Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Shipyards: Sponsons Keep Coastal Yards Busy


October 1, 2019

At the Port of Toledo, Oregon yard on the Yaquina River the 95.4-foot F/V Pegasus was sponsoned from 26.9 feet to 41.1 feet with the vessel's hold almost doubling to 8,831 cubic feet. Photo courtesy of the Port of Toledo.

With four yards on the Oregon coast from Astoria to Charleston now having the ability to haul 100-foot-plus fishing vessels, and the continuing demand for sponsoning, more well-used boats from 50 to 114 feet long were hauled out last winter for major surgery. They are now reaching completion with an average 40 percent increase in beam, a large increase in tank capacity, upgrades to the chillers, and expansion of the engine room. That's at a minimum; some owners prioritize getting back to work as soon as possible, others decide to forego a few more weeks fishing or a season of tendering in order to add a new wheelhouse and re-model of the crew quarters.

Tradition at Tongue Point

The F/V Tradition is a veteran Southeast Alaska 58-foot Seiner and tender with a beam of 19 feet – fairly standard for these boats in the past. It was one of the four projects that Fred Wahl built in Depoe Bay in 1989-91 before moving to Reedsport where he has launched more than 40 vessels from 45 to 103 feet long. The owner and skipper of the Tradition is Rod Miller of Chinook, Washington who decided it was his turn to sponson the boat to 27.5 feet, which has become the new "normal" for these limit seiners.

He brought the boat to the WCT Marine shipyard across the Columbia River at the Tongue Point, Oregon – the industrial waterfront property owned and managed by Hyak Maritime. Tulio Cesare, the naval architect who has done most of the design and engineering for Tongue Point over the last decade, drew up plans and cutting files for the Tradition. They included the sponsons, a new larger bulb, and a reverse chine at the stern that is faired into the standard bottom plating for maximum buoyancy.

The boat was rolled into the former Navy seaplane hangar where all the work was performed under cover. The expanded fish holds were insulated, fiberglassed and plumbed for the existing RSW system. The owner specified extensive use of stainless steel on the starboard bulwarks, topsides around the crab hoist, all handrails and rubbing stakes. The work included a doubling of the space in the old aluminum wheelhouse, which has been widened all the way out to the rail on the starboard side, and extended well out on the port side giving it a width of about 25 feet, and leaving a narrow walkway to access the foredeck and anchor winch. The Tradition will be re-launched on the WCT trailer that has been reinforced and lengthened to handle vessels up to 400 tons.

Pegasus in Toledo

The older the boat, the longer the list of work tends to be: the F/V Pegasus was built in 1975 at the A.W. Covacevich Shipyard in Biloxi Mississippi. This yard was founded in 1896 by a Croatian immigrant and built several fishing vessels every year from the mid-1950's until the early 1980's. The Pegasus was delivered as a shrimper with a traditional narrow hull more than 80 feet long with about 22 feet of beam. It has only had one owner, and is still based in Newport on the mid-Oregon coast.

Over the next 40 years, it underwent a number of structural modifications, starting with a mid-body addition of 10-15 feet and the first sponsoning to 27 feet. Then the main deck was raised to increase freeboard and a bulbous bow, a stern extension and a trawl ramp increased the length to 95.4 feet.

Above the main deck there had also been improvements to the pilot house, mast and gear when the boat was converted to trawling full-time. However, the skipper Justin Johnson and the owners of the boat still felt the old boat had the basic structure to support another increase in capacity.

They reckoned that a second sponsoning should meet their goal of raising the capacity to 500,000 lbs. of fish while still maintaining a comfortable freeboard. Some preliminary drawing work was done at Fred Wahl Marine Construction, then the skipper of the Pegasus, Justin Johnson, contacted Hockema Whalen Myers Associates (HWMA) to improve the structural tonnage arrangement and interior layout, minimizing its impact on the fish holds. The end result was a sponson design being both lofted and then 'hand built' on the shop floor at the Port of Toledo yard on the Yaquina River, ten miles upstream from Newport.

"With a boat that has been modified as much as the Pegasus over the years, this project was especially challenging because circumstances kept us from having the hull laser scanned. This was not an ideal situation," said Paul Monical, the naval architect who managed this project for HWMA. "Elliott Bay Design Group in Seattle did the sponson lofting under a very tight timeframe and provided enough reference information in the NC-cut parts for Yaquina Boat Equipment to fit the parts to the original surface, which could not be completely defined," he recalled. "The overall length of 95.4 feet and depth of 12.8 feet of the vessel was not changed but the beam was increased from 26.9 feet to 41.1 feet with the vessel's hold almost doubling to 8,831 cubic feet – all while comfortably staying below 200 gross register tons for regulatory tonnage," he pointed out.

