Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 

Deck Machinery for a Successful Season


Marco Global's new line of purse seine deck winches promise to free up a deckhand and reduce the risk of crew injury while streamlining the net pursing process with a dual sheave design that eliminates slippage. Photo courtesy of Marco Global.

A fishing boat may be the most expensive part of the commercial fishermen's tool kit, but the machinery and gear he uses on a day to day basis is just as important. The tools for catching fish and hauling it aboard are important for a profitable and safe fishing trip, and the reliability of a product can mean the difference between a good season and a great season.

New Seine Winches

Seattle's Marco Global has developed a new line of purse seine deck winches that promise to free up a deckhand and reduce the risk of crew injury while streamlining the net pursing process.

The four models of Purse King seine deck winches and line haulers come in sizes to fit most fishermen's needs, including a model that bolts on top of an existing winch and three stand-alone models that replace an existing winch, using the existing hydraulic system.

The new winches feature a unique dual sheave design, which eliminates slippage when pursing.

The line wraps first around the inside sheave, then comes around the outer sheave for a second wrap which takes the slack and maintains traction on the line in the inside sheave.

The extra traction provided by the outer sheave gives the operator a safe way to stop and reverse the winch to pay out line under tension.

The dual sheave design allows splices, knots and even links to pass through the sheaves safely without slippage.

Dick Boehm, Vice President and General Manager of Marco Global says his company's challenge was to understand the problems of its customers and come up with product ideas to solve those problems.

"Our biggest customers are the Alaska salmon fleet," Boehm says. "These fishermen are operating under the 58-foot rule, and there isn't a lot of room on these small boats." He says the area between the house and the hatch is a pretty small footprint, and drum winches, which are safe, take up too much room, so a capstan is the most widely used method of pursing the seine.

In 2008, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) had authored a study finding that 67 percent of purse seine injuries were directly attributed to the capstan winch.

"A few years ago there was a movement among seiners to use crab block haulers to do the pursing," Boehm says. "Capstan winches are dangerous, and customers were looking for a solution."

One of the problems with both crab block solutions and traditional capstan winches is maintaining control of the load on the line. "You can't pay out line on a capstan, and while pinch sheaves haul pretty well, there's also no way to pay out line," Boehm says.

With a pinch sheave design, the line has to stay deep in the wedge to maintain the friction required to haul the line. When a splice in the line or a link runs through, it will often break the wedge and lose traction. The two sets of hauling sheaves in the Purse King design maintain control of the line, even with splices, links or knots passing through.

The bolt-on PLH17 model offers up to 4,000 lbs. of pull at 336 feet per minute. The PKW15 offers 15-inch sheaves and a line pull of 4,000 lbs. for smaller boats. The larger PKW17 offers 17-inch sheaves and up to 8,000 lbs. of pull and the 12,000-lb.-pull PKW20 features 20-inch diameter sheaves and is designed for herring or squid seiners.

The three stand-alone Purse Kings feature a separate mounting plate that bolts to the deck for ease of installation and an E-STOP emergency shut off switch on the top horn.

Net Technology

Many of the salmon seiners from Alaska to Seattle are equipped with seines built by Bulletproof Nets, of Homer, Alaska. One of Bulletproof's owners, Matt Alward, says there are a lot of variables that go into the design and construction of a Bulletproof Net. "We custom-build every single net," he says. "We'll look at where a customer fishes, his boat, what equipment he is using, how he handles his gear, and even his personality"

The company's line of custom seines are tailored to the customer and constructed of a range of materials, from traditional nylon and polyethylene to Dyneema and Vectran, based on the individual fisherman's needs.

Alward says nylon is a traditional webbing material that holds dye well and sinks, but offers lower abrasion resistance than some of the newer materials, and has to be made of larger diameter twine to provide the necessary strength increasing the drag.

Polyethylene is usually used as a chafe strip, and offers higher abrasion resistance than nylon.

