Back in the October 2021 issue of National Fisherman, the 96’ x 24’ x 7’ Hopeful Harvest was featured as a converted Oil Supply Vessel (OSV) arriving from Bayou La Batre, Ala. to work as a Chesapeake Bay oyster planter.

“The 7-foot draft just did not make the boat workable for us,” says Jeff Kellum of W.E. Kellum Seafood of Weems, Va. “We have a lot of shallow oyster grounds that the boat simply could not get on. Since the boat would not work, this meant another year of me going back and forth to the Gulf to find and convert another boat.”  

 Kellum found a 66’ x 26’ x 5’ deck lugger tug boat that had been used in the inland oil business, and named it Replenisher. Cobra Management and Dry Dock Services (CMDDS) in Houma, La. was hired to convert it into a Chesapeake Bay oyster planter. 

When Kellum found her, the boat had not left the dock in five years and parts had been taken off her and used on other boats. “We really did not have to do a lot of work on the hull,” says Kellum. “There was some steel work done in the bow and we replaced the bulwarks,” he says. 

One of the parts taken off the boat was a clutch from one of the two Detroit 12V-71 diesel engines, which was a Twin Disc clutch with a 4 1/2 to 1 ratio. “We had to replace one clutch but the engines were in good shape, which was one reason we bought it,” he says.

The Replenisher has doors built along the side decks that open for shell and seed to be blown off the deck into the water with a high pressure water hose. Larry Chowning photo.

CMDDS sandblasted and painted the boat from top to bottom and installed planting doors along the side decks where seed and shell can be blown into the water. “I worked on her too,” says Kellum. “I am in charge of boats and equipment, while my brother Tommy and cousin Brandon oversee other parts of the (oyster) business.”

A new Simrad auto pilot, Furuno radar and two new steering cutlass bearings were installed. A high pressure water hose was mounted on the deck to blow shell and spat into the water.

Kellum says he could not decide on the type of pump to use with the hose, so he rented one to see how it would do. “We still have not decided on what pump we want to install,” he says.

The Hopeful Harvest with its 7-foot draft was purchased from the Kellums by Omega Protein of Reedville, Va. and is being used in the Atlantic Ocean and in the deeper waters of Chesapeake Bay to haul two 20’ x 8’ aluminum skimmer boats. These boats are designed to rapidly pick up dead fish on and below the surface of the water when there is a purse net tare. The Hopeful Harvest is designed to get the skimmer boats to the fish kill sites in a timely manner and haul the dead fish back to Reedville.

 “We used Replenisher in August to plant some seed oysters and the boat worked great,” says Kellum.  “It took us a couple tries but I am certain we now have the right boat for the job.”

The 7’ draft of the Hopeful Harvest forced Kellum Brothers LLC in Weems to sell the boat and convert Replenisher with its 5’ draft to a Chesapeake Bay oyster planter. The Hopeful Harvest has been sold to Omega Protein in Reedville, Va. Larry Chowning phot

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Larry Chowning is a writer for the Southside Sentinel in Urbanna, Va., a regular contributor to National Fisherman, and the author of numerous books.

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