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Old 10-08-2008, 02:13 PM   #1
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PNW fishboat conversion

A popular type of boat in this area is the so-called fishboat conversion, particularly in British Columbia.* I don't know if this is still going on, but at one point BC had a buy-back program as a result of increasing restrictions on salmon fishing.* The government would buy a fisherman's boat in a rather sorry attempt to compensate them for restricting their livelihood out from under them.* These boats were then sold or auctioned with the condition that they not be used for fishing.* As a result, there are a lot of good, not-so-good,a nd downright terrible conversions to recreational trawlers up there.

I happen to think the lines of the typical coastal commercial fishboat in this area are the most aesthetic I've ever seen, so it's neat to see one of these boats that's been converted to a recreational boat but still retains the look of the original.* This is one of the best examples I've ever seen of a fishboat conversion.* This boat was in the Nanaimo public boat basin the same time we were the other week.* I have no idea what she looks like inside, but the outside is terrific.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:56 PM   #2
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RE: PNW fishboat conversion

I've always wondered what the purpose was of the area between the stem and the main planking.* Can't tell about this boat, but a lot of them seem to have varnished wood between the stem and the rest of the hull.

There must be some purpose in doing that, but I can't figger it out.* Anyone know why they do that??

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Old 10-08-2008, 08:25 PM   #3
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RE: PNW fishboat conversion

It is actually an extra layer of relatively heavy planking applied vertically to the hull. The wood is ironwood or some other extremely tough wood. As I understand it, it serves a couple of purposes. One is to provide an extra layer of protection against collisions with debris in the water. As you know, the waters here and up the coast in BC and SE Alaska are littered with logs, some broken loose from booms and others floated off the beach at high tides. Also the three big rivers along the coast--- the Fraser, Skeena, and Stikine--- as well as countless smaller rivers and streams dump tons of tree branches, root balls, and entire trees into the coastal waters. I've flown over the mouth of the Skeena and Stikine and have seen the water for miles off these rivers dotted almost solid with floating debris that's come down when the rivers are running strong in the spring. These boats often run at night to and from the fishing areas and collisions with logs and other floating debris are inevitable.

The layer of bow planking (it's on both sides) also provides protection from the anchor as it's deployed and retrieved. I assume the theory of this shield is that when it starts getting seriously beat up the planking can be replaced relatively easily, as opposed to replacing the actual hull planking.

On the working boats the bow planking is usually painted a contrasting color to the hull or left unfinished. Here are photos I took in our marina of two working salmon trollers and a Bristol Bay buy-boat from the 1920s. Notice that on the "David B" the shield planking also extends aft just under the waterline to protect the forward part of the hull.

Many wood working boats have extra planking fastened to the sides of the hull where fishing gear is deployed or brought aboard. Sometimes it's painted a contrasting color, other times it's not. The troller in the second photo has this planking on the hull by the "working area" of the boat, and in this case it's painted a contrasting color along with some of the hull planking in that area.

-- Edited by Marin at 23:02, 2008-10-08
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Old 10-09-2008, 08:03 AM   #4
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RE: PNW fishboat conversion

Excellent thread Marin. It was funny when I went to pick up one of my boats in Mississippi, we were cruising the ICW in Louisiana and Doug and I would just sit there and look at all the workboats and how cool looking they are. There are definitely some great looking workboats out there.
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Old 10-10-2008, 08:52 PM   #5
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RE: PNW fishboat conversion

Yep, It has been the same in Australia.
A lot of prawn (shrimp) trawler owners had their licences bought out by the government to reduce the fishing pressure.
As boats were written down tax wise they sold relarively cheaply. A 45 ' timber trawler could have been had for any where between 15k and 60k.
A lot were in good condition and a lot in poor condition.
either they had been wet boats (ice) and so a lot of seapage around the ice boxes set into the deck and also nail sick.
Others have been fantastic conversions especially boats that had been frig boats or had been well maintained.
Just about run out of these boats but still some around.
Some conversions were well done and some absolute crap.
It all depends on the expertise of the new owner and how much money they were willing to spend.
Most are timber boats either spotted or blue gum and some iron bark boats and lengths mainly between 40 and 55 feet
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:03 PM   #6
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RE: PNW fishboat conversion

The first buyback programe occured about 5 years ago.* The Fisheries Department asked interested fishers that wanted to retire or leave the industry to submit their licence offer with the $ amount the licence owner wanted.* If the offer was accepted the licence was purchased, not the vessel.* The fisherman could keep the boat or sell it.* I purchased an all fiberglass 40' Permaglass west coast troller that I have been working for 4 years now.* I heard just yesterday that there is another round of licence buy backs in progress now so there may be another lot of vessel coming up for sale.* Many of the better vessel from the first round were purchased by other fishermen to upgrade then they sold there older or tired vessel. As you stated many of the conversion were not mutch to look at but I have seen some very nice ones. Dave

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