Archive for » February 17th, 2012«

Bill would drastically increase boat registration fee in Maryland

A state proposal to raise boat registration fees for the first time in nearly three decades has dismayed many boat owners.

A bill filed Thursday morning in Annapolis would replace the flat $24 boat registration fee paid every two years with fees ranging from $50 to $700, depending on the size of the boat. The increases would be phased in over four years, beginning in October, for Maryland’s 191,000 registered boat owners.

“What’s the benefit? Or is it just one more way to raise revenue for the state? No wonder people move out of Maryland,” said Jesse Buckwalter, who keeps his 25-foot sport fishing boat in the driveway of his home in the Eastport section of Annapolis. “It seems exorbitant.”

The money would go to replenish the state’s Waterway Improvement Fund and pay for maritime safety efforts.

The measure is the latest proposed fee increase by the O’Malley administration as the state looks to make up for lost revenue and maintain services in a weak economy. Other controversial proposals include the governor’s plan to increase the so-called “flush tax” on water use to pay for sewage treatment improvements and to extend the state’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline.

The state last attempted to increase boat registration fees in 2007, but the proposal died in committee.

“We’re not doing this to create something new; we’re doing this so that we can maintain what we have,” said Bob Gaudette, director of the Department of Natural Resources boating services, citing the need to keep channels and boat ramps safe and reliable.

Under the plan, the registration for a boat under 16 feet would rise to $50 every two years by 2016. Registering a boat from 16 feet to 32 feet — the most popular size in Maryland — would cost $125. Vessels 32 feet to 45 feet would cost $250. Vessels 45 feet to 65 feet would cost $500. The registration fee for the approximately 52 yachts over 65 feet would be $700. All of the new fees would be paid every two years.

Graduated registration fees based on boat size are used in a number of states, including Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey.

In addition to the registration fees, state officials are asking to raise the annual cost of a boat dealer license from $25 to $100. That fee was last changed in 1965.

The proposed fee increase didn’t sit well with some of the state’s boat owners, who said it could lead to reductions in the number of boat owners and eat away at marine businesses that contribute to the state’s economy, recreation and flavor.

The increases would lead to diminishing returns, said Paul Spadaro of Severna Park, president of the Magothy River Association and owner of three boats ranging from 19 feet to 36 feet. Marylanders would own fewer vessels, and marine businesses would take a hit: fewer boat sales, fewer slip rentals, less maintenance and repair work and a need for fewer boat furnishings, he said.

“I would get rid of two of my boats and just go down to one,” Spadaro said. “The rate is too outrageous, the jump is way too far. You can’t go from $12 to $240 or whatever.”

A reduction in the increase would be needed, he said, to make the idea palatable to most boat owners, who’ve seen fuel and other boat costs rise.

The proposed fee would be hard on the state’s commercial fishermen, many of whom have more than one boat, said Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association. The group represents 6,000 working watermen and other members. Simns said he’d prefer to have the department cut costs.

“The economy is bad all around,” he said. “It will be hard for anybody to have to pay. Every time you add a cost, it doesn’t seem like much, but when you add it up it’s a lot. It takes food off the table.”

The state’s Waterway Improvement Fund, used to dredge boating channels, maintain launch ramps and navigational aids, and pay for some of the activities of Natural Resources Police, has been depleted by the bad economy. The fund is replenished primarily through a 5 percent excise tax on vessel sales. But falling boat sales caused revenue to drop from $30 million in 2005 to $15 million last year, according to the state budget.

Meanwhile, the cost of capital projects mandated by state law is about $21 million a year and the Department of Natural Resources’ boating-related operating expenses are $14 million, state records show.

Since 2006, the state also has taken on more of the cost of dredging boating channels previously maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps no longer has the funds to pay $6 million to dredge 60 of the state’s shallow-water channels used by recreational vessels.


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Southwest Florida exhibitors join Miami International Boat Show throng

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Anything remotely connected to boats – power, sailing or otherwise – is available at The 2012 Miami International Boat Show.

