Written by Jen Finn
September 20, 2012
Maine boats will go to Japan; skiff wins races and hauls pots
"It's a win-win situation. We'll get a little business out of it, and the people in Japan will get a good product," says Stacey Raymond owner of General Marine in Biddeford, Maine.
Raymond is talking about the 20 fiberglass boats General Marine is building for fishermen in Japan who lost their boats to the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
General Marine is working with Operation Blessing International, a charity organization based in Virginia Beach, Va., which will deliver the boats to Japan. The boats will be paid for with donations from U.S. donors to Operation Blessing's tsunami relief fund.
The original concept was to build a Down East-style boat of about 20 feet. But as Raymond pointed out to Operation Blessing's representatives, "every market uses a different type of boat."
After talking with Japanese fishing guilds, the decision was made to design and build a boat "far different than a Down East boat," says Raymond. It's a 19' x 6' nearly flat-bottom hull powered with a 9.9-hp Yamaha outboard.
Twenty-three feet would have been a more ideal length, but 19-footers are an easier fit for a shipping container.
The boats will be used for oystering, seaweed farming and net fishing.
"Someone in Japan will be tickled to get a free boat. Hopefully it will last a lifetime," Raymond says.
In an Operation Blessing press release Bill Horan, the group's president, says he hopes the initial 20-boat order "will raise awareness, so we can do an even larger Adopt a Boat campaign."
There certainly seems to be a need. The two fishing guilds Operation Blessing works with lost 5,000 boats to the tidal wave.
Holland's Boat Shop in Belfast, Maine, builders of 32- and 38-foot fiberglass lobster boats, made a name for itself with the 32-foot Red Baron, which for many years was a top finisher on Maine's lobster boat racing circuit.
Now there's the Baby Baron, a 14' x 6' 2" fiberglass skiff that's entered in the lobster boat races in class A (16 feet and under, outboards up to 30 horsepower and operator 18 years and younger).
The Baby Baron has won 19 of 21 races since the kid running it, Gavin Holland, the grandson of Holland's Boat Shop's Glenn Holland, started racing the Baby Baron at the age of 8. He turned 13 after this summer's racing season.
At the last race of the season in Portland, young Holland sent the Baby Baron, with a 30-hp Yamaha outboard on its transom, skimming down the course at 32.9 mph.
Now, lest you think the Baby Baron is just a toy, something to put on the trailer for race weekends, rest assured that the Holland 14 is a fisherman's boat.
Clammers use the skiff, and Glenn Holland says he has sold "a bunch of 14-footers" to lobstermen. "Six or eight are on Vinalhaven" (an island in Maine's Penobscot Bay).
The 14-foot skiff can carry 15 to 20 traps with enough room left over for a small Briggs & Stratton motor to run a hydraulic pump with a 10-inch hauler. Of course, you could also haul by hand if you didn't want to deal with the motor.
The Holland 14 is based on the wooden skiffs Holland saw in Stonington, Maine, where he lived as a boy. "A lot of the boats down there were 12 to 15 feet long, round-bilged and flat-bottomed. They were little lobster boats, and young kids used to go lobstering in them," he says.
Basically that's what the Holland 14 is, a traditional Maine flat-bottom skiff with round bilges. The only difference is the Holland 14 is fiberglass instead of wood and a little beamier.
The wooden skiffs had a beam of 4 to 4 1/2 feet — a big one would have been 5 feet, says Holland — while the Holland 14's beam is 6 feet 2 inches.
— Michael Crowley
Builder expands idea of beam; Dungie crabber gets sponsoned
Pat Pitsch at Strongback Metal Boats thought he was pushing the design envelope for Bristol Bay gillnetters when he started building them with a beam of 15 feet. "Those were considered huge," he says.
That was then. He describes his newest boat as "intimidating. From the front it looks like a king crabber."
The 32' x 18' 6" gillnetter was completed the first week in November in Pitsch's shop in Bellingham, Wash., for Robert Buchmayer of Seattle. Nic de Waal with Teknicraft Design in Auckland, New Zealand, designed the boat.
Increased hold capacity is one reason for the 18-foot 6-inch beam, but as Pitsch points out, "the more you carry the wider you have to be to stay shallow." And that's what Buchmayer likes to do, fish up close to shore, where there's nothing but skinny water, as some fishermen call it.
Buchmayer's gillnetter draws just 18 inches, but that doesn't mean he won't be going into shallower water. His "trick," says Pitsch, "which he pretty much started in the bay, is going in on step. He'll be going full speed and throwing the net out in 12 inches of water. Then he comes off the beach and waits for the tide to change."
Power for that maneuver will come from a pair of 500-hp Volvo diesels hooked up to 322 Hamilton jets. Pitsch estimates there's enough horsepower in those two engines to send the gillnetter along at 34 knots.
Salmon will be chilled with a 12-ton refrigerated seawater system. "That's in place of a 7-ton RSW, which is normal for a bay boat," says Pitsch, adding that with fish in the holds and full of chilled seawater, the gillnetter "will still be able to go fast and be in shallow water."
Most things on this boat seem larger than usual. Pitsch describes the wheelhouse as "like the tophouse in a limit seiner. It has a full-size bunk and there's a steering station and jog switches off to the side because the tophouse is so big."
