Shop builds for Maine brothers; Jersey gillnetter goes for the stretch

By Michael Crowley & Kirk Moore

If two out of three brothers think the boat you build is the best one around, then there’s a pretty good chance you can eventually rope in the third brother. 

Down in Friendship, Maine, Greg and Andrew Simmons have been fishing with 40-footers from Wayne Beal’s Boat Shop in Jonesport, Maine. Their brother Keith was the lone holdout with a 45-foot Young Brothers. But now all three have signed up for new Wayne Beal’s Boat Shop 46' x 17' 10" hulls that will be finished off as lobster boats. 

Greg’s was the first out of the shop, going to Friendship to be completed. She’ll have a 900-hp Scania on her engine stringers, says Wayne Beal. 

The remaining two hulls are spaced out among other fishermen who have also signed up for a Wayne Beal-built boat. “Brother Keith is two boats back,” says Beal, “and Andrew is after that.”

In early August, a 46-footer had been pulled from its mold for Jeff Libby of Beals Island, while a 42-footer for Ben Heanssler of Deer Isle was about halfway completed. He’ll use the boat for lobstering and scalloping. (They are the two boats before Andrew’s 46-footer.)

Heanssler’s boat has a C18 Cat detuned to 800 hp. Under the platform are three lobster tanks and two fuel tanks. Heavy 4x4 framing supports the platform, “so he can bolt his winch down,” says Beal. 

The platform is 3/4-inch Penske board and fiberglass on both sides with a little extra glass on top “to give extra structure in case he drops any rocks on it,” Beal says, “they won’t punch through.”

Forward of the split wheelhouse will be V-berths with hatches for storing. 

Andrew, as well as two or three other fishermen, talked about pushing the 46-footer they had signed up for out to 50 feet. But Beal discouraged that “because everybody behind them would probably drop out because I’d be so far behind.”

He’d have to lengthen the 46-foot hull by cutting it in the middle and stretching it out to 50 feet. He thinks that’s a lot better than adding the length at the stern, where the addition could end up “hog bottom,” he says, if the hull lines don’t stay fair. And if the rudderpost isn’t moved aft where the length is added at the stern, it can affect the boat’s ability to track. 

Still, he says, “the way the market is going now, I could build some 50-footers if I had the mold.” He figures he’d build that mold if he “had a few in line to make it worth my while.” 

Boats with extended hulls have become common along the Mid-Atlantic coast, especially as fishermen moved into multiple fisheries and seasons. Chesapeake Bay watermen did it to adapt for dayboat scalloping to better handle dredges and working offshore.

For gillnet captain Mike Karch, stretching his boat Eliza — a 40-foot Maine-built 1982 Young Brothers — by 4 feet will bring him better performance while fishing for monkfish, bluefish and other species out of Barnegat Light, N.J.

“It makes the boat a little more stable, with more buoyancy. Some people pick up a little bit of speed, too,” says Karch, who expects the improved boat will cruise at 12 to 13 knots with its Sisu 400-hp engine turning a 27" x 29" wheel.

“I thought about these lobster boats — they run around empty. We’re coming in, we’ve got 3,000 or 4,000 pounds, and they tend to squat,” Karch said.

Previously redone by Karch in 2004-2005, the Eliza is getting a new 4-foot aft section at Grant Boat Works in Forked River, N.J., a yard on the river off Barnegat Bay known for commercial and wooden vessels. Karch brought on Lindsey Pirie, a respected fiberglass and composites fabricator on Long Beach Island, and yard owner and boatbuilder Greg Grant.

“Greg’s really good. He’s done a lot of work for us. Lindsey is the glass man,” Karch said. “It’s mostly all fiberglass work. We laid a skim mold off the stern.”

 Grant agrees with Karch’s assessment of adding buoyancy to the stern. He recalls a few conversions like that with wooden boats years ago, to cure squatting tendencies when propeller wash “would be going up in the air” astern and slowing the boat. 

