David Peterson, a boat carpenter who specializes in repairing older wooden fishing boats, finished tightening up the Terron this January at Zerlang & Zerlang, a boatyard in Samoa, Calif., across Humboldt Bay from Eureka. The Terron, a 36-foot crabber and black cod boat, “had been stressed getting into some bad weather,” says Peterson.
The Terron was built in 1927 by Anderson & Cristofani at San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point. Despite being nearly 100 years old, Peterson says, it’s’ “a really good boat,” even though “it’s fished really hard.”
Peterson is familiar with the boat, as he’s worked on it “pretty steady over the years,” including refastening it 35 years ago. As a result of the bad weather the Terron encountered, its hull was starting “to leak here and there — seeping — leaking more when it got into bad weather.”
The Terron was built “dried fit, planked wood to wood” — Port Orford cedar planks, without corking between them, over white oak framing. Peterson says, Cristofani “was a true Italian builder — built wood to wood,” but, as Peterson notes, that was “1927 wood-to-wood and it wasn’t doing the job anymore,” which allowed the planking seams to be fractured; “they call that shivering the timbers,” he adds.
Peterson tightened up the planking seams with a reefing tool that opened the seams between the planks, then corked the seams with a string of cotton and cement below the waterline and cotton and polysulfide above the waterline. That was done from the Terron’s stem to at least amidships, with most of the corking done below the waterline. Peterson says the boat’s owner told him, “it stiffened up the boat a lot.”
Prior to working on the Terron, Peterson replaced several planks on the 54-foot crabber Ke Ku Queen’s port side, sistered several ribs, replaced the covering board and rebuilt the break timber on the well deck’s port side. In 2021, he replaced six planks and the covering board on the starboard side, as well as sistered 20 ribs and three deck beams on the 69-year-old crabber.
Currently Peterson is working on the Rae Ann, a 40-foot wooden troller built in the 1940s that he’s previously done planking work on. The back of the wheelhouse is being rebuilt and the break timber repaired. The Rae Ann, he says, “is a boat in flux,” which means it’s for sale.