In the Miami Beach Convention Center, the main venue for the show, some of the 105,000 expected spectators roamed the main floor to gawk and gaze at boats ranging in price up to the millions, and everything from fishing lures, emergency personal beacons, boat lifts, coolers, depth finders as well as seminars and workshops and more.

In the mix of the approximately 2,120 exhibitors were companies from all over the world – including the big boys such as Sea Ray, Yamaha and Evinrude – and about a dozen and a half from Southwest Florida.

Bill Golden, owner of Golden Boat Lifts if the North Fort Myers area, welcomed visitors to his booth with examples of his main product.

“I’m proud to say that we’ve never had a failure on the drive for our lifts,” Golden said.
His company has installed Golden Boat Lift models all over the world, from Sweden to Russia and in Florida as well.

There are also a number of interactive exhibits as well, including a sailing simulator that mimics the movement of a sailboat on the water giving novice sailors a chance to get their sealers.


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Good deals available at Edison Boat Expo

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“Because it’s an MTA show, we’re able to display products affordably with an organization that has low overhead and low cost for dealers and for the boaters to come and enjoy the show.”

Ditzel also said now’s the time to purchase. “If anybody is looking for a boat for spring, now is the time to buy so we can get the boats ready in time,” he said.

Karen Davidson, general manager of Green Cove Marina, Brick, also said now’s a good time to buy because they are offering very good deals.

“We’re offering good deals on 2011 Rinkers with very aggressive pricing.” she said. And I don’t think we’re the only ones offering a good deal. It’s a great playground for anyone wanting to buy a boat,” she added.

Davidson has participated in past boat expos at First Energy Park. “We did very well there and that’s why I’m really excited about this show,” she said.

Melissa Danko, executive director of the MTA/NJ, believes the show will be extremely successful. “We’re expecting a higher attendance than we had at the Lakewood shows because it is a larger venue, its more centrally located and it is indoors. There’s no better place than the New Jersey Boat Sale and Expo to find just what you need,” she said.

Danko said the MTA/NJ has secured dates in Edison for the next three years and is planning on growing the show every year.

All of the available space at the show has been filled by the more than 24 participating dealers. Among the boats on display will be Bayliner, Boston Whaler, Chaparral, Grady-White, Hobie, Hydra-Sports, Larson, Maycraft, Parker, Pro-Line, Robalo, Sea Ray, Steiger Craft, Stingray, Striper, Tidewater, Triumph, Trophy, Yamaha Sport Boats Wave Runners, Yellowfin, and many more.

In addition, the Boaters Maketplace will offer upwards of 50 vendors offering boating accessories and services.

There will also be plenty of activities and seminars to appeal to everyone.

The Kids Cove will offer fun and educational activities for the little boaters plus a broad schedule of fishing seminars will help anglers find the big ones.

Among the topics covered at the fishing seminars will be Bunker Busting Spring Stripers, presented by Jim Hutchinson of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, and Dedicated Doormat Fishing by Capt. Adam Nowalsky of the Karen Ann II.

The schedule for the New Jersey Boat Sale Expo is Thursday, Feb. 23 and Friday, Feb. 24 from noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 26 from 11 a.m to 5 p.m.

Admission is $6 person, 16 and younger are free when accompanied by an adult. Parking is free.

Additional show details, including a current list of exhibitors and show highlights, can be found online at JerseyBoatExpo.com.

For more information, email info@mtanj.org or call (732) 292-105.


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Eight months later, survivors of sinking ship continue search for seven missing Bay Area men

Click photo to enlarge

It has been nearly eight months since a freak storm sank the fishing boat Erik, leaving one dead and seven other members of a Bay Area fishing party missing in Mexican waters.

There were days since when survivor Charles Gibson didn’t want to see the ocean ever again. But as a lifelong fisherman, he couldn’t stay away, not with seven friends still missing at sea.