Dyneema is polyethylene constructed so the long chain molecules offer the highest possible strength for the material. It's a high-tech fiber that offers high strength and wear resistance, but it doesn't hold dye as well as nylon, and it floats, which can be good or bad, depending on the application.

Vectran is a new material to seines that offers high strength and high wear resistance with smaller twine. "Vectran is a new product we're experimenting with," Alward says. "We have used it in a few nets so far, and it has promise."

Because it's strong for its diameter, it decreases drag, and that saves fuel while allowing the fisherman's nets to cover more ground. It's stronger than nylon, it holds dye well and it sinks. Bulletproof Nets is the first in the United Sates to use the material for seine web.

One of the product lines distributed by Bulletproof Nets is stainless steel rigging equipment made by ASANO Metal Industry of Japan. Alward says the hardware is the first high-quality stainless steel tackle of its kind designed specifically for commercial fishermen. "They offer the best stainless steel block and tackle we have ever seen. They have a line of rigging blocks and open face blocks for ground line, and quick release options for when you're towing nets or a skiff." The other owner of Bulletproof Nets, Josiah Campbell, has developed "a strong working relationship with Asano Metal Industries" says Alward. "Through our close collaboration with Asano, we have some very exciting new seine specific hardware in the works"

Bulletproof Nets works with deck machinery manufacturers to produce nets that work with new equipment designs. "There's a correlation between deck equipment and the nets they haul," Alward says. "Often an upgraded equipment design will have an effect on the gear we make. We work with manufacturers like MARCO on their design improvements so the net side of the industry isn't caught off guard."

For example, he notes that the development of the gripper wheel for the Marco Power block resulted in damage to the nets. "We had to come up with new construction methods to build tougher nets."

Bulletproof is always experimenting with new materials that might work better. "We have a large data set," Alward says. "We work with more than 80 nets a year, including my own, so we get to try new materials and techniques." He says some of the techniques are "tried and true" while other areas require experimentation.

"It's a never ending process, as far as we're concerned," Alward says. "We feel we can still keep making a better net. We already make the best net available, but we can do better."

Trawl Package

The O'Hara Corporation, of Rockland, Maine, chose Rapp Marine as the winch supplier for a new 194-foot, DNV-classed Stern Trawler, Araho.

"We're supplying the complete winch package," says Dan Markovic, engineering manager for Rapp Marine in Seattle. All the winches are electric, with the exception of the anchor winch, which is a hydraulic unit.

"We make an electric anchor winch," Markovic says, "but in this case the hydraulic version was specified."

The new vessel is being built by Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Florida to a Norwegian design, and will be fitted with 14 Rapp Marine winches.

The main Trawl Winches will be a pair of TWS-22030E/S6 winches, each offering 45 tons of pull and capable of accommodating 2,800 meters of 32-mm cable.

The big electric winches are the workhorses of the fishing operation and are equipped with Rapp fluid-cooled electric motors. The motors are attached to the Rapp-designed gearbox, through which the winch is powered.

"One very important detail for these winches is that the motors are fluid cooled" Markovic says. "When winches are operated, they work hard and may stay on for a long time. The cooling extends the life of the motors and allows us to extract greater power from them."

Markovic says the system is very effective as the oil is circulating internally for cooling, where it has direct contact with rotating parts of the motor. "The rotor is actually bathing in the cooling liquid, providing for the most effective heat control" he says.

Also part of the package are two Gilson winches. Markovic says these winches have conventional, air-cooled electric motors, as they're used for short periods and don't experience heating issues.

The two GW-4000BE Gilsons each offer 32 tons of pull, courtesy of an ABB electro-motor system.

The new Araho will also feature two NDD-4500BE Double Net Drums, each offering 19 cubic meters of capacity, and each equipped with two 25-ton capable motors for a combined pulling capacity of 50 tons per Net Drum.

Another single 19 cubic meter ND-4500BE Net Drum is fitted with one electric motor, providing pull of 32-tons.

