Building bays filled at Maine yards; what the Tier-4 rule means to you

By Michael Crowley

In Steuben, Maine, all the boatbuilding bays at H&H Marine are filled with boats in various stages of completion and almost all are for lobstermen. 

Included in the mix is an Osmond 46' x 17' 6" that will be finished off at H&H Marine before leaving in November for Maine’s Vinalhaven Island. She’ll go out the door with a split wheelhouse, a 750-hp John Deere and with the boat’s structural elements either composite or solid fiberglass. That includes fiberglass I-beams for the deck and infused panels throughout the boat. 

Not that long ago, most boats leaving a Maine boatyard would have a fair amount of plywood and fiberglass, but now more boats are being built without the plywood and fiberglass combination. At H&H Marine, “it’s a lot more [composite materials] than it used to be,” says the boatyard’s Bruce Grindal. 

He estimates that probably 50 percent of the boats are totally composite, without any plywood and fiberglass. “More people are asking about it and leaning in that direction,” says Grindal. H&H Marine makes its own composite panels with an infused Divinycell PVC foam core.

That’s what’s going into an Osmond 42-footer being built for a lobsterman in Cushing, Maine. If you are getting a 42-footer from H&H Marine, you have a choice when it comes to the hull’s beam. With the 42-foot mold, “we can lay up anything from 15 feet 3 inches up to 17 feet 6 inches,” says Grindal. The 42-footer going to Cushing has a 17-foot 6-inch beam and will have a 750-hp John Deere for power. 

There are a couple of boats that won’t be built with composites. One is an Osmond 32' x 11' 3" boat going to Portland, Ore., with a 380-hp Cummins. She’ll have wood stringers and a plywood and glass deck.

The 32-footer is for a retired fisherman. “Basically he’s going to play with it,” says Grindal. H&H Marine has sent several boats to the West Coast. “It’s been pretty good for us,” Grindal notes. “We hope it stays that way.”

Another boat whose owner elected not to go the composite route is an Osmond 40' x 14' 10" lobster boat with a 405-hp Cummins, which also going to a Vinalhaven Island fisherman.

In Lamoine, Maine, S.W. Boatworks’ Stewart Workman and his crew are building a Calvin 36 marine patrol boat and three other boats for sport fishermen and pleasure boat owners, as well as a Calvin 44' x 17' 6" lobster boat for a fisherman in Harrington, Maine. It should be completed in December with a 750-hp John Deere for power. 

The 44-footer with a split wheelhouse and open transom will have composite construction using Coosa board, a high-density polyurethane foam reinforced with layers of fiberglass. “Most all of our lobster boats are composite,” says Workman. The platform will have three layers of glass over the Coosa board, followed by a layer of rubber flooring. 

Below the platform will be three holds capable of containing 15 lobster crates. 

Looking forward to 2017, an issue that boatbuilders, not just in Maine, but also around the country will have to deal with is the Tier-4 engine regulation that comes into play Jan. 1. It requires boats built after that date with engines over 804 horsepower to meet Tier-4 air emission standards. 

In most cases a urea-based selective catalytic reduction exhaust after-treatment system will be what engine manufacturers use to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. The SCR system adds urea to exhaust gases that then go through a catalyst, leaving behind carbon dioxide.

However, there is some flexibility for engines between 804 and 1,500 horsepower. They don’t have to be Tier 4 certified until Oct. 1, 2017. But for engines over 1,500 horsepower, the deadline is Jan. 1. 

Jan. 1 or Oct. 1, the problem is the weight of the SCR system and the space it requires. From a design standpoint that’s not so good, as the SCR system will be heavy, expensive and take up room. That could mean boats will get bigger, more expensive and could even become less efficient. 

For a Maine lobsterman who loves to race this could be an issue, as several boats now have engines in the 900 to 1,000 horsepower range. A Wayne Beal 46 is just now being finished off with a 900-horsepower Scania.

How many New England lobstermen the Tier-4 requirement affects is hard to say, but as lobstermen get bigger boats and go further offshore more would probably have wanted an engine greater than 804 horsepower. Workman doesn’t have much patience with the Tier-4 requirement. “It’s aggravating as hell and stupid,” he says, but admits that fishermen “are going to have to pay the price to have [the engine] installed or slow down a little bit.”



