Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Vessel Profile: Noelani

Owner Finishes Svendsen-Built 42-foot Hull in Wrangell


The new 42-foot Noelani ("mist of heaven" in Hawaiian) was built by Svendsen Marine Works in Wrangell, Alaska, in cooperation with the boat's owner, who finished much of the interior and machinery himself. Photo by Chris Guggenbickler.

Boats built in Wrangell sometimes don't get the attention they deserve, so we're happy to be able to give the new Svendsen Marine Works-built Noelani some well deserved press.

David Svendsen, who set up shop in Southeast Alaska in 1979 when he was just 21, has turned out more than 400 aluminum boats, "each one custom built and outfitted to the customer's specification," as his web site states.

In case you didn't catch that the first time, he has a shorter version that reads: "Custom built boats only-you dream it, we design it!" He can handle pretty much anything up to 45 feet long, from a jet boat to run up the Stikine River to any kind of craft for commercial or charter fishing. A lot of big boats moor in Wrangell, now that city's Port & Harbors department has brought in an impressive 300-ton ASCOM boat lift and a 150-ton Travelift. So when he doesn't have a boat underway, Svendsen might be building a deckhouse or a set of bulwarks for an old Seiner.

When Chris Guggenbickler was considering ideas for a new gillnet/prawn combo boat, he reached out to Svendsen. Chris wanted a size of 42-feet by 15-feet and had drawn up the design on graph paper in his office. When he felt he had it properly laid out, Svendsen contacted a computer-design expert, Cory Gottschalk of Sedro Wooley, Washington, who works with Tyler Boats. David emailed the images to Cory and all three met up in Seattle in 2012 to go over fuel capacity, hold capacity, hull speed and other design criteria. Cory ran the lines through his software programs to refine the concept, check the buoyancy, and fair the lines.

Chris and Cory corresponded over the next few months to work on final design. The four-panels forming the topside forward created an attractive concave shape that could never be achieved without a computer. Cory then worked with Joel Nelson of Ferndale, Washington who created the CAD files, which allowed a CNC router at Alaska Copper and Brass to produce a kit of aluminum parts for the entire boat.

This "flat pack" was shipped from Seattle to Wrangell on a barge and was assembled and welded up at Svendsen Marine in the summer of 2013. CNC kits eliminate all the "guess-work" from hull assembly: connect the tabs and slots properly and you will have the shape the designer intended. However, there are no short cuts in learning when, where and how much to weld, so that is not the time to save money with the do-it-yourself method. The hull also needed a bow tunnel for the Naiad thruster, and came out of the shop with the bow looking really fair.

Chris spent the first winter outside Svendsen Marine Works in a shrink wrap cover fabricating the interior himself – windows, door, then a full galley, foc'sle with four bunks, head with shower, stainless steel water tank etc. He also worked with Josh Young of J & R fiberglass in Wrangell to insulate the five refrigerated fish holds that have a capacity of around 24,000 lbs.

The second winter he installed the mast and all other mechanical equipment, plus wiring. Svendsen used his lifting equipment to drop the 425-HP John Deere 6090 AFM75 – a Tier-2, 9-liter, 6-cylinder inline – into the hull, connect it to the Twin Disc 5095 2.5:1 reduction gear and align it with the 34 by 22 NiBral prop. There is a 1,000-gallon fuel capacity in two tanks. Chris picked the John Deere 9L after talking with two fellow fishermen who have this engine in their 42-foot gillnet combo vessels. They were both very happy with fuel consumption, performance and quietness of the engine. Chris also weighted the fact that there is plenty of support for John Deere engines in the Wrangell area.

The fit-out continued with Glendenning controls for the Deere which allow the troll valve to be operated from any station, an MER 22-kw genset and a 12-ton IMS dual RSW/blast freezer. Chris was familiar with both as he had their products on his previous vessel. The Refrigeration system is a step up from his previous system, and the dual option allowed him to increase performance with a system permanently mounted in the engine room. With the 12-ton unit dedicated to freezing during the prawn fishery, a small RSW was needed to keep prawns alive. Chris met with Pete Feneide of Harbor Marine Refrigeration who built a 2-ton RSW system for this purpose.

La Conner Maritime Fabrication shipped up an anchor winch for his 50-kg Bruce anchor, and a net reel with automatic level-wind. InMac-Kolstrand supplied the 48-inch stern roller. Chris finally plugged in the Furuno Navnet and Comnav pilot and wrapped up the plumbing in time to launch the boat in March 2015. There were still a few items on the list, but the boat was functional after two years' hard work. Chris told me he has kept the 15-inch Warren Junes power block from his last boat, and plans to install that once he is ready to start spot prawn fishing.

Chris said one of the hardest parts of building a boat in SE Alaska is waiting for and researching parts. He researched products as much as possible, but there are so many components it is impossible to get them all. Much of the time he wanted to spend working on the boat was spent instead researching products on the internet, or waiting to talk to sales representatives. His most productive periods were when freight shipped from Seattle on Thursday would arrive on Tuesdays. With a pallet of parts sitting on deck, there was plenty of work to do.

The new aluminum boat has five refrigerated fish holds with a capacity of around 24,000 lbs. Photo by Chris Guggenbickler.

"I would say looking back there is a big difference between building a boat and having a boat built," Chris admitted. "I knew going in I would much rather have the second one than the first. It is so much easier to look at a real boat and decide what you might change. It also requires an amazing amount of foresight, but there are always things that you didn't consider," he said.

That being said, he says he is very happy with the way the boat turned out, and is looking forward to gillnetting the boat in May. The economy cruising speed is 8.5 Knots, almost 2 knots faster than his last boat.

"We named the boat Noelani, which means, "mist of heaven" as my wife has Hawaiian ancestry," he explained. "After two very long dark winters in SE Alaska, she said we will be going to the Islands this winter! The hula girl on the dash should keep me focused!"


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