Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

New 40-foot Crabber Packs 55,000 lbs.

Vessel Profile: Alice Fay


June 1, 2017

Peter Marsh

Built to conform to weight and length limits, the 40-foot Alice Faye can still pack 55,000 lbs in her holds.

"There are hundreds of crab boats on the Oregon coast; many of them are old wood and fiberglass hulls that are due for replacement. What we have here is the right boat to meet that need." says Kyle Cox, owner of Tarheel Aluminum in Coos Bay. He's talking about the Alice Faye, a new 40-foot design he launched recently that's light weight but can carry a big payload. In 2016, he was approached by Joel Purkey, a longtime fisherman out of Port Orford on the south Oregon coast, about building a multi-purpose boat – primarily for pot fishing and trolling.

What excited Kyle about this project was the unique requirement of the Port Orford fishery: all boats must be equipped with four lifting eyes and are hoisted out by crane and stored on the dock. (There is no moorage in the water.) The maximum all-up weight for the crane is 45,000 lbs. so that was the first limit on the design. The second limit was one of Joel's Oregon permits, which was for a maximum 40-foot length. That certainly seemed to restrict the choice of boat, but Joel wasn't about to order a typical lightweight Port Orford boat with low-capacity.

He was determined to follow the modern trend of maximizing payload – like the latest Bristol Bay boats. Kyle assured him it was definitely possible to build a durable aluminum hull within the length and weight limits but with a significantly larger hold size. He contacted Cory Gottschalk, a marine engineer with whom he had worked before, who specializes in high-performance workboats. Gottschalk is now living in Panama, but agreed to design the boat and support the build via email and Skype.

One important point all three men discussed was the need for a stiff hull that would really last: besides the wear and tear of fishing "up to 300 days a year" according to Joel, it had to be engineered to withstand being lifted after every trip and quickly set down on a trailer. So there were to be no short cuts in the framing or skin thickness to save weight.

The lines of the F/V Alice Faye showed a semi-displacement hull with a single chine, and a beam of 15 feet carried all the way to the transom. The draft is 5 feet light and just more than 6 feet loaded.

Kyle had a local specialist do the CAD production design for the boat, and then ordered the parts CNC cut by Alaskan Copper & Brass in Portland. He leased a second shop from the Port of Charleston and started work in September 2016 with a crew of five. Aged 30, he has spent half his life working at Tarheel, and last year bought the business from his father Ray Cox, who owns and operates Giddings Boatworks.

The biggest customer for Tarheel over the years has been local oyster growers for whom he has built at least ten aluminum barges up to 50 feet. They also fabricate a lot of new deck gear for the fishing fleet based in Charleston – mainly trollers, trawlers and shrimpers. (Giddings and Tarheel are in adjacent buildings and work together for repairs and upgrades on larger fishing vessels hailing from all over the west coast.)

The new boat quickly took shape after the transom, bulkheads and frames were erected. The closely-spaced stringers are 12 inches apart, the frames are on a 30-inch spacing, and the bottom is 3/8-inch thick and sides 1/4-inch – to make sure she holds her shape for many years to come. The main hold has a volume of 600 cubic feet, the aft hold takes 200 cubic feet – each with a Freeman hatch. Both holds have wider frames than the rest of the hull and extra-tall stringers up to 12-inches deep covered with double floors, to support the maximum load when full of 55,000 lbs.

That works out to about 26,000 lbs. of crab, which is double what the traditional 40 footers can carry, a couple of which Kyle pointed out while walking the dock in Charleston. The Alice Faye does not look at all top heavy or out of proportion – at least for a 21st century design. With full tanks, freeboard is 8 feet forward and 5 feet aft.

One hidden feature is the full-height topside frames that pass through the deck, giving greater support to the bulwarks. They are covered by a U shaped cap rail, topped by a hefty aluminum pipe rail. From the handrail to the keel, the hull is clearly very solidly built and the bulwarks are strong enough at the corner of the transom to take the aft mooring cleats, leaving the deck completely free of obstructions.

The Port Orford lifting eyes were given extra attention. The forward eyes have a compression post running across the cabin top, and are surround by a box of 1/2-inch thick metal that extends down to the chine, with heavy gussets tying in under stringers. The aft pair are treated the same way and all four eyes are protected from abrasion by inserts of stainless steel tubing.

Going below deck, it was still a surprise to find full standing headroom in the engine room, with space to spare around the EPA Tier 3 John Deere 6068 that produces 265 HP at 1,800 RPM. It is connected to a ZF W220 reduction gear and turns a 32-inch propeller that came from the Prop Shop of Mukilteo, Washington. The driveshaft is 19 feet long and 2.5 inches in diameter.

A notable addition to the main engine is a Logan clutch on the front end connecting the main hydraulic pump that runs the crab block. This can be operated by a remote clutch switch on the dashboard, as can all the important electrical equipment. A second smaller hydraulic PTO is fitted to the gearbox to run all the hydraulics except the block. The hydraulic tank capacity is 100 gallons.

The genset is a powerful Kubota 3 kW unit that runs a Vertiflo 7.5-HP circulation pump that can move up to 3,600 GPM though 5-inch stainless steel piping to the fish holds. Both engines were supplied by Curry Marine Supply in Toledo, Oregon. Fuel capacity is 625 gallons in dual tanks. There is no chilling equipment fitted at the moment, but Tarheel will fabricate a portable system to be bolted under the main hatch, when needed. The engine room and aft-deck are monitored by video cameras, and all lighting is LED except for the sodium masthead lights.

The accommodation is fairly simple on this boat, which will stay close to its homeport.

It consists of a roomy double bunk in the foc'sle with plenty of space for the crew's gear. The wheel house has 6 feet, 5 inches of headroom with a dinette to port, which converts to a third bunk. The freshwater tank holds 70 gallons. The electronics include a Simrad 4G radar and auto-pilot. The Accusteer system uses double rams with manual over-ride to the wheel. The rudder and all fittings are stainless steel.

Peter Marsh

Although capable of carrying twice the cargo of traditional 40 footers, the Alice Faye does not look at all top heavy or out of proportion – at least for a 21st century design.

The displacement of around 30,000 lbs overall compares very favorably to a steel hull of this size that will be more than double this weight. "That's where we get the amazing capacity," explained Kyle. "We can get 12 knots with tanks empty and 8.5 with tanks full, using just 265 HP," he continued. To ensure the Alice Faye was as stable as the calculations showed, Kyle brought in Bruce Culver, a naval architect from Tacoma, to perform a complete inclination test. She passed with flying colors.

That is a good selling point for this full-volume 40 footer, which should slot neatly into a number of inshore fisheries where capacity, fuel economy, and ease of maintenance are valued. It can be easily customized to suit the owner's preferences with other types and sizes of engine, a small galley, or a deck laid out for longline gear etc. The cost of the basic, turn-key model is $690,000, Kyle says, and he is ready to build the same hull again, or a larger version up to 70 feet long with the same industry-leading capacity.


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