R.I. boatshop moves to Point Judith;
a full calendar at Maine finishing shop

By Michael Crowley

At the beginning of August, Harborside Boat Repair moved from Wakefield to Point Judith, R.I. “We moved down the pond 4 miles, and now we are right in the middle of the fleet,” says Harborside Boat Repair’s Rich Fuka. “Everybody,” he adds, “has been real receptive.”

They have plenty of work, everything from replacing engines, bulkheads and cabins to installing shower stalls in steel draggers. The first completed job left Point Judith at the end of September.

That was the Martha Elizabeth, a 38-foot Dixon owned by Massachusetts fisherman Wes Brighton of Martha’s Vineyard. Brighton recently bought the boat from a Tiverton, R.I., fisherman.

He has been conch fishing but, says Fuka, wanted to get into other fisheries and thought a split wheelhouse would make things a lot easier. When the Martha Elizabeth arrived in Point Judith, Harborside Boat Repair had laid up several Nida-Core panels for the wheelhouse, which was also to be extended aft.

The project included boxing in the exhaust, which had made the previous wheelhouse very noisy. The Nida-Core panels that enclosed the exhaust got 2 inches of insulation to reduce the noise.

The 3/4-inch Nida-Core panels used in the wheelhouse received three layers of 1-1/2-ounce mat on both sides, “making them very rigid,” says Fuka.

Where the panels were to be located, the deck’s epoxy nonskid and fiberglass beneath it were cut through down to the plywood deck. “We [cut] a 1-foot swath where the vertical pieces would be so we had fresh plywood to glass to,” says Fuka. Two layers of fiberglass went on the exposed plywood and the wheelhouse panels were glassed to that.

The new split wheelhouse, with a sliding door and sliding windows that Harborside Boat Repair built, added weight to the deck, but Fuka says no additional supports for the deck were required. “Dixon built a really nice boat. It was heavily constructed with really big timbers. We didn’t have to reinforce it.”

With work done on the Martha Elizabeth, Harborside Boat Repair turned its attention to the Crystal Gail. When Fuka and his partner, Steve Perkins, operated out of Wakefield, they replaced the working deck and everything below it. (Read more in “Roebucks’ prospects” NF August ’14, p. 28.) Now the Crystal Gail is in for a new wheelhouse, as well as a new crash bulkhead.

Up in Maine, Light’s Fiberglass in Corea has its calendar filled up until the beginning of 2017 with nine boats to finish off. One or two are charter boats; the rest are for commercial fishermen.

A Calvin 44 for Justin Wright in Cutler, Maine, was the most recent boat to be launched. The 44-footer hit 26 knots on sea trials, behind the power of its 750-hp John Deere that’s matched up to a ZF marine gear with a 2:1 reduction spinning a 34-inch prop.

The boatshop’s Mike Light expects the boat to go even faster because she was running at barely 80 percent load. “With more pitch, it will get more speed.”

Light and his crew are finishing off a Wesmac Super 46 with a 17-foot 6-inch beam for John Drouin, another Cutler lobsterman. She’ll have an 800-hp Cat for power.

One thing these two boats have in common is size. Lobstermen in particular are opting for larger boats. “Fifteen years ago, everybody was downsizing,” notes Light. “But now they know it’s coming. It’s trawls. Everything outside of three miles will have to be fished with trawls. A bigger boat can haul two or three 20-trap trawls and reset them all.”

That is also why he’s been installing larger hydraulic pumps and motors. “They’ve got lots of power and speed,” which will be useful for fishing trawls.

Light’s Fiberglass has also been putting larger hydraulic pumps and motors on existing boats.”

* * *

00 ATYicon WestA boat ahead of its time gets an update;
Wash. yard builds multifisheries spec boat

By Michael Crowley

If you are anywhere near Juneau, Alaska, and want to see a bit of fiberglass boatbuilding history torn apart and then put back together, drop by the Boat Doc.

15jan NF ATYwestInside the boatshop is the Cindy Kay, a 40-foot Lindell-built gillnetter dating back to the early 1980s. “This is original,” says the Boat Doc’s Jeff George. “I believe it was the plug they built the mold from. I’m guessing, but 150 40-footers came from it.”

Todd Daugherty, a Juneau crabber and salmon fisherman, owns the Cindy Kay. He brought it to the Boat Doc to have the deck and fish hold rebuilt.

At the Boat Doc, George generally has the boat’s owner do the ripping and tearing needed to remove old material. “It’s a way for fishermen to save a good chunk of change.”

So after Daugherty opened up the after part of the boat and removed everything there, George could tell that the Lindell 40 was “a little ahead of its time. There was not much wood. Most of the material used was foam and fiberglass.” Though after nearly 30 years, the foam was wet and adding a lot of weight to the boat.

Two-inch polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, foam is being used for the six slush tanks and two center-line crab tanks. Against the hull, 2-inch Airex foam is going down for insulation. The panels are glassed with 1708 stitch mat and isoresin. “It has high performance and is stronger than orthoresin,” says George.

The main working deck is to be 1-inch PET, with 2-inch PET on the aft deck. The hatch covers will be 1-inch PET with solid fiberglass coamings.

The 2-inch PET-foam panels in the fish hold are stiff enough that George figures he won’t have to add any vertical support for the deck.

The deck will be further stiffened by two inset 5-inch fiberglass channels for the sliding net reel. “The channels will be the same height as the deck so you don’t trip over them,” says George.