Gillnetters get first of a kind jet;
crabber goes for distinctive paint job

 By Michael Crowley


Bay Welding Services is due to launch a 44' x 14' gillnetter for Cook Inlet in early November. The Homer, Alaska, boatshop has built plenty of gillnetters, but what makes this one unusual is its power package. Two 625-hp Volvo D11s with ZF 325 marine gears are fairly standard, but what’s notable is what comes after the gearing: HiJet 500 water jets with 20-inch water pumps from Hill Innovations. If you haven’t heard of this water jet or company, you aren’t alone. 

There are only three water jets from Hill Innovations currently in boats. One is in a 32-foot Bristol Bay gillnetter at Strongback Metal Boats that will be launched the end of October, and the other two are the HiJet 500s going in the Bay Welding Services gillnetter. Leonard Hill — who developed the original Traktor Jet at North American Marine Jet — designed the new jets after leaving NAM Jet and starting Hill Innovations in Alexander, Ark. 

“A lot of people are paying attention to this project because of the jets,” says Bay Welding Services’ Eric Engebretsen. It’s hoped that the new gillnetter with the HiJet 500s will have a top speed in the low 40-mph range and with “5,000 to 10,000 pounds aboard and still make 25 mph,” says Engebretsen. He likes the chances with the HiJet 500s 20-inch water pumps. “In jets there’s no substitute for diameter. The bigger the jet pump, the better it will move a bigger, heavier boat.” 

Not everyone is willing to try something that hasn’t been proven, but “Leonard Hill has been doing this a long time, and his design has a lot of promise,” says Engebretsen. “So our customer decided to take the plunge and put a new product in his boat.” 

When it comes to fishing, the gillnetter will have a 7.5-ton RSW system from Pacific West Refrigeration and Kinematics net reel, level wind and stern roller. 

Giddings Boatworks expects to start construction on a 90' x 36' trawler by the end of the year. Coastwise Corp. in Anchorage is designing the new boat. “I’ve heard that this will be one of the first trawlers built for Kodiak since about the ’80s,” says Giddings Boatworks owner Ray Cox. 

In the meantime, the Charleston, Ore., boatyard has plenty of work, including finishing up work on the Stillwater, a crabber and shrimper, and the 99' 7" x 36' Ocean Hunter, a scalloper, dragger and crabber out of Kodiak. 

The 49' 10" Stillwater arrived at Giddings this past March, then had 10 feet added to the stern for increased hold capacity. The engine room was lengthened to accommodate a new 640-hp Cummins KTA19M3, and when the Stillwater leaves the yard, she’ll go out with a new raised fo’c’sle deck. 

The Stillwater arrived at Giddings painted white with lavender trim, but will leave with what Cox calls “a very interesting color.” She’s now painted all lavender with black trim, Cox says John Roos, the boat’s owner, “took a chance with it, but I think it looks pretty good.”

The Ocean Hunter has undergone extensive renovations. She was lengthened 4 feet at the stern, which pushed the length out to 99 feet 7 inches. A poop deck was built over the now lengthened stern. The wood decking over the main deck had been beaten up by scallop gear and was removed. Then the rotten angle iron that supported the wood deck was replaced with new stainless angle and a new apitong deck on top of that, says Mike Lee, Giddings Boatworks’ general manager. 

Rust had also gotten into the fish hold coamings, so they were replaced with stainless coamings. 

A removable trawl alley was installed with a stainless steel foundation and an aluminum trawl fence that can be bolted in place. Half-inch steel plate for the scallop dredges to land on was installed over the starboard and port sides of the apitong deck. The plates can be removed when the Ocean Hunter goes crabbing.

The Ocean Hunter is scheduled to leave Giddings Boatworks about mid-November, but there’s a good possibility she will be back for a sponsoning job in 18 months. “They wanted to do this project before they sponsoned to check the boat and make sure it was a good candidate to sponson,” says Lee. 


Box stern dory on the blocks in Md.; PVC deadrise skiff under way in Va.

