Written by Jen Finn
September 20, 2012
Fast 38-footer is fuel stingy;
lobster boat has Chinese crew
The Labella Vita — Italian for beautiful wife — doesn't waste much time getting out to the grounds and back at day's end. The 38-foot lobster boat cruises at 30 mph. Throw on 80 oversized 4-foot traps and the speed might drop to 28.5 mph. "I'm flying by most everybody," says Jeff Eaton, the boat's owner.
Eaton is also the Labella Vita's builder, finishing off the Northern Bay 38' x 13' 6" fiberglass hull from nearby Downeast Boats & Composites in Penobscot at his shop, Eaton's Boatshop & Fiberglassing in Deer Isle, Maine.
Outwardly, the biggest difference between Eaton's 38-footer and other Northern Bay 38s is the alterations he made to the trunk cabin and wheelhouse. "I lengthened out the trunk house and pulled everything back," he says. "I thought the trunk was a little short, and it didn't look quite right."
Eaton also reduced the height of the wheelhouse by 6 inches, and instead of the normal four windows across the front of the wheelhouse he went with three. For cold winter days, there's also radiant heat.
He coated the entire boat, inside and out, with Awlgrip. It's even under the rails. Awlgrip "doesn't yellow; gelcoat will over time. The finished spray is nice and shiny. It holds its luster and makes it real easy to clean up," Eaton says, listing the benefits of Awlgrip.
Back aft, under the 2-inch Nida-Core deck that is glassed on both sides, are two tanks that hold 1,100 pounds of lobster. There's also a clean-out well and beside it an LED tuna light in a through-hull fitting.
"On overcast days or running home at night in the winter I can see if I have anything in the wheel. Just turn the light on and it shines the prop and everything up," Eaton says.
Down in the engine room is a 750-hp Iveco that's matched up with a Twin Disc 5095 marine gear with a 1.5:1 reduction that spins a 28" x 32" wheel.
In case you are wondering how that 28-mph-plus speed affects Eaton's fuel bill, after a day of hauling traps the Labella Vita burned 51 gallons. A lobsterman who fishes in the same area as Eaton with a 500-hp Cat in a 38-foot Calvin told him that he burns 60 to 65 gallons. "You are doing it cheaper and blowing my doors off doing it," he told Eaton.
In Portland, the next-to-the-last race in Maine's lobster boat racing circuit took place Aug. 19. Like last year, 60-some boats showed up to raise money for the Maine Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The money is generated in three ways; a $20 entry fee goes into the pot, many of the winners in each race donated their prize money — $150 for 1st place, $100 for second and $50 for third place — and T-shirt sales make up the rest. The final tally wasn't in at press time, but it looks like the lobster-boat races produced between $5,000 and $6,000.
The fastest boat was Andy Johnson's Whistlin' Dixie, a Holland 40 with a 1,000-hp Caterpillar. She won her diesel class, the diesel free-for-all and the fastest lobster boat race with a top speed of 40 mph. However, from the standpoint of a group of about a dozen spectators the most interesting race of the day had to have been class-H diesel. That's for lobster boats 36 feet and over with 436 to 550 horsepower.
The spectators were Chinese journalists from Chinese and European publications that on this day in Portland all hitched a ride on the dominant class-H boat, Travis and Keith Otis' First Team, a Northern Bay 36 with a Sisu that's been boosted past its factory rated 410 horsepower.
The extra weight had an effect. "It was an interesting start — very slow. We were worried there for a moment," says Travis. But once she got up and running, First Team carried Travis and his Chinese crew first across the line. First Team normally hits in the low- to mid-30-mph range, but this day the crew-heavy lobster boat logged in at 29 mph.
What did the Chinese think of their time aboard a Maine lobster boat? "They loved it," says Travis. — Michael Crowley
There's a rush for 58-footers;
yard revisits fishing boat roots
Earlier this year, some boatbuilders were receiving more calls than usual from naval architects and fishermen who wanted to get a keel down and have construction started on a new boat before July 1. If you build a fishing boat 50 feet or over after that date, you will face new load-line and class standards that push the price up.
Hockema & Whalen Associates in Seattle, is one such outfit. "We had a little rush for that reason [the July 1 deadline]," says Hal Hockema. That "little rush" resulted in six 58-footers being built at boatshops in Seattle and Port Angeles, Wash.
Delta Marine, a Seattle boatyard that got its foothold in boatbuilding with fiberglass crabbers and seiners before switching to the high-end yacht market, is building one of the boats. Since 1992, the only commercial fishing boat Delta Marine has launched is the fiberglass 58-foot Sequel this past June.
She's for Steve Fenstra of Bellingham, Wash., who will use it for seining, pot fishing, crabbing and longlining.
Hockema & Whalen's 58-footer will be the first steel boat Delta Marine has built for commercial fishing, says the boatyard's Chris Jones. Though she will have a fiberglass superstructure.
Delta Marine's dip back into the commercial fishing market doesn't stop with those two boats. The boatyard is also building, on spec, a fiberglass 58-footer that's a sistership to the Sequel. She'll be available for spring delivery, Jones says.
Platypus Marine in Port Angeles has the lion's share of the deal with three of the 58-footers. All have steel hulls with aluminum wheelhouses.
One of them is a spec boat. The other two are for fishermen in Petersburg, Alaska. The boat that's furthest along has "one of the most impressive keels I've ever seen on a fishing boat," says the boatyard's Justin Huff.
