Written by Jen Finn
Father, son get a combo boat; 24-footer goes to the builder
It was a slightly overcast day when the Susan Lynn started gathering speed, lifting easily and slicing her way across Winter Harbor, running toward that part of the harbor where one of Maine's lobster-boat races will be held this summer.
The Susan Lynn is a Calvin Beal 36 that had been rolled out of Sargent's Custom Boats in Milbridge the day before, put on a trailer and hauled to Winter Harbor for sea trials. She hit 23 1/2 knots, pushed by a 500-hp Cummins QSC8.3 diesel that is matched up with a ZF 305A marine gear with a 2:1 reduction and a 26" x 28" Michigan four-blade wheel on a 2-inch shaft.
The Susan Lynn won't be running down any Maine racecourse this summer, not with a home port of Provincetown, Mass., where her owners, Shawn and Chris Costa (a father and son team) will be using the boat for lobstering and tuna fishing.
For tuna fishing, she has a slide-out door built into the transom to haul fish aboard. And since the Costas will be rod and reel fishing, there's no tower. A trap rack on the port side and a 14-inch hauler identify her as a lobster boat.
Sargent's Custom Boats finished off the Susan Lynn, which came to the Milbridge boatshop as a bare hull and molded top from SW Boatworks in Lamoine, Maine.
The Susan Lynn has a solid fiberglass hull and a platform made up of 3/4-inch plywood covered with fiberglass. Sargent's Custom Boats builds its support structure for the platform a little differently than some other boatbuilders.
Instead of running posts up from stringers to support the platform framing, hull stringers are extended up to the underside of the platform, notched out for 2 x 4 framing, and then everything is bolted together.
"It's like a grid work under the floor. It makes everything very rigid," says the boatshop's Joe Sargent.
That's the way it was done on the Susan Lynn. An option Sargent's Custom Boats offers is to go with complete composite construction that uses Divinycell foam core with fiberglass on each side. Framing isn't required as the Divinycell cored stringers are run up to and fiberglassed to the composite platform.
In South Bristol, Peter Kass at John's Bay Boat Co., the last full-time builder of wooden lobster boats in Maine, has been spare-time lobstering from a skiff these past 16 years. Lately he's been thinking about upgrading to something along the lines of one of the 42-foot lobster boats he builds.
So he carved himself a half-model, drew up some lines based on it, and this June or July he (along with his wife, Nina, who has been helping build the boat) should launch the Joanna A.
The 24' x 8' x 30" cedar-planked and oak-framed boat, which was named after his daughter, harkens back to Maine lobster boats of 50 years ago. "It's a lot narrower than today's boats, and I wanted it to look sort of old. It's pointier, doesn't have the flare we usually have in our boats, has more tumble home and is shoaler," Kass says.
But not quite shoal enough for Kass, who as a skiff fisherman, likes to set traps in little niches along the shore where bigger boats can't go. But he wanted to swing a four-blade wheel, and the smallest he could get was 18 inches. That pretty much pushed him down to a 30-inch draft.
A low-horsepower diesel and the 18-inch wheel will give the boat a speed just below 10 knots.
As small as she is, the Joanna A is a rugged little boat with a 4-inch-thick keel, 1 7/8" x 1" oak frames and 7/8-inch planking. The trunk, washboards and planking at the hauling station will get a layer of fiberglass to reduce maintenance.
Normally Kass builds his boats with a caulked fir deck, but the Joanna A's deck is built with iroko, a hardwood from Africa that Kass describes as "poor-man's teak."
"My exotic-wood dealer wanted me to try it. I told him it wasn't in the budget, but he made me a deal," Kass says. — Michael Crowley
Upgrading Bristol Bay boats; 130-footer now sports a bulb
This winter wasn't unusual for Petrzelka Bros. in Mount Vernon, Wash. The boatshop was jammed with salmon gillnetters, some being built and some rebuilt. Three Bristol Bay aluminum stern pickers were in for major modifications, and two bare hulls were finished off for Alaska's Copper River fishery.
The Bristol Bay boats received new refrigerated seawater systems. For one of the boats RSW was an upgrade from an existing RSW unit. It was a new form of refrigeration for the other two.
"Put in RSW, and you need to upgrade the hydraulics considerably," says the boatyard's Jon Petrzelka.
The addition of RSW means there's a good chance the fish hold needs to be reconfigured, which happened with these gillnetters. And that leads to moving the fuel tanks — installing new tanks in this case. And to get at the fuel tanks and fish hold, the deck has to be removed.
"One thing leads to another and basically you end up with a rebuilt boat from the cabin back," Petrzelka says.
One of the new boats for the Copper River was built using a new aluminum 32-foot hull from Hard Drive Marine in Bellingham, Wash. The second was built on a 30-foot fiberglass hull from Jetliner Marine that Petrzelka guesses is 20 years old.
"She had been a bowpicker and the guy had gutted it. The mechanical stuff was worn out and the configuration of the deck and stuff was not to his liking," says Petrzelka.
Both boats got new engines matched up with water jets. For the Jetliner hull it was a pair of 300-hp diesels matched up with Doen 10-inch water jets. The 32-footer from Hard Drive Marine got a pair of 375-hp Yanmar diesels and 12-inch Hamilton water jets. Both boats will be in the 37-knot range.
