Written by Jen Finn
Mass. shop builds oyster boat;
lobsterman goes for visibility
Last April Winninghoff Boats in Rowley, Mass., delivered an aluminum 24-foot V-bottom boat to oysterman Robert Krause in Charleston, R.I.
Krause's boat caught the attention of Jim Arnoux, a fellow Ocean State Shellfish Cooperative member and Charleston resident. Based on what he saw, Arnoux made a trip to Winninghoff Boats and signed up for a 30' x 11' 8" oyster barge. The hull is similar to other boats the Rowley boatshop has built, though the shop's Jack Winninghoff says he was guided by Arnoux's sketches for the layout and the pilothouse. Being just under 12 feet wide, the boat can be trailered without an escort.
Arnoux started using the boat on his oyster grounds in early February. It replaces two smaller boats, a 24-foot pontoon boat and a 24-foot Carolina skiff. With one boat instead of two, Arnoux figures he will save enough on boat registration and mooring, along with maintenance costs, that the boat will pay for itself in 8 to 10 years.
The 30-footer has a flat bottom with a slight bit of rocker and longitudinal channels that run the length of the bottom. Five 3-inch-wide and 1 ¾-inch-deep channels serve as stiffeners and provide directional stability. "The boat won't skid with that arrangement," Winninghoff says.
The wheelhouse is larger than normal because a year ago Arnoux had a kidney transplant, and a side effect of his medication is that he's prone to skin cancer and has to stay out of the sun as much as possible. So inside the wheelhouse is an oyster tumbler, sorter and culling tables.
The idea is to load the forward deck with bags of oysters, then bring them inside to be tumbled, sorted, and then rebagged on another table. "Then out the door and back to the deck," Arnoux says.
This winter while Arnoux and his crew are sorting and grading oysters, Winninghoff Boats is finishing a 24-foot V-bottom boat for Wakefield, R.I., fisherman Dick Goodwin. He will use it for experimental work with lobster traps.
Up in Canada, Peter Pidgeon's new fiberglass lobster boat from Provincial Boat and Marine on Prince Edward Island will certainly be noticeable when it goes in the water. Fish Tales is a nice bright yellow color. "He just wanted something a little different," says the boatshop's Gordon Campbell, referring to the boat's color.
Measuring 45' x 14' 6", Fish Tales will be working out of Prince Edward Island's French River. That's the same place that Provincial Boats and Marine sent the first boat it built in 1974. "And it's still fishing," notes Campbell.
Though the design has changed. That first boat was 42' x 13' and had a round-chine hull. Since 2000 it's been "a hard-chine hull. It's a bit flatter to make it stabler," Campbell says. There's also 13 feet 6 inches across the transom, compared to 10 feet. Campbell describes the design as "kind of a hybrid. In general it can be compared to bay boats, Nova Scotia and Down East boats. They resemble one another."
Pidgeon's boat has a 405-hp Cummins QSL9 for power that's hooked up to a ZF gear with a 2.55:1 ratio and a 32" x 38" prop. Campbell figures he'll be able to hit 19 to 20 mph with that engine. The Cummins is at the low end for power on most of the boats going out of Provincial Boat and Marine. Campbell says the horsepower ranges from 400 to 1,000. "A few years ago, a 1,000-hp Cat went in a 45-foot tuna fisherman. It hit 33 knots on the sea trials," he says.
Will Pidgeon's boat still be fishing in another 38 years, like the first boat that went to French River? Campbell won't be surprised if it is. He likes to point out that except for some wood in the bathroom door and a couple of cupboards, his boats are all fiberglass.
"That's why they last so long," he says. — Michael Crowley
Gillnetter will get up and go;
136-foot longliner is a first
At the end of January, Bill Webber Jr., was in his shop, Webber Marine & Manufacturing, in Cordova, Alaska, working on his new aluminum gillnetter, the 35' x 12' 6" Paradigm Shift. On May 30, 2011, just after 6 a.m., Webber was working his way across the bar at the mouth of Alaska's Copper River in his old boat, the Gulkana. There were 12-foot breakers on the bar and within a second or two he saw two possibilities — go right or go left. Webber went left. Wrong choice.
Waves tore out the windows on the house-aft gillnetter and within a couple of hours the Gulkana was on the bottom in 80 feet of water.
If not for those waves, Webber would be spending this winter designing, building and installing the next generation of his onboard salmon processing equipment on the Gulkana. Instead he's building a boat.
The Paradigm Shift will be larger than the Gulkana, which measured 31' x 11' 6", and she will have a little more deadrise. Though Webber still will fish near the Copper River's bar entrance and some distance up the channels, he wants the new boat to be "more of an ocean running boat. To be able to go out in 3- to 4-foot wind chop at 23 knots."
The boat will also be somewhat higher. On the sides, "We'll be using full 60-inch plate and trimming it very little," Webber says. Normally he takes 4 to 7 inches off the plate when striking the sheerline.
When Webber does install new processing equipment in the winter of 2013, he'll have room for the modular pressure-bleeding trays he's been thinking about. "There will be six to eight trays that couple together like Legos," he says. And there will be automated pressure bleeding.
"It will be an unattended process. I'm trying to remove the bulk of the strenuous human effort," says Webber, noting that in the past year he's been dealing with serious wrist issues. He sees the automated improvements to his processing equipment helping him fish another 20 years.
