Long winter yields big house; lobster boat has 2-foot stretch

Bounty Hunter III, a multipurpose fishing boat capable of lobstering, gillnetting and dragging, was rolled out of Eaton's Boat Shop and Fiberglassing on Maine's Deer Isle in July.

The 45-foot fiberglass hull was built by Mount Desert Island Boatworks in Manset, Maine, and trucked to Deer Isle to be finished in March 2005. Before ending up at Jeff Eaton's shop, the hull took a short detour to Billings Diesel and Marine Service in nearby Stonington. Billings Diesel and Marine Service is a boatbuilding and repair facility, as well as the local Caterpillar dealer.

At Billings an 800-hp Caterpillar, detuned to 780-hp, was bolted to the Bounty Hunter III's engine beds, along with a Twin Disc marine gear with a 2:1 reduction and a 2 1/2-inch shaft.

One obvious feature of the Bounty Hunter III is the longer than usual wheelhouse. Eaton says he told the boat's owner, Bob Jones Jr., of Stonington, Maine, that in going with a bigger house, there would "be a lot of work involved, but he didn't like the looks of a short cabin. You couldn't do anything with it," Eaton says.

In the winter when Jones goes gillnetting, he wants cover for the winches and crew, but the short molded house that came with the hull wouldn't allow that. So MDI Boatworks laid up an additional 6-foot length of cabin top.
"We spun it around and bolted the two cabin's aft pieces together," Eaton says.

Matching up the add-on cabin top with the hull required cutting, filling and fitting work. But once the house was completed, the after end of the starboard side wasn't just a straight vertical line; it was designed to match the raking angle of the front of the wheelhouse and had the same small window as up forward.

More importantly, when Jones is fishing outside of the bays and hauling four traps to a warp, there's enough covered space that he can bring aboard three traps and set them on a table and have the fourth on the rail. "Everything is enclosed; he wants it warm and dry," Eaton says.

When the Bounty Hunter III goes gillnetting, Jones just has to open a deck plate and connect the gillnet hauler's hydraulic hoses with quick-disconnect fittings on stainless steel piping, turn the hydraulic selector valve from pot hauler to gillnet hauler, and he's in business.

For groundfishing, the winches and net reel bolt into flanges fiberglassed to the hull.
There are three fish holds, which Eaton thinks will hold more than 25,000 pounds. One of the holds can be flooded to hold lobsters. Jones can pack 20 crates of banded lobsters in that hold.

At the end of August, Whistlin' Dixie, a fiberglass lobster boat built at Holland's Boat Shop in Belfast, Maine, was heading out of Penobscot Bay to her home port in Harpswell, Maine.

Not long after the hull for Whistlin' Dixie came out of the mold, the temporary moniker of "Stretched," was handwritten on her bow. And stretched she was, from Holland's Boat Shop standard 38-footer to 40 feet.

This wasn't just a case of laminating a 2-foot extension on the transom of a 38-foot hull. The keel and rudderpost area were pulled back. "By bringing everything back, you have more room down there to put bigger power in. On a 38-footer, the biggest wheel you can comfortably put in is 28 inches, and that's fine for 400 to 600 hp," says Holland's Boat Shop owner Glenn Holland.

But it wouldn't do for the 1,000-hp Caterpillar C18 diesel that boat owner Andy Johnson wanted. Moving the rudderpost back gained an extra 2 1/2 inches of depth, allowing the boat to swing a 30-inch wheel.

The four-bladed wheel had 42 inches of pitch, but when the boat was launched and hit 40 mph, Holland says the engine "was not turning quite enough."

That was solved by taking all of the cup out of the wheel.

Whistlin' Dixie is pretty much a standard lobster boat, except for the horsepower and platform made of 3/4-inch foam core and fiberglassed panels.

After Whistlin' Dixie left, Holland's Boat Shop had a couple of pleasure boats to build, only these look exactly like lobster boats, complete with cutaway hauling station, hauler and davit.

