Written by Jen Finn
Builder's 45-footer is popular; boat races raise money for MS
One sure measure of success among fishermen is when they buy a lot of something you are building. By that standard, Provincial Boat and Marine in Kensington, Prince Edward Island, has a winner with its 44' 11" x 14' 6" hull, which is referred to as a 45-footer.
"We've built 85 of them," says the boatyard's Gordon Campbell. The latest one is going to Earl MacLeod, a lobsterman on the island who knows a good thing when he sees it. This is the second 45-footer Provincial Boat and Marine has built for the local fisherman. He fished in the previous one for six or seven years before deciding on a new boat.
The two boats are identical except for the engine. The old boat had a 430-hp Cummins, while the boat under construction will have a 405-hp Cummins QSM11.
The QSM11 "is a bigger block engine and slower turning. He thought it would be a good, reliable, long-lasting engine, even though he doesn't keep the boats very long," Campbell says.
With the 430 Cummins, MacLeod's 45-footer topped out at 20 knots, so the new boat will probably be a little slower.
The solid fiberglass hull will have a small tank below deck, but most of the catch will be kept in a tank above deck.
In 1974 when Provincial Boat and Marine started building boats, the first ones out of the shop used a fair amount of wood that was fiberglassed over. Since then the boats have been 99 percent fiberglass — 1 percent wood — says Campbell.
Take the deck on the new lobster boat. It's quarter-inch solid fiberglass that's supported by a mixture of longitudinal and transverse crosspieces made up of 2-inch foam that is then covered with fiberglass.
The foam is "cut to shape, glassed over and then put in the boat and trimmed to fit whatever height the deck is going to be," Campbell says. Then it is glassed to the hull and the bottom of the deck.
Above the deck everything is solid fiberglass except the cabin top, which is a cored structure.
Down along the Maine coast, the last lobster boat race of the 2010 summer season was held in Portland. It's been 24 years since that town's waterfront has heard the shrill screaming of lobster boat engines on steroids, and this year's races were not a disappointment. "They went well, and we helped raise over $10,000 for multiple sclerosis," says Jon Johansen president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association. "A lot of race winners gave up their prize money for the cause," he noted.
The big news was that Alfred Osgood's Starlight Express, a Northern Bay 36 hull with a Mack pushing more than 900 horsepower and carrying four turbos, twice broke her own record for working lobster boats of 58.5 mph, set at the Stonington races.
In Portland's fastest lobster boat race she hit 58.7 mph and later in the diesel free-for-all pushed it up to 58.9 mph. Otherworldly forces must have been helping Starlight Express that day because Johansen says Osgood "wasn't pushing it. He can't go over 3,000 rpm, something to do with the water pump, and he didn't want it broken because fishing is good."
As usual, Galen Alley's Foolish Pleasure won all her races. Her only possible competition was Thunderbolt, a South Shore 30, but Thunderbolt didn't begin to match up with the 2,000-plus horsepower in Alley's boat. Foolish Pleasure loafed through her two races, never getting above 59.2 mph, after setting the record at 68.1 mph in Harpswell.
And Underdog, whose engine was being rebuilt for most of the season at a speed shop failed to show up for the last races of the season. Supposedly the alcohol-fueled engine was running but it never made it into the boat in time for the races.
The major questions for next year's racing season are can Foolish Pleasure be beat, will she break 70 mph and what boat would beat her? Thunderbolt appears to be out of the running, which at this point leaves Ellery Alley's Underdog. — Michael Crowley
Shop builds first bowpicker; a gillnetter design is shared
Bay Welding Services in Homer, Alaska, will be building its first Prince William Sound gillnetter this winter. "We've done a lot of retrofitting jobs over the years, but this is the first one we've built start to finish," says the boatshop's Eric Engebretsen.
The high-speed bowpicker is a Bay Welding Services design that Engebretsen says would be successful with "a pair of smaller jets in the 8- to 10-inch [impeller] class with gas or small diesel engines. You could also run it with a single bigger jet in the 14- to 18-inch class and a 500-hp diesel."
If you are familiar with the boatshop's 19-foot seine skiffs, you'll probably see some similarities between the skiffs and the 32' x 11' gillnetter hull. That's because the bowpicker will share characteristics with the seine skiff. "The skiff is a high-speed proven design. There are some limitations, but the concept works well," Engebretsen says.
In early September, Engebretsen and the boat's owner were still working out what kind of jet is going into the boat and whether it will be gasoline or diesel powered.
Bay Welding Services will also be building a couple of seine skiffs this winter that will be outfitted with water jets. The skiffs will be identical to the 19-footer that was completed early this summer with a Traktor Jet 381HH from North American Marine Jet.
"That was the first installation in the fishing industry for our smaller 15-inch jet," says North American Marine Jet's Jason Hill. It was hooked up to a 305-hp Cummins QSB. The skiff hit 33 mph and had a bollard pull of 3,400 pounds.
In Freeland, Wash., Nichols Diversified Industries, a longtime builder of aluminum boats, was looking to get into the Bristol Bay gillnetter market but knew they needed a proven design.
So the boatshop turned to Sound Craft Marine in Burlington, Wash., and came up with a deal for Nichols Diversified Industries to build Sound Craft Marine's 32-foot sternpicker design.
"Sound Craft Marine has a successful design with Bristol Bay fishermen. They are backlogged to the point they couldn't keep up with the work, so we made an agreement where we bought access to their designs for both conventional power and jet drives," says Nichols Diversified Industries' Justin Nichols.
