Bay Weld Boats, Homer, Alaska, is building a custom aluminum limit seiner for a second-generation Alaskan commercial fishing family. This state-of-the-art shallow draft aluminum vessel will be a first for Alaska, as these boats are typically heavy deep draft steel-made and delivered from the Lower 48. 

“No one is building aluminum shallow draft limit seiners in AK. Seiners have typically been built outside and brought to Alaska. The fact that we’re building it here is a big deal,” a Bay Weld representative noted.

This will be the third boat owned by Routli Meadow LLC., under the Durtschi family, however, this is their first custom build partnering with Bay Weld.

“We definitely pulled some inspiration from some other boats, but at the end of the day there isn’t really something that’s this size in the jet configuration. So, there’s a lot of unknowns. All of the performance metrics we have are theoretical,” Reiker Durtschi noted, speaking to his and his brother’s experience when deciding on the boat that was right for them. The two met with numerous shipyards before landing on the Bay Weld design. 

“We go down to PME (Pacific Marine Expo) every year. And over the course of a few years, we’ve met with a lot of builders. We talked to a lot of people who had built boats in the last decade and got input and feedback from them. Talked about what they liked and didn’t like and what they would do differently," he noted. 

During those initial discussions, his brother’s boat was undergoing a repower in Homer, so they gave Bay Weld a call and mentioned their interest in a new build. 

“We thought we might have a 20-minute conversation, and it was about two hours of shooting the shit and walking around their yard,” Durstchi said. “I think my brother and I both came away from that with the impression that if we were to do this, those were the guys that we would want to do it with… Then we had a conversation in January of that year where we ironed out a spec sheet, and talked through all of the equipment that we wanted to have and what we really wanted this thing to do, in terms of how shallow we wanted it to be, how much we wanted it to pack. They got back to us with some rough mock-ups, we looked at the financials on our end and decided to go for it. Since then, we’re about a year and a couple months into it and the build’s well underway... Overall, I think in the design, we’re going to end up with a finished product that we’re pretty excited about.”

Bay Weld Boats, nearing almost 300 vessels delivered, has expanded their capabilities and recently brought their engineering in-house. The seiner's design, layout, and systems were done by Bay Weld Boats, however, for this particular build, Elliott Bay Design Group provided engineering oversight. 

The 58’x24’x10.5’ seiner draws only two feet, and when fully loaded, she’s expected to draw four feet. The bottom plate is comprised of ⅜” 5086 aluminum which runs four inches out from keel, followed by 5/16” aluminum. The side plating, also 5086 aluminum, is ¼” thick. 

The boat will be powered by twin 750-hp John Deere 6135SFM85 engines running to twin Hi Jet 600s with 24” pumps and left-hand rotation. Totaling 1,500-hp, the vessel is expected to cruise at 10 knots.

The boat weighs 40 tons when light, and 118 tons full. The rear cargo deck measures 22’-wide, and 35.5' from the house. Ship’s service power comes from a MER 65 kW generator, set to power the 140,000-pound capacity fish hold refrigeration system, plus an additional MER 12kW house generator. 

Marine gear includes ZF 400 Series, 2.214:1, Glendinning controls, and a hydraulic bow thruster. 

Crew and passenger capacity include a captain’s stateroom and forward v-berth with four bunks. Fuel capacity is 1600 gal., while 500 gal. of freshwater will be stored in twin 250 gal. tanks. 

The vessel will be outfitted with Garmin electronics, including a Panoptix thru-hull liveview tranducer.

Durtschi detailed the family’s reasoning behind their decision to build a new boat.

“Every year around PME we start talking about it again, ‘Oh, are we thinking we’re gonna do it?’ We’d been having the conversation about either buying or building a new boat for several years. We’ve both been running boats that are pretty average, built in the nineties, pack about 50,000 pounds, shallow draft twin screw seiners. They’re great, they get the job done. But, you know, you’re out there, you’re always seeing bigger and better boats, and there’s always the question of how much better can we do, with better equipment, being limited by capacity, and hydraulic capabilities and all that stuff.”

The vessel has an expected delivery date of November 2024.


Have you listened to this article via the audio player above?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

Ben Hayden grew up in the shipyards of northern Massachusetts.  His passion for storytelling came about on a freelance film that highlighted businesses, farmers, and fishermen while sailing up the coast of Maine. He can be reached at [email protected].

Join the Conversation

Primary Featured