Maine lobsterman builds a monster;
N.J. gillnetter goes Down East for boat

By Michael Crowley

I have the only one,” declares Veril “Suki” Pinkham Jr. He’s talking about his 42-foot lobster boat Sea Monster out of Beals, Maine. And he’s not just talking about the orange hull, though that’s unusual.

He’s referring to what he’s done to the boat, which was originally the Cedora C, built at RP Boat Shop in Steuben, Maine, 37 years ago. Cedora C was Pinkham’s mother, and the boat was built for his dad, Veril “Boody” Pinkham Sr. Boody died in February 2013, after which Suki took over the Cedora C. It was quickly evident that after nearly four decades the fiberglass boat needed some changes — major changes. So Pinkham worked out a deal with H&H Marine in Steuben whereby he would use part of the shop to rebuild the boat.

The next seven months, Pinkham spent five days a week at H&H Marine working on his boat. “I had help. All in all, about five guys helped,” Pinkham says, some for a day now and then, some for longer periods of time.

The major changes to the boat started when Pinkham took up a Skilsaw, measured a foot away from each stringer, then started cutting from the transom to 4 feet back of the bow.

“We pulled it apart until she started to buckle, then pulled it back a little bit until she wasn’t buckling and filled in the middle,” Pinkham says. That widened the hull by 3 feet 3 inches, to 14 feet 8 inches.

Then additional length was required. So Pinkham and his crew took a stern mold for an H&H 38, laid up a transom and glassed it into the original hull, gaining 5 feet in the process. The keel and sternpost also went back 3 feet. 

A wider and longer boat obviously called for a different wheelhouse and cuddy cabin. The new cabin is made up of sections from H&H 36, 38 and 40 wheelhouse molds. “We took pieces from each one and put it together as a puzzle,” Pinkham explains.

As part of the rebuilding process, they hauled out the original Cummins 305 and dropped a Cummins 405 onto the engine beds. When it came time to paint the boat, Pinkham changed his dad’s color scheme, painting the hull orange instead of white and the bottom black instead of copper.

After everything was finished, a buddy patted Pinkham on the back and told him: “You’ve done a good job with this boat. Your father will be awfully proud of you.”

As for the name, Sea Monster: “That was dad’s CB handle,” Pinkham explains. “To dedicate the boat to him, I named it after him. There’s a picture of him in the boat.”

In early October, gillnetter Kevin Wark brought his new boat, the 46-foot Dana Christine II, into Barnegat Light, N.J. He’d just steamed down from Cushing, Maine, where Hutchinson Composite had built the boat.

The 46' x 15' Dana Christine II is a stretched-out Mussel Ridge 42, which its builder, Albert Hutchinson, says is Hutchinson Composite’s first 46-footer. The hull, he says, “has a combination of skeg and built-down lines.”

Wark, who has owned a couple of Maine-built lobster boats, as well as a Novi, likes that combination. “It’s a hard chine with a big keel. This thing [Albert’s] got is something special.”

The extra 4 feet will come in handy. “You get so much added buoyancy when you stretch a boat, able to carry so much more weight. That’s what I’m after,” Wark says.

He works a mixed fishery, so the additional deck space allows him to carry a couple of different nets. “It helps a lot, as well as providing carrying capacity for fish.

While the hull was lengthened, the keel and rudderpost stayed the same, and since Wark hauls his nets over the stern, he notes that there will be a nice “bumper zone” between the prop and the nets.

Wark says the Dana Christine II has “nice accommodations and a big wheelhouse,” which will be useful, as he does a lot of bycatch mitigation work with people such as DeWayne Fox at Delaware State University, and all that wheelhouse space is perfect for carrying research equipment.

. . .

00 ATYicon WestOil-rig pump benefits fish-boat hydraulics;
boatyard builds new top-house gillnetter

By Michael Crowley

In spring 2013, Pat Pitsch at Strongback Metal Boats launched the Steadfast, a 46' x 16' aluminum pocket seiner, for John Love. This October the Bellingham, Wash., boatyard put a slightly larger seiner in the water for Rick Corazza, who will be fishing for salmon in Prince William Sound and possibly crabbing off the Oregon coast.

Corazza’s seiner, the Royal Fortune, comes in at 49' 9" x 16' x 2'. “I wanted to make sure it’s just a whisker under 50 feet,” says Pitsch, referring to the new rule requiring boats 50 feet and above to be classed (see “Boatbuilding quandary,” NF Nov. ’14, p. 32).

14dec NF ATYwest 230pxWideBesides the extra 3 feet, the Royal Fortune doesn’t have the Steadfast’s fly bridge, and the deck is 6 inches higher. Lifting up the deck and giving the hull additional length increased the fish holds’ capacity by at least 15,000 pounds, to 70,000 pounds.  A 20-ton RSW system from Integrated Marine Systems in Seattle will chill the catch.

In the engine room is a 700-hp Volvo that’s matched up with a 24-inch TraktorJet. However, it’s what’s behind the Volvo that is unique for a commercial fishing boat, Pitsch says: “It’s a [power-pump drive] that has only been used on oil rigs.”

The pump drive, from WPT Power Corp. in Wichita Falls, Texas, is between the Volvo and the gearbox. Four hydraulic pumps can be run off it “with the flick of a switch,” says Pitsch. “No one’s ever done it on a fishing boat.”

This helps get away from what Pitsch refers to as “exotic hydraulics that are really complex. We wanted to simplify it. You can completely disengage rather than have it running all the time, having to cool all that oil that’s constantly moving.” Two gear pumps run off the pump drive, each pulling 40 gpm.