“It’s important people remember what happened and to get the support of people and the government and realize those are U.S. citizens in the Sea of Cortez,” Gibson said. “They are our family and friends, and we need closure.”

Despite days of searching by the U.S. Coast Guard immediately after the 105-foot ship went down, and two privately-funded expeditions since, there has been no sight of the Erik since July 3, when it dropped into the depths of the Sea of Cortez. And the pain is still sharp for survivors and family and friends of the missing men.

“My cousins usually have a big Christmas, but there wasn’t much this year,” said Michael Ng, of Belmont, whose cousins Donald Lee of San Ramon and Albert Mein of Twain Harte are among the missing. “We are still mourning, and it was pretty sad those first couple of months.”

Ng and Gibson were two of 27 friends and fellow avid fishermen on that six-day trip planned by Lee. Questions of why they survived and not the others and worry over what happened to the bodies have eaten away at them all.

“I’ll never forget the looks

of terror and my friends bracing themselves,” Gibson said about the scene on the deck as the Erik took on water while being swatted between 20- and 40-foot swells.

Although it’s hard for many of the survivors to talk about it, Gibson and Ng will share their stories Sunday on the “I Survived” TV show on the Biography Channel (at 6 and 10 p.m.).

“The show is all about … how they call upon something in themselves that they didn’t know was there to survive something insane like their story,” said Amy Tenowich, a story researcher for the show.

It was a 40-footer that finally tossed Gibson, the police chief for the Contra Costa Community College District, overboard without a life vest. “I remember hearing people yelling ‘Look out,’ as the ship stood straight up and went straight down just like the Titanic,” Gibson said.

Ng had scaled the Erik and hit the water with the ship as it sank in the dark of the Sea of Cortez.

The sinking left the pair stranded at sea — Gibson for more than 14 hours, Ng for 17 — fighting the remnants of the storm in pitch black conditions while stinging jellyfish and spilled boat fuel tattered their bodies.

When the men hit the water, both wound up with different bands of fishermen who used ice chests packed with their equipment to stay afloat.

Ng’s group included Leslie Yee, of Ceres, who drowned and whose body was the only one recovered. Ng tried unsuccessfully to swim toward lights from a distant island but the current was too strong. He turned back to the coolers to find Yee gone. Ng was eventually rescued by Mexican fishermen from a nearby village.

Being on the show and telling their stories has been an outlet for Gibson and Ng to heal from the trip and to keep the story of their missing friends in the spotlight. They are grateful they survived, but they can’t help wonder about the missing.

Ng believes the bodies of his cousins as well as those of Gene Leong of Dublin, Brian Wong of Berkeley, Shawn Chaddock of Petaluma and Mark Dorland of Twain Harte, and Russell Bautista of Penn Grove; are still on the ship and that they were likely asleep when the Erik sank.

Clues about why the ship sank have been as elusive as finding the vessel, which wasn’t equipped with a locator beacon. The families of the missing started a website (findourfathers.com) to raise money for searches to bring the men home.

Two private searches for the boat, which sank 2 miles off shore, were conducted but they yielded nothing.

“As far as I know everything came to a standstill,” said Karen Leong, whose husband Gene Leong is among the missing. “We haven’t heard anything from the Mexican or our government.”

In November, Gibson and Ng gave statements to the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco about what happened that day but haven’t heard anything since about the investigation.

Gavi Mardero, a representative at the Mexican Consulate, said this week that there is no new information about the ship or the investigation.

Ng believes the crew was at fault and didn’t have proper safety equipment, nor did they have the hatches secured during the storm, allowing the ship to take on water.

Although he hasn’t found the answer to his question of why he survived and not the others, Ng said he has finally found some peace.

“I am at peace because everyone has their time, and it wasn’t my time,” Ng said. “It’s not up to us. As much as I tried to control my destiny, it wasn’t up to me.”

Contact Robert Jordan at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/robjordan127.

