Launching in old-fashioned style;
Maine shop rejuvenates fiberglass
By Michael Crowley
A varnished sign with a painted lobster boat and John’s Bay Boat Co. curving across its top was affixed high up on the wooden door. Inside tables were loaded with the kind of food that quickly gets a hungry guy’s attention — trays of pulled pork, a bean concoction, desserts, salads, a bucket of cold beer on the floor.
But it wasn’t the food or the beer that brought lobstermen with their families and friends down Poorhouse Cove Road in South Bristol, Maine to John’s Bay Boat Co. on May 16. It was the 47-foot Outer Fall, a red-hulled wooden lobster boat, resting in its cradle on the boatyard’s launching ways, ready to slide into the water.
The Outer Fall was built for Jimmy Tripp of Spruce Head, Maine, and it’s not the first time Tripp has relied on Peter Kass and John’s Bay Boat Co. for a new lobster boat.
Back up in Kass’s shop, beyond the food and above a workbench’s grinders and drills, is a framed January 1996 National Fisherman cover featuring the lobster boat Sea Wife. Tripp fished the Sea Wife these past 19 years, selling it to his son, John, with the launching of the Outer Fall.
At 47' 1" x 15' 6", the Outer Fall is appreciably bigger than the 42-foot Sea Wife. That additional length will come in handy, as Tripp fishes year-round, though not on the Outer Fall, which lies south and east about 21 miles from Matinicus Rock.
He runs his lobster traps a bit closer to home, around Skate Bank. He just liked the sound of Outer Fall. “It kinda struck me. It sounds old-fashioned,” Tripp says.
The Outer Fall is not only the first boat Kass has built named after a fishing area, it’s also his largest. “Guys want bigger boats because they are outside fishing and staying offshore,” says Kass. But since many lobstermen want to come home at night, bigger boats also have to be relatively fast. And that’s what Tripp got. Pushed by the power of an 800-hp Caterpillar C18, the Outer Fall hits 23.8 knots.
The Outer Fall is a typical John’s Bay Boat Co. lobster boat. That means there’s a lot of varnish work down below, as well as in the split wheelhouse. She’s stoutly built with 1-1/4-inch cedar planking over 2 1/2" x 1 1/2" oak frames and bronze fastened. The deck is planked and caulked with 1-1/2-inch Douglas fir.
The boat also has a trap rack. The stainless steel angle iron a couple of feet off the deck and running fore-and-aft between uprights is a bit unusual but becoming increasingly popular. One end of a trap sits in the angle iron and the other on the wash rail. Tripp runs 15-trap trawls, and he can line up all 15 between the trap rack and the wash rail. “Ain’t got to pick anything up,” says Tripp, “just slide them down and over the side.” He says Tom Mills, his sternman, came up with the idea.
At Dana’s Boatshop on Maine’s Westport Island, Dana Faulkingham has been repairing fiberglass lobster boats this winter and spring, which is what he does when he’s not finishing them off. “We’ve got a lot of boats out there we have reconditioned to keep them going,” says Faulkingham, “especially for young guys.”
The first one in the shop was a Mitchell Cove 32, the Twenty-four Seven, owned by Kennebunkport’s George Dow, who bought the boat last fall. Dow had the engine worked on and then brought the boat to Faulkingham’s to get a new fuel tank and add a wet- exhaust system.
But the deck turned out to be rotten, so it had to be reframed with pressure- treated wood, and then a new 3/4-inch plywood and fiberglass deck was installed. Along with the new fuel tank, Faulkingham added new saltwater cooling and a wash-down pump.
The second boat was an Osmond 37 that Faulkingham’s son, Jason, recently purchased. It wasn’t the first time Faulkingham has seen this boat. The hull was built in 1997, and Faulkingham finished it off that year.
The major work involved pulling a 435-hp Cat and replacing it with a 375-hp John Deere. The transmission and shafting didn’t have to be changed, but the exhaust system was redone. Additional work included “redoing the dash and hatches,” says Faulkingham, “and putting a rain overhang on the hauling station.”