When the new deck goes down, it’ll be a bit lower than the old one. Daugherty crabs in the winter, and the lower deck is an advantage when stacking pots. The deck will be flush with the hatch cover.

Delta Marine Industries, which made its name as a builder of fiberglass seiners and crabbers in the 1970s then focused on yachts and megayachts in the early 1990s, starting building for commercial fishermen again in 2012.

Currently the Seattle boatyard is well into the construction of a 58' x 27' steel boat being built on spec. The Hockema & Whalen design will be good for crabbing, dragging or longlining, says Delta Marine’s Chris Jones.

“It will have the first infused composite panel system,” he says, giving the fish holds “really high quality and durability.”

The two fish holds total 3,342 cubic feet. There’s also a 325-cubic-foot bait hold that could be used as a dry or 
wet hold.

An engine hasn’t been selected, but the boat is getting systems that aren’t fisheries dependent. “We are putting stuff in that we know will cross the different fishing realms,” Jones says.

A fuel transfer system will allow the operator to strip fuel from any tank into any other tank. It also has a 50-ton refrigerated seawater system from Seattle’s Integrated Marine Systems. “We knew it would be big enough,” Jones says, “to support any fishing the boat needs to go into.”

Stainless plumbing and manifolding are in place. Stainless steel is also being used throughout the rest of the boat, including handrails, guards and through fittings to keep maintenance costs down.

Accommodations are for seven, with four in the main stateroom, two in the captain’s stateroom and a day berth in the pilothouse.

The keel was laid and all the steel for the 58-footer was purchased before the July 1, 2013, deadline imposed by the Coast Guard Authorization Act, which means the boat does not have to be classed. “We had the whole steel structure pretty much completed by that time,” says Jones.

“The principle behind this boat,” says Jones, “is to build a boat that’s a little nicer than the rest of the fleet.”


* * *

00 ATYicon South

Wooden boats come back in Virginia;
25-foot gillnetter is under construction

By Larry Chowning

With the growth of Virginia’s oyster fishery — last year’s harvest was over 500,000 bushels — older wooden deadrise boats are suddenly in great demand. Part of what’s fueling that demand is the business of leasing boats to oystermen who are re-entering the fishery.

15jan NF ATYsouthIt’s a Chesapeake Bay tradition going back to the days of sail when shore-based operators leased boats for fishing and carrying freight or allowed watermen to work the boats on shares.

Tony Ferguson of Gloucester County, Va., grew up working the water but like so many bay watermen transferred his maritime skills to tugboats. He recently bought back the wooden deadrise boat he and his father oystered and crabbed from when he was a boy. Ferguson is having Poquoson, Va., boatwright Scott Emerson refurbish the boat at York Haven Marina in Poquoson.

Ferguson does not plan to give up his day job on tugs, but he sees an opportunity to help pay for the boat by leasing it to an oysterman. Grover Lee Owens of Deltaville, Va., built Ferguson’s wooden deadrise in 1971 for waterman Ernest Diggs Jr., who named her the Maureen D. The Fergusons purchased the boat from Diggs who had Owens build him a larger boat.

Emerson is replacing rotten wood in the sides, ribs, logged stern, washboards and coaming. He will also replace the pilothouse and fiberglass the sides.

The need for wooden boats has encouraged ex-boat carpenters to get back into the business. Emerson is a case in point. For 25 years, Emerson’s father operated York Haven Marina, then known as Chester’s Boatworks. Emerson learned the trade from his father but also learned to lay bricks, which is how he made his living during the housing boom of the 1990s. With a decline in new housing and more demand for boat carpenters, he’s back working on boats.

“I learned from my dad and from being around here on the yard,” he says. “When I was a boy there were some good woodworkers here at dad’s yard, and I learned from them.”

A visit to Reedville Marine Railway in Reedville, Va. and yard owner George Butler always generates fodder for this column. Inside Butler’s shop is a nearly completed 25' 8" x 9' deadrise gillnetter.

The owner’s wife once owned an Odis Cockrell-built skiff. Cockrell specialized in incorporating tumblehome in the sides of his boats. She requested that tumblehome be in their new skiff, and Butler accommodated her. There’s also some brightwork as the mahogany guards are finished off with a clear finish.

A 150-hp outboard will power thegillnetter. There will be a self-draining cockpit with two scupper holes cut in the stern. When Butler launches the skiff, he’ll put a slotted wooden platform over the stern where the outboard will be mounted. The platform, with weights, simulates the weight of the motor. With the stern pushed down, he can determine the height of the scupper holes and waterline.

“We want the waterline right, and we’ve got to get the self-draining holes right for the cockpit,” he says. “This is just one way to do it.”

On the rails at the Reedville yard is the Joyce, a pound-net boat. Tommy Lewis owns the boat and had her hauled for routine maintenance. Lewis works out of the Little Wicomico River and fishes pound nets in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

Butler is one of just a few people still building deadrise wooden boats in Virginia, and he is being recognized as a vanishing breed. He and his son, Wesley, are annually invited to festivals to demonstrate their craft. The first one they attended was the National Folklife Festival 10 years ago in Richmond, Va.

This October they were preparing to head to another festival. Tied to the boatshop’s ceiling is the beginning of a 16-foot flat-bottom skiff the Butlers take to festivals. It’s not supposed to ever be completed, and when it gets too far along, the father and son pull it apart so they can put it back together at the next festival.


2015 NFjan cover» Read more Around the Yards here.

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