‘I Survived’

Charles Gibson and Michael Ng, two Bay Area survivors of the July 3 sinking of the fishing boat Erik in the Sea of Cortez, will tell their stories at 6 and 10 p.m. Sunday on the “I Survived” TV show on the Biography Channel. One man died and seven remain missing from sunken boat.
The families of the missing have a website, findourfathers.com. Gibson also started a website, www.keepkickn.com, detailing his 14-plus hours lost at sea.


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Good deals available at Edison Boat Expo

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“Because it’s an MTA show, we’re able to display products affordably with an organization that has low overhead and low cost for dealers and for the boaters to come and enjoy the show.”

Ditzel also said now’s the time to purchase. “If anybody is looking for a boat for spring, now is the time to buy so we can get the boats ready in time,” he said.

Karen Davidson, general manager of Green Cove Marina, Brick, also said now’s a good time to buy because they are offering very good deals.

“We’re offering good deals on 2011 Rinkers with very aggressive pricing.” she said. And I don’t think we’re the only ones offering a good deal. It’s a great playground for anyone wanting to buy a boat,” she added.

Davidson has participated in past boat expos at First Energy Park. “We did very well there and that’s why I’m really excited about this show,” she said.

Melissa Danko, executive director of the MTA/NJ, believes the show will be extremely successful. “We’re expecting a higher attendance than we had at the Lakewood shows because it is a larger venue, its more centrally located and it is indoors. There’s no better place than the New Jersey Boat Sale and Expo to find just what you need,” she said.

Danko said the MTA/NJ has secured dates in Edison for the next three years and is planning on growing the show every year.

All of the available space at the show has been filled by the more than 24 participating dealers. Among the boats on display will be Bayliner, Boston Whaler, Chaparral, Grady-White, Hobie, Hydra-Sports, Larson, Maycraft, Parker, Pro-Line, Robalo, Sea Ray, Steiger Craft, Stingray, Striper, Tidewater, Triumph, Trophy, Yamaha Sport Boats Wave Runners, Yellowfin, and many more.

In addition, the Boaters Maketplace will offer upwards of 50 vendors offering boating accessories and services.

There will also be plenty of activities and seminars to appeal to everyone.

The Kids Cove will offer fun and educational activities for the little boaters plus a broad schedule of fishing seminars will help anglers find the big ones.

Among the topics covered at the fishing seminars will be Bunker Busting Spring Stripers, presented by Jim Hutchinson of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, and Dedicated Doormat Fishing by Capt. Adam Nowalsky of the Karen Ann II.

The schedule for the New Jersey Boat Sale Expo is Thursday, Feb. 23 and Friday, Feb. 24 from noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 26 from 11 a.m to 5 p.m.

Admission is $6 person, 16 and younger are free when accompanied by an adult. Parking is free.

Additional show details, including a current list of exhibitors and show highlights, can be found online at JerseyBoatExpo.com.

For more information, email info@mtanj.org or call (732) 292-105.


Similar news:

Eight months later, survivors of sinking ship continue search for seven missing men

Click photo to enlarge

It has been nearly eight months since a freak storm sank the fishing boat Erik, leaving one dead and seven other members of a Bay Area fishing party missing in Mexican waters.

There were days since when survivor Charles Gibson didn’t want to see the ocean ever again. But as a lifelong fisherman, he couldn’t stay away, not with seven friends still missing at sea.

“It’s important people remember what happened and to get the support of people and the government and realize those are U.S. citizens in the Sea of Cortez,” Gibson said. “They are our family and friends, and we need closure.”

Despite days of searching by the U.S. Coast Guard immediately after the 105-foot ship went down, and two privately-funded expeditions since, there has been no sight of the Erik since July 3, when it dropped into the depths of the Sea of Cortez. And the pain is still sharp for survivors and family and friends of the missing men.

“My cousins usually have a big Christmas, but there wasn’t much this year,” said Michael Ng, of Belmont, whose cousins Donald Lee of San Ramon and Albert Mein of Twain Harte are among the missing. “We are still mourning, and it was pretty sad those first couple of months.”

