Written by Jen Finn
Boatyard favors cored hulls;
set-aside boat finally finished
In late May, Downeast Boats & Composites launched one of its Northern Bay 38s as a rod-and-reel tuna boat for Matt French. He will fish the boat out of Montauk, N.Y.
Most of the tuna and lobster boats coming from this Penobscot, Maine, boatyard not only have cored decks and cabins but cored hulls as well. It's common for New England fishermen to have cored decks on a fiberglass boat but not so common to go with a cored hull, and certainly not one cored below the waterline.
"I give them a choice. They can have solid [fiberglass], balsa or foam" core, says Downeast Boats & Composites' John Hutchins. Balsa or foam seems to be the choice of fishermen who come to Downeast Boats & Composites, with good reasons.
"A core makes the hull stronger, stiffer and it can make it lighter as long as you remove some of the laminates," Hutchins says.
Another benefit of a cored hull is improved impact resistance. "Contrary to a lot of people's perceptions, you can hit a cored hull a lot harder than a solid glass hull," Hutchins says. "Take a nail hammer and beat on solid glass, and you won't have to beat on it many times before it comes apart."
However, if you are planning to have a dark hull, you won't want a foam core. High temperatures affect foam, causing it to "lose its physical properties, unlike balsa," Hutchins says. He knows of black hulls cored with Airex that "turned to mush when the boat went down South."
French's hull has 3/4-inch Divinycell core down to the keel, but since the hull is an off-white color, heat build-up isn't an issue. The boat's deck and hatches are cored with Nida-Core.
Beneath the deck are two insulated tuna brine tanks. There's also a tuna door and ramp in the transom. In the engine room is a 500-hp Volvo V9 that's matched up to a ZF 305 marine gear with a 2:1 reduction that turns a 20" x 28" four-blade prop.
Back in the winter of 2009-10, John's Bay Boat Co. in South Bristol, Maine, started building a 38-foot pleasure boat for a New York owner that was based on its well-known lobster-boat design. The yard crew had planked the wood hull and had the sheer clamp and engine beds in place. Then the boat's owner had some money problems, so the work stopped and the yard covered up the open hull.
The owner "just dried up," says the boatyard's Peter Kass. The hull "was his; I just wanted something to happen with it." Enter Alan Dugas of Royal River Boatyard in Yarmouth, Maine. When Dugas heard that building had stopped on the cedar-planked and oak-framed hull, he made some inquiries, bought it from the owner and had John's Bay Boat Co. finish it off. The Delusional was launched on April 7.
Dugas isn't a full-time lobstermen — Kass says he runs about 100 traps — so when he's not hauling or working at his boatyard, expect to see Dugas and the Delusional cruising the Maine coast.
The 38-footer "has got all kinds of stuff," Kass says, including a shower, full galley, genset and Corian counters in the head, wheelhouse and galley. That's besides the "usual stuff" that comes with a Kass-built lobster boat: plenty of varnish and raised mahogany paneling in the split wheelhouse and down below.
The trunk cabin and wash rails are Awlgripped with a layer of epoxy fiberglass.
With the Delusional in the water, the crew at John's Bay Boat Co. started on a 44-foot lobster boat for Stonington, Maine's John Williams. The boat will replace a 41-footer that was also built at John's Bay Boat Co. Both boats have a 13-foot 6-inch beam and a 500-hp 8.3-liter Cummins QSC.
"Keeping the same beam, we are hoping to create a more efficient boat," says Kass. "Every time we've taken one of our models and extended it, it goes easier and faster with the same power and has better fuel consumption." Kass expects to finish Williams' boat this fall.
— Michael Crowley
New boatshop gets attention;
Ore. yard returns to its roots
Mavrik Marine is not a boatshop name on most people's go-to list when they start thinking of building an aluminum boat. But for fishermen in the Pacific Northwest, the La Conner, Wash., yard soon may be.
Zachery Battle returned to Washington after four years in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he started up a shipyard building crew boats. Before that he had been at All American Marine in Bellingham, Wash., for 10 years — seven as production manager. In February 2011 Mavrik Marine was open for business.
"We're ripping," says Battle. "We did six boats last year, and we'll be putting 10 boats into play in Alaska this year."
One of the 10 is a 32' x 15' sternpicker for Johnny McMahan of Gakona, Alaska, and Battle has orders for three more. The remaining nine are 20' x 11' seine skiffs, which have provided the bulk of Mavrik Marine's work.
Battle says several things set a Mavrik Marine seine skiff apart from the competition. "One of the critical differences is that the skeg supports run up through the boat. Not only do they form the support for the skiff getting dragged up on the seiner, but they also form the internal structure in the boat, which makes them incredibly strong."
Then there is an articulated rudder behind a steerable Kort nozzle. The nozzle's range of motion is limited to 30 degrees, while the rudder turns "over 60 degrees. So the net deflection is over 60 degrees of turning radius," Battle says. "It's a huge advantage to keep the nozzle in its effective range of thrust, so you can go forward and backward."
An advantage Battle calls "the luck of engineering" is that the load on the steering gear is cut in half, which means less vibration and more control.
Besides the seine skiffs and gillnetter, the shop has built three work skiffs for crabbing and setnet fishing. So far no one has signed up for a 58 footer, though Battle, who is talking to people about such a project, says, "We'd love very much to build an aluminum 58-footer."
