Owning a fishing boat can be a long journey, one marked with storms survived, full fish holds and with any luck, a few deck loads. Those are the ones you like to spin tales around — “Remember when we plugged the (fill in the blank)? She was so low in the water the guys on the dock thought she would sink.”

There’s also apt to be some broker trips where you don’t clear expenses and the crew ends up in the hole. After you’ve been in the game for any length of time, you’ll be developing a close relationship with a boatyard.

The Miss Birdie gets a complete overhaul at Fred Wahl Marine Construction. Fred Wahl Marine Construction photo.Equipment breaks down and needs replacing, and if you are in a very competitive fishery you are likely to want the boat lengthened, sponsoned or both. Throw in a repower or two and you’ve written out a few large checks.

Eventually, you have to make a decision: do a major rebuild or buy a new boat. Even with an extensive rebuild, some of the boat is still going to be old. Money is obviously a key factor. Do you want to — can you afford to — pay for a new boat?

That was the decision Stan Schones, the owner of the 77-foot Miss Berdie, was faced with in 2014. It was probably the toughest decision Schones has made on his journey with the Miss Berdie, which started when she was built in 1987 at Rodriquez Boat Builders in Bayou LaBatre, Ala.

It’s a story that’s told in “Wahl Overhaul” in the November issue of National Fisherman on page 30. “Wahl,” of course, refers to Fred Wahl Marine Construction where the Miss Berdie has made more than one appearance, starting back in 1992. The most recent began in November 2014.

The original idea was no more extensive than a sponsoning and repowering. What took place was entirely different, because as Wahl said, “Everywhere we went. We had to tear something else apart.”

Not much of the boat that showed up in Reedsport went back in the water. But what did go in the water seems perfectly capable of embarking upon the next stage of the Miss Berdie and Stan Schones long journey.

A collection of stories from guest authors.

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