Ng and Gibson were two of 27 friends and fellow avid fishermen on that six-day trip planned by Lee. Questions of why they survived and not the others and worry over what happened to the bodies have eaten away at them all.

“I’ll never forget the looks

of terror and my friends bracing themselves,” Gibson said about the scene on the deck as the Erik took on water while being swatted between 20- and 40-foot swells.

Although it’s hard for many of the survivors to talk about it, Gibson and Ng will share their stories Sunday on the “I Survived” TV show on the Biography Channel (at 6 and 10 p.m.).

“The show is all about … how they call upon something in themselves that they didn’t know was there to survive something insane like their story,” said Amy Tenowich, a story researcher for the show.

It was a 40-footer that finally tossed Gibson, the police chief for the Contra Costa Community College District, overboard without a life vest. “I remember hearing people yelling ‘Look out,’ as the ship stood straight up and went straight down just like the Titanic,” Gibson said.

Ng had scaled the Erik and hit the water with the ship as it sank in the dark of the Sea of Cortez.

The sinking left the pair stranded at sea — Gibson for more than 14 hours, Ng for 17 — fighting the remnants of the storm in pitch black conditions while stinging jellyfish and spilled boat fuel tattered their bodies.

When the men hit the water, both wound up with different bands of fishermen who used ice chests packed with their equipment to stay afloat.

Ng’s group included Leslie Yee, of Ceres, who drowned and whose body was the only one recovered. Ng tried unsuccessfully to swim toward lights from a distant island but the current was too strong. He turned back to the coolers to find Yee gone. Ng was eventually rescued by Mexican fishermen from a nearby village.

Being on the show and telling their stories has been an outlet for Gibson and Ng to heal from the trip and to keep the story of their missing friends in the spotlight. They are grateful they survived, but they can’t help wonder about the missing.

Ng believes the bodies of his cousins as well as those of Gene Leong of Dublin, Brian Wong of Berkeley, Shawn Chaddock of Petaluma and Mark Dorland of Twain Harte, and Russell Bautista of Penn Grove; are still on the ship and that they were likely asleep when the Erik sank.

Clues about why the ship sank have been as elusive as finding the vessel, which wasn’t equipped with a locator beacon. The families of the missing started a website (findourfathers.com) to raise money for searches to bring the men home.

Two private searches for the boat, which sank 2 miles off shore, were conducted but they yielded nothing.

“As far as I know everything came to a standstill,” said Karen Leong, whose husband Gene Leong is among the missing. “We haven’t heard anything from the Mexican or our government.”

In November, Gibson and Ng gave statements to the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco about what happened that day ¿but haven’t heard anything since about the investigation.

Gavi Mardero, a representative at the Mexican Consulate, said this week that there is no new information about the ship or the investigation.

Ng believes the crew was at fault and didn’t have proper safety equipment, nor did they have the hatches secured during the storm, allowing the ship to take on water.

Although he hasn’t found the answer to his question of why he survived and not the others, Ng said he has finally found some peace.

“I am at peace because everyone has their time, and it wasn’t my time,” Ng said. “It’s not up to us. As much as I tried to control my destiny, it wasn’t up to me.”

Contact Robert Jordan at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/robjordan127.


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Sailing-'Liquid mountain ranges' put Volvo start in doubt

Brutal conditions
with waves like “liquid mountain ranges ” in the
South China Sea have forced Volvo Ocean Race organisers to
consider postponing Sunday’s launch of Leg 4 at the cost of at
least $500,000.

The six-strong fleet is due to set sail from Sanya, the main
city of the southern Chinese province of Hainan, for the
5,220-nautical mile trip to Auckland.

However, a boat-breaking weather front heading over the
Philippines with forecasts of Cyclone-strength winds churning up
waves of over 10 metres looks likely to delay the start until
Wednesday.

“This is the toughest, fastest, around-the-world
professional race in the world and our sailors are used to
taking on treacherous conditions in all weathers,” Race CEO Knut
Frostad told Reuters.