Pitsch admits that Corazza is a little uneasy about the power-pump drive, because it hasn’t been used in the fisheries. “He’s apprehensive,” Pitsch says, “but excited.” With any luck at all, the Royal Fortune should do as well as the Steadfast. “That worked out really well,” says Pitsch. “He just murdered the fish.”

In 2011, Mavrik Marine in La Conner, Wash., started with four employees. Now the boatyard has 75 employees working seven days a week on four different shifts.

“We have a waiting list. We may have one slot open in November” to build a new boat, says Mavrik Marine’s founder, Zachery Battle.

Among the aluminum boats being built are five 32' x 14' 6" Bristol Bay gillnetters. Four have a conventional wheelhouse, while the fifth is a new model for the boatyard.

“It’s a top-house design with a fly bridge, with all the accommodations down below, Battle says,” All five boats are prop driven with a single 730-hp diesel from MAN Diesel & Turbo. The engine, says Battle, is a good choice, because it has a “really good weight-to-horsepower ratio and is very fuel efficient and very quiet.”

He acknowledges there is a question of “how committed MAN is to [Bristol] Bay.” But he adds that MAN has made a commitment “both verbally and physically. They had a guy up to the bay right to the end this past year.”

Each gillnetter packs 18,500 pounds and will chill salmon with RSW units from Integrated Marine Systems.

Besides the gillnetters, Mavrik Marine is building a 49' 11" x 24' tender for the local Lummi reef-net fishery.  There’s also a good possibility a second tender will be built for Bristol Bay. The design is a cooperative arrangement between Mavrik Marine and Seattle’s Jensen Maritime Consultants.

The tenders can be set up to hold fish either on ice in totes or in RSW tanks. The RSW system is dismountable with a TransVac fish pump.

Besides building boats, says Battle, Mavrik Marine now has a repair division that is doing refits and repowers. At the end of September a 58-foot limit seiner was being hauled and a 59-footer was going into the water.

. . .

00 ATYicon SouthAla. yard finishes 78-foot combo boat;
Va. watermen keep old boats fishing

By Larry Chowning

Williams Fabrication had its last boat launching in Coden, Ala. It was high tide, Sept. 16, at 5 a.m. when the 78-foot Liberty, a combination crabber and lobster boat went in the water.

 “It’s the second one I’ve launched in the dark, and it’s kind of scary,” says the boatyard’s Dale Williams. “We have to launch them at high tide to accommodate the vessel’s draft.”

14dec NF ATYsouth 230pxWideWilliams Fabrication is moving from its 0.8-acre site in Coden to a 6-acre parcel in nearby Bayou La Batre, with 560 feet of bayou frontage and deeper water for launching boats.
The 78' x 25' Liberty is the 10th boat Williams Fabrication has built for Lars Vinjerud II of Oceans Fleet Fisheries in New Bedford, Mass. For power, a 600-h.p. Cummins QSK19M is bolted to a Twin Disc marine gear with a 5:1 reduction that turns a 54" x 58" Michigan four-bladed prop. Two John Deere 65-kW generators are also in the engine room.

Williams launched the Revolution, a sister ship to the Liberty, earlier this year and has a contract with Vinjerud to build an 85' x 25' combination crabber/scalloper. That will be the boatyard’s hull No. 123.
Moving up to Chesapeake Bay, the Virginia Marine Resource Commission passed conservation measures in May that shortened the peeler-crab season. It was suppose to close Oct. 1, but that was changed to Sept. 16 because of a 10-percent decrease in the overall harvest. The early closure prompted crabbers to get their boats ready sooner than normal for the start of October’s oyster season.    
Nathan “Dupy” Garnett of Water View was among those who hauled out early. His 42-foot Traveller was on the rails at Dozier Yachting Center in Urbanna. The rudder had dislodged and ruined the prop. A new 26" x 30", three-blade prop that costs $1,600 will be installed the day the boat goes back in the water.

“I’m not going to install the prop until the day I’m completely finished,” says Garnett. “I don’t want to leave it out overnight for someone to steal. They are like gold. When my father bought one of his early 42-foot deadrise boats for crabbing, he had $5,000 tied up in the entire boat. Now a prop cost $1,600. The cost of doing business has changed.”

The late Frances Haynie built the Traveller on Virginia’s Northern Neck. The late Alvin Sibley, a longtime Deltaville boatbuilder, replaced the house several years ago.

Now a portion of the stem needs to be replaced, and Garnett laments that he has to do the work himself. “I’m pretty good with wood,” he says. “But I really wish some of the old boatbuilders were still around to help me out.”

The stem’s upper portion will be made up of three pieces of salt-treated pine, laminated together and fastened with stainless steel screws and bolts.

Waterman John Newsome of Lottsburg, Va., had the Glenda Marie on the rails at The Boatyard at Christchurch in Saluda, Va., which is on the Rappahannock River. He was getting the 29' x 8' fiberglass boat, built in 1989 by Robbins Boatbuilders, ready for the oyster season. Part of the work included installing a used Chrysler 318 gasoline engine.

Newsome had removed a well-worn Chrysler 440 and had it lying on the ground. He installed the engine himself. Another waterman helped with wiring the engine. Newsome bought the boat used for $2,000 and has worked it for 21 years.

The now-defunct Robbins Boatbuilders, which was located in Cambridge, Md., started building fiberglass deadrise workboats in 1973. “Over the years, I’ve worked my boat hard, and she is one tough boat,” says Newsome. “Robbins built a good boat, and I’ve benefited from it.” Newsome, 47, has fished on the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers and Chesapeake Bay for over 30 years.

Garnett and Newsome are typical of many industrious and capable watermen on Chesapeake Bay who do their own wood and mechanical work.


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