You hear so much these days about low-carb diets and weight-loss plans that it should come as no surprise that fishermen who are repowering their boats with lighter, computerized diesels crack smiles when their boats hit the scales.
Such was the case last spring when Prince William Sound fisherman Tim Schloesser replaced the worn out twin engines in his aluminum bowpicker, the Amazing Grace, with newer, lighter versions that burn less fuel.
“I lost a thousand pounds in the stern,” says Schloesser.
Schloesser, of Homer, began commercial fishing in Cook Inlet with his father when he was a child and made his first trip to Prince William Sound as a deckhand when he was 16. After a trapeze act through various jobs on seiners, tenders and gillnetters, he bought a gillnet permit and an old boat, fished it for several years, then upgraded to the Amazing Grace three years ago.
Besides the weight reduction, Schloesser notes that low-carb attributes of his new engines allow him to cruise at 25 knots with a fuel consumption rate of 23 gallons per hour.
When Schloesser cracks the throttles, the pair of Cummins engines revs to 3,000 rpm, and he’s suddenly hitting 35.6 knots. Though fuel consumption jumps to 45 gallons per hour when he’s running wide open, Schloesser notes efficiency even during acceleration.
“You can go from dead idle to firewalling the engines, and all you’ll see is a little poof of smoke coming out of the stacks,” he says. “These new engines are designed to burn it all.”
His love for other features of the boat aren’t lost on the engines alone.
“The reel slides all the way back to the house,” he says. That feature maximizes deck space while picking the gillnet. Another brag-worthy feature is that he can stuff 15,000 pounds in fish bags under the hatches.
Generally speaking, bowpickers wallow with their sterns low in the water during acceleration, belaboring them in the process of getting on step. But the Amazing Grace has another integral feature that trims the boat quickly by transferring fuel forward to alternate tanks in the bow.
“The fuel transfer system is insane,” says Schloesser.
With satisfaction in his fishing platform, Schloesser says he can concentrate his efforts toward catching sockeye salmon.
Home port: Homer Owner: Tim Schloesser Builder: Bill Webber Jr., of Webber Marine, Cordova, Alaska Year built: 1995 Fisheries: Salmon gillnet Hull construction: aluminum Length: 32 feet Beam: 12 feet 6 inches Draft: 23 inches Crew capacity: 4 Tonnage: 7.5 tons net, 9.5 tons gross Hold capacity: 13,500 pounds Main propulsion: Twin QSE 5.9 liter 380-hp Gearbox: 72C Borg Warner Propeller jets: Twin Hamilton 273 Jets, bored and refurbished to 10.6 inches each Speed: Cruising 25 knots; top speed 45 knots Fuel consumption: 23 gallons at 25 knots, 45 gallons at 35.6 knots Fuel capacity: 500 total; 300 in rear and 200 forward. Transfers from aft to forward tanks at 12 gallons per minute Freshwater capacity: 30 gallons Electronics: Garmin plotter-depth sounder combo 545S, Sitex GT-100 plotter, Furuno 24-mile radar, laptop computer with Nobeltec chart program, three Standard Horizon GTX 2000s, two Midland radios, DeLorme Explorer (for sat texting)