Maine yard has the 46-foot market; 25-year-old prop is worth copying
At Wesmac Custom Boats in Surry, Maine, 46 is the magic number. That's Wesmac's standard 46 footer and the new Super 46 with a 17-foot 6-inch beam, 3 feet wider than the older design.
Those two designs take up all but one of the seven boatbuilding bays at Wesmac Custom Boats. They also have resulted in new boatbuilding bays being built and the hiring of a boatbuilding night-shift crew. "Every bay is full with a finish job going on," says the boatyard's Steve Wessel. "We are planning launchings into 2016."
The first Super 46 went out to Lash Brothers Boatyard in Friendship, Maine, where it's being finished off with a 1,000-hp Caterpillar C18 for Jacob Lee, a local lobsterman.
All the boats being built at the Wesmac boatyard are for bluefin tuna fishermen and all will have green sticks. The boats are going to fishermen in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and North Carolina.
Hull No. 2 for the Super 46 is going to Dan Smalley, a tuna fisherman in Barnegat Light, N.J. Hull No. 3 is being built for Cape Cod's Maury Povich and Connie Chung. Povich hosts the TV show "Maury" and Chung co-hosted "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather. Wessel says their son will operate the boat after it is launched in 2015. Until then they are tuna fishing with the Hazel Brown, a Wesmac 46 built in 2000.
The one boat under construction that's not a 46-footer is a Wesmac 38-foot tuna boat for Wessel's wife, Linda Greenlaw Wessel, fishing boat skipper and author who is known for her role in the "Perfect Storm" book and film.
Atlantic Trawlers Fishing in Portland, Maine, had a problem: What to do about the four-blade prop on their 85-foot trawler Harmony, a top producer for the company? The 70-inch prop was old and had developed cracks in the blades. The company that built the 25-year-old prop is out of business, and there are no original patterns or molds to replicate it.
"The wheel was prized by the skipper. [The Harmony] had a combination of wheel and hull that everyone was happy with," says Atlantic Trawlers Fishing's Marty Odlin. In college Odlin did three-dimensional scanning. He wondered if that couldn't be done with the Harmony's prop. Measuring the prop and generating a representative CAD file is called "reverse engineering"; it's done by ECM Global Measuring Services, the company Odlin contacted in Topsfield, Mass.
ECM knew they wouldn't have a lot of time once they were notified the boat was to be hauled. "They wanted to know if we could be there in two hours," says ECM's Sarah Vigue, remembering the cold December morning the Harmony was hauled out at Rose's Marine in Gloucester, Mass. "The boat would have to go back in the water within hours," she adds.
ECM arrived at Rose's Marine with one of its 3-D laser trackers and set it up behind the prop. "It was freezing cold," says Vigue. Odlin admits, "We were a little nervous about the cold affecting the laser scanning."
In part that's because the operator — bare handed — moves a small metal ball with a mirror over the prop blade. "The laser finds it and follows it as it moves around on the blade," Vigue says.
Only one blade was measured — the other three would be replicas. In a five-hour period, Vigue estimates "10,000 or more points of data" were measured on the single blade, capturing even the ripples on the blade's surface. That data was cleaned up, converted to a CAD file and sent to Atlantic Trawlers.
"We can fabricate a new wheel from it," says Odlin, or even scale it to different sizes for other boats. — Michael Crowley
Wash. yard builds fiberglass seiners; bowpickers for Prince William Sound
Demand remains strong for the fiberglass crabbers and seiners being built at Maritime Fabrications. A couple of 49-foot coastal crabbers were delivered at the end of 2013, a 39-footer is now under construction at the LaConner, Wash., boatyard, as are two 49-foot seiners.
One of the crabbers delivered in November was the 49' x 18' Legacy that fishes out of Bodega Bay, Calif. She has 1,200 cubic feet of hold space with a 9-ton refrigerated seawater system. For power there's a 575-hp John Deere.
In a Maritime Fabrications boat, everything structural is fiberglass except for the mast and rigging. That, says the boatyard's Isaac Oczkewicz, gives their boats an advantage. "Fiberglass gives them an edge over steel as far as maintenance and corrosion goes."
Hulls for the crabbers and the seiners are based on designs by the late Seattle architect Lynn Senour. Oczkewicz says the boatyard started working with Senour in the mid-1970s, though the designs they are using now were developed in the early 2000s.
He describes the Senour hull as a "hard-chine planing hull with a very full bow to it, so it makes tracking real good and is a very buoyant and high-capacity hull. We like to call them a big little boat. They pack a lot for their size."
The crabber that's being built measures 39' x 13' and will probably have a 450-hp John Deere for power, though that's not 100 percent certain.
The pair of 49' x 18' seiners for Prince William Sound and Sitka being built at Maritime Fabrications will be ready in time for this year's seining season. The boats sleep six, with five in the forepeak and one in the pilothouse. In the engine rooms is a 900-hp Scania diesel for power. The boats should pack between 75,000 and 80,000 pounds of pinks.
The hull is solid fiberglass, while the wheelhouse, bulkheads and deck are cored. For the deck it's a combination of Nida-Core — a plastic honeycomb material — and high-density foam. "There's two layers of core in the deck; it's about 3 1/2 inches thick," says Oczkewicz.
At the end of February, there were "serious discussions" about building a seiner for a fisherman in Kodiak.
Hard Drive Marine in Bellingham, Wash., continues to build its aluminum bowpickers for salmon fishermen in Alaska's Prince William Sound.
