Petrzelka Brothers sent three rebuilt gillnetters to Bristol Bay this spring. Two new gillnetters will be finished off next winter, and two older gillnetters will be repaired. After that, Petrzelka Brothers, a family owned and operated boatshop in Mt. Vernon, Wash., since 1977, will probably close its doors.

The Bristol Bay gillnetters that were rebuilt this spring were all between 25 and 30 years old. “One was a pretty major reconstruction,” says Jon Petrzelka. That would be the St. Elias, which received new aluminum decks, new fish hold and a refrigeration system. The fish hold was expanded because “he was a little shy on hold space.” Raising the deck and adding a fish hold solved that issue, which also required moving the two fuel tanks farther aft.

The Jade was another gillnetter that fell into Petrzelka’s “pretty major reconstruction” category. Both the hydraulic system and the refrigeration system needed replacing. Then the bow plate had “some real bad dents,” which Petrzelka attributed to “fishing conditions. Running into other people.” As a result, the bow plating was replaced on both sides. Corrosion in the fish holds and bottom of the boat required new bottom plating for the holds and new keel cooler boxes.

The third gillnetter, the Erin L had been barged down to Petrzelka Brothers the previous two winters. This past winter the boat’s owner brought it back to have the refrigeration system worked on, a new power steering system installed and the single Traktor Jet upgraded with a new impeller.

Of the two gillnetters that need to be finished off by spring 2021, one of them is currently in the shop. It’s from Dick Smitha of Norcraft Marine & Design in Anacortes, Wash., and work will begin on it this summer. The make of the second boat hasn’t been determined, and work won’t start on it before October.

Of the two gillnetters in for repair, one is to be repowered with a MAN diesel. The second gillnetter needs to be rebuilt after catching fire in Bristol Bay this spring. Once those boats leave, “we might be about done,” says Petrzelka. “We’ve (Jon, Joel and Paul Petrzelka) talked about it enough; it’s just how quick it all happens.”

Reincke Marine Fabrication, also known as RMF, didn’t exist four years ago. What there was in Field’s Landing, Calif., a small community at the southern end of Humboldt Bay, was the Fields Landing Boatyard. It was basically a boat storage and do-it-yourself boatyard with a 150-ton Marine Travelift operated by the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District.

Then four years ago Tod Reincke took over the lease and started Reincke Marine Fabrication. Before that he ran a boatyard in Tennessee for 14 years followed by a yard in Stockton, Calif., for 12 years. Now instead of the do-it-yourself yard, Reincke describes RMF as “a full-service yard. We do everything: metal fabrication, lengthening, refits. Everything is full service. There’s nothing we do not do.” RMF has the 150-ton Marine Travelift and a building large enough for a 100-foot boat.

A recent project was the three-year-old High Hopes, a fiberglass crabber out of Half Moon Bay, Calif., that was built by H&H Marine in Steuben, Maine. The High Hopes was hauled at RMF as a 42-footer and left as a 51-footer, after being extended at the stern. The additional 9 feet not only allows the High Hopes to carry more crab pots, but reduced its fuel consumption by 30 percent, says Reincke, though the top speed is down by 6 knots to 18 knots.

Another project involved the Mary C, a 46-foot wooden crabber and tuna boat built in 1942. The original wooden mast, trolling poles and standing rigging were all removed and replaced with new standing rigging and an aluminum mast and trolling poles.

Reincke points with pride to the new paint jobs on fishing boats that leave the yard. “I’ve got fishing boats that look like motor yachts,” he says. The secret to the motor yacht paintwork is “lots and lots of prep work.” The most recent example is the 40-year-old Celtic Aire, a 65-foot steel crab and albacore boat launched on April 26.

Future work includes the sponsoning and lengthening of the Miss Cynthia in August. It’s a 56-foot steel crabber out of Eureka, Calif., that will be stretched 8 feet at the stern and given 8 feet of additional beam. She’ll also be getting a new whaleback and pilothouse.

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Michael Crowley is the former Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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