Three electric cod end/outhaul winches will pull 12 tons each and a model SOW-502E/S6 electric net sounding winch with 3,700 meters of 11-mm cable will be capable of pulling 3.5 tons.

Two AWW-4000 hydraulic anchor winches, fitted with Warping Heads, each storing 330 meters of 40-mm cable, round out the package along with a 372-mm hydraulic capstan which provides 5 tons of pull.

Rapp Marine is also supplying complete controls for the fishery winches including a Pentagon control system consisting of computerized control unit, touch screens and joysticks, offering features such as local and remote control, a monitoring system for auto payout and haul back and automatic operation of the trawl winches.

The system is equipped with 17-inch and 19-inch touch screens as well as real-time trawl length, speed and tension monitoring and logging of relevant winch data.

Rapp Marine has shipped the equipment from Europe as scheduled, and will execute installation supervising, start-up and performance testing including crew training, as well as sea trials before the delivery of the new vessel this summer.

Longline Haulers

Jim Kreider says his Seattle company JK Fabrication provides equipment for every fishery from salmon fishing to longliners and king crab. "We provide a lot of the deck winches for salmon fishermen," he says, noting the company's line of purse seine deck winches that benefit from galvanized steel construction with stainless steel horizontal rollers, for high strength and long life in the tough marine environment.

The company also supplies longline haulers for halibut and cod fishing. "There are several reasons why our longline haulers are so popular," Kreider says. "The design is simple and proven." Kreider says smaller vessels use the company's 17-inch convertible haulers, and he considers the company's 24-inch convertible hauler to be the Cadillac in the industry.

"Convertible means that no matter how the vessel is configured, you can take our hauler apart, turn it left or right on any angle, up or down, and it will work," he says. The company's haulers have a hot dipped galvanized finish. The sheaves are cast iron, and stainless steel or bronze is available.

"The design is simple and proven," Kreider says. "Customers that have switched to our haulers from another brand tell us that our haulers work so well they wish they had purchased ours in the first place."

Kreider says his company stands out for its longline equipment, including hauling stations, heavy-duty side or bulwark rollers and halibut side rollers. JK Fabrication recently supplied an all-stainless 30-inch longline hauler with direct drive and a radial piston hydraulic motor for the new Vigor Alaska-built Arctic Prowler.

"Our fish stripper/hook cleaner has been proven throughout the world," Kreider says. "The all stainless steel design has a great reputation, and it's small enough to work with any size boat."

JK Fabrication does custom work for small and large clients, and prides itself on the quick turnaround the company can offer its clients.

"We have stuff ready to ship right away – not in a couple of months but a day or two." Kreider says. "If a fisherman needs a motor or a gearbox he needs it right away. We can have it ready the same day or next day to get him back fishing."

Crab Gear

Doug Alldridge has been working in shipyards since he was eighteen years old, so it's natural that his company, Yaquina Boat Equipment in Toledo Oregon, co-owned with partner Jerry Esbenshade, would offer vessel repair services to the West Coast commercial fishing fleet, but that's only part of their business. Along with pilothouses, raised fo'c'sles, whalebacks and other conversion work as well as general dockside service and sales, Yaquina Boat Equipment also manufactures, sells and services a line of hydraulic deck equipment for the commercial fishing fleet including trawl winches, anchor winches, net reels, king crab blocks, pot launchers and sorting tables as well as numerous other products.

The company builds a line of trawl winches and net reels for boats ranging from 450 to 1,600 horsepower, all designed and built in-house. Most are custom-built for each application.

As well as their machine and fab shop, they also have several ABS certified welders on staff.

"We've more than doubled in output and company size in the last 5 years," Alldridge says. The company has 25 full-time employees building equipment for all facets of the west coast fishing industry.

"One of our newest products is a Dungeness crab davit with a davit sequencing valve," Alldridge says. "When you get done lifting the pot, the same lever swings it aboard- it really speeds up the handling process and reduces the fatigue of manually pulling a crab pot aboard." The Davit Sequencing Valve can be retrofit to existing davits as well.

