Written by Jen Finn
A 40-footer goes to the cape; repowers are now the safe bet
In early December, a 40-foot hull and top were being laid up at H&H Marine in Steuben, Maine. Once they are finished, the top will be glassed to the hull, and the package will be loaded on a trailer and shipped to Wellfleet Marine on Cape Cod to be finished off.
The crew at H&H Marine was also cleaning up one of their wide-42 molds, so that once fiberglass and resin is delivered, they can start laying up a 42' x 17' 6" hull.
The lobster boat will be completed at the Steuben boatyard for Derek Feeney of Cutler, Maine. She will have a Cat C15 and probably a ZF 360A reverse gear with a clutchable PTO, says H&H Marine's Bruce Grindal.
Feeney's boat will be a fairly straightforward lobster boat with a cutout transom and a couple of lobster tanks below a plywood and fiberglass deck.
A 36-footer is being worked on for a fisherman from Gloucester, Mass. She is due to get a John Deere main engine, probably 300 horsepower, Grindal says.
He says there is a good chance contracts will soon be signed for a 40-footer, another wide 42 and a 36-footer. "If all these go through, we'll be as busy if not busier than last winter."
There are also some older boats coming in for gelcoat work after the first of the year. That includes two 40-foot lobster boats and a 38-footer. All three were built at H&H Marine eight to 11 years ago.
About two hours to the westward in Rockland, Mitchell Cove Boats has some repowering jobs scheduled for lobster boats. A Cummins is coming out of a 38-foot Wayne Beal and a reconditioned 430-hp Cummins will replace it.
The second week in December, a Portland, Maine, lobsterman called Mitchell Cove Boats, saying that the Detroit Diesel in his 38-foot Novi had blown and he wanted them to replace it with an Iveco, either a 400- or a 500-hp engine, says the boatshop's Mike Davee.
Mitchell Cove Boats isn't the only Maine boatyard doing repowering jobs. Down in Friendship at Lash Brothers Boat Yard, Wes Lash had two or three repowering jobs after the first of January and put in six engines in 2010.
He says the number of repowers is unusual because "in the past they would throw a boat away [and buy a new boat]. Now they don't. Five years ago this was unheard of."
He compares the engine repowering work he is getting now to a similar situation nearly 20 years ago. "The same thing happened in the early '90s. One year I put 12 engines in. I didn't work on a new boat, but we put 12 engines in. Now they want to hang onto what they got to see what the economy is going to do."
The repowers have all had Cats or remanufactured Cummins engines going into the boats. The Cummins were 8.3-liter engines at 430 horsepower. The Cats were C9s rated at 500 horsepower.
Only one of the repowers was a straight model-for-model replacement. All the others involved different engines than the one that went in.
Besides repowers, Lash has been putting a new house and trunk cabin on a 32-year-old wooden lobster boat. Edgar Davis built the Outlaw in Friendship 30 years ago with his son Brad, who now owns the boat.
Edgar Davis built eight or 10 lobster boats in Friendship, and this is one of two or three remaining. Like almost all Maine wooden lobster boats, it is built with cedar planking over steam-bent oak frames. And bolted down to her engine beds, the boat still has her 292 Chevy gasoline engine.
Lash describes the wooden hull as "big. She has a real big bottom on her. It almost hangs down like an old-time dragger."
Once the new house is finished, it will be epoxied, as will the side decks.
"It's an old-style house that almost looks like a box, but that's what he wants. He wants it to look like when he and his father did it," Lash says. — Michael Crowley
Crabber returns after 30 years; wooden boat gets new engine
In 1980 Tim Hill and J&H Boatworks in Astoria, Ore., built the Ed Monk Jr.-designed 66' x 22' Defiant for Mike Haggren. This was one of the last commercial fishing boats Monk designed.
In 2010, 30 years later, Haggren brought the Defiant back to Hill and J&H Boatworks. When she rolled back into the water in October, the Dungeness crabber and longliner had been lengthened and sponsoned to 71' 6" x 28' and given a bulbous bow.
Hill says Haggren decided to have the work done on the Defiant based on his experience with another boat he owns, the Taasinge, which was lengthened and sponsoned in 2008 at Fashion Blacksmith in Crescent City, Calif. (See "Refit as a Fiddle," NF Oct. '08, p. 34.)
The Taasinge was longer than the Defiant but similar enough in size that Haggren could appreciate what the Defiant would be like if she were lengthened and sponsoned, Hill says.
"What he found with the other vessel was that it was totally changed. It was more stable and comfortable and didn't lose speed," Hill says. Early reports say the effect on the Defiant is much the same. She's a better heavy-weather boat, and there's little difference in top speed.
To get most of the needed length for the Defiant, the crew at J&H Boatworks added 5 feet to the stern. Though the stern was lengthened, it wasn't necessary to move the rudderpost back.
The sponsoning gives the Defiant added buoyancy, which makes it possible to tank down both fish holds. "Before, only one fish hold could be tanked. Now both fish holds can be, giving the boat increased capacity," Hill says.
At the lengthened-out stern quarters a new fuel tank was added on the port and starboard sides. Forward of the fuel tanks, in the area between the new and old plating, four bait tanks were built on each side of the boat.
