Being a commercial fisherman in California hasn’t been easy for the past few years. Poor salmon runs, a Dungeness crab season ruined by domoic acid in 2015-16 and the closure of the West Coast sardine fishery the past three years have forced many fishermen to tighten their belts and forgo all but the most essential boat improvements.
But for Dick Ogg, skipper and owner of the Karen Jeanne in Bodega Bay, upgrading his operation after a few lean years is a testament to his love and devotion to the industry. He bought the boat in late 2013.
“I love to fish. I love the ocean. Even if it wasn’t going to be a good few years, I’d still do it,” says Ogg. “This is what I’ve lived for my whole life.”
The 64-year-old dropped roughly $300,000 into his boat to lengthen the fiberglass hull by eight feet, repower the main and double the hold capacity. Ogg upgraded his 671 Detroit engine to a cleaner and fuel efficient John Deere 6061 with help of a $100,000 grant by the state of California to help fishermen upgrade to cleaner engines.
Ogg decided to bring his boat to the Little Hoquiam Shipyard in Hoquiam, Wash., where it was built, in 2016. Originally, the plan was for a simple repower, but when Ogg realized the amount of cutting that would be needed for the job, he decided to have the shipyard cut the whole thing in half for additional improvements.
The original fish hold was dry with no refrigeration. Now with a floodable hold with a refrigerated seawater system, the Karen Jeanne added a significant degree of versatility to fisheries the boat can participate in. The added length also increased the capacity for crab pots on deck by 100 — now up to 275 circular traps.
While there was a not-so-insignificant shaft alignment problem after the Karen Jeanne hit the water, Ogg’s enjoying his redone boat and a 2017 Dungie season that boasted a solid catch.