High school grad gets a boat; Crowley 36 gains some beam

Josh Beal graduated from high school in Milbridge, Maine, on June 12. On June 13, he took delivery of his new Calvin 36 from Beal's Boat Shop in Milbridge.

"I had to make a decision halfway through my last year in school: go to college or fishing," says Beal. Thus, the name of the boat is First Choice. The odds were probably stacked against a college trip, as Beal has been lobstering for the past 10 years and running a boat, a BHM 25, since he was in the 7th grade.

Young as he is, it doesn't mean Beal doesn't have his own ideas on outfitting his boat. Immediately apparent is the radar stand on top of the wheelhouse. That's fairly uncommon on lobster boats, but it gives Beal a place to mount his radar, spotlight, horn and radio antenna.

And down the port side and over the boat's stern is an aluminum trap rack. "They have them down the side, but I put mine off over the stern so I could put another tier of traps on," Beal says. "I can carry over 100 4-foot traps easy."

Beal says he elected to go with the Calvin 36 because "it's big enough to carry the traps and go to where I need to, and it is also small enough to fish up in the bays."

Across the back of the house is a two-piece winter back that can slide over to the port side. The deck was coated with Philly Clad to give it a non-slip surface. "It's got quite a lot of texture to it. You wouldn't want to fall down on it," says the boatyard's Jimmy Beal.

It was the first time Philly Clad had been used at Beal's Boat Shop, so Jimmy Beal asked another Milbridge boatbuilder who had used it, Joe Sargent of Sargent's Custom Boats, to lead them through the process.

"It's quite expensive, so I figured to get Joe to help us, where he'd done it before. Didn't want to screw up $800 worth of the stuff," says Jimmy Beal.

Beneath the deck is a 420-hp Iveco diesel with a 2.5:1 ZF marine gear that turns a 28-inch-square four-blade wheel. With that power package, Josh Beal says First Choice hits 25.6 knots.

Milbridge's Alton Wallace worked for Jimmy Beal for nearly 10 years, and then he went off on his own to finish off fiberglass hulls when he wasn't lobstering. About the time Josh Beal's boat went into the water, so, too, did Daddy's Angels, a Crowley 36 hull built at Beal's Boat Shop that Wallace completed for himself.

When Wallace brought the boat to his shop, it measured 11 feet across the stern. When it left the shop it was 13 feet. "It'll now carry about 120 traps," Wallace says.

When he started the project, Wallace wasn't sure he wanted to widen the boat because he was pressed for time. "But I had a couple of fellows say, 'No. You ain't gonna do it.' I said 'Give me a Skilsaw.' I put the blade in and went for it and said, 'Now it's too late.'"

Starting at the transom, Wallace ran that Skilsaw through the hull, cutting down each side, between an engine bed and a longitudinal stringer, almost to the bow. He screwed plywood to the outside of the cut-apart hull section and built up the laminates from the inside.

Mounted to the engine beds is a 414-hp Iveco with a 2:1 ZF marine gear. When Daddy's Angels was launched, she hit 25 knots with a 26" x 30" wheel with a full cup. A 28-inch-square wheel brought the speed up to 27 knots, but the engine was under-turning. Whatever wheel ends up on the boat, she probably won't hit 27 knots, not with a cage over the wheel.

Two months and two weeks after cutting apart the hull, Daddy's Angels was ready to go into the water. "I flew into it, I'll tell you. I got a lot of time into it. Had my mind set on getting it done and get fishing because I had sold my boat." This is the fourth boat Wallace has finished off for himself and figures it will be awhile before he does another one. — Michael Crowley


Crabber has a major repower; Iowa surgeon buys a gillnetter

In late March the 130-foot crabber Trailblazer arrived at Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Ore. The boat left in early June, taking with her two new main engines and two new gensets.

"This was a huge job," says the boatyard's Mike Lee. Not all of it had to do with the repowering work, but that's where most of the effort went. "There were tons and tons of plumbing and pipework," he notes. The new main engines, a pair of Cummins QSK19-Ms, 750 hp at 1,700 rpm, replaced two Caterpillar diesels. The new diesels don't burn more fuel, but they pump more fuel, says Lee, which required "upsizing the fuel lines running to the Racors, and upsizing the return lines."

The old engines had an extensive cooling system, including skeg coolers and channel coolers. Most of that was removed and new Fernstrum keel coolers installed.

Above the Cats and the old 180-kW John Deere gensets were head tanks, and most of those were nonpressurized systems, Lee says. Thus, the existing tanks had to be pressurized.

With the old engines removed, the yard crew repainted the engine room and installed a new bilge-pump system as well as new plumbing for the freshwater system.

Though a lot of work was required in the cooling and fuel-line departments, a new exhaust system wasn't needed, as it often is in a repowering job. The main engines needed 8-inch exhausts "and that's what they had. Boy, were they lucky," Lee says. "A new exhaust system would have been a major problem. When they got here, one of the first things I did was go out and measure it to make sure we didn't have to go there."

The engine foundations accepted the new Cummins diesels, with modifications only required to the engine mounts. "That was another stroke of luck [the boat's owners] had, because they hadn't measured them before they bought the engines," Lee adds. The marine gears used with the Cats matched up with the Cummins main engines.

Both rudders were dropped and the shafts were pulled and inspected. New cutlass bearings went in along with shaft brakes. The props were overhauled and repitched.

The replacement gensets are 290 kW each. Both of the 180-kW generators had to be running to power the refrigeration system. "They wanted to be able to run it with just one or the other," Lee says.

