Written by Jen Finn
September 20, 2012
The case of the missing skeg;
lightweight panels are durable
When you read this, you'll understand why a 40-foot lobster boat from H&H Marine is very steerable, even when something important is missing.
In Jonesport, Maine, Jonesport Shipyard's Sune Noreen says local lobsterman Wade Faulkingham and his sternman were on their way home in the Seacoast Rambler after hauling traps 20 or 25 miles offshore. The sternman took the wheel, Noreen says, and after a while remarked, "The steering feels kind of funny, like we are fishtailing."
"So when they got in," Noreen says, "the boat was grounded out, and lo and behold, there wasn't anything there, except the rudder was unbalanced and just hanging."
The culprit was the skeg, which had disappeared, leaving the rudder dangling on a bent rudderstock. "The owner says he doesn't know what caused it, but the skeg was snapped off at the backing piece," Noreen says. "I've worked on skegs here and in Alaska, but there's always been something left over, a little tidbit or something. But here there wasn't anything."
The boat was delivered to Jonesport Shipyard on Nov. 4, and Noreen ordered a new rudder, rudderstock, bronze rudder box, and, from H&H Marine, a 70-inch skeg.
Thirty inches of the new skeg were lapped onto the existing keel in a scarf joint. The skeg was then bolted to the keel and covered with 22 layers of fiberglass.
Another project at Jonesport Shipyard involves the 35-foot torpedo-sterned Tatiana, built by Beals Island boatbuilder Willis Beal in 1991. The hull, with a transom that angles back toward the bow, resembles lobster boats of Jonesport and its neighbor Beals Island up until the 1930s, when Jonesport's Will Frost came up with a squared-off, flat transom.
The Tatiana hauls lobster traps out of midcoast Maine's Port Clyde. "The boat's owner calls himself a 'gentleman lobsterman,' but it's what he does in the summer," Noreen says.
Even a gentleman's lobster boat needs some work every now and then, which is why the Tatiana was at Jonesport Shipyard. "She hasn't had any rehab since she was built," Noreen says.
There's a good size list of repairs but nothing major. "She needs guards, toe rails, leaky planks fixed, rehab on the bottom, some deck work, leaky windows fixed, a paint job, and just general checking over and seeing where the water is coming in," Noreen says.
Then there's the old 15-foot wooden skiff to fix that Beals Island's Beth Carver uses for lobstering. Noreen estimates that it is 30 years old. He says Carver's husband wanted to buy her a new boat, saying, "'It was kind of beat up.' But she says, 'Just fix this one.'"
The yard will rebuild some of the boat, fiberglass the cross-planked bottom, and then repaint it. She has "girl colors," notes Noreen — a purple bottom, pink boot top and a white hull.
In Friendship, Maine, Lash Brothers Boat Yard is finishing off a 38-foot hull from Holland's Boat Shop in Belfast, Maine, for a fisherman from Criehaven, Maine.
In mid-November, the yard was building the wheelhouse, had the platform mostly in place, and a 425-hp John Deere diesel was bolted to the engine beds. Behind it is a ZF 325 marine gear with 2:1 reduction that will be turning a 28-inch-square prop.
Instead of using plywood for the deck and wheelhouse, the owner chose to use high-density polyurethane panels reinforced with fiberglass from Coosa Composites. "It's lightweight, durable and rot resistant," says the boatyard's Wesley Lash. On the deck 3/4-inch Coosa panels are going down. There are half-inch panels on the wheelhouse. On either side of the panels will be a layer of mat, roving and mat.
Though the panels are significantly lighter than plywood, their longevity is their main advantage over plywood, Lash says.
Lash Brothers is also repowering a 36-foot Jarvis Newman-built lobster boat. The yard's crew pulled out a 420-hp Caterpillar 3126 and put in a 460-hp Cat C7. They rebuilt the Twin Disc 5075 gear from the 3126 and will bolt it to the new engine.
The engine beds that the 420-hp Cat rested on pretty much matched up with the new diesel. "The footprint on the two engines is very close," Lash notes, which made for a relatively easy engine switch.
— Michael Crowley
Gillnetter uses proven design;
wood is the specialty in Calif.
After finishing the salmon season in Bristol Bay, John Edling of Edling Enterprises in Bellingham, Wash., is back building boats — Bristol Bay gillnetters, of course.
Edling is finishing off an aluminum hull from Master Marine in Bellingham. The 32' x 15' gillnetter with a conventional flying bridge is for Bryan Devries, also of Bellingham. Edling says Devries' boat, the Endeavor, is "pretty much an identical copy" of his own gillnetter, the Roadster, which was designed by the late Roy Horn and built 12 years ago.
Devries doesn't spend much time fishing in shallow water, so he's going with the traditional prop and shaft arrangement, instead of a water jet. The 28-inch prop will be in a tunnel that goes up into the hull about a foot. With the 600-hp Scania turned up, Edling expects the 32-footer to hit 20 knots.
For low-speed maneuvering there's a 10-inch Wesmar bow thruster.
The Endeavor has eight fish holds. Each one should pack 2,000 pounds or a little more. To keep the salmon chilled, there is a 7.5-ton refrigerated seawater system from Pacific West Refrigeration. The RSW system runs off its own 4-cylinder Mitsubishi diesel. "That seems to work very well for this size boat," Edling says. "There's no problem chilling down the fish."
