Maine shop is plugged until 2018; 43-year-old lobster boat being rebuilt
By Michael Crowley
Mike Light would tell you he’s “launched boats on beautiful, warm days, launched on crazy windy days, launched boats when it’s below zero, but never done one in a snow storm.” Now he can check a snowstorm launching off his list.It was Friday, Feb. 5, and much of the Maine’s Down East coastline was being hammered with a winter storm that dumped 10 to 12 inches of snow. “It was snowing big time,” Light allows...
That hardly affected the Outnumbered, a Mussel Ridge 46 from Hutchinson Composite in Cushing, Maine, that Light’s Fiberglass in Steuben had finished off and was sea-trialing that Friday. Pushed hard by her 750-hp Iveco, the Outnumbered “just rode those chines and planed right out,” says Light. The Outnumbered was overwheeled that day, but once the prop is changed, Light figures she’ll hit about 26 mph.
With the Outnumbered pulled out of its building bay, a 42 Calvin fiberglass hull from S.W. Boatworks in Lamoine replaced it. This is the first 42 Calvin that Light’s Fiberglass has finished off. Both it and the Outnumbered are going to lobstermen in nearby Milbridge.
The two remaining bays in Light’s new 6,500-square-foot building are occupied by a 44 Calvin hull from S.W. Boatworks with a 750-hp Iveco and a 46-foot Wesmac from Wesmac Custom Boats in Surry with an 800-hp Cat.
The Calvin 44 will have a plywood and fiberglass platform. A couple of layers of fiberglass go down on the top of the plywood platform and Light puts one layer of glass on the underside before it goes down, so it can’t absorb any moisture.
He then makes sure there’s airflow everywhere under the platform so nothing is airtight. “The bulkheads are cut through so airflow can go everywhere under the boat,” Light says. “Everything is breathable. So it will never rot out.”
Drop by Light’s Fiberglass any time before the end of 2018, and you won’t find an empty building bay. He has 23 boats on the boards to build. All but one is a lobster boat. The exception is a charter boat going to Massachusetts.
An ongoing project for Richard Stanley Custom Boats is the Mouse, a wooden 36-foot Bunker & Ellis lobster boat built in 1973. Stanley thinks the Mouse had several different owners on Vinalhaven Island. “The boat was left on the mooring for quite a few years and just sat there,” he says. “It’s a wonder it didn’t sink.”
He says the current “owner wants to sell it to someone that wants to make it back into a fishing boat or a pleasure boat.” Until that happens, Stanley is doing his part to ensure the boat is brought back to the classic Bunker & Ellis lines.
The Mouse came to Stanley’s shop after the owner had removed the platform, which allowed Stanley and his crew to reframe and replace the transom, sister the top part of the cabin frames — fresh water had run down from the deck and rotted out the tops of the frames — and replace the frames from the bulkhead to the transom. “They were all rotten,” says Stanley.
That might be why the hull developed some old-age spread. Stanley solved that with a Spanish windlass. “We put the Spanish windlass to her and brought her back together. The bulkhead was still in her and we were able to bring her back to the bulkhead.” Once the new 1-1/4" x 2-1/4" frames were in place, the hull was refastened with 2-inch No. 14 silicon bronze screws, the same fastenings that had been in her.
Then the owner took the Mouse back to his shop. The Mouse will return to Stanley’s shop to have the sheer clamps and bilge clamps replaced, along with new floor timbers and having the deck framed out. “It’s one of those jobs you do a little bit, do a little bit, do a little bit,” says Stanley.
In the meantime, Stanley is working on the fiberglass Vagabond, a 36-footer built at MDI Boats. She takes fishing parties out from Southwest Harbor and works as a lobster boat. The platform needs to be replaced, as does much of platform’s framing.
The new plywood platform will be fiberglassed on top but not the underside, as opposed to how it’s done at Light’s Fiberglass. “We’re not going to glass the underside except where the wet wells are,” says Stanley. “We believe wood should be able to breathe and have a way for moisture to escape.” Ventilation holes will be built into the sides of the deck, to “create an airflow to help keep the fiberglass dry.”Two answers to a common problem.
