Bound for the offshore lobster and scallop fishery off New Jersey, the 54-foot Market Price is the heaviest boat yet launched by Wesmac Custom Boats of Surry. PHOTO COURTESY OF WESMAC CUSTOM BOATS

WESMAC launches new 54-foot dragger

SURRY — Some small fishing boats still may be built along the Maine coast, but they seem to be few and far between. WESMAC Custom Boats’ latest surely isn’t among them.

Early this month, just in time to beat the first snow of the winter, WESMAC launched the 54-foot Market Price from the Surry town landing into Patten Bay. All went smoothly, but caution dictated the use of a large front-end loader on shore as added ballast for the truck towing the hydraulic trailer used to launch what company General Manager Bill Grindle described as “the heaviest vessel and most extensively rigged commercial vessel launched by WESMAC.”

Built for commercial scallop fishing, lobstering and gillnetting, Market Price will be homeported in Point Pleasant, N.J., and fish off the mid-Atlantic coast up to 100 miles offshore. With that service in mind, the Pot Luck Lobster Co. chose a big, rugged hull, built in this case to meet American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) construction standards, for its newest vessel.

Market Price has an overall length of 54 feet, beam of 17 feet, 6 inches and a 6-foot draft. Its design displacement is 54,500 pounds, but with its extensive rigging, the vessel actually weighs substantially more.

Topsides, the boat is rigged with a “New Jersey type” gallus frame for towing scallop drags built of 4-inch-square galvanized steel and carries a 20-foot-by-10-inch aluminum mast, aluminum outriggers and an aluminum electronics mast on its housetop. Plans call for installation of several hydraulic winches in the cockpit: a main hauling winch on deck, a pair of smaller mast-mounted winches and a 17-inch pot hauler and related “snarl winch” among them.

Market Price is powered by an 803-horsepower C-18 Caterpillar diesel with dry exhaust exiting through the top of the house. The engine turns a five-blade 38-by-28-inch propeller through a 2.5:1 reverse reduction gear. A 20 kW Northern Lights generator provides auxiliary electric power.

The boat will need plenty of fuel to drive all that machinery on the extended fishing trips that are planned. As launched, fuel capacity was 1,836 gallons split among four tanks. An additional 800 gallons of fuel capacity was added while the boat was preparing for engine trials and stability tests at the Billings Diesel & Marine shipyard in Stonington.

The boat has accommodations for a crew of five while on extended trips. Unlike offshore fishing boats of yore, this one has an enclosed shower with plenty of hot water and a galley equipped with refrigeration, a microwave and an electric cooktop. The interior has a smooth gelcoat finish with mahogany trim and Corian countertops.

All that power and comfort don’t count for much unless the skipper knows where he is, where he’s going, and where the fish are. To assist in those chores, Market Price carries a package of electronics, primarily from Furuno, a full two pages long. As with most modern boats, the electronics and related controls are all interlinked with an onboard Dell computer.

Market Price is still in the work-up stage, with more gear coming aboard for installation, engine adjustments and stability tests ahead, so there hasn’t been any real opportunity to test the boat underway and get an idea of its cruising speed. Still, Grindle said in December, things seem to be going well.

“The owner is aboard today and happy as a clam at flood tide,” he said.


Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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