You buy yourself a boat, new or used, and you should have a very good idea how much fuel and water can be carried in tanks below the deck. You should also be pretty certain how much product can be carried, whether its 74,000 pounds in four fish holds on a 49-foot Alaska shrimper or five crates of lobsters in a below-deck tank on a 40-foot Maine lobster boat.

After extensive repairs, the Ashley N. is launched back into the water. Jonesport Shipyard photo.Of course, the boats are designed to operate efficiently and safely with all those tanks filled.

But it’s possible you might be packing around a lot more than what are in those tanks, which could affect the boat’s efficiency and safety. Imagine, if you will, 600 gallons of seawater under the cabin sole in a 45-foot lobster boat. That would be about 5,100 pounds, figuring that a gallon of seawater weighs about 8.556 pounds.

That 600 gallons is what Sune Noreen of Jonesport Shipyard, in Jonesport, Maine, found when he cut through the watertight cabin sole of the 45-foot lobster boat Ashley N, which was in for repairs and had just been purchased by a local lobsterman. The water got there as a result of the boat grounding out and leaking through the keel. But since the boat’s new owner had bought the boat in the water he didn’t know about the damaged keel or the leak.

You can find out more about this water issue in “Leaking below the Waterline” in National Fisherman’s May issue. The story starts on page 26. In addition, Noreen, who before he took over the Jonesport Shipyard was repairing fishing boats and surveying them in Alaska, offers some observations on how to avoid unwanted surprises when buying a used boat.

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