The inside of the cabin was enhanced a bit with a Corian tabletop and stainless steel sink. Edling says when Devries isn't fishing Bristol Bay, he's building houses and is a finish carpenter. "He came down, cut the patterns and installed it," Edling says. "It looks like it's a yacht."
In Eureka, Calif., David Peterson has been doing what he does best: giving new life to old wooden boats. Lately he's been working on a number of crab boats between 38 and 51 feet long that were built in the 1940s and '50s.
The Shirley, a 50-footer built in 1951 in Seattle was one of those. "I call it the full deal," Peterson says, referring to the work he did on the boat. He pulled the sheet metal out from under the keel cooler, removed the covers from everything he says "looked suspicious," and then refastened the entire boat.
"It had a leak in the shaft log, and we found that and a screw hole everyone had missed for years under the copper," he says.
The 40-foot Gold Coast, which was built in 1944 in Empire, Ore., was in Crescent City last March when the Japanese tsunami hit that California port. The boat had a fair amount of damage below the waterline.
Peterson put a couple of planks in the bottom and refastened the keel from the shaft log into the area of the fish hold.
A pair of 38-footers, the Miss Angra built in 1948 in Fort Bragg, Calif., and the Ashlyn D. (previously the Paula B), built in 1944 in San Pedro, Calif., were in for new frames.
Peterson put about 54 sister frames in the Miss Angra. Thirty-four were full length and 20 were partial frames. The Ashlyn D. picked up 24 new frames in the fish hold.
The two crabbers' original frames were oak. Peterson's frames were laminated sapele, an African hardwood. He says both boats were "way overdue to be reribbed. A lot of boats are doing that now. It's time for either sawing them up or fixing them up."
He favors hardwood frames over "the black plastic ribs they use up north. I don't like those because they don't have strength. They will only follow what's there and if the boat is misshapen — and they often are — you can't always change the shape of the boat. With these ribs I can move planks around once everything is reefed out, and I can get the boat back in shape."
The Miss Angra also had two 2" x 8" bilge clamps replaced. The new ones were cut from purpleheart, a South American hardwood.
The 50-foot Katherine tied up in Eureka for repairs. Built in 1951 in Fort Bragg, Peterson put down a new plywood and fiberglass foredeck. The after deck was covered with plywood and a rubberized coating.
— Michael Crowley
New Maryland boatshop is busy;
Alabama yard deals shrimp boats
Jody Miller has worked the water in some manner most of his life. At 18 he was in the charter fishing business in Ocean City, Md. Later he took up charter fishing in the Florida Keys. Then five years ago his wife decided she wanted the family to move back home to Maryland. Once there, Miller built himself a 21-foot flat-bottom skiff for crab potting and gillnetting.
"I really enjoyed building the skiff and I had several people say they wanted one just like it," the 51-year-old Miller says. This inspired him to open Sinapuxent Boatworks in Berlin 2 1/2 years ago. Since then Miller has built eight wooden boats for commercial fishermen, charter-boat owners and a duck hunter. The first boats were flat-bottom and deadrise skiffs. Then a friend showed him how to build the strip-planked Carolina skiff, and he's added that to his lineup.
Miller delivered two 22' x 8' 6" deadrise boats to Maryland hard-crab trotliners. An open boat went to Taylors Island, and a 22-footer with a small cabin to a fisherman on the Wye River, near Queenstown. The Taylors Island boat cost $6,000 and the boat with the cabin came in at $6,500.
The stem and keel on the two boats are 3" x 4" and laminated up from strips of yellow pine and then fiberglassed. Frames are 1 1/2" x 3" yellow pine that are 16 inches apart. The skiffs' sides and bottom are half-inch plywood covered with one layer of polyester followed by fiberglass. "I like to put more glass on my boats, but in these hard economic times, watermen need a boat they can afford," Miller says.
Two Carolina strip-planked boats are under construction at Sinapuxent Boatworks. One measures 25' x 10' and the other is 24' x 8'. They are being built out of white cedar. Both will be used for charter fishing. Miller also finished a 20-foot flat-bottom skiff for a North Carolina duck hunter who hunts on Currituck Sound.
Along with building boats, Miller fishes 200 crab pots and gillnets. "I usually finish fishing about 11 a.m. and go right back to the shop to build boats," he says. Boatbuilding also provides Miller with wintertime work, as crabbing and gillnetting runs only from April to October.
"I enjoy working the water and building boats. It's the best of two worlds for me," he says.
Steiner Shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Ala., recently signed a sales agreement for a used 75' x 22' shrimp boat that the boatyard built in 1988. A Mexican aquaculture company that raises red drum is buying the boat.
Steiner originally built the boat and one other for CFP Fishing Co. in French Guiana. When CFP Fishing Co. went out of business, Steiner Shipyard's Russell Steiner bought the hulls back, and had them cleaned up and repainted.
One of the boats now carries the name Friend, and the other doesn't have a name. The nameless boat is going to Mexico. The Friend has been sold and will be used for research work.
"We started buying used boats several years ago and are still seeing a lot of interest in used commercial fishing boats these days," says Steiner. "The economy, I'm sure, is driving that.
"We are buying boats that really do not need a great deal of work. We sandblast the hulls, rebuild engines, add refrigeration, service generators and take care of any routine maintenance.
"We purchase the vessels at a reasonable price and pass that savings onto the buyer."
The 75-foot former shrimp boat will take bait and food to workers at the fish farm in Mexico and carry red drum to processing facilities. Steiner is also currently building a push boat for Southern Towing Co. of Memphis, Tenn. — Larry Chowning
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