National Fisherman


Purse seiner for a Jersey crew;
Nova Scotia allows 50-footers

In Surry, Maine, Wesmac completed the hull and deck of what will be a 54-foot purse seiner for New Jersey fisherman Dan Axelsson. "It will look like a lobster boat on the front part, but an old-time seine boat on the back part, with her transom rolled over so her net can come in easily without catching on something," says Wesmac's owner Steve Wessel.

With an 800-hp Lugger 6170 mounted over the engine beds, the kit boat was trucked about an hour north to Charger's Automotive and Marine in Steuben to be finished off.

In mid-August, the working platform and the accommodations area were being completed. The boat will have a galley, stove, sink and shower. It will sleep five, says Kevin Briggs, owner of Charger's Automotive and Marine, a business he started after working 18 years at John Williams Boat Co. on Maine's Mount Desert Island.

There is solid fiberglass where the deck equipment will be mounted. Otherwise, the deck is made up of Penske board, a high-density, glass reinforced urethane foam. The bottom of the Penske board is fiberglassed and then screwed down to the deck's framing, which is 4 x 4 fiberglass beams. Then fiberglass is applied to the top of the Penske board.

Prior to starting work on the seine boat, Charger's Automotive and Marine completed another Wesmac hull, a 46-foot lobster boat for Charles Kelley of Steuben.

After Wesmac sent the kit boat to Briggs, the boatyard still had plenty going on. The Wesmac crew is building a 42-footer that's going to Bermuda for fish trapping. The deck equipment won't be that much different from what's on a lobster boat: a hauler from Hydro-Slave Marine Equipment and an A-frame davit.

Another 42-footer is about one-third completed for David Piper, a Massachusetts lobsterman. Wessel says the boat "will be fancier than the normal lobster boat. He's going to fish in Massachusetts in the summer, and then he wants it so he can take it south to Florida in the winter. Inside she'll be a sleep-aboard and outside, a workboat."

For lobstering, the boat will have lobster tanks below the deck and a built-in rope locker to catch the line as it comes aboard. The sleep-aboard part of the deal requires a galley, head and shower. The split wheelhouse will make both the fishing and living-aboard lifestyles easier.

Across the Canadian border, Dixon's Marine Group 2000 in Lower Woods Harbor, Nova Scotia, was expected to start laying up hulls in its new 50' x 20' mold in October. The new hull combines characteristics of the displacement Novi lobster boat and Dixon's own semiplaning boats.

"It's a mixture of the bigger Novi that everyone is going with and our own semiplaning, smaller, faster boat," says Janine Goodwin, general manager at Dixon Marine Group.

Borrowing from a Novi design means the 50-foot hull will be a little deeper and a little fuller than if it were drawn strictly as a Dixon design.

"We hope to have a boat that pushes easier through the water so it burns less fuel," Goodwin says. She estimates the speed between 14 and 15 knots, which, she adds, "is unreachable for a big Novi boat."

One reason for Dixon's Marine Group to be building the 50-footer is because it is in Lobster Fishing Area 34, which lies between Digby and Shelburne, Nova Scotia, where, just a few months ago, a lobster boat was limited to a length of 44 feet 11 inches. That presented problems for lobstermen wanting to go farther offshore. They felt a boat of that size was too short to be safe, and they wanted a bigger boat to carry more gear.

One way around the restriction was to add a bolt-on 5-foot extension called a ducktail. That seemed to be accepted by the regulators as long as it wasn't in the water. But it didn't address the safety concern of needing the extension in the water, as opposed to having part of the boat just hanging above the ocean's surface.

After a lot of back and forth between the fishermen and the government, the two sides agreed the maximum length of lobster boat hulls in Lobster Fishing Area 34 would be 49 feet 11 inches with the rudderpost no more than 44 feet 11 inches from the stem.

Goodwin thinks one effect of the new ruling will be narrower boats. "There were some 44-footers with 27-foot beam, and that's damn near square," she says. — Michael Crowley


Calif. yard rolls out crabber;
multipurpose boat for Alaska

Van Peer Boatworks in Fort Bragg, Calif., was scheduled to launch a 63' x 24' 6" steel boat on Sept. 29. The boat was built for Dennis Sturgell of Hammond, Ore., who will use it for Dungeness crabbing and pot fishing for blackcod, off the California, Washington and Oregon coasts.

This is a sistership to a boat that was launched in February 2006, the Jes An. Jensen Maritime Consultants in Seattle designed both of the crabbers; both boats have a 640-hp Cummins KTA19-M3 for power, a pair of 120-kW John Deere generators, the same 5-inch shafting, as well as matching fish holds. The insulated holds are lined with stainless steel. The larger is 2,200 cubic feet, and the small one comes in at 1,500 cubic feet, says Chris Van Peer, the boatyard's owner. Behind the two fish holds is a 300-cubic-foot bait hold. The holds can be tanked down for crabbing, or fish can be kept chilled with a spray brine.

This is the second boat Van Peer has built since reopening his shop in 2005, after taking a five-year break from boatbuilding. And more boats will be coming out of the Fort Bragg yard, because once the 63-footer leaves Van Peer Boatworks, the boatyard's crew has two more steel boats to build for commercial fishermen. One of them is a 61-foot troller for an owner in Alaska, and the other will be a 52-foot Dungeness crabber for a fisherman in Washington.

Rozema Boat Works in Mount Vernon, Wash., is closing in on finishing an aluminum 55' x 17' multipurpose boat that the boatyard's Dirk Rozema describes as "one of the nicest boats we have built."

The 55-footer is being set up to longline for halibut, gillnet for salmon, carry 12 charter-fishing passengers and do charter work for fisheries research.