“But this goes far beyond that. These size waves, they’re
like liquid mountain ranges, can split a boat in two in a
heartbeat.”

Organisers would spend the next 48 hours studying weather
charts and leave the decision until the last possible moment
before the scheduled start at 1400 local time (0600 GMT) on
Sunday, he added.

“We’re not in the business of cosseting these guys. If it’s
possible for them to sail, they’ll go. But if all shipping heads
for cover in the region because of the weather then we’ll have
to follow suit.”

He declined to speculate on how much a delay would cost the
race including the teams but insiders said the figure would be
at least $500,000 for the organisers and teams.

His stance has split opinion within the fleet and been
criticised by Camper/Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton, who is
a former winner of the Race and one of offshore sailing’s
leading figures.

He wrote to organisers saying: “we should have the guts to
get out there”.

His skipper Chris Nicholson, whose boat currently lies
second in the overall standings, added that the crews should be
left to make up their own minds whether to risk the storm.

In the 2008/09 Race, similar conditions forced all but one
of the teams to seek refuge sailing out of Qingdao while three
boats ended up being smashed.

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Miami International Boat Show can dazzle big spenders and big dreamers

It will take you every bit of the long holiday weekend to check out all the goodies at the Progressive Miami International Boat Show Strictly Sail and the adjacent Yacht Brokerage Show.

New and used yachts for sale and charter are lined up on the Indian Creek Waterway along Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. The Miami Beach Convention Center is stacked inside and out with smaller boats, electronics, fishing tackle and every kind of marine accessory. More powerboats are docked at Sea Isle Marina in downtown Miami, while sailing vessels fill Miamarina at Bayside.

Here’s a small sampling:

•  Shooting Star, ramp 1, slip 20, Yacht Brokerage Show.

This new 125-footer built by Danish Yachts manages to be—simultaneously—sleek, fashionable, comfortable, quiet, and fast. Built of carbon fiber and decorated in pale Danish wood, its light construction and twin water-jets powered by a pair of 4,600-horsepower MTU engines enable speeds of up to 48 knots.

Shooting Star has plenty of space for lounging and sunbathing outdoors both fore and aft, and the enclosed main salon has a retractable roof. The helm station looks like the interior of a spacecraft.

“The guys really went to town on this particular yacht,” said Neil Cheston, charter and sales director for yacht brokerage Y.CO.

The yacht sleeps up to 10, plus seven crew. But bring your savings account – or three: it’s priced at $22 million.

•  JetLev, ramp 1 entrance, Yacht Brokerage Show.

Pretend you’re Mary Poppins or a member of the Jetson family when you fly around in your new water-propelled jet pack.

Powered by a personal watercraft engine in a floating case, the JetLev pumps water into 33 feet of hose attached to a backpack that spews 1,000 gallons per minute out of twin jets. The force of the water propels the wearer up to 30 feet in the air at 30 miles per hour. It can also be used to dive underwater. Think Rocket Man meets Aqua Man.

Motorcycle handgrip-style throttles regulate speed, and the wearer raises his or her arms and leans to control direction.

“There’s no practical application for it except pure fun,” said Raphie Aronowitz, JetLev marketing director.

A bargain yacht toy at $99,500.

•  Yellowfin law enforcement boat, booth 3170, Miami Beach Convention Center (outdoors).

No show goer who passes this formidable-looking 34-foot speedboat with “Texas Highway Patrol” emblazoned on the sides can help but stop and gape at the five .50-caliber machine guns mounted on the gunwales.

Turns out this is the third of five center-consoles custom made by Sarasota boat builder Yellowfin for Texas law enforcement agencies fighting drug smuggling and human trafficking along the Mexican border.

With triple 300-horsepower Mercury outboards, a custom jack plate, bullet-proof paneling and windshield and bullet boxes mounted on the deck, the boat can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour in waters as shallow as 12 inches, according to Matt McLeod of Yellowfin.

