,” says Sledge, “so you’re not going to crush that when you tighten the bolts down, and it transmits the load right to the outer skin of the deck, which on the Wesmac is about 3/16 inch thick.”

Sledge has been a custom boatbuilder since the 1980s but except for some local lobster boats that he’s “refreshed,” it’s been all pleasure boats. This is the first kit boat he’s finished off. “I’m just gettin’ into the commercial work,” he says. 


Asked what the difference is between commercial fishermen and pleasure-boat owners, Sledge says: “The commercial guys know exactly what they want. Pleasure guys kind of.” 


Wash. yard building two 58-footers; 70-year-old should turn some heads

 By Michael Crowley

In November 2013, Northern Marine, which was known for high-end yachts and had not built a commercial fishing boat, launched the 58-foot seiner Optimus for John Barry of Silver Bay, Alaska. (see ATY West, NF Feb. ’14, p. 37) Then this September, Northern Marine, a division of Concorde Marine in Burlington, Wash., was building its second and third 58-footers. All three boats are to the design of George Roddan of Roddan Engineering in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Both 58' x 25' 6" boats are going to Alaska and “will be used primarily as seiners,” says Stuart Archer with Concorde Marine, “but they can do crab, shrimp and squid.”

The 58-foot design does not appear that different from other 58-foot seiners above the waterline. But below the waterline, a major difference is the shape of the bulbous bow. Instead of a cylindrical shape extending straight out from the bow, the bulb sweeps up from the forefoot to about the waterline, doesn’t go out very far and has a slight pear shape. 

“There’s been an evolution of bulbs,” says Archer, “going from a round dome-like form to one that’s pear shaped, to one that’s not only pear shaped but starts to angle upwards. This one angles fairly severely upwards, probably close to 45 degrees.”

One benefit of the bulb design is the boat is able to reach “some fairly good speeds. Fully loaded that’s a little over 10.5 knots,” says Archer, and packing “about 240,000 pounds.”

Both boats that are currently being built will have Cummins QSK19 main engines rated at 660 hp. There will be three Northern Lights generators: two 99-kW gensets and one 12-kW genset for when the boat is tied up at the dock. 

As of late August, one of the 58-footers had the wheelhouse in place, the engine and generators installed and work was about to begin on the electrical systems. The second 58-foot hull was laid up and work was starting on the bulkheads and pilothouse. 

It was the start of September and David Peterson, a boat carpenter out of Trinidad, Calif., was very aware of the deadline looming in front of him, the Elin Lane and the Elin Lane’s owner, Brian Kelley (see ATY West, NF March ’16, p. 37).

The Elin Lane is a crabber and troller built in 1946 at Bryant’s Marina in Seattle; that deadline would be Nov. 15 for central California’s Dungeness season. 

When the 70-year-old Elin Lane leaves the dock it will mark the close of what Peterson refers to as an epic journey. That’s 2 1/2 years of working on the 50-foot Elin Lane, with some breaks to repair other boats. That work includes refastening and caulking the bottom, some new planks, rebuilding the bulwarks, 99 deck frames, installing new hydraulics and wiring, and rebuilding the wheelhouse and fo’c’sle. The latter two projects Peterson was completing in September. 

Sapele, a wood from tropical Africa is being used throughout the wheelhouse, galley and fo’c’sle. “It’s a real nutty brown and ends up looking like Honduras mahogany,” says Peterson. The fo’c’sle will also have some Hydrotek plywood, which Peterson says, “has a mahogany skin, and is the only plywood that’s insured by Lloyd’s of London.” It will be trimmed with Sapele. Both the trim work and the Hydrotek will be finished off with four coats of Varathane. 

Interiors on older boats were often painted and then trimmed out with mahogany. Newer boats might use plywood covered with Formica. A downside to that is everything has to be fit twice, which adds to the coast. Or there’s the option of prefit Formica panels, which are durable, can be installed fairly quickly and can be trimmed with wood. Generally Peterson sees a trend “getting away from using wood altogether.” In the end it’s a compromise between durability, cost and looks. 

But as Peterson will tell you, “there hasn’t been any compromises on this boat. He’s gone all the way. It’s his personality. Coupled with my personality, it’s kind of deadly. He wants to go all in and I’m willing to go for it. It’s proven out on this boat.”

There are a number of 70-year-old boats fishing the West Coast. But Peterson says, “many of them act like they are 70 years old [and] they kind of look like it.” The Elin Lane, however, is “different. Was a real solid hull, really well built.”