Designing and building a boat to fish commercially and to carry passengers has made this an interesting process, Rozema says. Before this project, Rozema Boat Works had not built a vessel that was designed to carry paying passengers and be rigged for commercial fishing. A boat certified by the Coast Guard for passenger use has to have all its systems approved. Add commercial fishing to the boat, and you add a lot more components that must meet Coast Guard standards.

"You are getting products that you don't normally have Coast Guard approval on, like refrigeration, and are making changes to hoses and piping, and you have a lot more systems on a fishing boat that you have to think about," Rozema says.

The boat will keep the salmon in refrigerated sea water and the halibut that are hauled aboard will be stored on ice. Instead of the usual seine boom and mast arrangement that a boat such as this might have, there's a knuckle boom on the stern and removable handrails around the deck; all are features that were added for fisheries research work.

The boat's original plans didn't call for her to be set up to run charters for fisheries research scientists. After construction began — but not so far into the process that major alterations had to be made — this fourth dimension was added to the boat's multipurpose role.

Instead of having a displacement hull, like the last two Rozema Boat Works–built commercial fishing boats, the crabbers Gail Force and Silver Fox, the new boat has a planing hull. But building a commercial fishing boat on a planing hull isn't new for Rozema Boat Works, as they have sent a number of gillnetters to Bristol Bay with planing hulls.

A pair of 660-hp C12 Caterpillar diesels should get the 55-footer up on a plane in fairly short order. Rozema estimates that in a ready to fish condition, the boat will have a top speed of 23 knots.

She will be fishing out of Homer, Alaska, and should spend most of her time in Cook Inlet.

Rozema Boat Works doesn't have contracts for other commercial fishing boats at the moment but is building a series of eight oil recovery barges and three oil-skimmer boats. — Michael Crowley


Va. crabbers net wood skiffs;
diversity is vital for Md. yard

Historically, small wooden skiffs have played a major role in Chesapeake Bay's commercial fishing industry, and there are still a few fisheries that support the building of wooden skiffs.

Albert Carlton of Urbanna, Va., builds a 15' x 4' 6" flat-bottom skiff that works well in the soft-shell crab fishery and is used to set up the poles and nets in the bay's pound-net fishery.

Carlton builds a strong, lightweight skiff that's just right for poling along the shore, as the fisherman searches for soft-shell crabs when peeler crabs aren't potting. Soft-shell crabs will occasionally go into pots, but when it's time to shed, they like to move into sea grass close to shore. Fishermen working from the skiffs move into the grass and use dipnets to catch the crabs.

Carlton's outboard-powered boats are just one of several types and sizes of skiffs used in the pound-net fishery. His boats are just the right size to be easily maneuvered to position the poles for the pound net. The poles themselves are driven in place from a larger boat.

He builds his boats upside down and over a form. The skiff's side planking is full-length spruce pine; spruce pine also is used for the cross-planked bottom. Carlton says he always uses full-length boards for side planking because strength is lost when planks are butted together, as that creates a seam.

The inside of the bottom planking is coated with Cuprinol No. 10 green wood preservative. He also coats all the end grain with Cuprinol. "Nothing keeps worms out of a board better than the Cuprinol," Carlton says. "I make sure every edge of wood in the boat is coated."

The knees in the bow and stern, and the stem and inner stem are all white oak. The sheer and bilge clamps are fir.

Carlton has been building boats for 25 years. He retired from the Coast Guard and moved to his childhood home on Robinson Creek, in Virginia. He went to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., and watched a boatbuilder build a skiff, and then he started building them himself.

In Weems, Va., Ampro Shipyard had the Frank & Maria on the rails. The 90' x 24' x 8' 6" scallop boat owned by Wanchese Fish Co., in Wanchese, N.C., was hauled for regular maintenance. That includes pressure-washing the bottom, applying a primer coat and two coats of International antifouling paint, removing wasted zincs and installing new ones, as well as painting the name and hailing port on the bow and stern.

Other work includes repairing a section of the rudder tubing, removing the wheel to have it reworked, replacing the sea-chest piping with stainless steel piping and fittings, repacking the stuffing boxes, sounding the hull plating from the waterline to the keel, and spot sandblasting the stern.

In Maryland, Evans Boats in Crisfield launched a 38' x 14' 6'' x 6' crab-pot and trotline boat for Baltimore fisherman Gary Wirtz in July.

The fiberglass 38-footer has plenty of power, as Wirtz installed three 250-hp Yamaha outboards. "She'll go 45 miles per hour and get him to the fishing grounds in a hurry," says Eugene Evans, the boatyard's owner and president.

Evans is also building two 38-foot charter boats. And construction has started on a seventh 43-foot patrol boat for the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, as part of the Homeland Security program. Cummins QSM11 engines, rated at 450 hp each, are powering the boats. An eighth patrol boat is under contract.

Showing an ability to diversify its customer base, Evans is sending a 38-footer passenger boat with twin Cummins engines to Disney Cruise Line in Florida.

One of the boatyard's newest projects is the addition of a 36' x 12' model to its line of fiberglass boats. "It's actually like my old 30-footer, but that mold was damaged in a fire. We rebuilt it, and I saw a need for a little longer boat, so we just added onto the mold," Evans says. Part of the new mold can always be closed off to bring the 30-footer back, he adds. The fire Evans refers to was on Thanksgiving 2005 at his Crisfield plant. — Larry Chowning

Inside the Industry

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has announced that Dr. Jon Hare has been selected to serve as the permanent science and research director effective Oct. 31.

Read more ...

It’s no secret that fraud is a problem in the seafood industry. Oceana repeatedly touts a mislabeling epidemic. While their method has been criticized, the perception of rampant fraud  has been established.

Read more ...
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