“We’ll build it any way you want it,” McLeod said. “Go ahead and challenge us.”

Of course, an ordinary fisherman or pleasure boater can purchase the same boat – minus armaments –for about $223,000.

•  Bluewater Boats, booth T-30, Miami Beach Convention Center.

This Fort Pierce boat builder has been known for its center consoles since 1997, but when the economy went sour, company president Paul Skilowitz decided to enter the inshore market.

Bluewater has rolled out two new 18-footers designed for flats and bay fishing. The pro model is powered by a 150-horsepower Evinrude outboard and features lots of dry storage for a light-tackle fishing guide and his customers. Accessories include the Power Pole shallow-water anchoring system, large live well, and a bow-mounted trolling motor. It’s priced at $43,000, including trailer.

The recreational model is similar, with a 150-horsepower Suzuki outboard, built-in cooler and rod storage, but no additional electronic goodies. With trailer, it’s priced at $39,000.

“You can go fishing with friends in the morning, then take the wife to the sandbar in the afternoon and spend $50 in gas instead of $300,” Skilowitz said.

He figures his customers will want to upgrade to his larger offshore models when the economy improves.


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Tacoma’s J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Co. celebrates new contract

The Foss Waterway shipyard will build its first fishing vessel since 1991 for Lynden-based Alaskan Leader Fisheries, that company announced this week.

The 88-year-old shipyard spent much of its existence building fishing boats for the Alaska fisheries business and for the tuna fishing industry, but in recent years has specialized in tugboat construction.

The shipyard said the new project will allow it to double its payroll to 100 workers.

The 184-foot long Northern Leader will be the largest fishing boat built in the Pacific Northwest in more than 20 years. The boat is scheduled to be delivered to the fishing company in the spring of next year.

The Northern Leader will utilize the latest diesel-electric technology to power the boat’s refrigeration, lighting and other systems as well as its highly-flexible propulsion system, said Martinac vice president Jonathan Platt.

The propulsion system will use two Z-drive propulsion units. Those units, which can swivel in any direction, make the boat more maneuverable and efficient. They are the same kind of propulsion units used in Martinac’s latest tugboats.

Martinac competed for the contract with other shipyards in the Northwest and around the country. Unionized shipyards such as Martinac often have difficulty beating the prices offered by nonunion shipyards in the South. Alaskan Leader said Martinac’s price was competitive. The construction cost was pegged at $25 million.

For Martinac, the fishing vessel contract comes at an opportune time.

Its contract for a series of tugboats for Navy use is winding down. The shipyard sat idle from mid-2001 to 2006 after the market tugs and tuna boats dried up.

Since 2006, the shipyard has built a dozen tugboats for private owners and for the Navy. The shipyard constructed wooden fishing vessels during its early years from 1924 through the beginning of World War II when it diversified into building mine sweepers and military patrol craft. From 1966 through the early ’90s, the shipyard built large tuna boats for the San Diego-based U.S. tuna industry. That business disappeared when the tuna fishing business moved offshore to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand.

Alaskan Leader Fisheries will use the new boat for long-line fisheries for cod and sable fish in Alaska waters. The new boat will have the capacity to process and freeze 1.87 million pounds of fish.

The vessel catches fish using miles-long lines with baited hooks which are set out and then retrieved.

The vessel will have the capability of processing much of what older vessels discarded as waste into usable products. The cods’ livers will be processed for oil and the fish heads will be ground up for meal.

Under the old system for limiting catches, fishing companies competed during a short open season to land and process as many fish as possible in a limited period. That gave the boats and the people who manned them no time to process the less valuable byproducts of the fish.

Under a new system established by fisheries regulators, each fishing operation has a quota of fish to catch and a much longer time in which to accomplish its task. That gives fish processors more time to deal with what was formerly waste from the processing. Alaskan Leader has three boats under its ownership, one of which was damaged in a fire at sea last year.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663 john.gillie@thenewstribune.com


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