One morning in April 2004, Nick Edwards was heading to Newport, Ore., in his 75-foot vessel Jaguar, when a high-water alarm started going off.
Two hours later, despite frantically running every pump on the boat, the stern was awash in 17 fathoms three miles offshore, and Edwards and his crew were rescued by the Coast Guard.
About 12 hours after he’d left the dock that morning, Edwards was safe at home, on his computer and phone — shopping for a new boat.
“I just lost my boat,” Edwards told another captain, a longtime mentor.
“Treat it like a tool,” the older man told him. “You lost a hammer. Just buy another one.”
By June, Edwards was in Mayport, Fla., making a deal on the Linda Lucille, a 10-year-old shrimper built at Rodriguez Shipbuilding — a type highly prized by East Coast fishermen who were converting them for the growing sea scallop fishery.
Some scallopers even offered to buy out Edwards’ $10,000 deposit to get the boat. But Edwards saw what he wanted in the future Carter Jon.
The next stop: Jemison Marine & Engineering in Bayou La Batre, Ala., where owner Tim Jemison and his crew help prepare the boat for its second act on the West Coast.
“We extended the side of the house for crabbing, so I could see over the side,” said Edwards. About 20,000 pounds of new steel went into the hull to ready it for handling Pacific conditions.
Two months later, Edwards and his crew set off, on what would be a zigzag voyage dodging hurricanes and making their way to the Panama Canal and the Pacific — all the while hoping “maybe I’ll make crab season and won’t go broke,” said Edwards. After a hair-raising generator and main engine shutdown 130 miles off Acapulco as a third hurricane approached, and 22,000 gallons of fuel later, they made it home to Oregon.
At Giddings Boatworks in Charleston, Ore., a gang of welders, framers and other craftsmen went through the boat, continuing the conversion with a new crab hold, and more scuppers to handle the seas. Then, “on the ways, the main wouldn’t start,” said Edwards.
The mechanic prescribed a complete overhaul of the original Cat. Soon Edwards learned he needed the same for the reduction gear.
“I made it all the way with a bad motor,” he said. “Somebody let me make it here.” Right after Thanksgiving, he started the Dungeness season and filled 82,000 pounds in three days.
It’s been a good career since then, said Edwards, a member of the Shrimp Producers Marketing Cooperative, who also serves on the board of the International Coldwater Prawn Forum.
A recent survey pegged the fair market value of the Carter Jon at $1.5 million, compared to a newbuild replacement cost of $3.2 million. Not bad for Edwards’ $200,000 purchase in 2004.
HOMEPORT: Coos Bay
OWNER: Nick Edwards
BUILDER: Rodriguez Shipbuilding, Bayou La Batre, Ala.
YEAR BUILT: 1994
FISHERIES: Shrimp, Dungeness crab
HULL CONSTRUCTION: Steel
LENGTH: 73 feet 5 inches
BEAM: 22 feet 1 inch
DRAFT: 11 feet 5 inches
TONNAGE: 112 gross tons
CREW CAPACITY: 3 to 5
HOLD CAPACITY: Approximately up to 120,000 pounds shrimp, 80,000 pounds crab
MAIN PROPULSION: QSK K19 electric start, 750 hp
GEARBOX: Twin Disc MGX 5222
PROPELLER: Bird-Johnson nibral 63.25" x 62" in Kort nozzle
GENERATORS: Two Cummins 6TDs, 166-hp
ELECTRONICS: Furuno suite, including 183 radar, GP 31 and GP39 GPS receivers, SCV581 depth sounder; Horizon VLH-3000 loudhailer; Yasu FT2600M, Standard Horizon Eclipse, and two Icom 504 VHF radios; SkyMate vessel monitoring system; WindPlot 2 mapping system; wheelhouse watch alarm; security system with six remote CCTV cameras and hard drive recording.