The planking in the bottom of the Elin Lane is Douglas fir, which Peterson describes as stiff and strong. (He makes a distinction between the Douglas fir used on older boats and what’s available to boatbuilders now, which he feels is inferior.) Above the Douglas fir is Alaskan yellow cedar for its durability. Above that it’s Port Orford cedar for the first four strakes down from the sheer, where there’s more shape and curve to the hull and the planks are under a lot of stress. 


Classic buy boat fitted for worm shoe; maritime artifacts found in post office

 By Larry Chowning

At Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Jerry Pruitt had his 57.8' x 18.3' x 5.4' oyster buy boat Delvin K up on the blocks in August at Cape Charles Yacht Center.

The Delvin K is one of the last commercial buy boats on Chesapeake Bay being used specifically to purchase oysters. The term buy boat has long been applied to a boat used by seafood buyers to purchase seafood from commercial watermen at sea, then used to haul payload back to seafood processing houses. A Tangier Island, Va., native, Pruitt buys oysters in Tangier Sound and elsewhere and delivers to market in Reedville, Va. 

The Delvin K was there for annual maintenance, which will include painting the bottom with antifouling paint and replacing the worm shoe that has been compromised by Gould’s shipworms.

A commercial waterman-friendly yard like the Cape Charles Yacht Center allows Pruitt to do his own work on the boat and is essential to the survival of the bay watermen’s culture.

A celebration of that culture took place at the 12th annual Chesapeake Bay Buyboat Reunion in Cape Charles, where the 1931-built Linda Carol, originally named Croaker, made its first appearance on Sunday, Aug. 6., after a complete restoration. Some enthusiasts drove hundreds of miles to see the newly restored buy boat.

A three-year restoration has brought the boat back to her old glory. Bill Mullis of B&C Seafood of Newport News, Va., had the boat towed to Gloucester County, Va., from a Long Island salvage yard in New York Harbor in August 2013. She had been used to dredge ocean clams in northeast Atlantic Ocean until 2008, when she was placed at the salvage yard. 

Mullis rescued her and hired Poquoson, Va., boatbuilder David Rollins, and his son Dan, a metal fabricator, and Sid Ensley, a retired clammer and an all-around handyman, to bring her back to life. They restored her at York Haven Marina in Poquoson and replaced about 95 percent of the wood in the boat. 

She arrived at Cape Charles right before the workboat docking contest. The 85-year-old Linda Carol shined like a new penny and turned every head there.

On a historical note, the April 2016 issue of NF, featured the C.H. Rice and Son Boatyard of Reedville, Va., in the Classic Yards section (p. 40). In that story, Ed Rice, the son in C.H. Rice and Son, recalled the assembly-line methods he and his father used in the 1950s to build wooden menhaden purse boats.

The Rices built purse boats in Reedville on Cockrell Creek. Prior to that, C.H. had built boats for J. Howard Smith Co., who owned a fleet of menhaden steamers. Ed Rice recalled, “The oak keel was laid first right side up and then an oak stem and stem liner were fastened at the ends. Then we installed wooden patterns at specific intervals, which gave us shape and helped hold it together as we completed the hull.”

In August, owners of Ocean Products Research of Diggs, Va., queried two Mid-Atlantic small craft historians in an attempt to identify wooden patterns, the shape of a round bilge 30-foot craft.

A good student of bay small craft quickly identified the patterns as those used to build round-bilge purse boats, like the Rices built. There are few wooden purse boats still in existence, as steel and aluminum replaced wood in the 1950s and 60s, and there are even fewer wooden patterns.  

The story thickened when it was learned that the late Robert Hutson, founder of Ocean Products Research, in 1964 had purchased the contents of an old storage building once owned by J. Howard Smith Co.

Hutson purchased hundreds of oars, bailing hoops and other related menhaden fishing items. He stored them in the closed down Beaverlett Post Office building in Mathews County, Va. Over the years, he sold or gave away most of the oars, but the boat patterns stayed right there until the building was recently cleaned out to be sold.


Hats off to the Robert Hutson family for saving these rare maritime artifacts. The family has donated them to the Mathews Maritime Foundation, where they will be protected and displayed to further educate the public on the history and traditions of wood boat construction in the Mid-Atlantic region.

» Read more Around the Yards here. 

NF Nov16 CVR

» Read more articles in our November issue.

» Fish eNews offers the latestindustry news.

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Copyright © 2016 National Fisherman. All rights reserved.

Inside the Industry

It’s no secret that fraud is a problem in the seafood industry. Oceana repeatedly touts a mislabeling epidemic. While their method has been criticized, the perception of rampant fraud  has been established.

Read more ...

The Center for Coastal Studies recently announced that Owen Nichols, Director of the Center for Coastal Studies’ Marine Fisheries Research Program, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the John Annala Fishery Leadership Award by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. 

Read more ...
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