Overall, HWMA reworked the structure to suit the new tonnage arrangement and the increased operating draft, sized the fish holds, modified the fuel tank arrangement, redesigned the lower and upper bow, redesigned the gantry and made many other arrangement changes to integrate the new addition with the previous work as much as possible. "There were very few straightforward tasks on this boat," he admitted. "But we think it looks as good as it does in large part due to the tremendous effort put out by Yaquina Boat Equipment to convert our design on paper into the new Pegasus."

Progress in Reedsport

Hockema Whalen Myers are also the consulting naval architects for the lengthening, sponsoning and rebuild of the 114-foot F/V Progress further south at Fred Wahl Marine Construction's new facility in Reedsport, Oregon. Jim Zimmer, Wahl's project manager, said the overall length has been increased to 131 feet with a 15-foot mid-body extension followed by sponsons that increased the vessel's 30-foot beam to 41.5 feet. This has resulted in a new fuel capacity of 77,000 gallons, and four fish holds with a combined capacity of more than 12,000 cubic feet.

The Icicle Seafoods boat came to the yard last year under tow after being hit by a big breaking wave in the bering sea. The windows were all boarded up for the 1,800-mile trip after the wave bent the wheelhouse, drowning the electronics and the navigation and communication equipment.

The structural damage to the house, and the resulting flooding of the accommodations and engine room meant that an extensive rebuild was necessary. After the Progress arrived in Reedsport, it was decided that she would be lengthened, sponsoned, and a new pilot house and mast would be installed.

F/V Enterprise in Charleston

Further down the coast, In Charleston, on Coos Bay, Giddings Boatworks has been widening the 74-foot trawler F/V Enterprise from 22.5 feet to 36.5 feet. That works out to more than 60 percent larger – making it an "extreme makeover" by any standards. The boat was built in 1974 in Blaine, Washington by Berg Shipbuilding and is based in Kodiak, Alaska. Giddings General Manager, Wayne Garcia, noted that this project was a modular build with engineering by Columbia Sentinel of Seattle, and lofting by Argonaut Marine's Mark Siburg also of Seattle.

"We built the units upside down on a jig and rolled them over once they were welded out. We did all this before the vessel arrived so we could get a flying start as soon as it was hauled out," he explained. The Enterprise's topsides were quickly cut away and the 7-foot wide sponsons hung in place using the yard's mobile crane, followed by a new bulbous bow. This lengthened the boat to 77 feet L.O.A with a draft of more than 11 feet. "We did this primarily because the owner was short of time and this was the fastest, most cost effective and time effective," Garcia added.

Two new fish holds were framed up, foamed in, and lined with stainless steel panels, expanding the capacity by 150,000 pounds. Forward, the expanded space under the foredeck created an enclosed V-shaped passageway around the original narrow bow that will provide a serious amount of storage space for all the spare gear. The Enterprise had recently been repowered with a 750-hp Yanmar diesel, so the new IMS chillers were installed on the new extended chine flats, one port and one starboard. The house wasn't extended this time around, so there is also large amount of space on the foredeck. The deck layout and gear is now set up for a combination of trawling and crabbing, or as a tender.

F/V Persistence in Charleston

Kyle Cox reported that this year he completed two vessels at Tarheel Aluminum's shop located next to Giddings in the Charleston shipyard. One was a new build 35.5-feet long with 15-foot beam, the other was a sponson. The new build is a combination boat with a very efficient underwater shape and high-volume above the waterline. The Persistence will fish out of Juneau, Alaska, primarily gillnetting but is also set up for crabbing. "It has an impressive engine room with standing headroom and even has a full-size doorway for easy access, which is pretty much unheard of in this size of boat," Kyle said.

The deck is easily the size of a 32-foot Bristol Bay boat with six holds that are fully tankable, he reported. There is enough space to safely pack 125- by 38-inch commercial crab pots. The foredeck and the aluminum fish hold hatches were hot-sprayed with titanium non-slip coating, which is very new product for the fishing industry that seems to be working very well, he noted. The extra yard of length results in a larger wheelhouse with space for the helm station to starboard and comfortable seating for a crew of three around the cabin table on an L-shaped bench with a traditional oil-burning stove, refrigerator and galley sink with hot water. There are four bunks in the foc'sle with a full head and shower.