The work at Petrzelka's reflects the fact that older Alaska gillnetters are being replaced or upgraded. "They've been through a dry spell but things are picking up a little the past few years. They are making a little money and replacing the worn-out stuff," Petrzelka says.
He thinks that boatbuilding activity will continue. Already fishermen have signed up to have new boats built in 2011 at Petrzelka Bros., and people are talking about boats for 2012.
The 130-foot crabber Patricia Lee was hauled out at Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Ore., to have a bulbous bow added. The house-aft 30-year-old boat was built at Bender Shipbuilding and Repair in Mobile, Ala.
The boat's owners wanted a bulb "to adjust the trim in certain loading conditions where she was bow down. The bulb will bring her up, and there will be some savings in fuel," says Jonathan Parrott of Jensen Maritime Consultants, which designed the bulb. The bulb might also help reduce ice buildup.
While the Patricia Lee was in for the bulb, the yard crew built two new tail shafts for the twin-screw boat, says the boatyard's Mike Lee. They also worked over the rudder tubes.
Another Bender-built boat, the 85' x 22' crabber Echo Belle, was hauled out to have her old pipe coolers cut off and replaced with new keel coolers. "The 3-inch pipe had been on there forever," Lee noted.
Besides working on those two boats and doing a "brisk" business of haul-outs and paint jobs on boats gearing up for a new fishing season, the crew at Fred Wahl Marine Construction has been building a 48-footer on spec. "We haven't advertised her, but the hull is almost welded out, and we may even start a 58-footer," Lee said at the end of March.
The 48-footer is based on the 48' x 18' x 7' 3" Cascade the boatyard built for Dungeness crabbing and tuna fishing in 2009. She easily packed 165 Dungeness crab pots (see "Back to basics," NF Oct. '09, p. 24).
About the time the Patricia Lee was being finished up, the boatyard also completed a 92-foot tugboat with a 3-foot 9-inch draft that will be working the rivers of western Alaska, as well as the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. — Michael Crowley
Watermen get a new boatyard; Restored log boat is launched
The owners of Chesapeake Marine Railway on Fishing Bay in Deltaville, Va., are now operating a second boatyard in nearby Urbanna. The Farinholt brothers — Rick, Jon, and Lee — took over the boatyard and buildings that were occupied by two companies, Cameron Marine Service and Catman Catamaran — a builder of high-end catamarans — and named their new boatyard Urbanna Boat Works.
This is particularly good news for commercial watermen because Urbanna Boat Works provides fishermen on Virginia's western shore with another place to bring their boats.
Chesapeake Marine Railway has an experienced work force that can be utilized at the Urbanna yard, which is just 20 miles away. "Our philosophy is going to be to move staff where the need is to work on boats," says Jon Farinholt. "We can also move the boat to the need, either Urbanna or Deltaville."
Urbanna Boat Works has a 40-ton travel lift for hauling boats, while the Deltaville yard has multiple marine railways, with a maximum capacity of 300 tons. They can haul boats up to 120 feet long and with a maximum beam of 26, service up to four boats on the railways, and one of the railways leads into a building.
Cameron Marine Service allowed watermen to work on their own boats. The Farinholts plan to continue this practice. "We have a strong connection with commercial fishing boats at our Deltaville yard and we know about their needs," says Farinholt.
In April, Chesapeake Bay clammer and charter-boat captain Chris Deal had his boat, the wooden 42-foot Charlotte D, at Urbanna Boat Works. He is working on the boat himself, partially replacing toe rails and washboards. Fir was used for the washboards and salt-treated wood for the toe rails.
"The Urbanna location is very convenient for me," says Deal, whose boat is moored on Robinson Creek, just a short distance from Urbanna Boat Works. "If I have to go to Deltaville to work on my boat and forget something, I have to come all the way back here."
"We know how important it is for watermen like Chris to have a place that will haul his boat in a timely manner," says Farinholt. "We don't necessarily encourage everyone to work on their own boats, but we know watermen are fighting a time frame to get their boats back in the water to go to work.
"With a recreational boater, you never know when the work will be complete on the boat, and that can tie up valuable space for long periods of time," he says.
Down at the Chesapeake Marine Railway in April, the F.D. Crockett was on a railway receiving final touches before sea trials. The buy boat, with a hull built of logs, is in its final stages of restoration by volunteers at the Deltaville Maritime Museum in Deltaville.
Project director and boatbuilder John England and others took the boat out for sea trials in Chesapeake Bay on April 22. The boat has been refitted with a Detroit Diesel 6-71 Gray Marine engine, rated for 120 horsepower. The F.D. Crockett ran smoothly through the seas and cruised at 9.5 knots at 1,500 rpm.
Poquoson builder Alex Gaines built the F.D. Crockett in 1924 with assistance from John Franklin Smith of Smith Marine Railway, in Dare, Va. Smith Marine Railway is still in operation.
The 55' 8" x 15' 7" x 4' 6" hull was built from nine logs at the end of Chesapeake Bay's log-boat building era. The low-sided F.D. Crockett worked particularly well in the oyster and crab-dredge fisheries, and as the fisheries grew in the 1920s, so did the demand for large log-hulled boats.
The F.D Crockett is one of only two log boats left in the bay region. The other one, the Old Point, is owned by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. The Old Point was restored recently at the museum's railway and is a featured attraction there.
The Deltaville Maritime Museum volunteers, called Crocketteers, who worked on the F.D. Crockett's restoration, logged more than 7,000 hours on the project. — Larry Chowning
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