The Big Daddy was a big mess when George Gala bought the shrimp trawler as a repo in 2005. But 10 months and $100,000 turned a $60,000 castaway into a reliable member of the Trico fleet, co-owned by Dennis Henderson and based in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
Before becoming a twinkle in Gala’s eye, the boat had been high and dry for three years.
“It had been stripped of all fishing gear, and the engine was in pieces,” said Gala’s wife, Christine, the office manager for Trico Shrimp Co. fish market. “We had to locate parts from around the country to reassemble the motor, replace the fishing gear and shorten the outriggers 15 feet so they would fit under the bridge at the entrance to our harbor. All the work was done in-house by our maintenance crew and mechanics.”
The Galas called it a “project boat — and he was ‘project manager.’”
Now one of 13 shrimp trawlers in the Trico fleet, the Big Daddy gets its name from George. “That’s what all the crewmen call him,” said Christine on a July day when her husband was in Honduras to bid on another project.
The Trico fleet works the Gulf Coast from Brownsville, Texas, to Key West. Most of its fishing time is spent in the Tortugas area off Key West. During the summer — defined by pink shrimp behavior as July through October — the Trico shrimp boats move to Freeport, Texas.
The Trico fleet is a family affair. The Galas’ nephew Michael Frost captains the Big Daddy. Two other nephews, Ryan Frost and Mike Guzzetti, run Trico boats, as well.
The Galas bought their first boat in 1977. George captained for many years, but as the business grew, he moved dockside to manage the fleet, overseeing maintenance and other details.