On Sunday, April 9, “Mighty Ships: Northern Leader” on the Smithsonian Channel will feature footage of the 184-foot freezer-longliner Northern Leader powering through hurricane-force winds on the Bering Sea. Launched in January 2013, the Northern Leader (NF September 2013 cover story) won our Boat of the Year for its innovative integrated ship systems and high utilization of Pacific cod, sablefish and other groundfish. The Northern Leader also led a boom of big-boat building around the country.

The latest echo of that boom is being launched at Patti Marine Enterprises in Pensacola, Fla., this Saturday, April 8.

The 152-foot Sea Watcher II is designed to carry nearly 200 cages of fresh clams. She will operate out of New Bedford, Mass., alongside her sister vessel Sea Watcher I. This boat is based on an original concept design developed in partnership with Truex Enterprises out of Easton, Md.

The Sea Watcher II under construction at Patti Marine. Patti Marine photo.

The Sea Watcher II under construction at Patti Marine. Patti Marine photo.

This new launch follows the end of a serious rebuild at the yard last year when the 164-foot mackerel boat Western Venture was converted into the 170-foot Bering Sea pollock trawler Defender for Seattle-based Global Seas (NF June 2016 cover story).

That addition to the Bering Sea was followed by the launch of the innovative 191-foot freezer-longliner Blue North in September (NF December 2016 cover story) and the launch of O’Hara Corp.’s new 194-foot factory trawler Araho this spring (NF May 2017 cover story) as part of a new wave of technologically advanced boats in the Pacific Northwest.

The Sea Watcher II is set to be blessed and launched this Saturday, April 8, at the Patti Marine shipyard. The launch is scheduled for 9 a.m. with food, drinks and live music to follow around noon.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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