National Fisherman


Lobster boat gets more beam; Canadian boats big in Alaska

Late last fall, there was a meeting of boat owners who tie up their boats at the Cardinal Medeiros dock in south Boston. Steven Holler, a lobsterman from Quincy, Mass., who keeps his 42-foot November Gale at the dock, was attending the meeting and telling Chuck DiStefano, the owner of a charter boat, who also is good at making repairs to fiberglass boats, that he'd like to cut his wash rails back 7 inches to get enough deck space to carry 25 more traps. "It would be awkward, but I could do it," Holler said at the time.

"How'd you like 2 1/2 more feet?" DiStefano asked. Holler told him he'd let him know in a few weeks, after he'd tallied up how the season went. A few minutes later, he told him he'd let him know at the end of the meeting. The more Holler thought about the additional deck space, the more he liked the idea, and before the meeting was over, he told DiStefano, "Let's do it."

Holler's boat is a 42-footer, built 20 years ago by the Canadian boatyard Provincial Boat and Marine in Kensington, Prince Edward Island. The November Gale had a maximum width of 13 feet 3 inches, but at the stern it had an interior beam measurement of just 7 feet 6 inches. Holler's father had the boat built when "lobstermen were only working about one mile offshore. Now, you go further out, carry more gear and need a better weather boat," Holler says.

Of course, Holler had the option of buying a bigger boat, "but I'd have to sell my boat, and the market is flooded with boats," he says. Thus, DiStefano and Holler set to work. Instead of widening the whole hull, they only wanted the additional space at the deck level. So from the point of maximum beam, which is just aft of the hauling station, they cut the bulwarks free of the hull, with the saw blade just skimming the top of the deck.

Then the sides were pulled away from the hull, until the transom's interior beam increased to 10 feet 3 inches. Struts went in between the hull and bulwarks to maintain the shape, and then the area was fiberglassed over.

Holler's uncle, Chuck Holler, had the same work done on his Provincial-built lobster boat and managed to get in a couple of trips before Holler's boat was completed. Based on how his uncle's boat handled, Holler was eager to get back fishing.

"The boat was very tippy when you take a wave broadside. If you see a wave coming, you have to put the stern or bow into it to take the wave. He doesn't bother now; the stability of the boat is incredible," Holler says.

Six other fishermen at the Cardinal Medeiros dock also have older Provincial-built boats. Holler figures if his boat's performance is as good as his uncle's, they all will have their boats modified.

Last November, the Canadian boatbuilder Millennium Marine in Escuminac, New Brunswick, had a booth at Seattle's Pacific Marine Expo and trucked the newly built 52-foot Fishin' Magician to the show to deliver it to its owner, Ken Christensen of Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Another Alaska fisherman, Alex Kuzmin, was at the show, saw the Fishin' Magician and liked it well enough to sign up with Millennium Marine for a new boat.

However, Kuzmin's boat is a lot different from Christensen's. The beam was moved out from 16 feet to 20 feet; the sheer line was raised by 20 inches; and the built-up superstructure towers above the Fishin' Magician's single-level pilothouse and cuddy-cabin arrangement. In the stern, instead of a single engine, a pair of 263-hp Deutz diesels is bolted to engine mounts.

Access to the engine room is available from a deck hatch or down a passageway from the captain's quarters on the port side. (There's a sauna on the starboard side.) The 23-foot passage is 32 inches wide, has standing headroom and passes between two insulated fish holds.

The engine is located in the stern because if the fish holds had been located there, the boat would have "squatted too much," says Cory Guimond, president of Millennium Marine.

Kuzmin will fish for crab, halibut and cod. Because of the boat's 20-foot beam, it can't be trucked to the West Coast. So sometime in September, Kuzmin will head down the east coast of Canada and the United States, cross the Gulf of Mexico, go through the Panama Canal and then head to Alaska. — Michael Crowley


Crab boat needs flooded bulb; new rolling chocks for seiners

In early July, Fashion Blacksmith had a pair of boats out of Crescent City, Calif., blocked up on shore, and more were due later in the summer.

The 80-foot Dungeness crabber and shrimper Darin Alan, owned by David Evanow, is an older boat out of the Gulf of Mexico and was built by Bender Shipbuilding and Repair in Mobile, Ala. The problem with a lot of gulf-built boats is that the bows are quite fine "and stick out a long ways. You don't have a lot of weight forward, so they tend to be light in the bow, and they squat at the stern when they are loaded," says Ted Long, the California boatyard's general manager.

To correct that condition, the Fashion Blacksmith crew was adding a bulbous bow to the Darin Alan. Unlike most bulbous bow retrofits to provide buoyancy, this bulb will be flooded to help bring the bow down.

The 80-footer also is having her bulwarks replaced and a lot of deck work done. The deck itself was not replaced, but a wooden false deck was built over it.

The other boat being worked on is the Lady Renee. The Dungeness crabber came into the yard measuring 59' x 17'. When she leaves, after her sponsoning and lengthening job, she'll be 68' x 25'.

Instead of just adding an 8-foot extension on the stern, Fashion Blacksmith will cut out several feet of the boat's existing stern, all the way to the lazarette bulkhead. A new 15-foot stern section will go back on the boat.

There are two reasons for lengthening a boat this way. First, it eliminates a lot of old, sometimes questionable, steel.

"This boat had an old stern ramp that had been plated over, and old fuel tanks that had been plated over and reconfigured, I don't know how many times," Long says. If the metal isn't removed, "you're just doubling up your weight and not gaining any buoyancy," he adds.

With a new stern on the boat, the tanks can be arranged however the owner and builder want them. In this case, there's a 2,000-gallon fuel tank in each corner of the stern, a 2,000-gallon water tank between the fuel tanks and a 2,000-gallon void space forward of the center tank for buoyancy.

