Nordic Inc.’s new boat coming out of Fairhaven Shipyard shows simple but smart design features.

Dan Eilertsen, owner of Nordic Inc., has been scalloping since he was 15 and building and buying boats since he was 28. At 65, he’s learned a thing or two about what kind of vessel will turn a dollar. “Keep it simple,” he says.

“The Liberty was the first,” says Eilertsen, standing on the Nordic Inc. dock on Fish Island in New Bedford, Mass., surrounded by his company’s six boats. The seventh, the Vigilance, can be seen rising from Fairhaven Shipyard across the bay. “We built the Liberty at Main Iron Works in Houma, La. Then I bought my partner out and figured I’d be a one-boat operation. But then I saw how things were going with scalloping. I figured it’d be a good idea to get more skin in the game, so I bought the Justice.”

In the ensuing years, Eilertsen bought four more boats, the Venture, the Edgartown, the Freedom, and the Beiningen, which is named for the hamlet in Norway that his family comes from.

On Sept. 15, 2023, as Hurricane Lee approaches, Eilertsen directs the shifting of the boats to safer moorings behind the spud barge that forms the dock. Across the harbor, the Vigilance sits safely on land, getting its finishing touches. “I wanted to do this one close to home,” Eilertsen says of the project. “I saw other guys building boats here, and I wanted to support the local businesses. And I like being able to keep an eye on things. We’ve done everything here.”

Eilertsen credits local companies and Fairhaven Shipyard with making the project a success. “It’s kind of a blend of work, Fairhaven is doing all the steel, and Diversified Marine is doing a lot of the rest. That’s Sandy Clingman; he’s done almost everything, with help from companies like Marine Hydraulics and electrician Fred Osborn,” says Eilertsen. “E. Bennet Custom Woodworking is doing all the interior carpentry. That’s Emmit Bennett. This is the third boat he’s done for us.”

Emmit Bennet, owner of E. Bennett Custom Woodworking in Fairhaven, Mass., has done the carpentry on two other Nordic Inc. boats, Vigilance is the third. Andrew Kepinski photo.

The 112-foot Vigilance, with a 29-foot beam and 14-foot draft, will be the biggest in the Nordic Inc. fleet. While the new boat does not depart too far from the basic layout of a New Bedford scallop dragger, it features a few design innovations, the most obvious being double chines and wing stabilizers.

“We went out to Seattle to see a boat designed by Bruce Whittemore, the North American, that Erling Skaar built at Marco (Shipyard in Seattle),” says Eilertsen. “It was the same length as the Liberty, 108 feet; same engine, a 399 Cat; same gear, 4;1, but with the Liberty we run 1,025 rpms to get 10 knots. The North American was getting 10 knots at 825 rpms.” The numbers convinced Eilertsen that Whittemore’s double chine design would give him a more efficient vessel.

Wing stabilizers are gaining popularity in New Bedford, and the Vigilance is the first Nordic Inc. vessel to use them. Pioneered by Stephane Loubert at Marinexpert Plus in Quebec, the wings work to steady the boat on the downroll as well as the up.

“When we were out there, another thing Erling Skaar showed us that increases efficiency is GenTech,” says Eilertsen. “I don’t know how it works exactly, but it takes power from the engine and feeds it into the electric power system.” Eilertsen put GenTech on the Liberty and is putting it on the Vigilance. According to the GenTech website: “The main engine drives the hydraulic pump, which drives a hydraulic motor that drives the generator.  The generator produces 50-60hertz at a given oil flow. By controlling the displacement of the pump, we are able to keep the oil flow at a set constant, independent of engine speed. Compared to other shaft generators, this dramatically saves costs in fuel and maintenance!”

Sadly, Erling Skaar will not see the Vigilance afloat. He died in July 2023 at the age of 80, ending a long career of innovation in the commercial fishing industry.

