Velocity Marine and Fabrication launched two 32' x 16' Bristol Bay tophouse gillnetters for the 2020 season from its Sedro Wooley, Wash., boatshop. First in the water in late March was the Novarupta with a 750-hp Scania D13 matched up with a Thrustmaster HI500 jet. (The Novarupta is named after the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, which occurred on June 6, 1912, and lasted for 60 hours in Alaska’s Katmai National Park.)

The Point Steele followed the Novarupta with a launching the first week in May. The Point Steele has a pair of 600-hp Cummins QSC8.3 diesels powering Ultrajet 340HT jets through ZF305 gears.

Rob Smith, Velocity Marine’s owner describes the Novarupta as “a pretty standard, single engine, single jet tophouse Bristol Bay boat.” She’ll pack 18,000 pounds below deck and has a 7.5-ton Pacific West Refrigeration RSW system. On sea trials the Novarupta hit 30 knots. In mid-May she was being barged to Bristol Bay.

Smith feels that while a number of tophouse Bristol Bay gillnetters have been built this year, the Point Steele is “the only twin engine, twin jet tophouse.” It’s set up for a crew of six with four bunks in the fo’c’sle and a twin convertible bunk in the wheelhouse for the captain and his wife. The Point Steele has a 10-ton RSW system from Pacific West Refrigeration. The twin-jet power package pushed her to 38 knots on sea trials. The Point Steele left for Bristol Bay under her own power on May 19.

Both gillnetters carry the same Kinematics Marine Equipment deck gear, consisting of a 16" x 10" (wide) anchor winch, gillnet drum with automatic level wind and a 36-inch hydraulic net roller.

Smith says covid-19 hasn’t had a major impact on Velocity Marine, other than somewhat slowing up work when “a handful of crew elected to take time off. But we were able to keep going.” Other than some orders being a week or two late, his suppliers “have been pretty consistent.” However, he does trace the fact that “no one is buying or hardly calling about (new) Bristol Bay boats,” to coronavirus. He expects that to change in the next few months.

Next up in Velocity Marine’s building bays will be a 30' x 11' crabber for Puget Sound, to be powered by a pair of 300-hp outboards. There’s also three landing craft, a 26-footer going to Juneau, and a pair of 30-footers for Puget Sound.

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

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