Holland says he's built several pleasure boats this way. The boats' owners use the hauler and davit to bring in the anchor. "Why should they stand around on the bow, fiddling with the anchor? They might fall overboard," Holland says.
— Michael Crowley


Boat gets second sponsoning; grounding damage is repaired

In August, the 110-foot dragger Nordic Fury and the 78-foot dragger Cape Kiwanda were at Hansen Boat Co. in Everett, Wash. The Nordic Fury was having her trawl control system changed out and general painting done.

The big job was taking place on the Cape Kiwanda. She was being sponsoned, and not for the first time. When the boat was built, the beam was 21 feet 10 inches.

The first time she was sponsoned, the beam was pushed out to 25 feet 10 inches, but when the Cape Kiwanda leaves Hansen Boat Co., she'll be 36 feet wide.

Michael Whalen of the design team Hockema & Whalen Associates in Seattle, which is doing the sponson design work, says he thinks the first sponsoning was done in the late 1980s.

That's when fishing boat owners began to use the technique to increase stability, and the sponsoning was generally 2 to 3 feet per side. Later on, increasing hold capacity was a major reason for sponsoning a boat, and the sponsons became wider.

In the current situation, Whalen says the stability was marginal and the owners wanted more hold capacity.

"They have permits for more capacity than the boat can handle," he says.

Fish-hold capacity on the Cape Kiwanda will be gained by extending the two holds out to the original sponsoning's plating. And part of the after fish hold that was blocked off will be opened up.

The sponsoning is being carried to the bow, and hull plating in that area will be removed, while plating in the midbody and stern area will remain. Though the bow was cut off to accommodate the sponsoning work, the boat's bulbous bow will remain.

The framing is being beefed up. "It was adequate for what they were doing, but we are going another five feet out, so there's a lot more stress on it. And we'll fill in some bulkheads to make sure the stress is carried through to the original hull," Rick Hansen says.

Wing tanks will go in between the new hull plating and old sponson's plating.

Other work on the boat includes running new hydraulic lines, redesigning the exhaust system, moving the trawl winches and extending the gantry.

Also in August, crab boats were lined up at Fishing Vessel Owners Marine Ways, next to the Ballard Bridge at Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal, for their yearly maintenance check before heading to the Bering Sea for the start of October's king crab season. At the same time, halibut schooners, having filled their quotas, were starting to steam across the Gulf of Alaska, heading for the same docks.

But first things first, the house-aft, twin-screw crabber Valiant was in for more than a maintenance check. The 110-footer was hauled out at Fishing Vessel Owners Marine Ways after running aground in Southeast Alaska, while herring tendering.

"The props were damaged, and the rudders were bent. We are going through the steering and propulsion system," says Leif Pedersen, the boatyard's operations manager. Part of the propulsion system check includes a tail-shaft inspection to see if the shafts need to be realigned.

Two of the crabbers in for pier-side repair work were the 105-foot Paragon and the 115-foot Rollo, along with the Mark I, a trawler that also was tied to a pier.

The wooden halibut schooners coming down from another season of fishing in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska are probably the best maintained fishing boats in North America, and many of them are taken care of at Fishing Vessel Owners Marine Ways.

They have to be well maintained
, because "it's 90-plus years for several of them," Pedersen says. At least seven schooners will be tying up at Pedersen's dock. The oldest is the Tordenskjold, built in 1911. The Seymour, Vansee and Polaris were all built in 1913. The Grant built in 1925, the Northern in 1927 and the Aleutian in 1928 follow them in years served.

Pedersen won't know what work needs to be done, other than the caulking will be inspected, and some boats might require new planks.

"Those boats are maintained very well. They don't let things slide. If it has to do with the safety or operation of the boat, they keep up with it real well," Pedersen says.
— Michael Crowley


Builder uses hurricane wood; seed oysters keep boat going

A new Chesapeake Bay wooden deadrise-style commercial fishing boat was launched in early July at Haynie's Boat Yard on Cod Creek, just off the Potomac River in Northumberland County, Va.

