Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman



October 1, 2017

Little Hoquiam Shipyard, located in Hoquiam, Washington, is a one-stop shop for commercial fishermen. LHS has supplied hundreds of vessels that work along the Pacific Coast and Alaska. Photo courtesy of Little Hoquiam Shipyard.

Last year's subpar salmon season put a dent in commercial fishing activities, nevertheless yards around the Pacific Northwest and Alaska are busy helping fishermen get their boats repaired, refit and back on the water.

Washington Seiners

Little Hoquiam Shipyard (LHS), located in Hoquiam, Washington, is a one-stop shop for commercial fishermen. LHS has supplied hundreds of vessels that work along the Pacific Coast and Alaska.

The plant consists of approximately 60,000 square feet of buildings and 11 acres of storage. It also boasts state-of-the-art capabilities in fiberglass, wood and metal fabrication and has its own dock facilities that can launch vessels up to 120 feet.

The yard has been in operation since 1971, and started out building trolling and small crab vessels, but has largely focused on building purse seiners for the past 15 years. "We have molds that cover pretty much the entire cross-section of fishing industries," says owner Howard Moe, "including a new mold for a seiner/crabber combo boat."

Moe reports that LHS has been busy doing a lot of repair work. "We have one 54-foot vessel that burned, and we've torn it down to the bare hull just about and rebuilt it entirely," he says. "We have a 35-foot east coast vessel that was shipped on a trailer, that we're putting together. Then we have a 32-foot sport fish boat that we're finishing up."

The facility is very environmentally clean. LHS has a regular disposal program for its acetone waste and any used oil, and its runoff water is consistently tested for quality.

The build side of the business has seen a drop, says Moe. "We had six or seven years of building these big seiners just as fast as we could build them. And the last year, the fishing prices were so low, there wasn't a lot of new stuff being built. We're hoping after this season, there will be some buyers because the price has been good."

Last year, LHS refit two of the trollers it built in the 70s by cutting them in two to lengthen them, then renewed all the equipment. "These fiberglass boats don't seem to deteriorate and it's a lot cheaper to take a boat in and tear it down and rebuild it than it is to start with a new boat," adds Moe.


Alaska-based Kodiak Shipyard offers do-it-yourself haulouts, and handles between 50 and 55 haulouts of vessels from 58 feet to 180 feet every year. The yard has equipment that includes a 660-ton marine Travelift, high-pressure wash-down systems, heated concrete pad, state-of-the-art wash water recycling system, dry moorage space and pre-qualified vendors, suppliers and expeditors. In addition, contract services include divers, machinists, welders, painters, and mechanics.

Summer is the off-season for the yard, but as Lon White, Kodiak Shipyard's Port & Harbor Director, says, "It's good news. It means people are out fishing and making money. We've had a half-dozen small casualties that have required boats to be lifted out this summer unexpectedly, and the shipyard has proven to be very beneficial for that."

The majority of the work done during routine scheduled maintenance includes painting, hull maintenance, shaft and prop work. Other work has included refitted articulating rudder systems and bulbous bows. White hopes that soon the yard can offer major capabilities such as the lengthening and widening of boats.

Business did slow down as a result of the slow salmon season last year. As well, White says yard prices went up slightly the year before, which may also have had an impact. "Boats just didn't haul out," he says. "They deferred vessel repairs for another year."

To help fishermen, Kodiak Shipyard has reduced its yard rate by 50 percent after 30 days. "For anyone looking for anything other than just a shower and a shave, who is trying to do some major repairs or major renovations, they would be enticed to come here because of the very reduced yard rate."

New Facilities

Platypus Marine, Inc. (Platypus), located in Port Angeles, specializes in new construction, refits, and repairs of Pacific Northwest commercial fishing vessels. Varied services include painting, fuel economy, Bulbous bulbs, repowers, welding and custom fabrication, and maintenance services. Platypus will be adding a new building to its facilities, adding to its 70,000 square feet of indoor space. Once the building is complete, plans are in the works to lay-up a new fiberglass or steel 58-foot fishing hull for any customer who wants a new boat.

Platypus has just finished two fiberglass extensions on California crabbing vessels. On the 38-foot Reelization, Platypus added a six-and-a-half foot extension, with three deck hatches aft. It will allow the owner to have more on-deck space for crab pots and additional options for trim when tanking the boat. Platypus also extended the vessel's aluminum bulwarks along the side decks to match the extension. The original length was 38 feet, and completed length is now 44 feet.

The Pacific Rival has been extended from 43 feet to 51.5 feet by adding a fiberglass bulb with hydraulic bow thruster to the boat. The new bulb adds air pressure inside the bulb compartment to add more buoyancy to the bow, and can release some air pressure to allow the boat to sit deeper in the water.

"The bulb itself is heavy, so typically a bulb is installed and additional foam is sealed in to be 'neutral buoyant,'" says David Kane, Marketing & Sales Manager. "It will have a hole drilled into it to fill the un-foamed portion of the bulb to be neutral with sea water, which will then drain out at the next haul out."

A worker at Platypus Marine prepares to evacuate the air from a bulbous bow mold. Photo Platypus Marine.

The FRP bulb is an engineered design that was fabricated with resin infusion for a stronger, lighter bulb. The air pressure option takes the boat's existing compressor (or a new compressor installed for this purpose) to allow some trim options in the bulb. "We are seeing about 50/50 for captains who want it. And after chatting with a fellow skipper who has the same capability, he decided to add this capability to his own boat with the new bulb," says Kane. PM also matched the owner's current aluminum bulwarks to the new extension and additional protection as requested, and applied new hull paint as well.

Platypus has other commercial vessels on the books for October and recently paved its main lot behind its Commander building to provide a smoother surface. "At the end of October, first week of November, we are expecting a 58-foot steel fishing vessel to come in for a sponson project, taking the beam out an additional 42 inches on each side," says Kane. "We will also repower the vessel as well."


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