The larger John Deere gensets required a major modification of the electrical panels by the boatyard's electricians. "Bigger wires, bigger bus bars. The panels weren't twice the size when they finished, but they were a lot bigger," Lee says. While they were at it, the electricians changed the electrical system from a 32-volt to a 24-volt system.

This winter, Fred Martushev of Freddy's Marine in Homer, Alaska, completed six of his 32' x 11' 6" fiberglass bowpickers in time for the salmon season. The boats went to fisheries in Cordova, Cook Inlet and False Pass.

Like his previous boats, the new gillnetters carry what Martushev calls a radius-V shape halfway down the boat from the bow to the stern, where it transitions into a straight-line V. He says the combination helps the boats to lift more than other boats. A reverse chine keeps the boats running flat and stable.

One of the gillnetters is for Dan Jorgensen, a surgeon from Spencer, Iowa, who will use it in Cook Inlet's salmon fishery. Jorgensen has three sons; all of them are surgeons and they will fish with him at various times, Martushev says. And that explains the boat's name — Salmon Surgeons.

Salmon Surgeons is a Deluxe Limited 32, which means, Martushev says, "it has a fancy interior. No, it's a luxurious interior, with such things as fancy, polished stainless steel hardware and a specially designed dash with built-in electronics."

For power the Salmon Surgeons carries — like many gillnetters from Freddy's Marine — a pair of 370-hp Chevy gasoline engines that are matched up with Hamilton 213 water jets. That combination delivers a top speed of 37 mph.

Next year Martushev intends to build a 32-foot Limited model for Cordova gillnetters that's 6 inches narrower than the 11 foot
6 inch beam on the standard design. Shrinking the boat down to 11 feet will allow it to be trailered through the Whittier tunnel on the way to Cordova. Currently, nothing can go through the tunnel that's wider than 11 feet Martushev says. — Michael Crowley


Railway has a weight problem; shrimper's keel cooler is fixed

Chesapeake Marine Railway in Deltaville, Va., on Fishing Bay, specializes in large wooden boats and can haul vessels over 100 feet. In its time, a lot of fishing boats have been hauled out on the railway. But last winter when the 114-foot Ring Andersen (a one-time cargo and fish carrier) came in for major repairs, the weight of the boat cracked several of the 40-year-old white-oak crossbeams on the railway's cradle.

Replacement 12" x 14" white-oak crossbeams 20 to 30 feet long are not something commonly found in a Lowes or Home Depot warehouse. So Chesapeake Marine hired Bob Vargo, owner of Hopewell Hardwood Sales in Hopewell, Va. Vargo went into the woods to find the necessary trees and then milled timbers to the specified size. He found the white oak trees on forestland he owns in Prince George County.

"They are a logging firm and mill and are able to accommodate special requests," says Rick Farinholt, president of Chesapeake Marine Railway. Since the timbers were freshly cut and green, Farinholt says the ends were "waxed" to keep the timbers from drying out and checking. The Hopewell crew used a standard oil-based marine paint as a sealant.

The crossbeams are installed by driving 3/4-inch-steel drift pins through the timbers and into 4" x 16" runner beams that the cradle's wheels are attached to. There are more than 100 wheels inside the rail tracks.

Some boatyards use angle iron to hold the crossbeams in place, says Farinholt. "We use drift pins because it allows the beam of the cradle to flex a little bit when we are hauling a heavy boat.

"Angle iron is a little rigid," he adds. "You want the beam of the cradle to flex because you don't want the cradle to toe in with a boat on it."

A year ago, the yard had to replace an old wooden foundation under the donkey shed that houses the gears and engine used to haul boats out of the water. The term "donkey shed" is still used in the Chesapeake region. It goes back to when 1- and 2-cylinder gasoline engines (called donkey engines) provided the power to operate the railway.

"We took the old foundation out and drove steel pilings down 15 to 20 feet to support it," says Farinholt. "Then we welded up steel I-beams on top of that, then layered rebar all over the place and poured concrete under it. It's got a hell of a foundation now."

The Ring Andersen was a Baltic sailing trader built in 1948 at Ring Andersen Boatyard in Denmark. She was converted to a yacht in 1962.

Moving down to coastal North Carolina, Blondell Robinson and his wife, Mildred, of Robinson & Robinson Seafood in Varnamtown, N.C., run a seafood business and railway. In June, shrimp and blue crab fisherman Kenny Pierce of Raleigh, N.C., had his 50' x 16' wooden trawler on the rails for painting and to repair the keel cooler. Pierce fishes for shrimp and blue crabs in Pamlico Sound.

Don "Grunts" Dosher of Varnamtown, a longtime builder of wooden boats, built Pierce's wooden boat last year. Blondell says Dosher and other wooden boatbuilders in that area used to work their craft right on the riverbank and launched the boats by putting them onto poles and sliding them into the water. This one was built "out in the wood," and they used a lowboy trailer to haul it to the water.

"Grunts has built boats from flat-bottom skiffs to as big as they are," Blondell says. "He ain't big as a minute. That's why his nickname is Grunts."

Dosher built the 50-footer using pine framing and juniper side and bottom planks.

Since 1986, the Robinsons have been running the railway. "It's no big deal," Blondell says. "I work on some of the boats, but most of the boys work on their own.

"We are 30 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, and on the coast, and are just a little fishing village," Blondell says. "Commercial fishing used to be bigger than it is now, but there are still a few boys around. I buy a little seafood from them and give them a place to work on their boats." — Larry Chowning

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