Giddings Boat Works in Charleston, Ore, is an established boatyard that will be getting a lot more attention. Giddings built its first boat in 1980 and has launched at least 18 steel fishing boats, the last one in 1999. For the past 13 years, it has been a repair yard.
Now Giddings is going back to building new boats, and part of the reason is that Mike Lee has moved down from Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Ore., where he was production manager.
It didn't take long for Giddings to get two new contracts. One is for a 72' x 28' steel Dungeness crabber for Todd Whaley of Brookings, Ore. "She may also tender and go albacore fishing," Lee says. The boat was designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants in Seattle and will have a 660-hp Cummins QSK19 for power.
The second boat will be built for Mike Pettis in Newport, Ore. He'll use the 67' x 25' boat for Dungeness crabbing, shrimping and as a tender.
The plan is to have contracts signed, money down and steel on the ground by July 1 to avoid coming under new load line and classification standards, which are part of the federal Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010.
Giddings is hiring to make sure there's enough crew for boatbuilding and, as Lee says, "to keep the repair work alive and well." Boats are in for repairs. They include the 55' x 17' Resolution, a Dungeness crabber out of Santa Cruz, Calif., getting a mid-body extension that will increase her hold capacity and "give her more speed because of the increased length," Lee says. She'll be 63' x 17' when she leaves.
The 73' x 22' longliner Blazer was hauled the last week in May for a new aluminum shelter deck, raised wood deck and a paint job. The 62-foot dragger Patty AJ was due for a paint job, and the 95-foot dragger Chellissa, which Giddings built in 1980 and sponsoned in 2009, was getting a new deck crane.
Lee figures there will be plenty of new construction over the next decade, especially as new boats are added to the Bering Sea longline fleet. "Hopefully we can get a big travel lift in the 350- to 400-ton range to compete for the larger boats," he says. — Michael Crowley
Fla. yard builds four scallopers;
old oyster boat to be 'glassed
"Thank God for scallops!" exclaims Junior Duckworth of Duckworth Steel Boats in Tarpon Springs, Fla. Duckworth has good reason to be thankful, as the boatyard is finishing up two 95' x 27' x 12' scallop boats and has contracts for two more of the same size.
John W. Gilbert Associates in Hingham, Mass., designed the scallopers for Eastern Fisheries, a partnership between Nordic Fisheries in New Bedford, Mass., and the O'Hara Corp. out of Rockland, Maine.
Duckworth had already built four boats for Eastern Fisheries, and these four will make eight. "They are replacing old vessels," Duckworth says.
Eastern Fisheries operates 23 scallopers, making it the largest scallop fleet. It also runs three waterfront processing plants in New Bedford and a processing plant and scallop farm in China. The firm handles approximately 20 million pounds of scallops each year, about 20 percent of the total U.S. consumption. "We feel very fortunate to be building boats for a firm like Eastern that's at the top of the industry," says Duckworth.
The two 95-footers that are just about completed are the Pyxis and the Røst. (Pyxis is a small constellation in the southern sky, and Røst is a municipality in Nordland, Norway, the birthplace of Nordic Fisheries' owner Roy Enoksen.)
The main engine in both scallopers is a single 1,000-hp Caterpillar 3508. A Caterpillar 3406 powers the hydraulics, and each boat carries two 75-kW gensets for the electrical systems.
Everything is state of the art on these boats, says Duckworth. "We've got two more to build for them, and they are going to be pretty much the same as the two we've just about completed.
"Like I said before, thank God for scallops!"
Up in Chesapeake Bay, Tommy Kellum of W.E. Kellum in Weems, Va., had been struggling with whether or not to have a new fiberglass oyster boat built for the company's oyster business or repair the Easy Rider, an older 42-footer.
"We were at a point that we were either going to have the wooden boat fiberglassed or we were going to have a new fiberglass boat built," says Kellum. "We obviously liked the way the traditional wooden deadrise works. It's a pretty boat and we had repowered it with a 6-71 Detroit two years ago. So we made a decision to continue with the older boat."
George Butler of Reedville Marine Railway in Reedville, Va., installed new wood in the boat's leaking stern. "We had been having problems with the stern leaking for a number of years," Kellum says. "When we were dredging seed oysters on the Great Wicomico, close to Reedville, we decided to have George fix it.
"We had inquired around and we were told that George was the best one around to fix the stern. He did a good job, and we are not having a problem now. He knew what to do and he did it pretty quickly."
While the Easy Rider was on the railway, Chris Sibley of Wake, Va., fiberglassed the wheelhouse, washboards and deck. The boat has a special meaning for Sibley, as his father, Alvin, built the boat in Deltaville, Va., in 1980. Alvin passed away last year, after a long bout with cancer, and Chris took over his father's Yard on Wheels business. Rather than operating out of a boatyard, Sibley travels to the boats to work on them.
In October Kellum plans to have the boat hauled at Ampro Shipyard and Diesel in Weems, Va., to have it fiberglassed from the guards to the keel. That's a good time to have the work done, since W.E. Kellum uses its own boats more in the summer to work private leased grounds. In the winter it buys oysters from local watermen. — Larry Chowning
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