National Fisherman


Lobsterman gets 40-footer; builder done with finishing

Running hard on her sea trial, the 40-foot Obsession pegged out at 27 knots, with the 700-hp Caterpillar C12 running up to 2,300 rpm. The 40' x 14' 10" lobster boat is owned by Lance Ciomei, a 23-year-old lobsterman from Stonington, Maine, who had been fishing out of a 32-foot Mitchell Cove. The Obsession is the latest lobster boat to come out of H&H Marine in Steuben, Maine.

To carry as many traps as possible, Ciomei initially wanted the main bulkhead and windshield moved ahead 16 inches, but he later decided he liked the looks of the standard hull and top configuration "and had enough room the way it was," says H&H Marine's Bruce Grindal.

The Obsession was built with an aluminum extension off the transom to carry an extra tier of traps, and trap racks were mounted on the port and starboard sides. The rack on the port side goes up to the house. The starboard rack is in two sections; the forward rack can slide aft.

Below the main deck is a center tank used for lobsters and two holds on the outside for gear storage. The lobster tank has a 2-inch Pacer pump for circulating water.

The Obsession was launched on May 24, and that same day a 20-year-old 33-foot Young Brothers left H&H Marine with a new molded cabin, along with new windshields, side windows and a new shelf and steering bulkhead.

Twenty years ago, a lot of wheelhouses on lobster boats were built of plywood panels covered with fiberglass. Of course holes had to be drilled to run wires and attach equipment. Even when a sealant was used, water eventually got in, and during the New England winter that moisture froze and expanded, and pretty soon you had a good case of rot.

Fortunately for owners of Young Brothers' 33-foot boats, H&H Marine's molded top for its 32 Osmond fits the 33 Young Brothers "like a glove," Grindal says. Instead of plywood, the molded tops are made of vacuumed-bagged cored panels.

"We've also done a lot with our 37 top. It fits the 37 Repco and the 38 Young Brothers," Grindal says.

Beals Island, Maine's Calvin Beal Jr. built his last wooden boat several years ago and now says he's probably done finishing off fiberglass hulls that he's designed but were laid up by someone else. Beal says its hard to get help, and people who finish off boats full time are better equipped to do the work.

He said this shortly after launching his most recent lobster boat for himself, the 34' x 13' Jeannine Marie. It has a 414-hp Iveco engine that Beal says is the "same block as a B-series Cummins. It's economical on fuel, and for a small engine it has fairly decent power."

The Iveco is matched up with a ZF 285A marine gear with a 2.5:1 reduction turning a 28" x 30" wheel with a light cup. That power package pushed the Jeannine Marie down the Moosabec Reach between Beals Island and Jonesport at 31 mph.

That number might go up slightly with a different wheel, as the Iveco is running at only 90 percent power because the prop doesn't have enough pitch.

From the transom to nearly halfway along the hull, the Jeannine Marie has a pair of lifting rails that stick out 2 inches to knock down spray that rolls up the side of the hull. While some boatbuilders have the rails just under the water when the boat is sitting still, Beal says his rails "pretty much lay on the water when the boat is at an idle." He thinks the lifting rails (some call them spray rails) might increase the boat's speed "a half to 1 knot. It makes her sail a little cleaner."

Beal doesn't think he will be racing his new boat with its standard layup at this summer's lobster-boat races because "there are too many light boats with built-up engines" to compete against.

But if you want to catch Maine's version of drag racing, only done on the water by lobstermen, here's the schedule: June 19, Boothbay Harbor; June 20, Rockland; July 3, Beals Island/Jonesport; July 10, Searsport; July 11, Stonington; July 24, Friendship; July 25, Harpswell; Aug. 14, Winter Harbor; Aug. 15, Pemaquid; Aug. 22, Portland. — Michael Crowley


Yard goes back to fish boats; Alaska troller is a 'dream' boat

The last week in May, Strongback Metal Boats in Bellingham, Wash., launched a 32' x 15' aluminum sternpicker that will go to Bristol Bay.

Strongback Metal Boats is operated by Pat Pitsch and his son, Rory. In 1987 Pat Pitsch started All American Marine in Bellingham. Now he is a silent partner at the company that started out building boats for commercial fishermen but switched to fast catamaran workboats in the late 1990s.

But All American Marine is coming back to its roots. This summer the yard will once again be building for commercial fishermen, courtesy of Strongback Metal Boats' new gillnetter.

The 32-footer, which was built for Bellingham's Kurt Baumgart, serves as the prototype for a new line of All American Marine gillnetters.

"We'll be doing custom-built boats," Pitsch says, referring to Strongback Metal Boats. "All American Marine will be doing a production model that's been modified with small changes."

The changes are the result of what fishermen who dropped by his shop told Pitsch while he was building Baumgart's boat. "We had a lot of pretty good fishermen coming around. All their suggestions on how they would change the boat — a couple inches here on the bottom and a couple inches there on the house — will be incorporated in the production boat."

For power, the 32-footer has a single 525-hp Scania hooked up to a 610 HT Traktor Jet with a 24-inch impeller. On early sea trials the boat hit 23 knots. That was in a light condition, says All American Marine's Matt Mullet, "and she didn't have 100 percent rpm kicking in. We are shooting for 25 knots."

Mullet says he believes fishermen will take to "Pat's concept of a gillnetter using a single-engine with a Traktor Jet that's capable of carrying 20,000 pounds at 11 knots or better. We think we have a pretty good production model that will be of real value to a good number of Bristol Bay fishermen."