On a slightly larger scale, in Astoria, Ore., J&H Boatworks was due to send the 50-foot Katrina, a Dungeness crabber and salmon tender, back into the water by Nov. 20. Though anybody familiar with Dave Hubbard's Katrina before she showed up in Astoria probably wouldn't recognize the boat.
When the Katrina was hauled at J&H Boatworks, she measured 45' x 15' and had a rather smallish wheelhouse. Now, she's 5 feet longer, she's picked up 7 feet of beam, her fo'c'sle deck has been raised, and her wheelhouse is much larger.
That's just what is visible on the outside. Inside the boat everything was pretty much stripped out, and then the steel was sand blasted and painted. Into the discard pile went the old 150-hp 6-71 Detroit Diesel main engine. It was replaced with a 425-hp John Deere. In the process, all the hydraulics, wiring and plumbing were replaced, along with the rudder and shafting. "It's a brand new boat," says J&H Boatworks' Tim Hill.
The engine room, two fish-hold compartments and the crew quarters were expanded to the full width of the newly sponsoned hull.
On the steel hull is a new aluminum pilothouse. "It went from a little thing to 17 feet wide," notes Hill. The "look" of the pilothouse came about after the owner gave Hill examples of pilothouses that he liked. Hill describes its appearance as similar to a pilothouse on a Fred Wahl Marine Construction-built 50-foot crabber.
Though the yard's crew cut off and rebuilt the bow, they didn't add a bulbous bow. Hill says Hubbard was intrigued with the idea of putting one on but decided not to "because he fishes a lot of shallow crab line, and crab line does get caught on a bulbous bow."
Lengthening and sponsoning the Katrina gave her more deck area, some additional hold space and a lot more stability. "This is a Troyer boat," says Hill. "It's one of the few remaining ones, and all had a little trouble with stability and rolling-over issues. The owner was very fearful of his boat but finally got in a position to do something about it."
— Michael Crowley
A good oyster crop aids yards; Va. crew converts buoy tender
There seems to be a resurgence in Virginia's oystering that has benefits for both fishermen and boatyards. When the oyster season opened Oct. 3 on public oyster beds off the mouth of the Rappahannock River, 60 to 70 boats showed up the first day. They came from as far away as Tangier Island to work grounds that hadn't been harvested in several years.
A lot of those boats took advantage of the services of the nearby boatyards and marinas. Bubbie Crown of Crown Marine in Deltaville, Va., says he had 25 boat slips available and all were rented to oystermen.
Several other Deltaville boatyards are renting space to oystermen. "All these commercial oyster boats coming right here have helped us," says Crown. His boatyard also leases space to J&W Seafood, a local oyster buyer, and the boats in Crown's slips are selling at his dock.
Besides offering a spot to tie up, the boatyards were available on opening day when boats broke down and had to be hauled.
In one case, oysterman Terry Haydon of Millenbeck, Va., had shaft-coupling problems with his 38' x 12' Delta Dawn. Crown Marine hauled the boat and repaired the shaft in time for the Delta Dawn to be in the water for the second day of the season. By then there were about 80 boats dredging for oysters.
Oystermen are using 23-inch-wide dredges. Regulations allow no more than three men per boat and a daily limit of 10 bushels per man. "It's been a real good season for watermen so far," says Jim Wesson, Virginia's head oyster replenishment officer.
"We are opening up Area 2 off Sturgeon Bar in a couple weeks and there are more oysters there then were on Area 1. I think we are helping the watermen by managing the fishery so these oyster grounds get a couple years off to rebuild."
Better oystering has also given Cockrell's Marine Railway in Heathsville, Va., additional work. Cockrell's is converting a steel 46' x 16' former Coast Guard buoy tender and dive boat into an oyster aquaculture boat for Oyster Company of Virginia in North, Va.
Cockrell's painted the former buoy tender, overhauled its Detroit Diesel 6-71 main engine, welded new plating onto the deck, added four bilge pumps and a new Onan 6-kW generator, overhauled the hydraulics, and installed windows in the pilothouse. The boat came with a 10-ton deck crane that will be used for lowering and raising oyster cages.
As a "bridge" for watermen to become successful aquaculture farmers Oyster Company of Virginia created the oyster cage co-op program. "They are training commercial watermen to become oyster growers and equipping them with cages, oyster seed and other supplies to raise oysters on leased areas of the bottom," says Myles Cockrell of Cockrell's Marine Railway.
Oyster Company of Virginia was formed in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as a way to improve market share for Chesapeake Bay oysters. Founding members include representatives from the Virginia Watermen's Association, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Company.
Cockrell's Marine Railway had a couple of other projects going. One is repowering a rod-and-reel commercial tuna boat that will be fishing out of Virginia Beach, Va. The engine that went into the boat is a new 450-hp Cummins with a 2.5:1 ZF reduction gear and a 2 1/2-inch stainless steel shaft.
On a 43-foot wooden crab boat owned by Thomas Gaskins and built by Tangier Island boatbuilder Jerry Pruitt, Cockrell's installed a new gauge panel, caulked the bottom and did some deck work.
"Thomas plans to bring her back in the winter," says Cockrell. Then the boatyard will be making some major repairs to the boat's hull. — Larry Chowning
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