Written by Jen Finn
Maine yard builds tuna boats; P.E.I. has Barbados connection
The boatbuilding pace continues to be pretty active at Wesmac, a builder of fiberglass boats in Surry, Maine. There is a tuna boat under construction, as well as sportfishing boats and a towboat for Sea Tow, the marine assistance outfit whose boats are usually colored a bright yellow. And Wesmac's Steve Wessel says he is negotiating with several potential boat owners, one of them is a West Coast fisherman.
If Wesmac's crew gets behind and boat owners start clamoring for their new boats, Wesmac does have a plan B. That's Billings Diesel and Marine in nearby Stonington.
That's what happened this past spring when things got jammed up in the boatshop and boat owners wanted to get their boats on the water.
"Billings gave me a heck of a boost," Wessel says. "They put the finishing touches on a couple of boats, got them sea-trialed and all the systems up and running. They got me caught up."
While Billings got those boats ready to go, it allowed the crew at Wesmac to concentrate on the boats under construction. One of those is a 42-foot tuna boat for Michael O'Reilly of Montauk, N.Y. The boat was about half finished in mid-September and should be completed this winter and launched in the spring.
"He's mostly going after bluefin tuna," Wessel says.
The boat has a large fish hold, measuring about 7' 6" x 4' x 3' with 4 inches of insulation. O'Reilly will be using ice to chill the fish, Wessel says.
This will be a rod and reel boat with numerous rod holders around the boat.
For power there will be an 835-hp Caterpillar C15. It will be on isolation mounts from Ace Mountings in South Amboy, N.J. Wessel says he uses these engine mounts on all his boats.
The 42-footer will also have a 9-kW Northern Lights genset to power a water maker and an ice machine to make freshwater ice.
Starting this winter, Wesmac will be building a 50-foot tuna boat whose owner sells directly to restaurants. Like the 42-footer, she will also have insulated fish holds, though there will be two in this case. And ice will be used to preserve the fish.
On Canada's Prince Edward Island, Provincial Boat and Marine in Kensington, recently sent a 45' x 14' 6" boat, to David Hood in Bridgetown, Barbados. She will be fishing for flying fish, mahi mahi and tuna.
The solid-fiberglass boat with a blue hull isn't a lot different from boats that Provincial Boat and Marine builds for local Canadian or American fishermen, except that from "the engine back to the steering gear, we lowered the deck as low as we could to make room for a fish tank," says the boatyard's Gordon Campbell.
The J. Alexander has a 430-hp Cummins diesel that pushes her to 20 knots.
Ten years ago, Provincial Boat and Marine sent a 42-footer to Barbados. A local fisherman saw the boat, liked it and eventually came to Prince Edward Island to have his own boat built.
That boat, like this one, was sailed from Canada to Bermuda, then to St. Martin and from there to Barbados. The same two men who delivered that boat showed up at Campbell's shop to deliver the J. Alexander.
"I told them, 'Next time don't wait so long before coming back,'" Campbell says. This time the trip took 11 days.
In mid-September, the crew at Provincial Boat and Marine started laying up another 45-footer for a local lobsterman. Campbell isn't sure what she will have for an engine, but it will probably be something in the 400-hp range.
In Lamoine, Maine, SW Boatworks has two spec boats for sale. One is a 38-foot Wesmac hull and the other is 36' x 13' 9" Calvin. The 36-footer came out of one of four molds SW Boatworks bought from Calvin Beal Jr. The other three are for 34-, 38- and 44-foot boats.
The Wesmac hull is one SW Boatworks' Stewart Workman purchased prior to buying the molds from Beal.
Workman says while business has been slow, he's gotten 30 or 40 calls lately.
"The stock market is coming back and people are thinking about buying boats," Workman says. — Michael Crowley
Oregon boatyard staying busy; troller to take passengers, too
It's been almost two years since Ray Cox bought Giddings Boat Works, located in Coos Bay, Ore. Almost immediately the boatyard's crew set to work modifying the 95-foot dragger Chellisa, the largest boat ever to go on the ways at Giddings Boat Works. And the pace hasn't slowed down since.
There might not have been a project as extensive as the Chellisa — which was sponsoned, got a new wheelhouse, gantry, main engine, new bow and whaleback and a Rapp-Hydema touch-screen hydraulic system — but there's no lack of boats showing up.
"We are busy. There are six to eight boats a month. All are fish boats," says Daryl Rodgers, the boatyard's general manager.
Some of the boats, like the 87' x 30' Last Straw, a Dungeness crabber and hake boat, had been hauled for a below-the-waterline sandblast and paint job. Others, like the Grumpy J, were in for more extensive work.
The Grumpy J, a West Coast hake and Dungeness crab boat that also fishes for cod in Alaska, picked up the ability to chase after another species when Giddings Boat Works added a double rig to set her up for West Coast shrimping.
That required modifying the cross trees on the mast to accept new outriggers, setting up new forward stays, mounting a shrimp hopper on the deck, along with a conveyor for the hopper.
In addition, openings had to be cut in the wave wall for the trawl wires to run out to the outriggers instead of running back to the gantry.
Due to show up the first part of October is the 95' x 26' Collier Brothers. She had previously been lengthened and repowered. The bigger main engine was too much power for the boat's 4 1/2-inch shaft. So when the boat is hauled at Giddings Boat Works, the shaft will be pulled and replaced with a new 5 1/2-inch shaft, along with all new bearings, stern tube, and packing gland, Rodgers says.
The Collier Brothers should be back in the water in about a month. After which she will be fishing hake out of Newport, Ore., and cod and pollock in Alaska. Then in the winter of 2010-11, the Collier Brothers is due back to Giddings for bow work and a bow thruster.