With Whittemore’s double chine design, Eilertsen enlisted local naval architect Garrett Norton to do the lofting and send the files to Fairhaven Shipyard. The hull has risen within sight of the other Nordic Inc. boats and their crews but with another difference besides the double chines. Instead of the usual outriggers and birds used to steady the existing Nordic Inc. vessels, the Vigilance sports a pair of wing stabilizers that extend from the hull below the water line and can be raised up when in port. “I don’t know how they’re going to be at the dock,” says Eilertsen. “But I’ve heard good things about them.”

The Vigilance also lacks a Kort nozzle, which is used to increase propulsion power from the propeller and is common on scallop vessels. “We went with a skewed propeller,” says Eilertsen. “We got the first one from Arthur Dewey for Venture. We put it on, and he said that if we didn’t get another half a knot, it was free. I got another knot and more because you lose the drag of the nozzle, and there’s something about the shape of the propeller. We got the one for the Vigilance from Schaffran Propeller in Florida.” Shaffran Propeller USA supplied a 95 x 74 skewed propeller for the new vessel, and while the diameter and pitch measurements provide a simple measure, the formula that determines the actual shape of the skewed propeller is much more complex.

Dan Eilertsen opted for a skewed propeller on his vessel the Venture; losing the nozzle gained him more than a knot. He bought the skewed propeller for the Vigilance from Shaffran Propeller USA. Paul Molyneaux photo.

Reflecting lessons learned over his years in the scallop business, the internal layout of the Vigilance is different from the other Nordic Inc. vessels. Eilertsen asked the design team to put the engine in the stern, aft of the fish hold. “That way it takes the noise and vibration away from the wheelhouse and crew,” he says, noting that the 7-inch diameter Aquamet 22 shaft is only about 13 feet long. A 1200-hp Cat C3516 will power the Vigilance, turning a Twin Disc MGX 5600. Another Cat, a 600-hp C18, will power the hydraulics, and two John Deere 65kW gensets will provide electric power, in addition to the GenTech 80kW generator.

Dan Eilertsen likes Caterpillar engines. For the Vigilance he purchased a 1200-hp Cat 3516, seen being installed, from DEPCO in Houston, Texas. Nordic Inc. photo.

In the fish hold itself, a raised grate runs between the pens so that the crews are putting scallops down into the pens instead of having to toss them higher and higher. “Another thing we did was get rid of the wooden pen boards,” Eilertsen says, referring to the boards that are used to build the walls of the pens increasingly higher as they are filled with bags of scallops. “You know how on wooden boards the lumpers dig them out with their forks, and they get all chewed up? These ones come out easier, stay cleaner, and they’re a PVC material so they don’t show those marks. They’re expensive, but they’re a one and done. You don’t have to replace them.”

On deck, things look as they generally do on scallop boats, pretty simple, with a lot of space to land the 15-foot-wide steel dredges and dump tons of scallops, rocks, and whatever else is in the bag.  “It’s 29 feet wide,” Eilertsen says of the boat. “I thought about going 30, but it was designed to be 29, so why change it?”

New Bedford company Marine Hydraulics built the main winches, powered by Hägglunds motors. According to Jacob Enoksen, owner of Marine Hydraulics, linepull on the winches is 30,000 pounds, and the capacity is 350 fathoms of 1 1/8-inch wire. The Vigilance has the main winches mounted above deck aft of the wheelhouse, along with a pair of Pullmaster PL5’s to lift the wing stabilizers and Pullmaster H12 cargo winches to lift the dredges - all supplied by Marine Hydraulics.

New Bedford company Marine Hydraulics built the main winches for the Vigilance. “The winches are powered by Hägglunds motors which allow true freewheeling when paying out wire,” says Marine Hydraulics owner, Jacob Enoksen. Paul Molyneaux photo.