The boat came in bearing the name Late Start. It’s going out with the name No Sympathy. That could be taken to mean, “I don’t have any sympathy for a late start,” says Faulkingham.
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EPA grant gets Wash. tribe new diesels;
boatyard celebrates 50 years of business
By Michael Crowley
The 65-foot Nicole Carolyn, an older, wooden purse seiner, was hauled out at Seattle’s Pacific Fisherman in the beginning of June to have a new keel cooler installed by Snow & Co.
The previous two months, the Nicole Carolyn had been tied up at Snow & Co., next door to Pacific Fisherman, for extensive renovations. The engine room and fo’c’sle were pretty much gutted. In the engine room, the Snow & Co. crew replaced the generator and pulled out a very old Cat D343 main engine in favor of a new 460-hp Cat C18. On the backside of the engine, they bolted a new Twin Disc 5114 marine gear with a 4.5:1 ratio.
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community owns the Nicole Carolyn and thus was able to take advantage of an EPA DERA Tribal Grant that’s designed to replace older marine diesels with new Tier 3 engines that are cleaner burning. According to the EPA website, the Swinomish tribe received $792,000 in 2014 to replace “twelve older and more polluting marine diesel engines.”
The boat also got new hydraulic piping and new aluminum fuel tanks, as well as a water tank in the fo’c’sle under the flooring.
Back aft, the yard crew built a tankable fish hold and made it ready for a refrigerated-seawater system, with a new through-hull, pump and piping. “We didn’t put the refrigeration unit in this year,” says the boatyard’s Brett Snow. “It will fish with ice but have all the circulation piping in place.”
This winter and fall, Snow & Co. built four 24-foot setnet skiffs and two 22-foot seine skiffs. These are all Snow & Co. designs. The seine skiffs don’t have tunnels for the propeller. “Without the tunnel, you get better water flow to the propeller,” says Snow. He describes the shape of the bottom of the skiff “as more like a tugboat than a traditional seine skiff with a tunnel.”
In mid-June, the 60-foot wooden tender Leith W was hauled at another Washington repair yard, Lovric’s Sea-Craft in Anacortes. She was in to have her shaft log sealed in a way that “we used to do on a lot of old wood boats,” says the boatyard’s John Lovric.
These days there aren’t so many wooden boats, but the older ones that do show up at Lovric’s Sea-Craft with leaky shaft logs can get the leaks plugged with animal tallow.
In addition to the regular packing, animal tallow is heated up and poured into the shaft tube.
“It fills any cracks or open spots,” says Lovric. “Once it cools it’s kind of solid. It keeps a boat from leaking for five years.”
That kind of work would have been a lot more common when Lovric’s Sea-Craft was founded 50 years ago by John’s parents, Anton and Florence Lovric. Anton died in 2008, though Florence is still part of the business.
Back then, the boatyard had only a single railway that could haul a 110- footer and had 300-ton capacity. It was 20 years later before they added another railway, with 160-foot and 800-ton capacity. That was followed by a small floating dry dock for boats up to 40 feet. Then, in 2010, the company installed a floating 700-ton dry dock big enough for a 135-footer.
So these days there’s no problem getting a 125-foot crabber like the Handler out of the water. Built in 1990 by the Hansen Boat Co. in Everett, Wash., the Handler was in for bigger keel coolers, three new gensets and a complete paint job. The knuckle crane and picking boom also needed to be rebuilt.
The 58-foot purse seiner Kaikoa went back in the water the first week in June after getting new zincs and the bottom painted. Fishermen who knew the boat before aren’t apt to recognize her, at least by her name. She came in as the Whitey W, but the boat’s new owner, who also built and then sold her, “didn’t like the name,” says Lovric, so now she’s the Kaikoa.
Looking back on changes that have taken place in the past number of years, Lovric says, “We don’t work on as many local purse seiners since fishing died off down here. We do more tenders and tuna boats than in the past and are doing more tugboats and barges.”