The initial intent was to build the 32' x 15' gillnetters on spec, but the demand was so great that two contracts for Washington fishermen have already been signed. One is for Harley Ethelbah of Redman, and the other is for John Mitchell of Bellingham.
Both boats will have Traktor Jets from North American Marine Jet. Ethelbah will use a single TJ 610HT with a 24-inch impeller powered by a 750-hp Isotta Fraschini diesel. Mitchell will have a pair of TJ 381HH jets with 15-inch impellers turned by two 330-hp John Deere diesels.
Nichols says these boats, along with one being built at Sound Craft Marine, are the first Sound Craft Marine designs with a 15-foot beam.
The aluminum hulls being constructed at Nichols Diversified Industries have 1/4-inch bottom and 3/16-inch side plating. There will be 11 1/2 degrees of deadrise in the after sections.
These are weight sensitive boats, and Nichols says the idea is "we want to carry more product and carry it fast." He figures the boats will weigh under 20,000 pounds and pack 16,000 pounds of salmon.
There will be some changes in the gillnetters' house structures from those that are being built by Sound Craft Marine. "I haven't met two customers that want to do it the same way," Nichols notes.
Both sternpickers will have stern rollers and 72-inch net drums, as well as refrigerated seawater systems in eight fish holds. The Canadian outfit Pacific West Refrigeration in Sechelt, British Columbia, is providing the 7.5-ton RSW units, which will run off a small Mitsubishi diesel.
While Nichols Diversified Industries isn't building Bristol Bay gillnetters on spec, it is looking into building seine skiffs on spec.
"Fishermen use a number of sizes, so we've been interviewing fishermen to find out the best size. We'll build them and stock them," Nichols says. At this point he is thinking a 20-footer would be a good place to start. — Michael Crowley
Fishery regs affect boatyard; a skipjack gets major repairs
Smith's Marine Railway of Dare, Va., was busy hauling wooden scallopers and ocean trawlers in the spring, but since then things have slowed down.
Tim Smith, the boatyard's manager, says the economy is forcing commercial fishermen and recreational wooden boat owners to wait longer between haul-outs, which is impacting his business. "They don't have the money to haul out regularly," he says.
On the other hand, because Smith's Marine Railway works exclusively on wooden boats, and workers with the skills to repair wooden boats aren't available at every boatyard like they once were in the Chesapeake Bay region, the boatyard was picking up some new business.
"This spring, we had three yards, besides our own, needing our services. Sometimes all they needed was a caulker, but they don't have the skilled people to do it right," says Smith.
Smith's Marine Railway is also being affected by governmental regulations limiting the use of larger wooden boats. The state of Maryland stopped their oyster-seed program this year, and limited entry into the Atlantic day-scallop fishery, with a 400-pound limit per day, has resulted in some permits being pulled.
The New England Fishery Management Council regulates the Atlantic scallop fishery, and in 2007 it became a limited-entry fishery. Tougher regulations have caused some of the recent entries into this fishery to lose their licenses, says Deirdre Boelke, sea scallop fishery analyst with the New England council.
Wooden boats used in Maryland's seed-planting program were 55 feet and over. The day-scallop fishery has boats from 40 to 72 feet long.
"Two [day scallopers] we serviced regularly no longer have licenses," says Smith. "We did haul both of them this spring, but I doubt they will be coming back unless they can find work." The boats were 68 and 76 feet, he says.
Smith's Marine Railway still has the buy boat Mobjack for sale. The boatyard took possession of the boat after repair bills weren't paid. The 72' x 24' 6" x 3' 5" Mobjack is the largest buy boat in Chesapeake Bay.
In southern Maryland, Benji Goddard is making structural repairs to the skipjack Dee of St. Mary's, which was built in 1979. His cousin and the boat's builder, Francis Goddard, is supervising the job. When the Dee of St. Mary's was built, she was the first commercial skipjack constructed on Maryland's Western Shore in 25 years.
The work includes replacing 12 feet of the keel with three laminated sections of 4-inch-thick by 12-inch-wide fir planks, installing a fir sister keelson, putting new fir staving in the bow and white-oak bracing under the bowsprit. The skipjack has also been refastened with 5,000 galvanized screws.
The Dee of St. Mary's is 56' x 20', has a 76-foot mast and a 56-foot boom. She carries about 2,600 square feet of sail with a hull speed of roughly 10 knots.
The skipjack was used in Maryland's oyster-dredge fishery. Jack Russell, her owner and a commercial fisherman, now uses the boat for educational purposes with the non-profit group Chesapeake Bay Field Lab.
Russell takes students out on the bay to promote the conservation of the bay's watershed and to give students lessons in how commercial fishermen dredge for oysters.
In August, Atlantic Metal Products of Topping, Va., launched a 50' x 16' aluminum oyster barge for planting oyster seed and spat and setting and hauling oyster cages.
Cowart Seafood in Lottsburg, Va., had the boat built to work private oyster grounds on the Potomac River, as well as other areas of the bay. She was recently launched in Deltaville, Va., to determine her waterline mark. The barge was then taken out of the water and set up on stands. A crew from Ampro Shipyard in Weems, Va., came over to Deltaville to sandblast and paint the barge's bottom and install a keel cooler.
After the bottom was painted, the barge was towed over to Ampro Shipyard. The crew there was scheduled to install the engine and hydraulics, set up a deck crane, and do some interior work on the pilothouse. — Larry Chowning
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