Under a shelter, at deck level, shucking boxes line the outer walls on each side of the vessel as is common on scallop boats. Amidships sits the scallop washer where the shucked scallops will be cleaned and poured down a chute to be bagged in the hold. “Roger Petitpas [Petitpas Enterprises LLC] builds all my scallop washers,” says Eilertsen as he steps through an opening toward the galley. “There’ll be a door here, and they can come in, and this will be a wet room where they can leave all their oil gear,” says Eilertsen. “Then they can go into the galley.” Eilertsen designed the galley and staterooms for the crew. While the scallop boats are limited to crews of seven, the Vigilance has space for thirteen. “There’s a single stateroom with a private shower for the captain on the starboard side. On the port side, there are two two-bunk staterooms. Below deck there are three more staterooms, one has four bunks, and the others have two bunks.”

A ladder from the galley leads up to the wheelhouse, where the first thing Eilertsen points out is the windows. “Sandy Clingman and Dan Jones built these wheelhouse windows,” he says. “Stainless steel frames with the ½-inch tempered glass sandwiched in, and they welded them in with stainless rod. You don’t mess with these; they don’t rust. If you drill all those holes to put a window in, even if you paint them, when you put the bolt in, you scar it, and that’s where you get rust.”

Sandy Clingman and Dan Jones built the wheelhouse windows for the Vigilance, and Fairhaven Shipyard welded them in will stainless steel rod, eliminating the chance for rust as from bolted in windows. Paul Molyneaux photo.

While Diversified Marine fabricated the windows, the doors came from Norway and Canada. “They’re Libra doors to the engine room,” says Eilertsen, noting that they are supplied by another New Bedford company, Imtra, which also provided the Norsap captain’s chairs. “All the other doors came from AdvanTec,” says Eilertsen.

New Bedford marine industry supplier IMTRA, imported Libra doors from Norway for the engine room on the Vigilance. Paul Molyneaux photo.

Chris Electronics of Fairhaven supplied the wheelhouse electronics package for the Vigilance, as well as the other Nordic Inc. boats. “When they’re steaming the captain will have four monitors here,” says Eilertsen, pointing to a setup where the captain looks down at the four 27-inch monitors that are all below the level of the windows. At the rear of the wheelhouse is another station and another four 27-inch monitors, giving the captain control of the vessel and the deck gear. “And then over here,” says Eilertsen, moving to the starboard side. “This is where the captain’s shucking box is, and there are more controls here, so he can just come and steer without going all the way in.”

The electronics package on the Vigilance includes:

·      Furuno FAR1513 radar system.

·      Furuno TZT12F MFD Plotter.

·      Furuno DRS6ANXT/4 radar scanner.

·      Furuno SCX20 Satellite Compass

·      Furuno RD33 Data Repeater (2)

·      Furuno 50/200 1T Transducer (2)

·      Simrad A2004 Autopilot System w/3 Control Units

·      Simrad Panorama Rudder Indicator

·      Simrad RF-14XU Rudder Feedback

·      Simrad JS10 Independent Steering Levers

·      Dirigo P68 Magnetic Compass w/Simrad CD100/CDI80 for backup heading for Autopilot

·      Standard Horizon GX6000 VHF Radios (2)

·      Standard Horizon RAM-4 Mics (4)

·      Computer System for Nobeltec TZPro w/PBG (2)

·      Victron Inverters for Computer Power (2)

·      Sitex MDA-5 SOTDMA Class B AIS.

·      Fusion MS-RA210 Stereo System w/ Sirius XM Modules (3)

·      Newmar PI-10 4 Station Intercom System

·      Starlink System

“He’s got spares for everything except the VMS,” says David Frank, manager at Chris Electronics. “Only because by law, you’re only allowed to have one on board.”

The launch date for the Vigilance is Nov. 4, adding another well-planned, well-equipped, and well-built vessel to the Nordic Inc. fleet. Eilertsen notes that the new vessel has generated a lot of local pride, having been built largely by New Bedford and Fairhaven craftsmen. 

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Paul Molyneaux is the Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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