Maine sends boats to West Coast; strong lobster catch keeps shops busy

By Michael Crowley

All the boatbuilding bays at H&H Marine in Steuben, Maine, are full and will be for some time. Four lobster boats are being built for fishermen on Maine’s Vinalhaven Island. One is an Osmond 34 that will leave H&H Marine as a bare hull with the top and a towing bitt on the bow glassed in place. The towing bitt is there because the boat will be trucked to Rockland, put in the water and towed to Vinalhaven to be finished off. 

All the boatbuilding bays at H&H Marine in Steuben, Maine, are full and will be for some time. Four lobster boats are being built for fishermen on Maine’s Vinalhaven Island. One is an Osmond 34 that will leave H&H Marine as a bare hull with the top and a towing bitt on the bow glassed in place. The towing bitt is there because the boat will be trucked to Rockland, put in the water and towed to Vinalhaven to be finished off. 

Then there’s a wide (17 feet 6 inches) Osmond 42 that’s being extended to 46 feet. She’ll have a 750-hp John Deere and be built with all composite construction using Divinycell foam core. “We make the panels ourselves and infuse them,” says H&H Marine’s Bruce Grindal.

Two more wide Osmond 42s are going to Vinalhaven. In addition, an Osmond 40 is going to Cutler, Maine, to be finished off. That one started out as a basic kit boat before the owner decided to widen it from 14 feet 10 inches to 16 feet, and lengthen it to 42 feet.

These days, more lobstermen are opting for larger boats. “They want bigger boats because they are going further offshore and they want to fish longer and they carry more gear,” says Grindal. 

Besides building boats for New England fishermen, H&H Marine has developed a following among West Coast fishermen, too. 

“We’ve sent at least half a dozen [to the West Coast],” says Grindal, and two more are leaving this fall. 

The first is an Osmond 42, lengthened to 46 feet, leaving in mid-October. 

Another Osmond 42 should leave for the West Coast in November. A 610-hp Cummins QSM11 is in the engine compartment and up forward are four bunks with an enclosed head and galley. The owner will plumb up the fish hold and install the hydraulics. 

Things won’t slow up once these boats leave. “There’s a lot of work out there ahead of us,” says Grindal. The reason is simple, starting with the 2014 season “they are doing will in pounds and the price is up.”

S.W. Boatworks in Lamoine is another Down East Maine boatyard benefiting from the uptick in lobster landings and prices. 

In case you’re wondering about the term “Down East,” it dates back to the days of sail when ships coming to Maine from ports in Massachusetts or New York would be going down wind and headed in an easterly direction, following the Maine coast as it juts out into the Atlantic. When traveling the other way, there are still Mainers who say they are going “up to Boston.” 

Today, the term Down East pretty much applies to the coast from about Mount Desert Island to the Canadian border.

Back to S.W. Boatworks, which is so busy that the boatyard has farmed out the building of a mold for a 42-foot Calvin to the Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine. The mold will be ready to start laminating hulls on Dec. 1. 

“There are 12 spots available and eight have been sold already,” says S.W. Boatworks’ Stewart Workman. “Even Calvin bought one.” That, of course, is the boat’s designer, Calvin Beal of Beals Island, Maine.

The 42-footer will be a stretched out 38 Calvin. 

“We cut it in the middle and put the extra length in the middle of the boat where it’s supposed to be,” says Workman.

 It will have the same beam as the 38, which is 15 feet amidships and 14 feet 2 inches at the transom. 

The Front Street Shipyard is also laying up 42-foot Young Brothers hulls for S.W. Boatworks. For both the 42 Young Brothers and 42 Calvin, Workman will be overseeing the work. 

The most recent boat launched at S.W. Boatworks is the Elizabeth Grace, a 38 Calvin delivered on Sept. 26. “The Calvin 38 is one of our most popular lobster boats,” says Workman. “They are a big boat, and you can fish up inside and can fish way offshore, if you like. They are very stable, and there’s plenty of room for traps and fuel.”

Beal built between 40 and 45 of the 38s, says Workman, while S.W. Boatworks has sent 20 out the doors of its shop. 

The boat’s owner, Jay Clough, a Stonington lobsterman, had a 35-footer that he fished offshore. “It was wet and roly-poly,” says Workman. “He wanted something bigger.” That’s what he got with the 38-foot Elizabeth Grace.

In the past, S.W. Boatworks built its boats with some amount of plywood for the deck and bulkheads, but not anymore. “We are now using all composites versus wood,” says Workman. “Don’t use any wood whatsoever, unless it’s trim.”