The 2-inch-wide keel plate hangs 24 inches below the hull at its deepest point. Attached to the keel plate is a 5" x 14" keel shoe and then a 5" x 14" ballast block on the shoe. Both the keel shoe and ballast block run the length of the keel. That amounts to about 35,000 pounds of ballast.
There will be a 650-hp Cummins QSK19 main engine. Hockema figures the engine should burn about 11 gallons per hour. That figure might be improved on because the boat will be outfitted with a highly efficient Nautican nozzle with triple rudders.
She'll be used for purse seining, longlining, pot fishing and trawling in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.
Fishermen who don't want any publicity are building two more Hockema & Whalen 58-footers.
In Homer, Alaska, Freddy's Marine has a number of projects, including six fiberglass gillnetters for the Copper River salmon fishery and two fiberglass seiners. The gillnetters are the boatyard's Legacy 33 models. The 33-footers have a 10' 10" beam, which allows them to be trailered through the narrow Whittier tunnel on their way to and from Prince William Sound.
Building has just started on the gillnetters and Freddy Martushev, the boatyard's owner, expects the first to be finished in March 2013. "They'll probably be half and half diesel and gas, and most will have jet drives," he says.
The first seiner is for Rob Nelson a Prince William Sound fisherman. This is an older design — often called the Seaworthy Marine hull — that Freddy's Marine lengthened and widened to 58' x 20'.
Nelson's seiner will have twin John Deere 6125 diesels for power. She should be completed by the end of the year. The keel for the second seiner was completed prior to the July 1st deadline so she won't be affected by class and load-line regulations. This one is for Guss Linville of Seward, Alaska, who will use it in Prince William Sound.
At the beginning of the summer, Freddy's Marine built its first 32' x 14' gillnetter. This was for Frank Martushev, who will use the boat in both Cook Inlet and Bristol Bay.
The 32-footer has a pair of 610-hp Cummins QSM11 diesels. On her sea trials she hit 25.7 knots. — Michael Crowley
Builder designs for oystermen;
yard puts bay's watermen first
Larry Jennings of Jennings Boatyard in Reedville, Va., recently launched a flashy 30-foot fiberglass-over-plywood Chesapeake Bay deadrise that he hopes to sell to a bay oysterman.
For years Jennings has been building recreational boats, but the recent recession "kicked that business to the curb," Jennings says. At the same time he saw Virginia's commercial oyster landings increasing and a more concerted effort given to growing oysters in cages.
So rather than shut down the boatbuilding part of the yard, Jennings designed and built the 30-foot oyster boat on speculation. At the same time, he drew up comparable 40- and 50-foot designs for watermen interested in larger boats.
Jennings' new 30-footer can be used for harvesting oysters in the traditional manner, with hand tongs or a dredge, as well as with a crane to handle oyster cages.
The 30' x 10' x 2' 6" hull was built over a jig using 3/4-inch okoume plywood. The plywood was fiberglassed on the boatshop's floor before it was bent around the jig. "The boat is basically the same as the classic wooden deadrise boat except it's maintenance free," says Jennings.
The boat has a polished look with varnished wooden handrails on the pilothouse roof and on the cabin. There are two helm stations; one is on the starboard side for when the boat is oystering and another is in the pilothouse when the helmsman wants to get out of the weather.
Beneath the deck is a 210-hp Cummins 6-BT diesel, which frees up deck space for working and transporting oysters.
The 30-footer has traditional Chesapeake Bay features: plenty of beam, a wheelhouse and trunk cabin that are well forward, wide washboards, and ample deck space. However, below the waterline the deadrise extends farther aft than on older designs. "The sharp V [shape] aft helps the boat ride better," Jennings explains.
Jennings Boatyard is a diverse business. In addition to building boats, the yard has replaced a marine railway with a Travelift for hauling, rents boat slips, and has a large onshore storage space for trailered boats.
Jennings Boatyard used to be Rice's Marine Railway, not to be confused with E.C. Rice & Son Railway, located a little farther up Cockrell Creek. Rice's Marine Railway, which was started in the mid-1950s, built wooden boats, mostly for commercial fishermen.
The eighth annual Chesapeake Bay Buy Boat rendezvous was held at Crisfield, Md., on Aug. 3-4. On Aug. 1 most of the boats met at Park's Marina on Virginia's Tangier Island for a two-night stay before going on to Crisfield.
Approaching Tangier Island and the town of Tangier, the boats passed Pruitt's Boat Yard, owned by Jerry Pruitt.
In the slings of a Travelift was the Carol Marie, a 42-foot deadrise workboat. Pruitt and the boat's owner were working under the boat, cutting a crab-pot line away from the wheel.
Tangier Island is one of the few places on Chesapeake Bay where the town's livelihood still centers on harvesting seafood, and Pruitt's Boat Yard is a reflection of how life was on Chesapeake Bay when seafood was an important economic engine for Tidewater Virginia and Maryland.
Elsewhere on the bay it might take a couple of days to haul a workboat, thus losing valuable fishing time. The waterman might even have to go overboard to cut the line from the prop, which can take hours, but not on Tangier Island. The Carol Marie was quickly hauled and out of the water only about 20 minutes before going back in and heading out to the crab grounds.
"The boys can't afford to miss a good weather day out here," says Pruitt. "We try to look after one another. When they are towed in here with a line in their prop, we look at that as an emergency and we make time to remove that line so they can get back to feed their families."
Pruitt's Boat Yard burned in July 2010, as reported in the August 2010 issue of NF, but has since been rebuilt with a smaller boat shed. — Larry Chowning
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