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Va. yard remakes a 31-year-old boat;
classic small-boat designs in demand
By Larry Chowning
Myles and Andy Cockrell of Cockrell’s Marine Railway in Heathsville, Va., took a 25-foot Privateer hull built in 1984 and converted it into what they say is a “bad-ass” commercial fishing boat.
Curtis Jenkins of Richmond County, Va., approached the Cockrells about building him a new 25-foot skiff out of PVC sheets for oystering and hard- and soft-shell crabbing in the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. The price of a new skiff, however, was more than Jenkins could afford, so for half the money the Cockrells took an old Privateer hull and refurbished it.
“It’s going to be like a brand-new boat,” says Myles. “We glassed the inside, and we beefed it up so she is a bad-ass workboat right now. She’s bomb grade.”
They gutted the Privateer, cut its stringers out and removed all the solid wood and plywood. “There is no wood in this boat. It is all composite,” says Myles. “All we had was a shell, and we put two layers of cloth and mat in the bilge and all the way up to the sides on the inside to stiffen her. Then we fabricated and installed new stringers and stern and glassed all that in.” The stringers and floor are made from Nida-Core, a polypropylene honeycomb material, sandwiched between two layers of mat and woven roving on each side.
“She’s a whole lot stronger than most any fiberglass boat, and he’s got about half the cost in it that he would have had if he had a new fiberglass or PVC boat built,” Myles says.
The Cockrells removed the old decks that had been bolted to the hull and then fabricated and fiberglassed new decks to the hull, which is a stronger bond.
A new 150-hp Suzuki outboard will go on a new stainless- steel motor mount.
Building boats with workboat roots is a boatbuilding trend on the Chesapeake. Eric Hedberg of Hudgins, Va., who builds one-off boats cut from 3/4-inch PVC panels at Rionholdt Once and Future Boats, is finding that boat designs that have a classic look are leading to commercial sales.
Part of Hedberg’s sales package is that he knows and has studied the history of the boats. For commercial fishermen, he’s offering flat-bottomed and deadrise skiffs made out of PVC, modeled off the lines of old wooden commercial-fishing skiffs. A recent example is a 20-foot deadrise skiff for Danny Lowder of Chesterfield County, Va. Lowder grew up at Coles Point, Va., using an old wooden skiff as a child. He wanted something similar for crabbing but without the maintenance of a wooden boat, says Hedberg.
The revival of the Virginia oyster fishery has sparked demand for skiffs in the 18- to 22-foot range for working 22-inch-wide oyster hand dredges. Many bay oystermen prefer the heavy platform and stability that come with a wooden boat, and Hedberg’s PVC boats mirror the older wooden boats in appearance and performance.
There is also a growing interest in older workboat designs in the recreation market, says Hedberg. This May, he delivered a 20´ x 5´ 6˝ New Haven two-masted sailing sharpie to Warren McMaster of Manteo, N.C.
It’s believed that the New Haven sharpie influenced the evolution of the bay’s traditional cross-planked and V-hull.
Howard Chapelle wrote that several early bay boats in the 1870s resembled the New Haven sharpie and that a V-bottom skiff, once built at Tangier Island, showed a strong resemblance to the Connecticut sharpie.
The sharpie originated on the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound as an improvement over log boats and small skiffs.
Oyster hand-tongers needed a sturdier, larger platform to travel farther for oysters, as the inshore Long Island Sound oyster beds became depleted. Sharpies were shoal draft, could carry a large payload and were easily rowed when there wasn’t any wind.
The evolution of the flat-bottom sharpie in Connecticut parallels the evolution of Chesapeake Bay’s cross-planked V-bottom deadrise boats. As oyster beds were depleted close to shore, oystermen needed a bigger boat to carry them to deeper waters and bring home larger payloads.
And as good, large logs for building log boats became harder to find, boatbuilders and watermen turned to building boats with planks, which resulted in the V-bottom deadrise style.