The second reason for cutting back into a boat when adding an extension piece is to bring the sheer line and chine lower to the water. Otherwise, if the extension were just welded onto the existing transom, it would have a fairly steep angle and not be as much in the water as it should be.

"But if you cut it off at the rudderpost, you have a new chine line that's quite a bit lower. It's flattened out at the stern, and you get the stern lower in the water," Long says. "If you had followed the original line, by the time you added the additional length, you are way out of the water at the chine."

In June, several boatbuilders from Platypus Marine in Port Angeles, Wash., made another foray up to Juneau, Alaska, to work on several boats, including the seiners Kaia and San Juan.

Platypus had been to Juneau in January to paint the San Juan. This time they hauled out the shaft and replaced pillow blocks, bearings and couplings.

Back in Port Angeles, the seiner Sound Star was hauled to have larger rolling chocks retrofitted. The Sound Star is a 58-foot Delta Marine fiberglass boat that was built with rolling chocks. However, after nearly two decades of fishing, the boat's crew finally decided something had to be done to ease the boat's motion.

The new chocks are a little more than double the size of the original rolling chocks, says Wes Sweet, project manager at Platypus Marine.

The old chocks stuck out 12 inches from the hull. The new ones have a depth of 30 inches and are 30 feet long. They went over the old chocks, which served as a guide, because they are parallel to the keel. The rolling chocks' void was filled with resin, and then they were fiberglassed to the hull.

Excessive motion seems to be a problem for old Delta seiners because the Sound Star was the second one to get fixed at Platypus, and Sweet expects at least three more once the fishing season is completed. — Michael Crowley


Travel lifts replacing railways; Alabama yard is back to work

As marine railways catering to commercial fishermen close down along Chesapeake Bay, the maintenance of the bay's commercial workboat fleet is increasingly dependent on travel lifts in boatyards that mostly cater to recreational boats.

Chesapeake Cove Marina and Norview Marina, both in Deltaville, Va., encourage watermen to work on their own boats, and they provide space for builders to repair boats.

In July, the 43' x 14' 6" Kelsey Ann, a fiberglass conch boat built in New Brunswick for Troy Hainley of Wake, Va., was hauled out at Chesapeake Cove Marina. Hainley fishes conch pots in the Atlantic from Smith Island, Va., at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, southward to Kitty Hawk, N.C., from November to April.

In the spring and summer, Hainley runs peeler and crab pots in the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers but uses a Carolina Skiff. In September and October, Hainley is back in the Kelsey Ann, gillnetting in the Atlantic.

Hainley was doing routine maintenance on the boat and overhauling the rudder, which he says is "doing some vibrating." If it's something Hainley can't repair, the crew at Chesapeake Cove will do the work.

"They take care of any fiberglass repairs and do work to the shaft, rudder and prop," he says. "Anything that I can't do, they take care of."

Just down the road, at Norview Marina, two boats built by Deltaville boatbuilder Grover Lee Owens were lifted out of the water to be painted and maintained by their owners. Owens was also in the boatyard, repairing a deadrise workboat.

The Jamie Lynn and the Virginia Lynne, formerly the Twin Brothers, were getting routine maintenance work. The Virginia Lynne was recently sold to a Poquoson, Va., waterman who will use her to crab dredge in the winter and crab pot in warm weather.

Owens built the Virginia Lynne in 1992 and the Jamie Lynn in 1983. Waterman Jimmy Hundley uses the Jamie Lynn in the crab-pot fishery.

Owens was repairing some planking on a 38-foot round-stern boat owned by Deltaville waterman Gordon Batley. "We hauled her up here to put washboards on her and found out some of the side planks were rotten," Owens says.

"We ended up putting half of a new side in her. The funny part is she was built out of Georgia pine heart, some of the best [wood] money can buy," Owens says. "I don't know what in the world happened to her, because when you get to a good piece of wood, it's the prettiest lumber you've ever seen, and then there's a rotten piece right by it.

"The only thing I can figure is she was moored at the head of a creek where there's not much salt water," he says. "Salt water helps to keep wood from going bad, while freshwater causes it to rot quicker."

Owens is going to put a new house on the boat and cover the hull with West System epoxy.

Owens first had the chance to go into the boatbuilding business in 1960, when well-known Chesapeake Bay boatbuilder Alton Smith walked up to him in a bar in Mathews County, Va., and offered him a job at his boatyard.

Owens didn't take Smith up on the offer, but several years later he moved to Deltaville, where "everybody and their brother was building boats in their backyards," he said.

"I thought about Captain Alton offering me a job building boats, and I decided to go into business for myself."

That decision led to a 30-year career of building boats for bay watermen. Owens went on to develop the Owens 42, a classic wooden Chesapeake Bay deadrise with flawless lines. His style of building a pretty workboat is known all over the bay.

Down in Alabama, Master Marine, of Bayou La Batre, is still licking its wounds from Hurricane Katrina. The massive storm dumped 13 feet of water on the boatyard in 2005.

Steve Roppoli, Master Marine's vice president, says the hurricane cost the boatyard $250,000 in lost revenue and lost time. The company still experiences electrical problems that require digging up lines and installing equipment.

"There's a long-term corrosion problem that has been created from 13 feet of water covering our yard," Roppoli says.

Master Marine isn't working on commercial fishing boats at the moment, but the yard is building an oil supply vessel and a tugboat and is servicing a Coast Guard buoy tender and a patrol boat. — Larry Chowning

Inside the Industry

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 ...

The Center for Coastal Studies recently announced that Owen Nichols, Director of the Center for Coastal Studies’ Marine Fisheries Research Program, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the John Annala Fishery Leadership Award by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. 

Read more ...
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