The way Knute Aarsheim tells it, the story of his newest boat, the Aarsheim Junior, started with an engine, a beautiful 1,350-horsepower Tier III 3512 Cat. “I bought it 15 days before the law went into effect,” says Aarsheim, referring to emissions regulations that now require engines over 800-hp to be Tier IV.
“I’ve known Kevin Hampson at Caterpillar for a long time,” says Aarsheim. “He called me up and said, ‘The next time you buy an engine it’s going to cost you $750,000. But I so happen to have an engine right here, and I have a deal for you, but you have to act quickly.’ They called me because I’m a real schmuck. I discovered years ago that I’m hopeless, not useless, just hopeless. So I said, OK. I bought it. So then I had the engine; I had to build a boat.”
Aarsheim got a bargain on a $760,000 engine and then called Junior Duckworth, a longtime boatbuilder in Tarpon Springs, Fla. “Junior and I are on the same wavelength,” says Aarsheim.
Duckworth Steel Boats had built a boat for Aarsheim in 2018, the 104-foot Selje, and the Aarsheim Junior is an exact copy of the Selje, designed by John W. Gilbert Associates in Hingham, Mass.
“Gilbert designed my first boat,” says Aarsheim, referring to the Act I. Harvey Gamage built the Gilbert-designed boat on spec and sold it to Aarsheim in 1973. “It was one of the last boats he built,” says Aarsheim. “He died the next year.”
Aarsheim has had a number of boats but has now trimmed his fleet down to two, the Selje, and the Aarsheim Junior, which he owns in partnership with his son. “Two boats is perfect,” says Aarsheim. “So you can keep good people.”
Because of the limited number of fishing days available for one boat, the captain and crew of the Selje will take over the operation of the Aarsheim Junior, as well, giving them all enough fishing days to stay busy.
Like Aarsheim, Junior Duckworth at Duckworth Steel Boats has a long history with the fishing industry. His yard has built a number of boats for some of the best-known names in New England fishing, such as Frank O’Hara, Roy Enoksen, and of course Knute Aarsheim.
“She’s a pretty typical scalloper,” Duckworth says of the Aarsheim Junior. The 104-foot vessel, like its predecessor the Selje, has a 28-foot beam and draws 14 feet loaded. “She’s 8/36 steel plate,” says Duckworth. “It’s all ABS, they put a stamp on it. It’s all American steel now, there’s no more foreign steel.”
Duckworth starts with heavy transverse and longitudinal framing before shell plating the hull. While many boatbuilders use computers to create C&C files that enable them to precut all the plate, Duckworth does not.