Divinycell foam core is used in much of Clough’s boat, as is Coosa board. The deck is made up of Coosa board and three layers of fiberglass over 3-inch fiberglass I-beams. Beneath the deck, two lobster tanks will hold 10 lobster crates. 

For power, there is a 700-hp Volvo matched up with a ZF 360A marine gear with a 2.48:1 reduction that spins a 34" x 40" four-blade prop on a 2-1/2-inch shaft. That power package pushed the Elizabeth Grace to 30 mph on sea trials.

Once the Elizabeth Grace was launched, work didn’t slow down at S.W. Boatworks. “We are building six more boats,” says Workman. “More boats are being built than one-and-a-half years ago. There are more lobsters and a better price.” 

Oct. 10 was the annual meeting and awards banquet for the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association, held this year in Brewer, Maine. Prior to the meeting, the word around the docks was that some lobstermen were a little nervous. 

That’s because it’s fairly common knowledge that just prior to a race some folks will turn their engines up, say from 400 to 700 horsepower, while staying in the 400-hp class. 

A rumor was that a new rule might come out of the meeting saying if you have a 400 horsepower engine and it can be pushed to 700 horsepower, you’d have to be in the 700-horsepower class. 

But that didn’t happen. “Can’t do anything about it unless we have the engine people come in and say, ‘We turned the engine up to this,’” says Jon Johansen, president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association. 

“We have to instill in these people to tell the truth. Tell what you are running. Perhaps we should have a priest come down before the races.”

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00 ATYicon WestYard builds second Norwegian design; crabber has advantage with live tank

By Michael Crowley


Getting the contract to build its second vessel designed by the Norwegian firm Skipsteknisk AS puts Dakota Creek Industries at the head of the pack when it comes to building new fishing boats for the North Pacific and Bering Sea. 

15dec NF ATYwest 320pxWide

The first was the 191' 5" x 42' Blue North, a freezer longliner for the Seattle company of the same name. The new vessel being built at the Anacortes, Wash., shipyard is the 261.8' x 50.5' freezer trawler America’s Finest, an Amendment 80 replacement vessel for Fishermen’s Finest in Kirkland, Wash. She will replace one of the company’s two trawlers, either American No. 1 or U.S. Intrepid. Both were built in 1979.

Construction has started on the America’s Finest. “The bottoms have been turned over and are laying on the ground. We’re going to build the boat now,” says Dakota Creek’s Rob Hall. 

There are similarities between America’s Finest and the 194-foot freezer trawler Araho, which was also designed by Skipsteknisk AS and recently launched at the Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Fla., for the O’Hara Corp. of Rockland, Maine. (see “Araho launch a milestone for fisheries,” NF Nov. ’15, p. 40) The Araho will also be fishing in the North Pacific and Bering Sea, starting in late spring or early summer 2016.

“The [America’s Finest] hull is similar to O’Hara’s, but the hull is a lot larger,” says Hall. What all three vessels have in common, which makes them different from American-designed fishing boats, is a molded hull. “Molded hulls are unusual for fishing boats because they are costlier to build,” says Hall, “but they go through the water much easier.”

Another thing that sets them apart is the use of bulb flats. These are used instead of angle iron for framing and stiffeners when building the hull. Bulb flats help keep the weight down and, according to Hall, are easier for construction, painting and maintenance. “They are not made in the U.S. They all are from overseas,” he says.

Hall describes America’s Finest as “a proven design” with about six vessels having been built to the Norwegian design, all in a Turkish shipyard. America’s Finest is being constructed to DNV GL class rules. She’ll be powered by a MAN 8L32/44CR diesel and should have a top speed of 15 knots. The boat will house a hospital unit and accommodations for 49 crew members. America’s Finest has a November 2017 delivery date. 

The Blue North should undergo sea trials just before Christmas, but won’t start fishing until after March. A big difference between the Blue North and any other longliner in America’s North Pacific and Bering Sea fleets is that the Blue North has a moon pool, which is an internal hauling station in the middle of the boat and along the centerline. The biggest advantage of the moon pool is that it doesn’t expose the crew to boarding seas. 

The Blue North has a diesel electric dual azimuth propulsion system.

On a much smaller scale, Hard Drive Marine in Bellingham, Wash., delivered an aluminum 30' x 11' crabber to a Puget Sound fisherman on Sept. 25. It’s a Hard Drive Marine design and the fourth one they’ve built.

A pair of 135-hp Honda outboards powers the crabber, which according to the shop’s Tom Day, is not an uncommon form of power for Puget Sound crabbers. The dual Hondas get the crabber up to 32 knots.