The tanks were foamed, fiberglassed and given sump pumps and piping that goes into the lazarette. "They can put crab in them, but it's not practical," Hill says. "Because it's too difficult to unload crab from the tanks, other than taking them out by hand."
At the beginning of December, the wooden Carol M was going back in the water at Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op in Port Townsend, Wash.
The 62-footer has been at the co-op several times in the past few years. The boat's owner, Mike Clausen of Seattle, has been working at getting the boat back to the condition she was in before being damaged by an engine-room fire and a period of neglect prior to his buying her.
This go-round, "she got new crab tanks, refrigeration pumps, a false deck for crab pots, and an access hatch," says the boatyard's Martin Mills. The next project might be a repowering job.
It will be a while before the 65-foot St. John II goes back into the water. The wooden longliner was built in 1942 and was in to Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op for a repower and complete engine-room makeover.
The Cat diesel that came out of her was the boat's original engine. "It's been rebuilt about five times. No one knows how many hours are on it," Mills says. The new engine is a 12.5-liter Lugger rated at 340 horsepower.
The Cat was hauled out of the engine room on a temporary railway that went into and up out of the fish hold, along with all the tanks in the engine room. "The tanks weren't in too bad shape, but at 68 years old, it was ready for new tanks," Mills says. And the best time to remove the tanks is when the engine is out of the way.
New engine mounts and shaft bearings are required, but the verdict was still out on the prop and reverse gear. "We are still trying to figure that out," Mills notes.
The St. John II's side deck next to the wheelhouse had been leaking, which caused frames and ceiling planks to rot out. So several 3" x 4" steam-bent oak frames are due to be sistered or replaced. And the deck will be recaulked and pitched to stop the leak. — Michael Crowley
Gulf boatyard has spec boats; conversions for Va. scallopers
Like most southern boatyards, Steiner Shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Ala., is facing lean economic times as the longtime boatbuilder turns to building on spec, as well as buying and refurbishing older commercial fishing boats.
Steiner Shipyard's marketing manager, Marco Angelini, says the boatyard has three refurbished steel fishing boats that can be set up for just about any fishery in the Gulf of Mexico or along the Atlantic coast.
After Steiner bought the used boats, the boatyard's crew went through the boats and cleaned them up, replaced damaged steel plating and made sure the engines were running properly. One boat is 85' x 25' and the other two are 75' x 24'. A 3412 Caterpillar diesel powers the 85-footer. The 75-footers each have a single KT19 Cummins engine.
The 75-footers were in the shrimp fishery off South America's French Guiana. The 85-footer was repossessed from a Bayou La Batre bank and had been used as a shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico.
Smith's Marine Railway in Dare, Va., is a well known for repairing wooden commercial fishing boats. Founded in the 1840s, the boatyard is one of the oldest in Virginia. In 2008, a gear broke on its marine railway, preventing the hauling out of large offshore trawlers and scallopers. Some local boatyards have since picked up that marine railway business, with a crew from Smith's Marine Railway doing the work.
Smith's Marine Railway is hauling smaller boats. One of those was the Captain Latane, a 55' 5" x 14' 5" x 4' 8" Chesapeake Bay wooden buy boat that was in for routine maintenance and a name change. The boat's new owner switched the name back to the Georgie E., which was her name in 1944 when Alton Smith of Susan, Va., laid its keel. The late Alton Smith is distantly related to the Smiths of Dare.
Alton Smith built the Georgie E. as a pound-net and dredge boat, and it has been part of Chesapeake Bay's commercial fishing business for many years. The boat should be back at the railway in the spring for new decking and other woodwork.
Duckworth Steel Boats in Tarpon Springs, Fla., is converting two New England trawlers to scallop boats for Seaford, Va., scallopers Andy Benavidez and Billy Wells, says Jake Duckworth the boatyard's operation manager.
The boat being converted for Wells is the Navigator, a 78-foot trawler that was built at the Duckworth boatyard in 1982. The converted 80-foot Stephanie B II is for Benavidez and was built by Fairhaven Shipyard Companies in Fairhaven, Mass. There is also a 90-foot scallop boat in the yard that is being repaired for another Seaford scalloper.
The 90-foot vessel was originally a Mississippi shrimp trawler that had already been converted to a scalloper. "Still there was a lot of rust and work for us to do on the lazarette, and holding tanks located in front of the engines," says Duckworth.
The work involved in converting the New England trawlers to scallopers included installing extra plating on the side of the hull where the scallop dredges will be banging against the boat. On the main deck, half-inch-thick steel plating was welded, and the booms were modified for hoisting and lowering the scallop dredges. A shucking room was built with stainless steel shucking boxes, and the trawl winches were moved from the main deck to the upper deck on both conversion jobs.
"The main thing about these conversions is that side and deck plating has to be beefed up because wherever those dredges touch, there is a need for extra strength," says Duckworth. "Trawlers and shrimp boats are usually built with thinner plate than scallop boats, and we know going into a job that it's got to be heavier."
Duckworth says that wherever you go, building boats for commercial fishermen is very slow right now. He contends that one of the main problems is that banks are not lending money to commercial fishermen. "A lot of the guys want to build boats but they can't get the financing from the banks," he says. "It's hurting the business across the country." — Larry Chowning
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