Down at Alaska Ship & Drydock in Ketchikan, Alaska, new steel has been barged up from Washington and work begun on a 136' x 40' x 15' factory longliner for Alaska Longline Co. in Petersburg, Alaska. "This will be the first fishing boat built at Alaska Ship & Drydock," says the boatyard's Doug Ward.
When the boat is completed in the spring of 2013, she will join three other Alaska Longline boats in the Bering Sea going after blackcod, Pacific cod and turbot.
Designed schooner style with the house aft, the longliner will have a pair of 1,000-hp MTU main engines in the engine room, along with three 330-kW gensets, says Sean Testa at Jensen Maritime Consultants in Seattle, who designed the boat. Testa says the 136-footer will be similar to the Bering Leader, another longliner Jensen Maritime Consultants designed.
The new boat will be equipped with a Mustad Autoline baiting system.
While work was starting on the longliner, the crew at Alaska Ship & Drydock was getting ready to put two local boats back in the water. The Lynda, a 79-foot packer is what the boatyard's Don Bewley refers to as "a long-shaft boat," which explains the two intermediate shafts, couplings and a tail shaft that were replaced. New stern tube bushings went in and the prop was reworked.
The yard crew put in a new fish hold circulation system that includes bigger piping for a better flow, says Bewley. Up on deck, they moved the steering linkage below deck to free up deck space. And they increased the play in the rudder for better steering.
The Viking Maid, a 58-foot limit seiner, had its single fish tank converted into two tanks with the removal of a bulkhead.
The boat's owner wants a sonar, "so we put the piping in for him to install it," Bewley says. "We built it in a way that he can install it when it's wet." Back aft, the transom got a new stainless steel coaming.
Alaska Longline Co.'s 136-footer is soon to be joined by another factory longliner, the 132-foot Legacy, which will have work done on her controllable pitch propeller. — Michael Crowley
First a model, then the boat;
crabber has a major overhaul
Larry Jennings of Jennings Boatyard in Reedville, Va., designed and built a 30-foot plywood and fiberglass Chesapeake Bay workboat with a number of traditional features.
Jennings is counting on the continuation of a trend that has Chesapeake Bay watermen downsizing their commercial fishing boats. For years, watermen used wooden boats 38 feet and longer. The boats have been a stable platform for Chesapeake Bay's deeper water and provide plenty of deck space.
Then lower catch limits, gear restrictions, and rising fuel costs encouraged watermen to look at smaller boats.
Jennings' 30' x 10' x 2' 6" design is being built on spec. It has the engine under the deck, which gives fishermen more space for working. The design process started out with Jennings building a scale model to figure out the shape of the hull. Then he floated the model to determine how it would lie in the water.
"Using a model takes all the guess work out of it," says Jennings. "It makes it all so much easier." He has designed models for 30-, 40-, and 50-foot hulls.
"The boat is basically the same as the classic wooden deadrise boat except it's maintenance free," says Jennings. The 30-footer has traditional Chesapeake Bay features: plenty of beam, a traditional wheelhouse configuration, wide washboards, and ample deck space.
However, below the waterline the deadrise extends farther aft than on older designs. "The sharp V [shape] aft helps the boat ride better," Jennings explains.
The hull was built over a jig using 3/4-inch okoume plywood. The plywood was fiberglassed on the boatshop's floor before it was bent around the jig.
The 30-footer was expected to be completed by the end of February. She is being powered by a 210-hp Cummins 6BT diesel. "If this boat moves through the water the way I think it will, I suspect I'm going to have some paying customers wanting one," Jennings says.
Jennings Boatyard used to be Rice's Marine Railway, not to be confused with E.C. Rice & Son Railway, located a little farther up Cockrell Creek. Rice's Marine Railway, which was started in the mid-1950s, built wooden boats.
Virgil Miller and his son, Bryan, later owned the boatyard, and then Jennings' father, John, purchased the yard in 1979 when Larry was 10 years old. He grew up watching and learning how to build boats at the full-service boatyard.
"When I was a boy, we built classic wooden deadrise boats," Jennings says. "When I was 20 years old I built my first wooden deadrise, by myself, laying it all out. Before that I hammered a many a nail in a boat right beside some of the best boatbuilders on the bay."
While Jennings has been building his 30-footer, a boat named Four Sons, owned by a crab fisherman from Weems, Va., was on the railway for general repair work. "That boat was built right here at the yard," Jennings says. "It's neat that I've got new boats coming, and I'm still working on the old boats."
Moving down Chesapeake Bay to Bena, Va., crabber Craig Kelly of Hayes, Va., recently purchased a 47' x 12' wooden boat that he named Cindy Ann, after his wife. Kelly will use the boat in the blue-crab pot fishery. However, the boat first had to go through a major restoration project.
Kelly hired boatbuilder and waterman Bubba Kellum of Wicomico, Va., to replank and reframe the boat. The planking is juniper and the frames are yellow pine, which was cut locally. Kellum also replaced the wheelhouse with one taken off another boat.
The Cindy Ann has certainly had its restoration projects. Before Kelly bought the boat, it once carried a round stern but was converted to a square stern by well-known Bena boatbuilder Francis Smith.
A used 3408 Caterpillar that'd been next to the boat with a canvas over it will go in the Cindy Ann.
The boat is at Holiday Marina in Bena, which caters to local watermen.
— Larry Chowning
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