Maritime Fabrications in La Conner, Wash., has been winding down the building of new boats for the past year, while focusing on retrofitting and repair work, as well as designing and building deck machinery. That doesn’t mean boatbuilding work hasn’t taken place.

A 48' x 16' fiberglass hull waiting to be finished off as an offshore crabber that will fish out of Westport, Wash., and also serve as a tender for Dungeness crab boats in Puget Sound. The Canadian company Millennium Marine in Miramichi, New Brunswick, built the 48-foot hull. It was then shipped to a West Coast owner, before changing hands and ending up in Maritime Fabrications’ boatyard as an unfinished hull.

“The bulk of the fiberglass work is done,” says Maritime Fabrications’ Isaac Oczkewicz. “We are doing what’s needed to finish it up and then the outfitting.” That includes installing an 800-hp Volvo D13. He expects the work to be completed in November.

This winter, several Bristol Bay gillnetters were in for repairs. One gillnetter was a two-year project that included removing an older Detroit Diesel and replacing it with a 450-hp 8.3 Cummins. In addition, an Integrated Marine Systems 10-ton RSW diesel-driven split system was installed and a new flush deck built.

“There was no shortage of work,” says Oczkewicz, “especially when they come down from Alaska.” Already discussions are taking place regarding working on Bristol Bay gillnetters next fall and winter. In addition, Maritime Fabrications also repairs recreational boats.

For more than three decades, Maritime Fabrications has been building deck machinery for fishing boats, and that work will continue. Recently the crew there came up with a heavy-duty level-wind pivot. It’s called the Bowser Pivot and is named after the late Geof Bowser, who helped design it. Bowser was a Bristol Bay gillnetter who died this winter while working on his boat, the Dr. Jack.

The main benefit of the Bowser Pivot “is it turns level-wind movement into a one-person (operation) instead of two people,” said Oczkewicz. One person can unpin the level-wind and pivot it in an arc so it’s out of the way and then set the net. “It saves some effort, and some captains consider it safer.”

In Alaska, John Schumacher at Distinctive Finishes is upgrading the Krista C, a 34-foot Ohima gillnetter out of Haines, Alaska. The work includes repowering and increasing fish-hold capacity. “They got a really good used (330-hp) Cummins,” says Schumacher. It’s replacing “an old Volvo.” The Cummins came out of a Nordic Tug. “It was really clean and had 5,000 hours,” whereas the Volvo was burdened with something like 30,000 hours.

Distinctive Finishes increased the fish hold capacity on the gillnetter the Krista C and repowered the 34-footer out of Haines, Alaska. Distinctive Finishes photo.

The repowering took place in April, and in May Schumacher raised the three fish holds up about 10 inches to the cap rail. He feels that should increase the hold capacity by about 2,000 pounds. If there’s enough time, he may install rolling chocks. In a couple of years, Schumacher expects the Krista C to return — depending how the fishing goes — for a flush deck and a sliding drum.

When the Krista C leaves, a 36-foot Mel Martin halibut longliner is due in to be painted, and after that it will be another repowering job. This time it’s the Chilkat (named after a river in Southeast Alaska), a 32-foot Snowball that’s getting a new Cummins and a shaft tube. Schumacher isn’t sure about the horsepower but suspects it will “probably be 330 to 340 horsepower. That tends to be whatever one is going to.” The Chilkat’s bow will also receive some attention where she hit a rock. The Chilkat gillnets, longlines, crabs and shrimps.

“He does a lot with that boat,” says Schumacher.

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

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