The Persistence has a spacious, well-equipped engine room with full walk-around access to the main, the gen set on one side and chiller and other equipment on the other. Unlike most modern gillnetters, the hull was designed for displacement mode, not planing, so the engine is a 230-hp John Deere that can push the boat at an economical cruising speed of 9 knots, regardless of the load, with an 1,100 nautical mile range. (It could probably manage 10 knots with some prop tuning, Kyle reckons.). This boat is drawing a lot of attention on the dockside in Juneau, he has been told.

The second boat arrived as a 50-foot troller with a 14.5-foot beam named the F/V Nahanni. Tarheel sponsoned the hull on the marine railway haul out at Giddings, adding approximately 4 feet per side, for a beam of 22.5 feet and lengthened it to 54 feet with an additional four feet on the stern. The boat was re-named the F/V Kenia Faith and now has much larger fuel tanks and two new gen-sets that will give the owner the ability to fish longer and further from Coos Bay.

The deckhouse used to fill the entire beam with the only access to the foredeck via the cabin, now the Kenia Faith has a 4-foot walkway on each side that will allow the crew to move freely around the deck and pack more crab gear, not to mention cutting down on foot traffic in the wheelhouse. With the added buoyancy, owner and skipper Brendon Bates will be able to pack more product and fish in heavier weather, which should increase his productivity as well as his safety.

The F/V Widgeon in Crescent City

The F/V Widgeon was a 53-foot by 15-foot owner-builder project boat in Lake Union in Seattle that was left unfinished after 20 years of "off-and-on" effort when the builder died. The boat's maiden voyage in 2018 was under a new owner who ran it down the coast to his homeport of Newport, Oregon. He immediately hauled it out at the Port of Toledo boatyard, and added new rolling chocks, sea chest and sonar tube. On deck, the yard fitted a lot of new equipment, cleaned up the hold, fabricated a new top house and replaced the rigging.

"We did so much work on this haul out that by the time the boat went back in the water, it was unrecognizable. We got everything somewhat operational, and jumped into the albacore season quickly," the owner said on his Facebook page. During the summer, the crew began to plan for a complete rebuild and sponson in 2019. They were ready for the opening day of the 2019 crab season on April 21, hauled their last pots on May 11, and headed south to the Fashion Blacksmith in Crescent City, California where Ted Long and his experienced crew specialize in hull extension and have earned a reputation for top-quality work.

This team went to work by cutting off the transom while the boat was still on the lift platform, then hauled the boat inside to begin opening up the forward topsides, prior to adding the framework to raise the deck 16 inches and fabricating a new bulbous bow. The finished boat will measure 57.5 by 24 feet. All this extra volume should give the boat a lot more floatation below the waterline and enough hold space to double the capacity and stack more pots.

F/V Theresa Marie in Seattle

In Seattle, Snow & Company located on the Lake Washington Ship Canal continues to have a full house with upgrades and modifications to fishing vessels and a contract for small tugs for the US Navy. Brett Snow suggested that a new aluminum wheelhouse they designed and built for the 90-foot tender F/V Theresa Marie was a good example of a company specialty – laser scanning the old house to ensure a perfect fit for the replacement.

Giddings Boatworks, in Charleston, Oregon has been widening the 74-foot trawler F/V Enterprise from 22.5 feet to 36.5 feet, making the boat more than 60 percent larger. Photo courtesy of Giddings Boat Works.

Snow is one of the first builders in the Northwest to purchase a full 3D laser-scanner system -- the FARO Focus 3D. This quickly captures data for complex hull shapes or entire vessels with minimum disruption and has proven to be a valuable asset its accuracy, cost and time savings. It even enables customers to take a virtual tour of the new layout from the comfort of their office. The final result is impressive with a full navigation suite on the bridge and modern accommodations aft.

Snow is also known for building seine skiffs, and the company won an order from the Northeast Coast for a very big and powerful hull for the Maine herring fishery. It is 25 feet long with 13 feet of beam and 5 feet of draft, and is equipped with a John Deere 9 liter 6090 AFM85, producing 425 hp at 2,400 rpm. The deep-case gearbox is a ZF 325 and the 40-inch diameter propeller sits in a Kort nozzle. To ensure positive steering, the owners specified a powerful flap rudder, custom-built by Deflector Marine Rudder in Naselle, SW Washington. The big skiff was delivered in June 2019, a month after an 18-foot model with a 225 hp John Deere and 28-inch propeller that went to Kodiak, AK.


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