The company also makes equipment for the king crab fleet, including a line of crab blocks, pot launchers and articulated or pivoting sorting tables. Their all-stainless bait choppers come in two sizes: Piranha and Barracuda, and the company has even built a specialized wax shredder for the candle-making industry based on a drum style version.

Yaquina Boat also builds anchor winches, and by repurposing hydraulic motors from winches and net reels to drive new stainless or galvanized anchor winches the customer can save a lot of money for a very reliable, low maintenance product.

"We'll pull a motor from a net reel or trawl winch at 50 percent or more of its useful life," Alldridge says. The motor is being pulled from a power intensive application and installed in an anchor winch where it will have very low use and be fully serviceable.

"We'll build an anchor winch for 500- to 1,250-lb anchors," Alldridge says, for 50-foot to 140-foot boats. "We don't really do the smaller anchor winches."

Yaquina Boat Equipment also makes pre-mounted stainless steel freeing ports, or scupper doors, heavy-duty aluminum pen boards, masts and gantries.

The company hasn't traditionally carried equipment for other manufacturers, but recently announced a line of marinized hydraulic valves for the fishing industry. "We are now the nation's largest stocker and seller of hydraulic control valves marinized for trawl winches," Alldridge says. The valves are from an Italian company but they're marinized in the US. "The valves are made from very high quality type 316 stainless steel, including the spool, handle brackets, handles and lever return assembly," Alldridge says.

"There have been valves with stainless spools on the market in the past, but we have never found any with type 316L and not with all of the other working parts built of stainless steel," Alldridge says. The marinized versions of the valves are available for applications from 15 gpm to 70 gpm and they also handle valves with enclosed, nickel-plated spools rated at 100 gpm to 200 gpm.

"This new line of valves is really a high quality product, and we're happy to be providing them to dealers or direct to our customers."

Gillnet Drums

Kinematics, based in Marysville, Washington, builds deck machinery for many gear types, but concentrates on providing net drums, drum drives and net rollers to gillnetters, most of whom are fishing in Bristol Bay. "A majority of our sales are to Alaska," says Owner Ed Luttrell. I just spoke to a guy about a drum for the Columbia River, but most of it is still for the Bay."

Luttrell says their flagship products are their net rollers and anchor winches. "We have one of the best built net rollers in the business," he says.

The net rollers feature drive parts of stainless steel, with roller bearings and a totally enclosed motor. The castings are fabricated right next door to Kinematics, at Fraser Bronze Foundry. "There's a lot more metal in the casting, and it's ribbed for strength," he says.

Luttrell says fishermen might buy other equipment from his competitors, "but they always buy our roller."

The rollers feature a 4 x 4 hub and provide power in, power out and freewheeling modes. "We feel they're superior across the board," Luttrell says, "and our customers are willing to pay for that quality."

The company also provides a limited amount of machinery to small research vessels and workboats, including small capstan winches and anchor winches. "We have a fairly active business in research vessel winches and setups for small trawl boats," he says. "For example, we build research winches for sounding equipment based on our current designs, but we'll build custom as well."

Nick Burquest, left, and Naomi Weddle stack a Bulletproof Nets seine on the F/V Challenger on the West Side of Kodiak Island in 2010. Photo by David Oneill courtesy of Bulletproof Nets.

Kinematics also rebuilds motors, installs new sheaves in old power blocks, adds removable cleats and refurbishes and services existing equipment.

His anchor winch is another notable piece of machinery, Luttrell says, adding that a Kinematics anchor winch is more substantial than those of his competitors. "It's a good solid winch, with cast sidings and stainless steel fittings," Luttrell says. "It just has a better look and feel."

He doesn't sell a lot of them to the gillnet fleet. "A lot of the fishermen in the bay don't really need an anchor winch that tough," he says. "That's what a deckhand is for."

Where he does sell them is the Southern California squid and dive boat fisheries. "Those anchors are up and down a lot, and the winches work hard all day every day," he says. "Those guys know we build a good anchor winch."


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