Three gillnetters were under construction at the end of February. Two of them are "standard" length — 34' x 12' — says the boatshop's Tom Day, while the third measures 34' x 13'. That gillnetter also has a fly bridge, which Day says, "is a first for us. It's not common in Prince William Sound."
One bowpicker will be finished in March for Ryan Broughton of Seward, Alaska. The remaining two will be out the doors in time for salmon season.
All three boats are powered with water jets. The jet that's proven the most popular with gillnetters over the past year or so is Marine Jet Power's UltraJet. "We did three boats last year with UltraJets and are doing three this year with UltraJets," Day says. One reason for UltraJet's popularity is its price point — about $25,000 each. "That makes it more attractive," he notes.
Hard Drive Marine recently completed a 32' x 11' fisheries patrol boat for the Lummi Nation, a self-governing tribe on Puget Sound. The house forward boat has a pair of Hamilton 241 water jets matched up with 350-hp Yanmar diesels.
Though boatshops like Hard Drive Marine have kept busy building gillnetters for Prince William Sound, as fishermen have been replacing tired older boats with new gillnetters, Day says some people think the market is getting saturated.
"We are doing well, but there are a lot of new boats in Cordova," he notes. For potential slack boatbuilding periods, Day has been developing a market for landing craft. A couple of landing craft have gone to fishing and hunting lodges, while one that's due to have construction start in March is for the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps injured veterans.
In this case, the 30' x 10' boat will be built for a Vietnam veteran who will volunteer his time and the boat to "take veterans in wheelchairs and amputees fishing and crabbing in Puget Sound," Day says. — Michael Crowley
Bad weather puts boatyards behind; gulf yard sends ex-scalloper out west
Omega Protein's menhaden fleet in Reedville, Va., is in three Virginia yards for repairs. The 164-foot John S. Dempster Jr. is having in-water structural work done at Chesapeake Marine Railway in Deltaville, and the 160-foot Tidelands is at Ampro Shipyard in Weems.
The Tidelands is having a bulkhead replaced between the engine room and fish hold, new framing in the bow, and the majority of the decking replaced. "It's a huge amount of steel work," says Lynn Haynie, Ampro's yard manager. "They are trying to get as much done here as possible, so when it goes to Lyon [Shipyard in Norfolk, Va.], it will only have to be hauled for routine bottom work."
On the John S. Dempster Jr., Chesapeake Marine Railway is putting new framing in the forepeak and aft ballast tank. The rest of Omega's fleet is going to Lyon Shipyard to be hauled. "If we have work that can be done inside the boat, we like to offer it up to local companies," says Omega Protein's general manager, Monty Deihl.
The Dempster will be at Chesapeake Marine Railway for four to six weeks and the Tidelands at Ampro for two months. After that, both boats will be hauled at Lyon Shipyard for routine bottom maintenance in preparation for spring fishing.
"Lyon Shipyard is a family owned shipyard right down in Norfolk," says Deihl. "They have been doing the majority of our work for years now, and they have the facilities to haul our boats.
"We are a little bit behind on our off-season maintenance," he adds. "All this bad weather has put the shipyards behind, as we can't get the painting done; but we will get it all done."
Chesapeake Marine Railway has the oyster seed planter and dredge boat Captain Ellery, owned by the seafood company W.E. Kellum of Weems in for annual maintenance work, including painting the bottom, replacing zincs, and cleaning and inspecting the running gear, says the boatyard's Jon Farinholt.
The 70-foot boat is named for the founder of the company, the late W. Ellery Kellum, who started the business on Carters Creek in 1948. Since then, it has grown into one of the largest oyster companies in Virginia.
Jemison Marine & Shipbuilding in Bayou La Batre, Ala., has five shrimp boats hauled. "It's their annual wintertime maintenance haul," says the boatyard's Tim Jemison.
Jemison Marine & Shipbuilding is also converting the 98-foot scalloper Titan out of New Bedford, Mass., to a crab and salmon boat for fisheries in Alaska and Oregon.
She's now 78 feet long after 20 feet of the bow was removed to enable the ex-scalloper to meet a West Coast fishing permit. There's new woodwork throughout the boat, new electronics are being installed, two fish holds are being reworked, a storage compartment was built behind the fish holds, and a new 600-hp Cummins Diesel is in the engine room.
The rise of the Chesapeake Bay oyster business brought new blood into the oyster business. Keith Russ, owner of Deltaville Boatyard in Deltaville, Va., is rebuilding the 40-foot wooden deadrise Jacqui Anne to go dredging oysters himself.
The late Dick Norris of Deltaville had the Jacqui Anne built in 1952. Ten years ago as payment for the boat, Russ paid a small amount and promised the seller he would provide him free annual haulout for the rest of his life. "He's still hauling his boat out free," says Russ.
Deltaville Boatyard is installing new oak frames and new fir planking. "I'm going to dredge her, so I'm not going to put a house back on her," Russ says. "We will need plenty of open space inside the boat to work."
Deltaville Boatyard is also working on the 36-foot wooden deadrise Cooper Hill, built in 1959 by the late Deltaville boatbuilder Robert Dudley. The boatyard replaced the washboards, put new planking on both sides of the hull and refastened the chine log.
The Cooper Hill, which was in the oyster and blue-crab fisheries, belongs to the Deltaville Maritime Museum and is used for creek rides to entertain museum visitors. — Larry Chowning