Bay Welding builds its biggest tender; older boats overhauled at Wash. yard
By Michael Crowley
Bay Welding Services is on schedule to complete not only its largest tender, but the largest boat to come out of its Homer, Alaska, boatyard. It’s a 49.9' x 19.9' aluminum crab and salmon tender for the Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. It is due to be delivered on June 1.
Bay Welding Services did the concept design for the tender and the design was completed by Coastwise Corp. in Anchorage. “The major aluminum fabrication is done, the hull is done, the cabin is built and the mains are set,” says the boatyard’s Eric Engebretsen. One of the design requirements was that the tender have a shallow draft. Thus, she draws 4 feet in a light condition and 5 feet when loaded.
“The most unique thing,” says Engebretsen, “is the fish hold arrangement. They requested a crab elevator.” That is basically a large strainer-type basket in the fish hold with a post in the middle. Pick up on the post, and the basket and the crabs come to the surface, and the water stays in the hold.
“You can deliver the crab live without having stepped on them,” says Engebretsen. That’s opposed to the usual method of getting crab out of the hold by first pumping out the water and then having a couple of guys climb into the hold and put the crabs in a brailer bag, all the while walking on the catch. “That is pretty hard on the product,” notes Engebretsen. “This is a quality control thing they’ve developed.”
Another feature on the tender that’s not all that common is the two knuckle-boom cranes. One will be on the port side and one on the starboard side of the main deck. Each has a 2,500-pound capacity. Most tenders, Engebretsen points out, have only a single crane on the main deck. With a pair of cranes, the tender will be able to service two boats at the same time.
When the tender’s crew is not on deck, it should be fairly quiet in the accommodations area, as all machinery will be beneath the deck in the boat’s stern. “It really will increase the cabin comfort,” Engebretsen says, “and the engine room layout will be larger.” Access to the engine room will be through an alleyway running under the deck, from the main cabin to the boat’s stern.
Bay Welding Services is also building a seine skiff, a 29-foot patrol boat for the forestry service, and a 44' x 14' stern picker. The stern picker will have a pair of 625-hp Volvo D11s matched up with water jets. “We’ll be shooting for 40 mph,” says Engebretsen.
Down in Mount Vernon, Wash., Petrzelka Brothers has several boats on the shop floor. One is the Puale Bay, an aluminum hull that Petrzelka Brothers is finishing off as a 32-foot bowpicker for Cordova and the Copper River salmon fishery. Howard Fabrication in Ferndale, Wash., built the hull.
For power there will be a pair of Yanmar V8s matched up with Hamilton water jets. The fish hold will be insulated, but there won’t be a refrigeration system. It will be packing ice,” says the boatyard’s Jon Petrzelka. “In Cordova a lot of guys are packing ice,” he notes. Petrzelka Brothers built the boat’s reel and power roller.
A Bristol Bay gillnetter, the Miss Lauren, that was built probably 20 years ago at Baycraft Marine, is being overhauled. The main engine, a Cat 3208, was pulled out and rebuilt. The old marine gear was replaced, as it was “almost rusted through on the bottom,” says Petrzelka. “The old engine when it was pulled out, the oil pan had holes.”
The Miss Lauren, prior to coming to Petrzelka Brothers, “didn’t have refrigeration,” says Petrzelka, “so we are putting in an IMS RSW system.” That’s hydraulically operated, as is the new bow thruster that was installed, which required new hydraulics. The boat’s owner had the net reel replaced with a used net reel that has a level wind. The original net reel lacked a level wind.
Another Cordova fisheries boat being worked on is the Cami Lou, a bow picker that’s probably 20 years old. The deck is now a flush deck, after being raised to the same height as the hatch covers. The Cami Lou is also getting a new refrigeration system and fish hold. Looking ahead to next year, Petrzelka Brothers has a new boat to build and one or two to rebuild.