NF West ATY Icon 16

Gillnetter built in 1891 is still fishing; boatyard has 39-footer as a spec boat


By Michael Crowley

Most fishermen thinking about buying a first boat won’t have made enough working as a deckhand to purchase a new one. They’ll have to settle for something that’s been around for a while. But 125 years? That’s how far back Peter Stein’s the Reba-H goes. 

Stein figures his 25' x 8' x 3' wooden troller has been carrying the name Reba-H for at least 10 years. He’s a lot surer about when she was built, with documentation showing it to be 1891, as a sailing Columbia River gillnetter. 

This summer the Reba-H was hauled out in Petersburg, Alaska, at Petersburg Marine, better known as Scow Bay Boatyard, while Stein and his brother, Tom, made repairs before the season. 

“She’s a really seaworthy boat, surprisingly for her size,” says Stein. But if it weren’t for an outboard motor, she would probably be a broken-up wreck. 

A number of years ago, the Reba-H, which at the time was in a sinking condition, says Stein, was rafted up with several other boats off Bainbridge Island, Wash. She had an outboard that Port Townsend shipwright Dave Thompson wanted. He was offered the boat at no cost, towed it to Port Townsend, took the outboard, and sold the Reba-H to a guy with the moniker “Logger Bill” for about $100, says Stein. 

Logger Bill did some work on the boat while living on it and then sold the Reba-H to Eric “Ozzie” Anderson for $500. “Ozzie did quite a bit of work on it and turned it into a hand troller,” Stein says. The work included rebuilding the 18-hp, two-cycle Saab; adding a new aft deck; refastening the hull; replacing some planks and frames; and rigging it for hand trolling. The latter addition consists of two Kolstrand had gurdies and 25-foot trolling poles.

Ozzie fished the Reba-H for two years before buying a gillnetter. In exchange for helping him work on the gillnetter at Scow Bay Boatyard, Ozzie gave the Reba-H to Stein, who when he’s not fishing, works at Cunningham Ship Carpentry in Port Townsend. 

In the four years since, Stein has had some pretty good fishing, with a best day of 136 cohos. He slush-ices the cohos in a below-deck 4' x 3' x 4' 6" fiberglass fish box. “Slushing the fish limits me to three-day trips,” Stein says, adding that he figures to be finishing out the season in Southeast Alaska’s Cross Sound. 

After that he’s looking to sell the Reba-H and move up to a 40- to 45-foot wood boat with power trolling. “I like wood boats, but I want something more than a 5-knot boat and something I can run down back to Washington in every September.” 

So if you’re looking for a 25-foot hand troller, here’s a possibility. On the other hand, if you are in the market for something larger, like a new 39' x 14' fiberglass crabber, check out the one Maritime Fabrications in La Conner, Wash., is building on spec. In early August, she was about 40 percent completed.

The 39-footer will be a near sister ship to the Shirley Rae, completed last fall for a Santa Cruz, Calif., Dungeness crabber (“Stacking the decks,” NF Dec. ’15, p. 42). She’ll have a four-bunk fo’c’sle arrangement, pack 16,000 pounds of crab and carry 150 pots on deck. The choice of engine will be up to the boat’s owner, says the boatyard’s Isaac Oczkewicz. 

Maritime Fabrications also has a 32-foot Bristol Bay kit boat with hull, house and deck. Though Maritime Fabrications builds mostly fiberglass boats, they occasionally construct aluminum boats. In early August, the yard crew was finishing up a 25' x 8' aluminum skiff for a local sea-cucumber diver. She’ll have a three-sided cabin and be outboard powered.

Though Oczkewicz says the market for new boats is “not like it was two years ago,” partially because of California’s poor Dungeness crab season in 2015, he says, “the interest level is still there.” 

One thing helping fuel that interest, which wasn’t there two years ago, is the rescinding of the rule requiring boats 50 feet and over to be built to standards determined by a classification society. 

 In fact, two fishermen have been talking with Maritime Fabrications about building 56' x 18' boats. One is a crabber in Washington, the other a seiner in Alaska. Both boats would use a lengthened 49-foot Maritime Fabrications hull. 

