Written by Jen Finn
Outboard power comes back; new 50-footer is fuel efficient
With operating costs on the rise, two Canadian boatbuilding companies have come up with fiberglass hulls designed to help fishermen operate more efficiently. One is relatively small at 30' x 10' 2" from Millennium Marine in Escuminac, New Brunswick. The second boat is 50' x 21' from Dixon's Marine Group in Lower Woods Harbor, Nova Scotia.
The 30-foot hull can be powered with an outboard. Millennium Marine's Cory Guimond thinks this will be a good boat for fishermen who might not be ready to step up to a larger boat with a big inboard engine, as they might have been a couple of years ago, when operating costs were down and lobster prices were up.
The 30-footer isn't new, but it had pretty much been mothballed for lack of demand. "The market for this boat dried up in the past when commercial lobstermen started going to larger boats," Guimond says. But now, he adds, "guys are starting to downsize. They are showing quite a bit of interest in [the 30-footer] because of its size. It's economical to run."
Guimond says the hard-chined boat performed better than expected with just a single 150-hp Honda four-stroke outboard. "At sea trials, she made over 20 knots. That passed my expectations by 3 to 4 knots. I thought it would have required 200 to 250 horsepower to do that," he says.
Guimond has had inquiries from West Coast U.S. fishermen about the 30-footer. That's not too surprising since Millennium Marine has sent other boats across the continent. The latest was the Confluence, a 42' x 15' 3" research boat that went to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife agency in Stockton, Calif.
Set up with a custom-built aluminum A-frame plus twin trawl winches from Kinematics Marine Equipment in Marysville, Wash., the Confluence will spend most of its time doing catch and release sampling in northern California's interior bays and delta systems.
The 42-footer has a solid fiberglass hull and Divinycell-cored deck, bulkheads and wheelhouse. For a main engine there is a 610-hp Cummins QSM11 that's matched up with a Twin Disc 5090A marine gear with a 2:1 reduction. The prop measures 28" x 32". The boat has a top speed of 19 knots.
Millennium Marine is also finishing a pair of 45-footers for Canadian lobstermen. This summer, a 52-foot Dungeness crabber with a pair of 490-hp Cummins diesels will go to a fisherman in northern California.
Fishermen who need a large boat — though one that's designed to be more fuel efficient than the traditional Novi — have a brand new option in the 50-footer from Dixon's Marine Group.
The first week of 2009, part of the crew at Dixon's Marine Group was polishing the new mold for the 50-foot hull, and waiting for the first order. The boatyard's Janine Goodwin says a Canadian and an American fisherman are interested in one of the hulls.
Another group was finishing off the mold's plug for repeat customer Larry Williams, a Milford, Conn., fisherman who will use the boat to harvest clams. The deck arrangement will be in the traditional style with the pilothouse at the stern and the deck crane near the bow.
The new hull's design is a combination of two very different styles. "We took our semiplaning model and the traditional Novi and combined the two to give a middle of the road boat with planing capabilities of 13 to 14 knots with a 400- to 500-hp engine, as opposed to Novi boats that will do 8 knots. We are big and bulky like [the Novi] but still keep our semiplaning capability," Goodwin says.
She says the 50-footer will push easier through the water than a displacement Novi hull. "We are looking at better fuel economy, though going with a lower horsepower engine," Goodwin says.
Compared to Dixon's older 45-foot hull, the keel on the 50-footer is lower, so there's more boat in the water. The hull is wider and there's more freeboard with additional below-deck area.
However, if you are in a fishery that doesn't need the added freeboard and hold area, the mold is designed so the sheer and deck can easily be lowered. "We can do so much more with this mold than we can with other molds," Goodwin notes. — Michael Crowley
Winter adds to boatyard work; rebuilding an Alaska gillnetter
At the start of January, the Hansen Boat Co. in Everett, Wash., was closing in on completing a long maintenance project to the 58-foot Odin out of Petersburg, Alaska. Besides having to deal with the normal things that accompany any job as it nears completion, the weather in western Washington was not making things any easier.
"In the Puget Sound basin, the only way in or out is by boat or plane. It's been chaos for three weeks with the snow," said the boatyard's Rick Hansen. Supplies were especially unreliable. "We completely lost an order for FedEx," he said. It was reordered out of California, but he didn't think it would make it. "It was supposed to be here today or tomorrow, but they aren't going to make it. I'm going to plan C," he said.
At the end of the first week in January some of the boatyard crew was finally getting Christmas stuff. The company's bookkeeper had just received Christmas flowers, which, Hansen noted, were "DOA."
The Odin was scheduled to leave on Jan. 15. Because of the weather, Hansen said it "would be close" making that date. Considering what was done to the boat, it's surprising the boatyard was anywhere near the deadline.
Hansen describes the Odin, which the boatyard built in 1991, as a premier boat. "You talk to anyone in Southeast [Alaska], this is the benchmark boat," he says.
The boat's owner, Mark Severson, seines, pot fishes, king crabs and longlines for halibut. "The boat goes continuously, and he maintains it in top condition," Hansen says.
The Odin arrived at the yard in November for a major paint job, inside and outside the boat. That includes all the fish tanks and the lazarette. To sandblast and paint the lazarette required that bait-hold freezing equipment and freezer plates be dismantled and removed.
Topsides, everything was pulled off the mast, and it was sandblasted and painted.
"The owner is fanatical about rust," Hansen says, noting that over the years stainless steel has "been added, and added and added." This year's haul-out was no different, with stainless sheathing being welded to the side of the boat.
Severson also decided to replace the wood deck that had been on the boat since it was built with a plastic wood-like material. "This is sort of a trend. We've done it on the last two boats," Hansen says. The plastic planking going down over the steel deck is called FiberForce.
