Written by Jen Finn
Cored hull keeps boat quiet; N.H. builder has fast 21-footer
At Beal's Boat Shop in Milbridge, Maine, the mold for a Beal 33 lobster boat was being waxed up at the end of December in preparation for laying up a hull. In another part of the shop, the crew was laying up a Beal 38. Calvin Beal Jr., of Beals Island, Maine, designed both models.
The 33-footer is for Jimmy Beal, the boatshop's owner, who fishes in the summer. The 38-footer is going to Brian Eaton, a lobsterman in Stonington, Maine.
Beal is known for not staying with a boat for a long time. "The 33-footer is an upgrade. I sell my boat every couple of years and build a new one. I just like a new boat. Then you don't have any breakdowns."
The new boat comes with an upgrade in power for Beal. It will have a 560-hp Iveco diesel hooked up to a ZF 280 marine gear with a 2:1 reduction. The old 33-footer, the Uptown Girl, had a Cummins with 355 horsepower.
Not a lot of lobster boats are built with a cored hull that goes just to the waterline. Fewer yet are built with the core material running all the way to the keel, but that's how Beal is building his boat, using half-inch balsa for the core material. "It's going all the way down. It makes for a stiffer boat and a quieter boat," he says.
Core material will also be used throughout the rest of the boat.
In the spring of 2009, Beal's Boat Shop built a 38-footer for local lobsterman Josh Beal with a deck coating of Phillyclad for a nonslip surface.
That's the first time the crew at Beal's Boat Shop had used a deck coating with a heavy texture like Phillyclad's. But Jimmy Beal says he is thinking of using something like that for his new boat.
"It may be similar and may be a Rhino coating," he notes.
Eaton's boat will have a solid fiberglass hull and a split wheelhouse.
Below the deck will be a couple of lobster tanks. Her main engine will be a 660-hp Caterpillar.
Both boats are due to be delivered by June.
Beal has built a couple of 23-foot kit boats, and one of them is for sale. "I was building it for myself to take to Florida, but with two boats to build, I don't have time to go to Florida," he says.
And there might be more to build, as he says, "There's been a lot more inquiries about having boats built than there was before."
If fishermen are looking for a 30-foot lobster boat, a new model will be available later this year at SW Boatworks in Lamoine, Maine. Calvin Beal Jr. is building a 30' x 12' x 11' 6" (transom) plug for SW Boatworks to build a mold from.
Like all of Beal's designs, this one is based on a wooden half-model that he carved. The boatshop's Stewart Workman describes the model as "sweet" and says if everything goes as planned, they can start building boats by this summer.
In 1981 Carmen Carbone started Eastern Boats, a builder of fiberglass boats, in East Rochester, N.H. In 1993, he left the business, selling it to Bob Bourdeau.
Now Carbone is back in the boatbuilding market as Surfside Boats in the same place he started with Eastern Boats, East Rochester.
For now, Carbone is focusing on a couple of models. There's a 21-footer — using a Pointer 21 mold — that Carbone has been selling with a center console, but now you can get with a small trunk cabin and open pilothouse. "It's like the Eastern 22 lobster boat," he says.
This is a hull that does move out. Surfside Boats is also an OEM for Mercury Marine outboards, and with a 60-hp, four-cylinder, four-stroke Mercury Bigfoot outboard strapped to the 21-footer's transom, the boat hits 26 mph. And that, says Carbone, is with four adults aboard the boat.
"Everybody overpowers their boat, but I wanted to prove that that kind of speed can be done with a 60-hp Merc," he says.
Surfside Boats also has a 35 Bruno & Stillman mold that you can get a traditional full-keel hull out of or an insert can be put in the mold to build a 31- or 32-footer.
Remove the keel, and it would make a good outboard-powered boat, Carbone says.
— Michael Crowley
Boatyard does its first thruster; gillnetter features raised house
This fall, fishermen have been lining up for repair work at Platypus Marine in Port Angeles, Wash. "It's the best fall we've ever had," says the boatyard's Bruce Bryant.
A lot of this work has come from fishermen who have been putting off normal maintenance and upgrades. "But now guys have done really good this year, and they are spending some money," Bryant says.
Take the Perseverance as an example. The fiberglass 58-foot seiner was hauled out at Platypus Marine to have a bulbous bow built onto her forefoot, a complete paint job, some fiberglass work, fuel-tank repairs and an item that was a new installation for Platypus Marine. When she went back into the water on Dec. 13, inside the new bulbous bow was a 70-hp thruster from Keypower Equipment.
"That's the first time we've done a bow thruster" built into the bulbous bow, says Bryant. Because of the position of the thruster, it should provide a tremendous improvement for the Perseverance's maneuvering ability.
But it is an expensive addition — $30,000 to $40,000 by the time the thruster is hooked up and ready to run — which is the reason Bryant figures more fishermen haven't put a thruster in a bulbous bow.
That said, another 58-footer, the Angelette, is scheduled to arrive at Platypus Marine to get a bulbous bow with a thruster mounted inside it.
Platypus Marine has installed three bulbous bows on fishing boats since October 2010 and has three more boats due in — including the Angelette — for retrofitted bulbs. That's a total of 15 bulbous bows that Platypus Marine has installed, which definitely makes the boatyard a place to go to if you're in the market for one. It's especially true if you've got a 58-foot fiberglass limit seiner of the Delta variety.
