Repairs and newbuilds fill up shop; Rough separation for the Better Half

The boatbuilding and repair bays at H&H Marine in Steuben, Maine, are packed, and it doesn't look like there will be a letup any time soon.

Two 37-foot Repcos were in for refurbishing. One of the 37-footers lost its wheelhouse in a fire. The crew at H&H Marine put a molded top on and "laid up the port and starboard side forward of the main bulkhead," says the boatyard's Bruce Grindal. That boat fishes out of Eastport, Maine.

ATY 320pxWideThe second Repco, from nearby Beals Island, had its rotting plywood and fiberglass wheelhouse pulled off and replaced with a molded top. In addition, "The deck was removed and we cleaned the hull right out," Grindal adds.

The yard crew widened the boat by 39 inches, lengthened it by 5 feet and repowered it with a new 405-hp Cummins. Widening the hull allowed it to accept a new H&H Marine Osmond 37 molded top. "Four or five have had us widen out the hull and put our top on," says Grindal.

In what he describes as "a major rehab," a new pilothouse and wash rails are going on an older Osmond 40; the original fiberglass and plywood deck is being replaced with a composite deck and fiberglass I-beams. The lobster boat is also getting a new 610-hp Cummins, a new shaft and three live-lobster tanks.

H&H Marine delivered the first of a new wide Osmond 36 design, with 15 feet of beam instead of 14 feet 4 inches, to Mount Desert Island's Justin Sprague in April. The Black Velvet has a 430-hp Iveco for power.

The only boat not going to a Maine fisherman is an Osmond 40 that will leave the yard by July 31 on a flatbed to be trucked to a crabber in California. She'll have a split wheelhouse, 405-hp Cummins, 9-kW Northern Lights generator, 8,000-pound live well, small galley, enclosed head and four bunks.

At the end of April, H&H Marine was preparing molds to build two Osmond 42s and an Osmond 47.

If you cover your deck with asphalt deck tiles, it's easy to think you'll never have to replace them. The tiles are advertised as rugged, durable and waterproof. But tiles wear down and become uneven; then they are hell on your knees. Eventually they have to come off, but it isn't easy. Just ask Sune Noreen at the Jonesport Shipyard in Jonesport, Maine, who removed tiles from the deck of the 38-foot lobster boat Mum's Girls.

It was "a bear of a job" says Noreen. "They don't come up easy."

It being winter, Noreen had an ice chipper handy, which he used to remove much of the tiling. The smaller pieces and stuff used to attach the tiles to the deck were tougher to break loose. For that, Noreen went at it with a sharpened woodworking slick, slicing away the residue and a layer of gel coat. Constant sharpening removed a 16th of an inch off the slick.

Once Noreen had cleared the deck, he put on Tuff Coat, which uses rubber aggregates to create a non-slip surface that's said to be easy on a fisherman's legs.

Besides the non-slip deck coating, the Mum's Girls got a new cutlass bearing with bolts installed through 6-inch side-access holes that were then fiberglassed over.

Another repair job at Jonesport Shipyard came about when the wind unexpectedly turned hard from the northeast and separated the 40-foot Better Half, a Bruno & Stillman lobster boat, from her dock lines, then slammed her up against the approach to the bridge spanning Moosabec Reach, going from Jonesport to Beals Island.

"She got stuck on the approach and sat there for a couple of hours," says Noreen. "She ground herself quite badly, but it didn't go through." Repairs required "a tremendous amount of grinding" and fiberglassing. The yard crew replaced the rudder, rebuilt the rudder box, and fastened down and glassed-in the skeg, which had been knocked loose.

Noreen's crew does a little bit of everything at the Jonesport Shipyard. When they finished the lobster boats, they installed a new bow thruster on a 32-footer built in Indonesia; it also got upgraded systems and new woodworking. An antique 17-foot wooden Old Town Canoe was also in for repairs.
— Michael Crowley


Ore. yard widens California squid boat; builder specializes in small crab boats

J&H Boatworks in Astoria, Ore., has a good name for itself when it comes to large-scale renovations on commercial fishing boats. Last year they sent the Cape St. Elias back to Alaska, somewhat wider and with a new whaleback and bulbous bow.

At the beginning of May, the Gorbuscha and the Provider were just about ready to go back fishing after extensive renovation work.

The Gorbuscha, a 58-foot salmon seiner out of Sitka, Alaska, arrived in Astoria without an upper pilothouse. "So we put a new upper pilothouse on his fly bridge and added a beavertail beneath the rudder," says the boatyard's Tim Hill. They also added ballast to the keel "to tide him over until he can do a sponsoning down the road."

The beavertail will help keep line out of the prop, and its aerodynamic design may improve the boat's performance. Hill says that the boat's owner, Andrew Scudder, should be able to determine fairly quickly if the beavertail affects the boat's performance.

"He didn't have other modifications, so he will be able to compare the performance before and after." Improvements would be better fuel consumption and increased thrust.

The Provider, a 58-foot squid seiner from Long Beach, Calif., was getting painted in early May after the yard crew pulled off a full sponson job, put on a new bulbous bow and did "a ton of fish hold work," says Hill.

Sponsoning the boat pushed its beam out to 24 feet from 18 feet, which was as much additional beam as the boat's fishing permit allows. That increased the size of the fish hold, which was then completely lined with stainless steel. A new generator went in the expanded engine room along with a 350-gallon hydraulic tank.

Up on deck, a new net reel and roller was installed. "Everything got modified as the boat got bigger," Hill notes.