In early January, work was just starting on a 20-year-old fiberglass 32-foot Bristol Bay gillnetter at Maritime Fabrications in La Conner, Wash. The old deck on the gillnetter is being removed and replaced with a flush deck.
After the deck comes off, the boat's Volvo diesel will come out, and Maritime Fabrications' diesel mechanics will go over it.
When the new flush deck is in place, a new fixed gillnet reel with an automatic level wind will be installed along with a new stern roller, says the boatshop's Will Simon.
The bulwarks will be moved outboard slightly for better access to the fish hold's hatches.
Maritime Fabrications also operates a shop in Naknek, Alaska, just off Bristol Bay, between April and August. At the Naknek shop, Maritime Fabrications' crew will be doing a major overhaul to the Bristol Bay gillnetter Lucky Strike, an older hull from American Commercial Marine, or ACM, as it is usually referred to.
In La Conner, Maritime Fabrications is also finishing off a 40-foot fiberglass Wegley hull as a fisheries patrol boat for Washington state's Tulalip tribes.
It will have a gillnet roller, a crab davit and a fish hold that packs between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds. For power there will be a 500-hp Volvo D9.
In December, Canada's Tom-Mac Shipyard in Richmond, British Columbia, completed a new keel cooler on the Pacific Horizon, an aluminum seiner from the Vancouver area.
The boat's original keel cooler was built into the keel when the boat was built. Over time, cracks developed in the keel cooler. Cracks located under the engine were especially hard to find. So the crew at Tom-Mac Shipyard plumbed a new keel cooler into the cooling system, consisting of 6-inch channel pipe welded to the outside of the hull.
In February, Tom-Mac Shipyard has a wooden fishing boat coming in for a caulking job and a steel seiner for refrigeration work. In May and April, a couple of American boats, a packer and a seiner are due in for repairs. — Michael Crowley
Va. brothers build a 30-footer; railway still tends ex-buy boat
The Virginia Legislature in 1894 had the state's oyster grounds surveyed and divided into public and private grounds. This legalized private oyster growing in Virginia waters and established the oyster planters.
Oyster planters leased oyster beds from the state, paid for seed to be scattered across their beds and paid tongers to catch their oysters when the bivalves had grown out to market size.
Oftentimes, planters never touched an oyster, which could lead to a variety of illegal activities. A buy boat might go to the James River, supposedly to purchase 1,100 bushels of seed for the planter and deliver it to his grounds. The bill would be for 1,100 bushels delivered, but the actual count might be 900 bushels.
Already the planter had lost 200 bushels on the front end of his investment, and some unscrupulous tongers might steal 200 or more bushels on the harvesting end.
To protect their investment, planters started sending an honest relative aboard the buy boat to tally seed as it was bought on the boat. Oyster watch houses were built on oyster grounds and watch boats were used to patrol the grounds.
Brothers David and Mark Moore of Newport News are reliving some of that history. They have more than 700 acres of oyster grounds on the James River. In the past, they have hired tongers to harvest their beds, but with encouraging signs that oysters are coming back, the Moores want to make sure they are getting their money's worth.
For about a year, they have been building a wooden 30' x 11' x 1' 10" dredge boat in David's backyard. They'll use the boat to work their own beds in the James and Warwick rivers.
The boat is framed out with 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" pressure-treated pine. The pine stem is also pressure treated, cut from a 6" x 6" timber. The horn-timber and keel are fashioned from 8" x 8" timbers and all are fastened with stainless steel bolts.
The bottom and side planking is fir. The sides are strip-planked with 3-inch-wide planks, coated with West System epoxy and finished off with a layer of fiberglass mat. Fasteners for the planking are 2-inch stainless steel square-head screws.
David owns a metal fabrication business where the stuffing box and stainless steel rudder were made. The engine will be a 400-cubic-inch 300-hp Chrysler, hooked up to a Velvet Drive gear with a 1:1.5 reduction.
At Holiday Marina in Achilles, Va., Carroll and Linda Wilson, who manage the boatyard, recently launched Mike Shackleford's 40-foot-long wooden boat the Miss Corinne.
Shackleford works gillnets in the Atlantic and in Chesapeake Bay. He uses the Miss Corinne mostly in the bay to fish gillnets and a fiberglass boat for ocean gillnetting. The use of two boats isn't unusual in this neck of the woods; Virginia highliners often keep one near the ocean and the other in the bay for quick access to the fishing grounds.
Holiday Marina allows watermen to work on their own boats but has services available if the boat owner needs them. Shackleford was off fishing for rock fish and had the yard paint the boat's bottom and sides.
"My husband grew up in Gloucester County [Virginia]," Linda says. "He loves the water and the watermen, and as long as we manage the place there will be a place here for commercial fishermen."
Another busy boatyard on Chesapeake Bay is Chesapeake Marine Railway in Deltaville, Va. The boatyard recently had the 65-foot wooden Coastal Queen on the rails. She was built in 1928 in Maryland by A.G. Price and carried his name when she was launched.
The boat was an oyster buy boat until 1958 when she was purchased by boatbuilder Slade Dale and converted to a yacht. Chesapeake Marine Railway replaced a portion of her starboard side along with eight new white-oak frames. The sides also received new fir planking.
The Coastal Queen received some notoriety in 1965 with publication of the book "The Inside Passage" by Anthony Bailey. The book w
s about a trip down the inland coastal waterways aboard the Coastal Queen.
The boatyard is also working with the Deltaville Maritime Museum on the F.D. Crockett. The Crockett is currently on the rails at the Deltaville yard. It is one of only two remaining large buy boats on the bay that are built with logs and have an engine for power. Most of the bay's large logged boats were built as bugeyes and powered by sail. — Larry Chowning
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