On May 27, Fashion Blacksmith in Crescent City, Calif., launched the Mary Lu, and on June 1, the 57' x 25' Dungeness crabber and shrimper was back shrimping while sporting a new pilothouse, a new main mast and shafting.

It wasn’t the first time Fashion Blacksmith hauled the Mary Lu. Four years ago, she was sponsoned and lengthened. This time “the house was the main thing,” says Fashion Blacksmith’s Ted Long. He refers to the “house” as a Texas-style step-pilothouse.

The previous house had limited visibility looking from the helm station to the aft deck. Now when going from the lower house to the helm station, the steps go up an additional three feet. “It is a much taller step-in house,” says Long, which allows for larger windows and thus better visibility when looking back over the house.

In the process of building the pilothouse, the deck needed new steel. “We cut out a lot of the original deck. It was rusted through from windows and doors leaking.”

Sharing shop floor space with the Mary Lu was the Gladnik, a 68' x 25' 6" crabber and tuna boat built at Fashion Blacksmith in 1971, who then lengthened and sponsoned her three years ago. This time the Gladnik was in for a new pilothouse and a new main engine. The original engine, a 275-hp, 8-71 Jimmy was underpowered for the lengthened and sponsoned hull. A 525-hp John Deere is taking its place. “Since the boat had been sponsoned, the easiest way to get the engine out was through the deck,” says Long.

Once the wheelhouse was removed and the deck opened up, “they just decided to redo everything while the engine room was opened.” The Gladnik had a 65-kW John Deere generator; now a second 65-kW John Deere generator is going in, along with a 25-kW Northern Lights hotel pack, plus new engine coolers, new circulation plumbing and new hydraulics.

Over all that goes a pilothouse on a new whaleback deck and a new square tubed, double-legged mast.

Down the coast from Crescent City, in Samoa, Calif., David Peterson, a longtime boat carpenter who specializes in working on wooden commercial fishing boats, recently completed a number of repair jobs at Zerlang & Zerlang.

That includes the 50-foot Sea Wolf, a salmon and albacore troller built in 1949 that was hauled out the first part of June. Peterson corked the hull with cotton and oakum, stripped down the anchor guard, then installed a new guard.

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Michael Crowley is the former Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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