With the Gorbuscha and the Provider out of the shop, a tuna longliner was due to have its stainless steel fish hold pulled out and replaced with a fiberglass hold. The problem with the stainless steel fish hold is that "it's a leaker," says Hill. His crew will repair any damage to the inside of the boat's hull and then sandblast and paint the whole boat.

In the fall another squid boat will be in to be sponsoned and have a whaleback built onto the hull. "It will be a huge project," Hill says.

On a slightly smaller scale Roger Allard is building three fiberglass crabbers, all under 32 feet, at his Buffalo Boats shop in Bellingham, Wash., and recently launched another one. Allard designed all the boats.

The boat most recently launched was a 29' x 10' crabber that went to Blaine, Wash. It's a cabin forward design with a hauling block on the starboard side. "It's just a basic boat," Allard says.

The largest boat under construction measures 32' x 11' 3". It should be delivered to Anacortes, Wash., by the middle of the summer.

For power she'll have a 330-hp Volvo D6. Forward of that will be the cabin with a V-berth and head. On deck will be two steering stations.

There's no fish hold, as the crabs are kept on deck. "They deliver them every day," Allard says.

The boat's owner and Allard haven't decided what the deck will be constructed of. It could be foam composite, which the owner is interested in, or a plywood deck. "I'm trying to talk him out of [the foam deck] and put down a plywood deck and glass it over — 'cause that works," says Allard.

The other two boats are spec boats. The one farthest along is a cabin forward model measuring 28' x 10'. It will be used only for crabbing. The boat could be powered with an outboard or an inboard/outboard, but Allard says he'll let the future owner make that decision.

The second spec boat is a 26-footer. It's a
basic boat with just a deck and a side steering station. Acknowledging the fact that he's building two spec boats, Allard laughs and says, "I'm taking a lot of chances." — Michael Crowley


Builder's first boat goes oystering; PVC replaces wood for Va. crabber

Walt Chandler builds houses in Onancock, Va., but over the years he has dabbled in boatbuilding. In March, Chandler delivered his first commercial one-off fishing boat to Mark Wallace, an oysterman, crabber and clam grower out of Quinby, Va.

Wallace works the shallow waters on the seaside of Virginia's Eastern Shore, behind the string of barrier islands running from Chincoteague to Fisherman Island.

Wallace also uses his boat — the Megalodon, named after the giant prehistoric shark — on the bayside, which means a lengthy run around the eastern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula to arrive at his oyster grounds, says Chandler.

Wallace grows oysters in cages and farms clams on state leased grounds. He has worked out of a boat from Carolina Skiff for years, but Chandler talked him into buying his 29' x 11' 6" x 6", semi-V-bottom pram-bowed barge.

"I built it to compete against the Carolina Skiff," says Chandler. "The watermen on the seaside need a low-draft boat to work in extremely shallow waters around the barrier islands. They also need a boat that can carry a decent payload and has a stable work platform to work from. The V in the bottom also provides stability when underway."

The boat is framed out with 2" x 6" salt-treated pine and has seven 3" x 12" transverse pine floor timbers. At the bow is a stout 4" x 4" white oak stem piece. Over the framework there's 3/4-inch fir marine plywood on the bottom, transom and bow. The sides are 1/2-inch marine plywood. One layer of fiberglass and epoxy covers the hull on both the inside and outside.

The first week Wallace used the outboard powered Megalodon, he hauled 100 bushels of clutch shell to his oyster grounds to provide a clean, hard shell bottom that oysters can attach to. He also brought home 50 bushels of market-size clams in baskets. When the 2,100-pound Megalodon was loaded with the 2,000 pounds of clams, the 115-hp Yamaha outboard pushed the skiff along at 20 knots.

On Chesapeake Bay's western shore, Cockrell's Marine Railway in Heathsville, Va., delivered a 20-foot PVC skiff to Mervin Delano Jr. of Wellford on the Rappahannock River. Delano uses the skiff for crabbing and gillnetting.

The skiff's bottom and sides are 1-inch PVC panels, along with 1 1/4-inch PVC in high-stress areas. All the pieces are cut from 4' x 20' sheets.

The skiff has a 1" x 3" PVC bilge chine log and a 1" x 3" sheer clamp under 6-inch washboards to stiffen the hull.

In the past, Wellford had a popular steamboat landing — Wellfords Wharf — which was a good place to load up on fish. Generations of the Delano family fished out of Wellford and built 20' x 5' low-sided wooden boats known as Wellford skiffs. The sides were lower than on skiffs from other areas because in bad weather fishermen had to go under a very low bridge to moor their skiffs in Pecks Creek.

When Delano tired of maintaining his wooden skiff and decided she needed more repairs than she was worth, he called Myles Cockrell and had him build the PVC skiff with lines similar to the traditional wooden Wellford flat-bottom skiff.

The increased productivity of Chesapeake Bay's oyster fishery has encouraged the Cockrells and others to move into the oyster business. Cockrell's Marine Railway recently took a 38' x 12' houseboat hull and converted her to an oyster boat for Myles and his father Andy.

"I cut her down, decked her over and made an oyster barge out of her to plant spat-on-shell," says Myles. "She's bad now [meaning she's a good boat], and she works fine. This oyster thing is really generating some unusual rebuilding activity.

"I'll tell you the truth, we've been busier this season oystering than we have working our railway," he says. "From just before Christmas until now, all we've been doing is getting up oysters to meet demand. We are getting good money for them, too." — Larry Chowning

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