The 29' x 9' x 2' 6" workboat was built for Malcolm Leubkert of Heathsville, Va., who is using the boat in the summer and spring crab-pot fishery.

Leubkert's boat is powered by a V-6, 165-hp gasoline engine from Marine Power. A Hurth marine transmission with a 2:1 reduction gear is bolted to the engine and turns a 17-inch wheel with 12 inches of pitch.

A steering stick and controls are mounted about amidships on the starboard side of the boat. This is a traditional arrangement for a Chesapeake Bay boat that allows the waterman to control the boat while fishing. For running to the fishing grounds and back, the boat can be controlled from inside the wheelhouse.

The sides and bottom planking on the 29-footer are spruce and rosemary pine, while the frames, keel and sister keelsons are white oak. All the wood is locally cut on Virginia's Northern Neck.

Right after Hurricane Isabel touched down in the Chesapeake area in 2003, boatbuilder Francis Haynie started getting phone calls to see if he could use any of the trees the storm had knocked down. Property owners weren't interested in selling the trees; they just wanted them moved. Haynie ended up with an abundance of spruce and rosemary pine trees over 100 years old. Some of that wood went into the 29-footer.

"I like to work with spruce and rosemary pine because it's not real hard and the grain is tight," he says. Haynie caulks the sideboard seams on his boat with cotton, using 100-year-old caulking tools.

With Leubkert's 29-footer out of his shop, Haynie is closing in on finishing another boat for the crab-pot fishery; only this one is a bit larger, at 31' 3" x 9' 2". Like the previous boat, the 31-footer will have a 165-hp gasoline engine from Marine Power and a Hurth marine gear with a 2:1 reduction. Once the 31-footer is gone, Haynie will start setting up an 18-foot wooden skiff.

In August, Ampro Shipyard in Weems, Va., had two boats on her railway, the wooden buy boat Delvin K. and the steel-hulled oyster planter Miss Delaney.

The 61' x 24' Miss Delaney is owned by Shores and Ruark of Urbanna, Va., and the 60' x 18' Delvin K. is owned by Jerry Pruitt of Tangier Island, Va. For the past several months, the boats have been working for the state of Virginia, hauling and planting oyster shells in Chesapeake Bay's Tangier Sound.

Rufus Ruark, one of the owners of Shores and Ruark, says both boats needed to have their bottoms painted as well as routine maintenance work. Ampro gave them a break on the railway bill by hauling the two boats at the same time, he says.

In the early 1980s, Ruark bought the Miss Delaney in Louisiana and brought it to Virginia to plant and haul seed in the bay's oyster fishery. Shores and Ruark sold her several years later to a Smith Island, Md., waterman, who used her to plant oyster shells and seed in Maryland.

Then three years ago, Shores and Ruark was looking for a boat to buy and found the Miss Delaney tied to a dock in Crisfield, Md., in rather bad shape.

"All the hand rails had rusted off," Ruark says. "Both engines were blown, and she looked to be on her last leg. Well, I knew she had a good hull and I knew she worked well in the oyster business, so my son and I bought her back."

The two 300-hp John Deere engines were rebuilt, the corroded metal was replaced, and once she was cleaned and painted, they had a good boat again, Ruark says.

"She's paying her keep," he says. "As long as the traditional seed oyster business keeps going, I think we will continue to have enough work for her."

After the Miss Delaney was hauled out, an inspection showed that both the boat's 2 1/2-inch shafts have corrosion problems, which will be repaired by the Ampro crew.

The Delvin K. is one of a few traditional wooden Chesapeake Bay buy boats still working. Pruitt does his own work on the 60-foot boat. He has a boatyard on Tangier Island, but the railway is not large enough to haul the Delvin K.
— Larry Chowning

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