 By Larry Chowning

Maryland waterman and 2016 NF Highliner Robert T. Brown Sr., has his 38-foot box stern dory named the Nancy B. up on the blocks for a major repair job at his seafood plant, ShopCove Seafood in Avenue, Md.The Nancy B. is a classic box stern Potomac River dory. She was built by the late Garner Gibson for Brown in 1969, who had just graduated from high school the year before. Brown, 66, still works the 47-year-old boat in the Potomac River haul seine and pound net fisheries.

Most modern Chesapeake Bay wooden deadrise workboats have cross-planked bottoms with V deadrise built into the hull. Wooden boatbuilders on Maryland’s side of the Potomac River did not make the transition to cross-planking, which started about 1880. For generations Maryland’s Potomac River boatbuilders built their boats using stem-to-stern side and bottom planking and a stern shaped like a shield, referred to as a tuck stern.

Garner Gibson and his brother Sidney are credited in 1928 with building the first and second box stern dories. After that, the square stern style became the norm for dory builders on the Potomac.

When delivered in 1969, Brown’s “boat, motor and whole nine yards” cost him $5,200. In contrast, Brown recently purchased $9,000 worth of lumber from Transit Lumber Co. in Richmond, Va. to replace the sides, a portion of the bottom and stern.

This will be the second major refurbishing job Brown has done on the boat himself. Twenty years ago, Brown replaced some of the cedar sides and bottom with new cedar in the sides and mahogany wood in the stern.

“I didn’t know that much about mahogany, but a lot of the boys were using it in the sterns of their boats,” says Brown. “I later found out that there were five or six different grades of mahogany and that I didn’t have the best grade. It still lasted 20 years.”

Brown has two other wooden deadrise boats that he uses in his oyster and finfish businesses. His 38-foot-long deadrise went to Evans Boat Construction & Repair of Crisfield, Md. in the spring where the old house/pilothouse was replaced with a new fiberglass version and sides on the boat were fiberglassed over wood from the washboards to below the chine.

Moving further south on the Chesapeake Bay, Eric Hedberg of Rionholdt Once and Future Boats in Gwynn’s Island, Va., has an 18' x 7' deadrise skiff underway. Hedberg shapes his boats out of PVC panels. 

The new boat is going to Ed Looper, who will use his boat to trotline for blue crabs on the Magothy River on Maryland’s western shore. Looper wants an open skiff that will allow him plenty of space for work and payload. He will also have a side steering stick that allows him to work his trotline while steering the boat. The new boat will be powered by a 60-horsepower outboard engine.

The sides, bottom and 10 structural vertical frames in the boat are shaped out of 3/4-inch-thick and 20-foot PVC panels. The keel and stem are shaped from a 6" x 6" piece of PVC. Hedberg uses traditional tools in his wooden boatbuilding construction to shape the nontraditional PVC panels. For instance, he uses a small elbow adze to shape and work the stem down to fit. Hedberg says PVC panels can be shaped and worked just like wood and with the same tools he uses in wooden boat construction. 

The only thing left to do on the bottom of the new skiff is to install the 3/4-inch-thick deadrise staving in the bow. Hedberg is a student of deadrise boatbuilding. He says he has an order for an 18-foot boat whose owner wants chunks (blocks of wood referred to as head blocks) rather than staving (narrow boards) used to shape the V in the bow. “The owner wants more weight in the bow, which comes from chunk construction,” says Hedberg.

Only a serious student of deadrise construction would even know of the use of head blocking to shape deadrise, much less how to do it. Prior to V-bottom deadrise construction, log canoe builders had for years been shaping the V in the bow and in the stern of log boats using head blocks. In the experimental years with V-bottom construction, very early bay builders used chunks to shape the deadrise in the bow. The use of chunks in the bow of frame boats did not last very long as boatbuilders realized that pronounced V-bows could be shaped more easily with staves and fit better on frame built boats.

The use of wooden chunks to shape round sterns on deadrise boats, however, was a popular building technique used well into the 20th century. If Hedberg decides to use head blocks in the bow, he will be using a 19th century technique that came right from the bay’s early log canoe builders. It will be a study of ole-time boatbuilding!

» Read more Around the Yards here. 

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