Down the coast in Fort Bragg, Calif., Van Peer Boatworks continues to work on a 70-foot steel boat for Harold Haynes of Ketchikan, Alaska. Set up as both a troller and a charter boat to carry up to eight people on weeklong trips to the islands and waters near Ketchikan, the Chasina Bay should be completed around February, which would make it a two-year building project.
Probably more stainless steel has gone into the boat than originally anticipated, which has helped push the completion date back. The stainless steel list is extensive. It includes the inside of the bulwarks, rail caps, companionway ladders, main fish hold, two refrigerated seawater holds, the trolling cockpit and the flying bridge.
The flying bridge has seating for passengers, and below it the tophouse is additional seating that will allow passengers to get out of the weather while keeping track of Alaska's marine and bird life.
When the boat is carrying passengers, a 700-pound capacity freezer will be removed and replaced with six kayaks, a large skiff and two rowboats.
To reduce noise and the boat's rolling motion, the 435-hp Lugger main engine will be isolation mounted, and the boat will have hydraulically operated stabilizers.
Of course, when the boat is trolling, those things will make life a lot more comfortable for the fishermen, and the accommodations area — a saloon and three separate staterooms, two with showers — will be a lot more plush than the crew of a fish boat is used to.
When the Chasina Bay leaves Fort Bragg, Van Peer Boatworks will start on a 58' x 25' purse seiner designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants in Seattle. With a ready market for new boats, especially 58-footers, some boatbuilders might think of expanding their boatyard to build two boats at once, but Van Peer is perfectly happy operating the way he does.
"I still like doing it one at a time," he says. — Michael Crowley
Watermen use museum's rails; oyster boat has new planking
Maryland commercial fishermen Floyd "Bunkey" Chance and John Hambleton, both of Bozman, recently purchased the Chesapeake Bay buy boat Capt Woods from Gary Tull of Crisfield, Md. She was on the rails in August at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md.
The museum often allows watermen with traditional wooden boats to use their railway as part of the institution's cultural preservation philosophy.
Lepron Johnson built the Capt Woods in 1923 at his railway in Crittenden, Va. She was originally named the Myrtle Virginia. Captain Lep, as he was called around the Chesapeake Bay region, was one of a very few Virginia deadrise boatbuilders who lofted his boats on a large lofting platform and steam bent the planking that ran from stem to stern. Most bay builders worked out the shape of a boat visually, or "rack-of-eye" as it was called, and cross-planked the bottoms of their boats.
The Capt Woods is 62' 6" x 19' 1" x 4' 4" and was used in Maryland's oyster seed planting program that started in August. For 30 years, Chance and Hambleton have worked in Maryland's blue-crab trotline fishery and patent-tong oyster fishery.
"We bought the boat because we are looking for other ways to continue to work the water," says Chance. "We keep looking for ways to keep going because every year we hope the business will turn around."
The boat is one of only a few large wooden deadrise buy boats being used in a commercial fishery. More than 1,000 buy boats were built between 1900 and the 1960s. About 40 are left, and most have been converted to yachts.
Chance and Hambleton renailed the bottom of the Capt Woods, took off several side planks and replaced them with new pine planks. The hull and bottom were painted. "She hasn't worked in the seed program in four seasons, and we basically needed to tighten her up with new nails and make sure her bottom was fit," Chance says.
While the Capt Woods was getting ready for the oyster season, the sail-powered skipjack Caleb W. Jones was next to it, as her new owner is getting her ready for a new phase in her life.
The boat is being rebuilt by Mike Vlahovich of Coastal Heritage Alliance, a non-profit educational organization in St. Michaels dedicated to, according to its Web site, "the preservation and advancement of commercial fishing family cultural heritage." The new owner of the skipjack is Michael Sullivan of Mount Victoria, Md. He has been a strong supporter of the alliance, says Vlahovich.
Vlahovich started the non-profit organization several years ago when the state of Maryland stopped funding the restoration of skipjacks. (See "Restoring the future" NF May '08, p. 28.)
After being restored at the museum, the Caleb W. Jones will be used for educational purposes, says Vlahovich. C.H. Rice in Reedville, Va., built the Caleb W. Jones in 1953.
Two other Maryland skipjacks the Coastal Heritage Alliance has restored are the Martha Lewis in Havre de Grace, and the Stanley Norman in Annapolis.
In addition, the alliance is doing preservation work in Alaska and the state of Washington. One of the projects was the complete restoration of the Shenandoah, a 65-foot salmon purse seiner out of Gig Harbor, Wash.
Restoring boats is just part of the mission of Coastal Heritage Alliance. With dockage space decreasing, the organization is working to secure dockside and mooring facilities for watermen where education and cultural presentations can be made.
Alvin Sibley, a builder of wooden boats, recently built a new bottom and installed a house and stern on an oyster boat for Ben Reynolds of Warsaw, Va., at Best Boatyard.
The boatyard is a relatively new facility on the Rappahannock River near Saluda, Va. Sibley put staving in the bow of the 26' x 7' wooden boat and then rebuilt the rest of the bottom.
The old staving was 3/4-inch-thick pine and the rest of the bottom was 1-inch pine. The wood that went back in was thicker 1 1/4-inch salt-treated pine for the staving and 1 1/4-inch wide-grain, short-needle pine planks for the rest of the bottom. "She's got nice lines, and with a thicker bottom, I think she will provide a more stable platform," says Sibley.
He also put in a new white-oak keel and shaped the stern with pine planks. Other work included a rebuilt shaft alley and new engine beds for a Chrysler inboard engine. — Larry Chowning
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