Gulf yard building 85-foot scalloper; Virginia buy boat brought back to life
By Larry Chowning
Williams Fabrication of Bayou La Batre, Ala., has a 85' x 25' x 12' combination boat about ready to go in the water. The Eagle will be lobstering, crabbing and scalloping for Lars Vinjerud II of Oceans Fleet Fisheries in New Bedford, Mass.
In early January, the boat was about ready to be painted and the interior woodwork was being finished off in the galley and pilothouse, says Brian Broome of Williams Fabrication. This is the 11th boat Williams Fabrication has built for Oceans Fleet Fisheries.
Vinjerud has been scalloping since 1974 and started his own successful scallop business in 1994. The company has grown from one boat to having more than 20 steel boats working in the scallop, lobster, crab, swordfish and tuna fisheries.
Williams Fabrication has also grown. Last year the boatyard was moved from a 0.8-acre site in Coden, Ala., to a six-acre facility in Bayou La Batre. The new location has 566 feet of bayou frontage and deep water.
Up in the Chesapeake Bay, York Haven Marina in Poquoson, Va., provides a wooden boat cultural experience. At the yard in January, Kurt Forrest of Poquoson was fiberglassing a 42-foot round-stern wooden oyster boat. Forrest is fiberglassing the boat with mat and woven roving from the waterline up for a James River waterman who works out of Deep Creek in Newport News, Va.
Forrest specializes in repairing fiberglass boats, but he is getting more and more jobs to glass over wooden Chesapeake Bay workboats. Owners want to keep their wooden boats but also want the maintenance advantages that come with fiberglass, he says.
A little farther down the yard from the oyster boat Forrest was fiberglassing, is a classic Chesapeake Bay buy boat. David Rollins of Poquoson has completely rebuilt the Linda Carol, which was originally named the Croaker.
Rollins is near the end of a more than yearlong project restoring the 55' x 14' x 4.7' buy boat. The Linda Carol was built by L.R. and Alton Smith of Susan, Va., in 1931 and was once owned by the late Capt. Morris Snow of Mathews County, Va.
Snow used the boat to dredge for crabs in Virginia’s winter crab dredge fishery. When he purchased the boat, he renamed it the Linda Carol, after his daughter. Bill Mullis of Gloucester County, Va., now owns the boat and is having Rollins restore the Linda Carol. Rollins is in the final stages, installing doors and windows in the new pilothouse and an electrician is wiring the pilothouse and engine room.
Mullis, owner of B&C Seafood in Newport News, Va., works in the Atlantic scallop fishery. He does not plan to fish the Linda Carol, but is restoring her for sentimental reasons. As a young man, Mullis knew Capt. Morris Snow and his boat and has the utmost respect for both, says Rollins.
Also at York Haven Marina is the planked deadrise L.T. Riggins. Rollins restored this deadrise several years ago. The 26-footer is a precursor to the traditional V-stern deadrise. The pronounced V-shape (sometimes called a Poquoson stern) evolved from log canoes that had a V-stern. The V-stern and round sterns on planked deadrise boats provide added stability when watermen are working nets, oyster tongs or crab pots in strong following seas.
The L.T. Riggins has a V-shape in the stern, but it does not go from the bottom of the boat to the top of the deck as in some later boats. The V barely reaches above the waterline. “She was built in the 1920s, when they were experimenting with building the first V-sterns on planked boats,” says Rollins. “She has a much less pronounced V-stern than the modern ones.”
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries Poquoson was the center of log canoe building in Virginia. Rollins is the son of the late William Rollins, who built the last log canoe in the Poquoson area in 1985. As a young man, William learned to build log boats from longtime canoe builder Clyde Smith of Poquoson.
William built the Holly June, a 26-foot, five-log, sail-powered canoe, as a tribute and reminder of Poquoson’s boatbuilding heritage. Another of William’s sons, Will, currently owns and operates Rollins Boat Yard in Poquoson. He still owns and treasures the Holly June, as does the entire Rollins family. At William Rollins’ funeral, a model of the Holly June sat next to his casket as the family greeted mourners.