All American Marine has already ordered material to build the first two gillnetters, and Mullet says a couple of deposits have been put down. Over at Strongback Metal Boats they are starting to build another custom gillnetter. This one is for Bellingham's John Mitchell.

"It's a beautiful boat. It's probably our dream," says Brenda Jackinsky who, along with her husband, Gary, went to Sunnfjord Boats in Tacoma, Wash., to have a new 47' x 14' 6" fiberglass troller built.

By June, everything was completed except for the interior. The Jackinskys will finish that, starting in October. In preparation, they traveled south from their home in Ninilchik, Alaska, to spend some time at Sunnfjord Boats. Aboard their boat, the Brindy, they used panels and pieces of half-inch foam and a glue gun to make a mockup of the interiors "to see if things fit and it's the way we want to do it," says Brenda Jackinsky.

The boatyard's Todd Miller describes the Brindy as "a standard 47-foot Sunnfjord, an Ed Monk design, except that the house was lengthened 2 feet and we moved a bulkhead."

The Brindy has 210-hp John Deere 6068 main engine matched up with a Twin Disc marine gear with a 2.5:1 reduction that turns a 28" x 20" four-blade prop on a 2 1/2-inch shaft. With this power package, Miller says the boat has a top speed of 9 knots and will cruise at 8.5 knots.

After the interior is built, the Brindy will start the 2011 season "in March in the winter king trolling fishery in Southeast [Alaska]. We also have drift permits for the inlets," Jackinsky says.

The Brindy has tankage for 1,000 gallons of fuel and 200 gallons of water.

Miller notes that there's "no wood in the boat." The hull is solid fiberglass, and the deck and house are all cored with Divinycell, Klegecell or Core-Cell material.

He says more than 50 of the 47-footers have been sent to Alaska to fish, and a number are fishing along the California coast.

Until the Jackinskys return to Tacoma in October, the boat is being stored at Sunnfjord Boats. — Michael Crowley


Shop will rise again after fire; crabbers like new 18-foot skiff

Anna Pruitt Parks of Tangier Island, Va., had just completed fire-fighting school as part of her training for the Tangier Island Volunteer Fire Department, when on May 1, the fire alarm sounded around 3 a.m.

She and other firefighters were called to save her father's boatyard and boat shop. When they arrived, the Quonset-style shop at Pruitt's Boat Yard was engulfed in flames. For several hours, they fought successfully to keep the fire from spreading to wooden and fiberglass boats stored at the boatyard. But the boatshop was destroyed.

Fortunately no boats were being worked on in the shop where Jerry Pruitt has built wooden boats for more than 25 years. He lost his band saw, all of his boatbuilding tools, a 42-foot keel timber and stacks of quality dried boatbuilding lumber.

The boatshop was more than 50 feet long and allowed Pruitt to build 45-foot workboats with a 12-foot beam. In the 1980s and 90s, he built several 45-foot deadrise workboats for watermen working in the winter crab-dredge fishery. (The Virginia Marine Resources Commission closed the fishery two years ago.)

Pruitt, who is 65, says that while he plans to rebuild the shop it will be a smaller facility. "I haven't had an order for a 42-foot-long deadrise boat in a number of years," he says. "The boys are working in smaller boats. "If I get some orders, it will be to build a crab skiff and maybe a [28-foot] barcat."

When word spread that Pruitt's shop had burned, he got a call from a retired Maryland boatbuilder on Smith Island who offered to give him his band saw. The yard is critical to island communities where residents must have boats to get to and from the island. There are still many, many wooden boats in use there that will need repair work.

Wally Bowler owns and runs the Buoy 8 Ship's Store at Saluda, Va. He has designed and built a lapstrake fiberglass skiff with commercial fishing applications.

Bowler knows something about commercial fishing and workboats, as the 56-year-old started out at 17 working lobster pots out of Norfolk, Va. Since then he worked on commercial tugboats for most of his life before buying Buoy 8 Ship's Store.

The 18' x 7' 3" skiff has a solid fiberglass hull. Bowler worked with a designer, had molds made and then a builder of fiberglass boats in Gloucester County, Va., build him a spec boat.

The skiff can be outfitted with a center console, or for crab potters the steering station can be mounted near the stern on the starboard side, with a pot hauler forward of the station.

For gillnetting a reel can be set about amidships, leaving room forward for two people to work the net in the bow.

A 75-hp Evinrude E-Tec outboard powers the boat at a comfortable 40 mph. She turns on a dime and runs smooth in choppy seas.

One time when Bowler tied up at the dock, there were three young watermen off-loading their morning catch of peeler crabs into a pickup truck. They were working out of an 18-foot blunt-end Southern Skimmer skiff with a 70-hp outboard and a console in the center toward the stern.

They had watched Bowler run his skiff and then got down in it for an inspection. They rated the boat high for being a solid fiberglass skiff with no wood anywhere, liked the sturdy platform when they stepped down into the boat, and especially liked the high V-shape in the bow to push seas away.

They thought the skiff wouldn't carry as many pots as the Southern Skimmer unless a removable platform could be mounted off the stern, which Bowler says can be designed.

One of the watermen asked if the boat could be purchased without any type of console. Bowler said it could. The Gloucester County, Va., waterman says at least one well-known builder of fiberglass skiffs in North Carolina will no longer sell their boats without standard consoles.

"We used to buy their hulls open and fit in what we needed. They don't cater to us anymore," he says. — Larry Chowning

Inside the Industry

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has announced that Dr. Jon Hare has been selected to serve as the permanent science and research director effective Oct. 31.

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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.

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