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Competition buoys builder after fire; Fla. clammer gets 225,000-lb capacity 


By Larry Chowning

David Mason of Chesapeake Boats of Crisfield, Md., experienced a massive fire at his boatshop on June 27 and lost a 10,000-square-foot boatbuilding shop. His estimated losses were at $10 million.

It took nearly 70 firefighters from Somerset County, Md., Worcester County, Md., and Accomack County, Va., two and a half hours to bring the fire under control. No injuries were reported, but one fire fighter was sent to the hospital for heat exhaustion.

Chesapeake Boats lost two nearly completed boats, a 46-foot classic deadrise headed to Seattle, and a 36-foot deadrise bound for Florida. However, Mason was able to save two of his molds, the bread and butter of any fiberglass operation. With the molds, he can keep on building boats.

Almost before the smoke cleared, Mason got a phone call of support from competitors and boatbuilders Eugene and David Evans of Evans Boat Repair in Crisfield. They offered and ended up providing Mason with a shop location on their yard so he could keep building boats.

Eugene Evans and his son David understand first-hand Mason’s plight. On Thanksgiving Day in 2005, the elder Evans lost his molds, several buildings and seven boats to fire.

“A lot of people reached out and helped us when we had our fire,” he says. “We’ve got a building here that we are not using, and it will be just right for David. Rebuilding is going to be slow, and he needs a place to work now.”

Mason was a commercial waterman for 20 years before he founded Chesapeake Boats in 1997. He custom builds boats from 35 to 75 feet long for both commercial fishermen and cruising yacht customers. Interestingly, he is one of just a few Maryland fiberglass builders who models his style after the classic Deltaville, Va. deadrise style, with a high stem line and very little flair in the bow. His boats are built from AA and AB plywood, and he sheathes the hulls with glass set in polyester resin.

Evans has a new 50-footer about completed on the yard that is going to a recreational buyer in Connecticut. The firm has, however, been moving more into repair and boat restoration as the market seems to be moving in that direction, says David Evans Sr.

The firm is refurbishing a 29-foot fiberglass deadrise boat for blue crab trot-liner, Mark Lotz of Baltimore. Lotz is getting a complete house/pilothouse restoration. Evans also has a 26-foot fiberglass boat under major restoration for a pleasure boat owner.

Patti Marine Enterprises of Pensacola, Fla., is making headway on the Sea Watcher II, a 152' x 36' clam vessel for Truex Enterprises, a company that clams in the Atlantic out of Easton, Md. 

The Sea Watcher II represents the fourth project Patti has had with the Truex Family. The clam hold module on the new vessel will be 68' x 36' and weighs 225,000 pounds. It is designed to carry nearly 200 cages of fresh clams from Georges Bank. 

The keel supports are in place for the first midship module, which is almost complete, says Ashley Stone, Patti’s project manager. Prefabrication and erection of the stern components are moving ahead as steel continues to arrive for the remaining hull.

In July, oysterman and boatbuilder Richard Green of Hayes, Va., had the oyster dredge boat Mobjack on the rails at Smith’s Marine Railway in Dare, Va. The Mobjack, 72' x 46' x 5.5', is one of the largest wooden deadrise commercial fishing boats on Chesapeake Bay.

Originally built in 1946 in Deltaville, Va., Green bought the boat in 2014 and has been replacing the top work and deck beams at his dock in Hayes. He plans to use her to dredge for oyster and plant spat on James River. 

He has progressed enough on the topwork to need the railway for bottom work on the Mobjack. “The plan is to refasten the bottom, replace any bad wood where need be and to paint the bottom,” says Tim Smith of Smith Marine Railway. “There are some (leaking) issues coming from the boat’s five-piece horn timber that we are going to study.”

 The horn timber in the Mobjack is composed of five massive pieces of wood. In wooden boat construction, the horn timber ties the keel and transom together, with the propeller shaft running down through the timber from the reverse gear. A reverse curve in the Mobjack’s horn timber gives the boat a concave bottom at the stern. Historically, five pieced horn timbers have had a tendency to leak in areas where it was pieced together and have been the Achilles heel of many a wooden deadrise boat. Later boats were built with solid-pieced horn timbers, which are much less prone to leaks.

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