Written by Jen Finn
Trimaran for Maine fishermen? Shop finishes biggest boat yet
If things go as planned, the first fishing boats in this country — possibly anywhere — designed and built as trimarans will be hauling lobster traps for Maine fishermen as early as next year.
The trimaran design is the result of an initiative by the non-profit Penobscot East Resource Center in Stonington, Maine, to develop a more fuel-efficient lobster boat.
Doug Read, a professor of engineering at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Maine, is managing the technical side of the project, and this past spring took a 4-foot 6-inch model to the Webb Institute in Glen Cove, N.Y. to be tank tested.
"We had very good resistance characteristics in the 15- to 20-knot range. We made significant gains in that area compared to a traditional boat," Read says.
That's the speed range at which most lobstermen who have been consulted — and Read emphasizes that fishermen have been a part of the project since the beginning — want to travel.
Early indications are that a 35- to 36-foot lobster boat built on a trimaran hull with a single engine of 200 horsepower or less should "see a 30 percent fuel saving relatively safely," Read says.
The Webb tests were done in a tank where it's hard to re-create the sea conditions a lobster boat encounters. So now a 7-foot model is being built — complete with a regular working deck and house — that will travel to San Diego next spring and run through seakeeping tests.
The model will be attached to a boat, but well out in front of its bow. "We'll hook the model up to the boat and take it out in the ocean," Read says.
There will be instruments to measure accelerations and responses to a seaway, and a video to show the interaction between the side hulls and the bridging structure.
The bridging structure connects the outboard hulls with the main hull. A fisherman should hardly be aware of it on a full-size lobster boat. "Standing in the work space, you won't know you are in a trimaran," Read says. "It will just be a little higher off the water."
For Sargent's Custom Boats in Milbridge, Maine, 2011 has been one of the busiest years since Joe Sargent started finishing off boats in 2000. There were some pleasure boats and a lobster boat for out-of-state owners and a slew of retrofit work for local fishermen.
That retrofit work included pretty much rebuilding a 30-foot South Shore lobster boat, doing a lot of fiberglass work on a couple of boats that were repowered, and gelcoating the topsides and rebedding the windows of another lobster boat.
Then there's the 47' x 19' 2" hull from H&H Marine, which is just down the road from Milbridge in Steuben. Sargent has finished off some large fiberglass boats in the past — a 46-foot Wayne Beal, a 42-foot H&H, and a 43-footer from Lowell Brothers — but this is the first 47-footer and the biggest hull that's come into the shop.
She's for Oscar Maia from Point Pleasant, N.J., who will use it as an offshore lobster boat.
The third week in September, the crew at Sargent's Custom Boats was framing out the hull and building a fiberglass lobster tank that will go under the platform.
The 16-foot-long tank will extend out to the sides of the hull and be 3 feet deep. "The front bulkhead of the tank is the aft bulkhead of the engine room," says Sargent.
Up in the engine room will be an 815-hp C15 Caterpillar along with a genset. The size of the genset hasn't been determined, but Sargent suspects it will be around 9 kW. It will power lighting, an electric cooktop, microwave, and possibly a refrigeration unit for the lobster tank.
Sargent says Maia's boat should be completed at the beginning of 2012.
— Michael Crowley
Building a South Pacific skiff; yard launches eighth dredge
Nearly everyone has had an idea they really want to develop. It starts as a vague notion turning and twisting in your mind. Eventually one of two things happens: Inertia takes over, and it simply drifts forever out of view; or it turns into a tangible thing to be touched and seen.
The latter is sort of what happened to Brett Snow at Snow & Co., a boat repair business with an office in a converted shipping container near the Ballard oil dock in Seattle. For years Snow had been repairing boats — steel, aluminum, wood, fiberglass and aluminum. Yet he dreamed of building boats. "So I just did it," Snow says.
That was in April 2010, and the boat was a seine skiff for a salmon fisherman. Eighteen months later, this October, Snow & Co. was due to deliver its third seine skiff. (They have also built a couple of utility boats.) Despite the fact that the latest seine skiff has a hull design based on skiffs used in Alaska's Prince William Sound and around Kodiak Island, the 25' x 10' 5" skiff is different from anything built in Pacific Northwest or Alaska boatshops.
Most obvious is her small wheelhouse — seine skiffs don't come with a wheelhouse. "That's there to protect the electronics," Snow explains. Instead of working one end of a salmon seine, the skiff will be towing a tuna seiner's cork line and looking for fish in the South Pacific. And she won't be traveling on the seiner's back deck but hanging from a set of davits.
The skiff has a 500-hp John Deere engine that's matched up with an 18-inch Traktor Jet from North American Marine Jet. "It has a lot of pull and will do 33 knots as well," Snow says.
"They wanted a jet so it could go over the cork line. The old skiff that it's replacing had a prop and shaft and couldn't go over the cork line," he explains.
