Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

New Steel Delta Widebody


Hockema & Whalen Associates

Prolific Seattle boatbuilder Delta Marine has added a new dimension to its venerable line of fiberglass fishing boats with the construction of a 58-foot by 27-foot steel-hulled limit Seiner.

The boat was designed by well-known naval architecture firm Hockema & Whalen Associates, and marks a series of departures for the established Seattle fishing boat and yacht builders.

"This is our first Hal Hockema design," says Delta's marketing manager, Michelle Jones, "and our first fishing boat designed by an outside architect. It is also Delta's first-ever steel hull fishing vessel."

Hockema & Whalen has a long history of designing seiners, longliners, trawlers and a variety of other workboats, and Hal Hockema says the new Delta boat would be a good fit for all of those fisheries.

While the new boat is the yard's first foray into steel fishing vessels, the craftsmen at Delta are no strangers to steel fabrication. When not building fishing boats, Delta is turning out multi-million-dollar yachts with steel and fiberglass hulls and superstructures for discerning buyers around the world.

"Delta one of the best managed yards I've seen in my life," Hockema says.

The yard has an in-house steel fabrication group, and has built steel-hulled yachts as long as 240 feet. "I consider them a good contender for other steel fishing boats of any size," he says. "They have good people there running the show, and they do a great job of keeping their customers and employees in mind over the whole construction process."

The new boat is similar to four new boats produced in the last few years, including the F/V Cynosure and F/V Cerulean, two 58- by 27-footers built last year to the same basic design.

Hockema says Delta wanted to build a steel limit Seiner and approached him two years ago. He supplied the hull design, but says Delta used their own basic design for the house. "It looks similar to ours but is in fact a fiberglass house."

At 27-feet wide, with a molded depth of 11.7 feet, Hockema says the design is a good fit for almost any North Pacific fishery. "This boat has really good seakeeping abilities, and it was designed to fish in winter in rough water environments."

The larger capacity of the beamy boat means fewer trips back and forth to the grounds when fishing for larger volume fishery, and if the vessel is storing pots on deck for the p-cod or crab fisheries, the wider hull is better for pot stacking.

The new boat is fitted with twin Caterpillar C32 engines providing 750 HP each, and has a capacity over three holds of more than 3,700 cubic feet. Hockema says the stout new boat is suitable for purse seining, longlining, pot fishing and trawling in the Gulf of Alaska and bering sea.

"The wider hull offers an appreciable amount of capacity, and can enable this 58-footer to fit in fisheries limited to larger vessels," Hockema says. "We like to go wider rather than somewhat of deeper in this size boat, because it provides a more stable platform." Depending on the fishery, the boat could have an aluminum bolt-on shelter deck and 18,000 hooks for longlining, or a stack of pots on deck for p-cod or crab. "There could be 30,000 pounds of load on the deck while the boat is headed to the fishing grounds," he says. "Usually boats with that weight on deck must tank hold for stability but this boat is wide enough but not too deep to fish effectively with dry fish holds and all this weight on deck."

Hockema says many boats that are not as wide relative to the depth can't do that – they must either tank the forward hold or put significant fixed ballast below in a hold or the keel – as much as 30,000 to 50,000 pounds. "We don't really want all that extra weight," he says, "and you don't want to think about the extra fuel you're burning, pushing an extra 50,000 pounds through the water for 40 years."

Hockema says, the keel itself offers some substantial ballast, and the keel shoe is 3 inches thick by 8 inches wide, while the vertical is 2 inches thick. "We don't like to think about it, but sometimes when we're fishing a boat will bump the bottom – it's almost a fact of life when seining – and this stout keel will allow that to happen without the boat sustaining damage."

The new boat has a fuel capacity of 8,900 gallons and can carry 2,000 gallons of fresh water.

"We have found that wide boats are a really good design feature for North Pacific fisheries," he says. "Something in being forced to deal with a limited length, like 58 feet or permit length, in order to make a limited vessel bigger we've had to go wider, and we've found that we get much safer vessels out of these lengths."

He says fisherman like the design for the stability and the deck space, and while fuel consumption might be less efficient, when considering the weather conditions, it's better to make it wider for stability rather than deeper for capacity."

"We've had really good feedback from the owners of this design," Hockema says. "I've had calls from them raving about how well his boat is taking the big seas."


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