Written by Jen Finn
A lobsterman goes up in size; oar power still alive in Maine
"People will travel miles for a Calvin Beal boat," says Stewart Workman talking about a fisherman from Alaska who would be coming to his boatshop, SW Boatworks in Lamoine, Maine, to talk with Workman about building him a new fiberglass Calvin Beal 34.
In early October, they were due to go up to Beals Island for a ride on a 34 built by Calvin Beal Jr., the boat's designer.
In the meantime, Workman had sent a Calvin Beal 44 with a 17-foot 6-inch beam to South Thomaston, Maine, to be finished off as a lobster boat. SW Boatworks is also doing about two-thirds of the work on a new Calvin Beal 36 that's to be a sportfishing boat in Martha's Vineyard and is sending a Calvin Beal 38 to Farrin's Boatshop in Walpole, Maine, to be finished off as a yacht for a West Coast owner.
Donny and Scott Rahkonen at Rahkonen Builders in South Thomaston are finishing off the 44-foot lobster boat for Shane Hatch. One thing that attracted Hatch to a boat designed by Calvin Beal is the way his boats look on the water.
"I've got a friend with a 38 and a friend with a 44. They really look awesome," Hatch says.
His new 44-footer will also be able to carry a lot more traps and pack more lobsters than the 38-foot Jarvis Newman he is currently using. The bigger boat will also mean that Hatch and his two crewmen will be better able to handle the weather when fishing 60 miles offshore.
For power, Hatch will depend on a 700-hp Iveco. And, yes, with that power he does intend to race the boat.
On a smaller more traditional scale, when Nat Hussey on Maine's Matinicus Island wanted a lobster boat built, he went to the Carpenter's Boatshop in Pemaquid, Maine, and came away with a Matinicus peapod that was based on a John Gardner design.
Hussey is propelled by the notion that smaller is better, and even though he's operating at a slower pace, he feels he can make much of his living hauling lobsters in a manner that hasn't been done on the island since the 1980s.
And slow is the operating mode. Each day he hauls, Hussey rows six or seven miles standing up and facing forward while pushing against oars pivoting in raised oarlocks. In the days of oars, that was the way lobstermen always rowed, and Hussey understands why.
He started out rowing sitting down because his raised oarlocks hadn't arrived. "That was terrible," he says. "Ergonomically, standing up is way better." At times he sails, but without a centerboard in the peapod, the wind has to be just right.
For the first couple of months he hauled traps by hand. "That was brutal. I realized if I was going to haul enough to make the money I thought I needed to make, I needed something else." That turned out to be a small 12-volt capstan that's attached to a thwart. It's powered by batteries, which are charged by a small solar panel. The capstan enabled him to haul 70 to 80 traps a day.
Instead of dead-lifting the traps into the boat, he rigged up a gizmo similar to what crabbers use. In fact, he got the idea from watching the Discovery Channel program "Deadliest Catch."
"It's like a spatula on a hinge. Put the bottom of the trap against that and pull up on the rope and push down on the handle. It pivots and keeps the center of gravity inside the boat," Hussey says.
Hussey's peapod measures 15' x 4'. It has white-oak frames and northern white-cedar planking done clinker style, says Bob Ives of the Carpenter's Boatshop. The hull is white, but the sheer strake and inside of the boat are finished off the same way fishermen would have done it in the early 1900s: a coating of pine tar, turpentine and linseed oil, all mixed together.
Hussey describes his peapod as slipping easily through the water and being very stable and seaworthy. "I always felt very comfortable and secure."
Hussey hauled his traps ashore in the fall when hurricane warnings were announced. Now he is working as a sternman on a lobster boat, but says next spring and summer he will be back rowing. — Michael Crowley
New shop features seine skiffs; gillnetter is built for a tunnel
A new Washington boatshop — well, relatively new, having moved out of its garage-size building in June into a 4,000-square foot space — is Tyler Boats in Sedro Woolley.
Tyler Boats launched the first in its line of Husky boats in May, a 20' x 10' seine skiff with a 375-hp John Deere 6081 diesel bolted to a Twin Disc 506 marine gear with a five-bladed prop in a 32-inch Kort nozzle.
"The nozzle gives one-third more thrust than an open wheel," says the boatshop's Fred Crothamel.
At the beginning of October, Tyler Boats was completing its second skiff and starting to build a third one. All of these are 22' x 11' and are going to Alaska fishermen. After that, the yard is scheduled to build a trio of 23' x 12' skiffs.
Crothamel says that at 20 feet and over and with a good amount of power and a nozzle around the wheel, these boats represent a "new generation of seine skiffs."
There are several reasons for the larger skiffs, starting with the fact that the "skiff is the weak link in weather and safety. With a beefier skiff you get more fishing time in bad weather," Crothamel says.
These days, 58-foot seiners are being built with a lot more beam and draft, so "it takes a bigger skiff for a side tow, especially in weather to keep the boat off the net," he says.
And in Puget Sound, the seines now being used are deeper than before, which again, requires a bigger skiff with a good amount of thrust to move the net.
For horsepower, the second skiff built at Tyler Boats has the same engine, marine gear, and Kort nozzle as the first skiff. The owner of seine skiff number three is going with a different engine, a 315-hp Cummins. But instead of a Kort nozzle, Tyler Boats will be building one.
The plating on the skiffs is quarter-inch on the bottom and sides.
The first week in October, Tyler Boats launched a 28-foot Dungeness crab boat that can pack 50 crab pots and is powered by a 250-hp Yamaha outboard. She will be based in Anacortes, Wash.