The 30-footer is described by Day as not being a lot different from others in the Puget Sound crab fishery, except for how the crabs are stored. Most fishermen, he says, keep the crabs on deck in large containers. However, the owner of the Hard Drive Marine-built crabber elected to go with a below-deck live tank system, which holds about 1,200 pounds of crab. 

The live tank system allows him to hold his crabs and hope for a better price. A 13-hp Honda power unit operates the hydraulics that run the live tank system when the boat is fishing. Shore power is used when the boat is tied to the dock.

Hard Drive Marine is building another crabber for Southeast Alaska that’s similar to the one that was just completed, and Day is talking to a fisherman in California about building one for that crab fishery.

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00 ATYicon SouthVirginia ruling good for boatshops; BP dollars bring business to gulf yards

By Larry Chowning

Myles Cockrell who operates Cockrell’s Marine Railway in Heathsville, Va., and other Chesapeake Bay boatbuilders have been closely monitoring the recent growth of Virginia’s oyster fishery, which has led to a revival of work in building and repairing oyster boats. 

15dec NF ATYsouth 320pxWideCockrell was relieved to hear that in September the Virginia Marine Resources Commission rescinded a limited-entry policy passed on August 26 that revoked half of Virginia’s dredge and hand-scrape licenses. “Rules and laws that impact fishermen have an impact on those of us who build and repair their boats,” says Cockrell. “I’m relieved because this would have put a lot of watermen out of business and taken a lot of boats off the water.” Cockrell is currently building a 31' x 11' 6" x 8" flat-bottom garvey for the Oyster Company of Virginia for hauling oyster cages and harvesting oysters. The garvey, with a rounded V-shaped bow, is being constructed out of 1 ¼-inch Nida-Core sandwiched between two layers of mat and woven roving. Four stem-to-stern longitudinal stringers are spaced 2 feet apart and three horizontal bulkheads are positioned 7 feet apart. A 250-hp Suzuki outboard will go on a 5-foot wide stern bracket that extends back 36 inches. That frees up space inside the boat for working and carrying oysters and cages. The bracket is 6 inches above the stern gunwale, which allows the boat to be worked in thin water. A 20-foot aluminum mast with an 18-foot boom will be used for hoisting oyster cages. A stainless steel winder, fabricated by Cockrell, will provide power to raise and lower the cages. The garvey is designed to hold 100 3' x 4' cages. On another job, the boatyard is replacing an engine in the Garrett Scott, a Jerry Pruitt-built 43' x 10' fiberglass-over-wood deadrise owned by Don Miles of Broadwater Oyster Company in Oyster, Va. The engine going in the boat is a 430-hp Cummins Marine ReCon 6CTA-430 diesel, which is replacing a 6-71 Detroit Diesel. The Garrett Scott will be used in the Atlantic conk and hard crab fisheries. An interesting aside regards Pruitt who built and repaired boats on Tangier Island, Va., for over 30 years. However, the rise of the Chesapeake Bay oyster fishery has resulted in numerous career shifts. Several years ago, Pruitt purchased and refurbished the oyster buy boat Delvin K., built in 1949 by Sidney Smith of Bena, Va. He is currently using the 57.8' x 18.3' x 5.4' Delvin K. to buy clean-cull oysters from watermen on the fishing grounds. She is one of only a few Chesapeake Bay buy boats still being used in the traditional way of buying oysters from watermen. Moving down to the Gulf of Mexico, Williams Fabrication has been busy this spring and summer at it’s new facility in Bayou La Batre, Ala. British Petroleum funds from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill are coming back to the Gulf area and fishermen are spending the funds on their boats. The oil spill occurred in April 2010. Since February 2013, criminal and civil settlements and payments to a trust fund have cost the company $42.2 billion. “This year, we are seeing the effects of BP money,” says Dale Williams, president of Williams Fabrication. “We had an extremely busy spring and summer because of repair work on shrimp boats coming from that money.” The boatyard recently moved from a 0.8-acre site in Coden, Al., to the six-acre site in Bayou La Batre that has a water depth of 15 to 18 feet along the shore. “We not only have more space on shore to work on boats but we have the water depth to work on boats at the dock,” Williams says. “Our maintenance business has been great since we came here.” Many of the repair jobs have been on shrimp boats whose owners are using their BP funds to change mechanical winches to hydraulic winches. And one customer bought three old shrimp boats for complete rebuilds. Williams Fabrication is also building two boats for Lars Vinjerud II of Oceans Fleet Fisheries in New Bedford, Mass. There is the Eagle, an 87-foot combination boat for crab, scallops and lobster, and the Kodiak, a 101-foot scalloper. The Eagle is the eleventh fishing boat built by Williams Fabrication for Ocean Fleet Fisheries.


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