All but one of the bulbs — on a steel boat for a guide in Alaska — has gone on commercial fishing boats, and all but two of the boats have been 58-footers built by Delta Marine Industries in Seattle, once a well-known builder of fiberglass commercial fishing boats and now a builder of megayachts.
"All the fishermen talk about how bulbous bows improve a boat's seakeeping ability and save fuel. You can save up to 17 percent in fuel," says Platypus Marine's Charlie Crane.
In Bellingham, Wash., Edling Enterprises has an interesting project underway. It's a 32' x 16' gillnetter built on a hull from Master Marine in Bellingham that will allow the net to pass beneath an elevated flying bridge.
Most boats built in this style have the wheelhouse aft, but in this case it's forward, says the boatshop's John Edling.
The crew's quarters is down in the bow. Beneath the flying bridge, on the starboard side, is the enclosed nav station. On the port side is an enclosed stairway to the crew's quarter. The net passes between the two compartments.
There's a net roller on the bow and stern. The net reel is on a turret-like affair that can be spun around so the net can be set or hauled from either end of the boat.
The boat owner's previous gillnetter had a raised house at the stern, and even with twin 400-hp Cummins engines, the boat "got so heavy that it couldn't get up and go" when the net and fish were aboard, Edling says.
Moving the wheelhouse up to the bow on the new boat and keeping the engines aft balances out the weight.
And with twin 600-hp Scania diesels turning Whitewater Marine Corp. jets, this boat should be able to get up and go.
This isn't the first of these designs to come out of Edling Enterprises. Last year they launched two gillnetters with the forward raised house. They were for two brothers who had been king crabbing off Nome, Alaska, with a 32-footer built by Edwing Boats in Chinook, Wash.
When that crab market dried up, Edling took the boats into his shop, gutted them, replaced the gas engines and outdrives with diesels and jets, and rebuilt the boats, including the raised forward house.
— Michael Crowley
Multiple oyster skiffs are best; builder saves his older boats
This winter's oyster season has seen many Virginia watermen rigging up their blue-crab skiffs to work the state's oyster beds.
Watermen and brothers Tony and Thomas Lee Walton run separate seafood plants just down the road from one another in Urbanna, Va. Tony operates under the name Walton's Seafood — Tony Walton, while Thomas Lee's business is Walton Seafood. Both companies are family affairs and have small oyster shucking plants but over the years have targeted blue crabs more than oysters.
This year they are going strong after oysters. The two outfits are using several styles of skiffs to harvest oysters in the Rappahannock River. Tony Walton and his son, Brian, rigged up a 21-foot Carolina Skiff with a 40-hp Suzuki outboard. The boat tows a used 21-inch clam dredge with a winch powered by a 5-hp Honda "donkey" engine.
On the Chesapeake, the word "donkey" is an old fisherman's term that applies to both engines and skiffs. A donkey skiff is a boat that lacks an engine for propulsion but has an engine and winch to operate fishing gear. On the other hand, a separate engine for hauling back fishing gear on a boat with its own propulsion power is a donkey engine.
Tony's 21-foot Carolina Skiff has a 7-foot 9-inch beam. "We like it because it's an open boat that gives us a very stable platform and is plenty wide, giving us room to work and to haul payload," he says.
For years, Virginia watermen oystered mostly in 42-foot wooden deadrise workboats that towed large dredges. When the maximum dredge size was reduced to 21 inches wide and the catch limit was lowered to 10 bushels per man, watermen turned to boats that were smaller and more economical to run.
Thomas and his sons, Lee and Scott, have five outboard-powered crab skiffs for oystering, ranging in size from 20 to 25 feet. They work mostly out of two Carolina Skiffs but can also use a Sea Hawk and two Privateer boats.
"We like to work out of Carolina Skiffs, but when you get some wind, the Privateers and Sea Hawk have 'V' in the bow, which helps keep the boat steady," says Lee. "The boats also have a house so we can go inside to get warm.
"We don't miss many days because of weather. All of the boats are on trailers, so we can haul them daily to locations and off-load them near the oyster grounds. So if the weather is bad, we hitch up the Sea Hawk and the Privateer and leave the Carolina Skiffs and smaller Privateer at home."
Boatbuilder Willard Norris of Deltaville, Va., is in his 80s and still repairing and building wooden boats. Recently, he bought a 22-foot deadrise skiff that he built 15 years ago to fish for peeler crabs.
The owner died leaving the boat to his son, who sold the motor and left the boat up on shore. "I built her 15 years ago out of some really good juniper wood," Norris says. "She sat on the ground for a long time, so I had to replace the bottom and transom. I couldn't get juniper but I found some good spruce pine for the bottom."
Norris is going to install a console and add some other features and put the boat up for sale. "My knees have gotten so bad it's hard for me to get up and down in a boat," he says. "When I see one of my old boats for sale, I inquire about it because the boats I built 15 and 20 years ago were built out of good stuff.
"Even when they were not looked after exactly right, the wood was so much better then that the boats can withstand a certain amount of negligence," he says.
Norris is one of the last old-time builders of wooden boats in the Deltaville area, once known for being a center of wooden boatbuilding.
— Larry Chowning
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