The Collier Brothers, an 84' 2" x 24' steel dragger out of Portland, Ore., that was built in 1978 at Gulf Coast Marine Builders in Bayou La Batre, Ala., arrived at Giddings Boatworks on Sept. 18. A little more than five months later, on Feb. 25, she left the Charleston, Ore., boatyard after being sponsoned out to 34 feet.

The boat’s owner “wanted a more stable platform,” says Wayne Garcia, Giddings’ general manager.

The project was initiated in early August when the Collier Brothers owner, a longtime customer at Giddings, contacted the boatyard and said, “I want my boat to be wider and I need to have it happen fast.” Giddings agreed, but the manner in which the sponsoning was done, while once common, is relatively unheard of these days.

Seattle naval architect Bruce Culver drew up the plans for the sponsoning. However, instead of lofting, precutting and forming steel plating for the sponsoning, “this was a stick-built style sponsoning job,” says Wayne Garcia, Giddings general manager. “Straight old-school batten sticks and tape measure.” The batten sticks form the shape of the sponsons and then steel is cut by hand to meet the shape of the batten sticks.”

The Giddings crew didn’t have any problem with this building style since some of them have been at the boatyard for 40 years, and they would tell Garcia how they did it in the past with batten sticks and tape measures: “There was no engineering, just a couple of drawings and we made it happen,” they told him.

Ten days after work was started, bulkheads for the new sponson plating had been laid out, cut by hand and welded to both sides of the hull. Garcia says the Collier Brothers owner “couldn’t believe” how little time it took.”

The sponsons didn’t open up into the fish hold, as the Collier Brothers could already pack close to 300,000 pounds. However, new fuel tanks were built into the sponsons, increasing fuel capacity from 10,000 to 23,000 gallons.

Besides going back to the Alaska and Oregon fishing grounds with a more stable hull, Giddings built the Collier Brothers a new gantry that Culver designed. The old gantry “was quite old and in need of work,” says Garcia. There are also refurbished towing winches from Rapp Marine and a new net reel.

Giddings is currently sponsoning a 48-foot crabber that had rolled over with a full load of crab pots as she was leaving a nearby marina. “Maybe they hit a sandbar,” says Garcia. “They were going fishing.”

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

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