David Peterson, a well-known boat carpenter specializing in wooden boat repair, has been doing a fair amount of plank and rib replacement work at Zerlang & Zerlang, a boatyard in Samoa, Calif., across Humboldt Bay from Eureka.

It started in the fall with the Rae Ann, a 40-foot wooden troller that required a couple of planks up forward, three or four farther aft and a half dozen new purple-heart ribs.

Then the Viola E, a 43-foot wooden salmon boat built in 1973 was at Zerlang & Zerlang the last week in February. Peterson is replacing about a dozen ribs — 9 inches apart — on the Viola E’s port side, along with the covering board.

The Viola E, out of Fort Bragg, Calif., “hauls out every year and we do work on him,” says Peterson. The need for new ribs is probably because the Viola E got “beat against the dock,” Peterson says. “It shuffled his planks. They were sticking out an inch. And the ribs were soft there — age.”

When Peterson and his crew finish the Viola E, another rib replacement job will show up when the wooden Keku Queen, built in 1964 and out of Charleston, Ore., finishes hauling crab pots and ties up at Zerlang & Zerlang.

Last year Peterson replaced six planks and 30 feet of covering board on the 54-foot Keku Queen’s starboard side, as well as sistered 20 ribs and three deck beams. This time around, the port side will be overhauled with five or six new planks on the outside and two or three planks inside the gunwale, as well as replacing the covering board.

Although Peterson is best known for working on wood boats, fiberglass boats also get his attention. Boats like the Milana Moon, a 35-foot crab and salmon boat out of San Francisco.

The Milana Moon had major deck issues, to the extent that both its deck and deck beams needed to be replaced. Over new yellow cedar deck beams went sheets of marine-grade plywood and three layers of biaxial fiberglass.

“We put it back the way we found it, minus the rot,” says Peterson.

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

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