At the end of September, Snow & Co. was starting to build a 21' x 12' seine skiff with a prop inside a Kort nozzle that will be for a Southeast Alaska salmon fisherman. After that there's an 18-foot seine skiff to be built. "This is a new model. It won't have a tunnel," says Snow. "It will be less complicated to build and will save on materials and labor."
Of course, there's still repair work at Snow & Co.. Due in is the Equinox, a dragger, seiner and longliner. Snow says the boat has a long list of repairs, including cutting out the stainless steel fish hold and replacing it with foam and fiberglass.
You know you have a good design when a customer keeps coming back for more, and that's what Everest Marine & Equipment in Burlington, Wash., and Penn Cove Shellfish in Coupeville, Wash., have with their 64-foot oyster dredge.
This November, Coast Seafoods in Bellevue, Wash., is scheduled to get its eighth 64-footer. And in October Everest Marine was building the components for a ninth hull.
Hull number eight, like the previous two oyster dredges, has a 500-hp John Deere and a 24-inch Traktor Jet from North American Marine Jet that should send the oyster boat along at about 22 knots.
Building more than one hull to the same design, it's only natural to try to get a little more speed, a little more efficiency out of it. And that's what Everest Marine & Equipment's Stewart Everest is always trying to do.
He has tried moving the fuel tanks and pushing an engine bulkhead a few inches forward. The result of moving those weights around gave him a little more capacity but not much in the way of speed. Then he spent some time tweaking the chine. "I raised it a little to get the bow out of the water and give it a little more speed." This was more successful, but even Everest admits, "I can't complain; we've got a 5,000-pound boat that goes 22 knots."
And, yes, there will be a hull number 10. — Michael Crowley
Waterman builds a crab skiff; historic boat looks for a home
In September, Chesapeake Bay waterman Skip Bloxom of Wicomico, Va., had just about finished a 19' 2" x 7' 4" deadrise skiff that he will use to work crab and peeler pots, and gillnets on the York River.
The boat's sides and bottom are built from North Carolina fir. "I got 20-foot-long boards so I wouldn't have to splice the sides," he says. "It makes the boat a whole lot stronger."
The wooden hull is covered inside and out with fiberglass and West System epoxy. The chine log is made of 2" x 4" fir with a 6" x 6" fir keel. The stem is cut out of a yellow-pine timber.
The fasteners are stainless steel bolts, screws and nails, and, according to Bloxom, cost more than the wood to build the boat. He used plywood for the floorboard and braced it with 2" x 4" salt-treated wood. "If you get four or five years out of a floorboard on the boats I work, I'm lucky," he says. "I'm hoping to get a little more time out of it by putting West epoxy over the floorboard and coating it with two coats of epoxy paint."
He isn't sure about the horsepower that will go on the boat. "I'm going to weigh the trailer and then put the boat on it and weigh them together to determine how much power it will handle. I think she is going carry between a 90- and 115-horsepower outboard. The way I designed the bottom, it shouldn't take a whole lot of power to bring her up on plane."
Bloxom will install a console and hydraulic steering. "When you've got to pay $200 for a steering cable that will only last a couple years, you are better off going with a hydraulic steering at $750 that will last a long time. I'm looking for something I don't have to rebuild every year."
Smith's Marine Railway in Yorktown, Va., hauled the 65' x 20' ocean trawler Capt. Ed from Cape Charles, Va., the last week in September. She was due for general maintenance work. Pete Bender of Cape Charles owns the Capt. Ed and uses it for trawling and to harvest horseshoe crabs.
Smith's Marine Railway, in an effort to save one of the Chesapeake Bay's historic boats, wants to give the 72-foot Mobjack to a non-profit organization. The yard obtained ownership of the boat through the courts after the previous owner refused to pay for work that had been done at the yard.
"We just want to see the boat saved," says Tim Smith. "She's one of the great buy boats still alive on the Chesapeake. We could salvage her and make some money, but our boatyard has been here since the 1840s to repair and maintain wooden boats. The Mobjack is one of the great boats of the bay."
The, 72' 2" x 24' 6" x 5' 6" Mobjack was built in 1946 by Linwood and Milford Price of Deltaville, Va., for the J.H. Miles Co. of Norfolk, Va. The boat was one of just a few bay deadrises that had a naval architect tweak the design. C.T. Forsberg — of Freeport, N.Y. on Long Island — was hired to work on the design. The Mobjack was used in the bay's oyster fishery until a few years ago.
Long orange extension cords were in high demand in August as Hurricane Irene came roaring through. Fishermen from Florida to Maine were securing their boats and making sure electricity was available to keep bilge pumps running.
Chris Moore's 36-foot oyster boat wasn't in the water, but he had extension cords running from his workshop at his Newport News, Va., home. His boat was on blocks in his backyard. "I was worried she might take on so much water she would tip over," Moore says. "The pumps worked fine but I watched from my window as big tree limbs fell all around her, but not one hit her."
Moore plans to launch the boat in October to work private oyster grounds on the James River that he leases.
— Larry Chowning
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