In Homer, Alaska, Fred Martushev owner of Freddy's Marine has come up with a solution for a problem many Prince William Sound gillnetters face. The problem is getting a boat to and from Prince William Sound in a reasonable amount of time when they live on the Kenai Peninsula, or places like Anchorage and Wasilla.
The center of the issue has always been in the town of Whittier, specifically its Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, or Whittier tunnel, as it is better known. This is a one-lane tunnel with cars going in each direction at set times during the day. Going either way, you can't tow anything wider than 11 feet, and most modern gillnetters have a beam that stretches beyond that.
Not able to go through the tunnel, fishermen have to steam around the Kenai Peninsula and up Cook Inlet.
"Lots of guys want to take their boat home every year, and bringing a boat around is quite expensive," says Martushev.
Martushev is calling his solution the Legacy 32. It's a 32-foot fiberglass gillnetter with a 10-foot 10-inch beam. His Deluxe 32 gillnetter has an 11-foot 6-inch beam.
The new boat "will have the same look as the Deluxe 32 but in a smaller version," Martushev says. And it will be allowed through the tunnel.
Building a plug for the new mold required removing 4 inches from each side of a 32' x 11' 6" hull, making adjustments to the reverse chine and the bow area. "We did lots of cuts and contouring in the bow area to give it more taper, make it sharper. It should come through the chop better," Martushev says. As of early August, three fishermen had signed up for one of the new 32-footers.
Martushev will also start to build a limit seiner this winter. He bought a C-Worthy mold from another Homer boatbuilder and is in the process of enlarging it.
The C-Worthy mold measures 50' x 16' 6". When Martushev and his crew are finished, the new mold will come out to 58' x 20'. The first boat is going to Rob Nelson in nearby Kasilof. — Michael Crowley
Yard builds cold-molded skiffs; PVC used for crabber replica
Piney Ridge Boatworks on Hatteras Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks is building a Pamlico 22-foot skiff. The owner will use it in Pamlico Sound for scalloping, clamming, oyster tonging and mullet fishing.
Powered with a 90-hp Yamaha jet drive, the skiff will have 4 inches of draft to accommodate the sound's shoal waters.
The hull is cold molded using okoume plywood, West System epoxy and biaxial fiberglass. Juniper is used for the keel, stringers and frames, along with Douglas fir. This skiff is nearly unsinkable with its bilge filled with two-part polyurethane foam that's covered with Nida-Core and fiberglass.
Piney Ridge Boatworks specializes in custom one-off skiffs up to 30 feet in length with a center console. These skiffs are used in North Carolina's oyster hand-tong fishery and hand-dredge inshore scallop and clam fisheries.
Dan and Jay Kavanagh recently bought the boatyard. It was originally named Island Boatworks, and prior to that, the property was the site of an oyster shucking facility. "We plan to maintain the boatshop and railway as working waterfront to serve the commercial fishing interests of the Hatteras area," says Dan Kavanagh.
A 57-foot cold-molded hull came with the boatyard. The hull had been built on spec but never sold. "We still have that hull and it can be outfitted any way [a customer] wants," says Dan Kavanagh. "In the past, the boatyard has built very high-end yachts and smaller commercial fishing net boats, and we plan to continue to do the same," he adds.
Piney Ridge Boatworks has a 90' x 50' x 30' boatshed, and the tooling and ability to build and repair both wood and fiberglass boats.
Moving up the coast to Virginia, the Rionholdt boatshop in Glenn Allen has built several PVC skiffs for commercial fishing. Most recently, the crew built a reproduction of a classic 1905 Chesapeake crab skiff.
The evolution of the Chesapeake deadrise workboat started with these small sailing skiffs. In the early 1900s watermen on Maryland's Smith Island and Virginia's Tangier Island favored the small, sturdy boat that could cut through Chesapeake Bay's choppy seas. The skiff's V-shaped bow, shallow draft and stable platform ushered in a new period of commercial boatbuilding on the bay — the era of the wooden deadrise boats.
There seems to be a revival of sorts for the older boats as more people are becoming interested in earlier styles of commercial fishing boats, says Rionholdt's owner Eric Hedberg. "And the bay's early crabbing skiffs were great little sailing vessels," he notes.
When internal combustion engines came along, a wider version of the skiff evolved, allowing more room for payload and motors. Tangier Island residents called these boats barcats. Hedberg's skiff represents the forerunner of the barcat.
The construction plans were adapted from a crab boat documented by the maritime historian Howard Chapelle. The finished skiff is 18' x 4' 6" and carries approximately 97 square feet of sail when fully rigged. The skiff is built out of cellular PVC, using the Rionholdt patented construction process. The PVC skiff won't rot, burn, or absorb water, and it is impervious to worms. The boat is finished with a low-maintenance polyurethane topcoat.
Rionholdt is a full-service boatbuilding company offering reproductions of traditional Chesapeake Bay workboats and contemporary flat-bottom and deadrise skiffs, particularly for commercial pound-net fishing and crab skiffs, all out of cellular PVC.
Also in Virginia, Deltaville Boatyard on Jackson Creek in Deltaville will soon have a new 80-ton Marine Travelift. The yard currently has a 35-ton lift, but it's not big enough to haul larger commercial and recreational boats.
The boatyard maintains commercial fishing and research boats, as well as yachts. "We need a larger travel lift to accommodate the demand for boat owners with larger vessels who want our services," says Keith Ruse, president of the firm.
Ruse says his yard hauls numerous commercial 42-foot boats every year for net, oyster and clam fishermen but needs an 80-ton lift to haul 75- to 90-foot trawlers. — Larry Chowning
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