CFN Shakedown Cruise: FV-Tuna.com
Welcome to another CFN Shakedown Cruise.
Periodically, we will focus on a new launch and dig a little deeper into what went into the project – whether it be a new model or a hull well-known to the New England commercial market. What we hope to do is provide insight and information our readers can apply to their own setups … and, as always, offer up a little entertainment along the way.
LAMOINE, ME – Homestretch hook-up and sea trials will never be the same again for Stewart Workman and the SW Boatworks crew.
Obviously, building a boat that will be featured on a nationally-televised reality program has its plusses as far as publicity goes. Let’s face it: having one of your boats on the National Geographic Channel’s Wicked Tuna series is the commercial fishing world’s equivalent of how Dodge must’ve felt about the Dukes of Hazzard picking a Charger to paint up as the General Lee.
But there was also the fact that once Gloucester, MA fisherman Dave Carraro’s new Tuna.com was trailered out of the SW shop in Lamoine, ME and exposed to the public eye in the Union River in Ellsworth, a camera was generally handy somewhere.
There were folks taking “Look at me!” selfies with their iPhones with the black-hulled Tuna.com in the background.
There were local TV affiliates wanting to do interviews with Carraro about his new Calvin Beal 44.
Heck: even the Ellsworth Police Department’s Facebook page touted the fact that they were escorting Tuna.com to the water on launch day.
It definitely added a dimension to things that usually isn’t there for SW Boatworks. There’s nothing like hanging upside-down through a deck hatch to tighten a connection – knowing that a film crew is standing on the dock – to make you conscious of plumber’s crack.
Skipper Dave Carraro, on the other hand, is used to it.
Dave was pleasant and polite to the media folk and fans who wanted a photo or a quote or two. But spend a moment or two with him one-on-one and there was no doubt about it: he was ready to get things wrapped up and head down the coast to Gloucester.
It was time to go fishing.
LOA – 44’
Beam – 17’6”
Transom – 16’2”
Designer – Calvin Beal Jr.
For more information contact SW Boatworks at (207) 667-7427 or via e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Big and comfy
The fact of the matter is, the television exposure and merchandising opportunities are what they are. But Dave Carraro takes his fishing – both charter and commercial – very seriously.
And that, he says, is why he chose a Calvin Beal 44 to replace his previous older, smaller Tuna.com.
“A big part of my business is charters,” says Carraro. “We average 100 charters a year between April 1 and the third week of July. From then on, we’re commercial fishing up until Christmas.
“Two big things I was looking for were room and comfort. Word of mouth led me to SW Boatworks and the Calvin Beal models – the 44 with its 17’6” beam offered the sort of room I was looking for.”
Carraro says he met Calvin Beal (see sidebar) during the building process and was impressed by the Beals Island designer’s passion for his boats.
“You can tell that Calvin takes a lot of pride in seeing his legacy carried on, even though he’s no longer involved in the building process,” says Carraro.
Carraro says he was looking for the deck space for his six-person charters and a stable working platform.
“Comfort for my charter customers and comfort for me and my crew when we’re commercial fishing – that was important to me.”
And the verdict after running Tuna.com from Ellsworth down to Northeast Harbor for final rigging and sea trials?
“This 44 is a totally different animal than my old boat,” he says. “My other boat was steady when you were moving … but you’re only moving about five percent of the time. The rest of the time you’re sitting at the mercy of whatever comes your way.
“This boat is ideal,” he says. “Head-to, side-to, stern-to … it’s a rock-solid working platform.”
Knowing how Carraro feels about his new 44-footer – and knowing how in-demand the model is right now, it’s amazing to think it almost never came to be. Calvin Beal was just getting the wooden strip-planked plug underway when the economy took a nosedive in 2006.
“I almost gave up on it,” says Calvin, shaking his head. “But my wife Jeannine told me to keep going. I finally figured, ‘I’ve started it; I might as well finish it.’”
There are a lot of people who are glad he did – including Stewart Workman and Dave Carraro.
Calvin Beal Jr. says the inspiration for the 44-footer that bears his name was simply to “build something that wouldn’t be outdated in a few years.” Mission accomplished: Calvin’s 44’x17’6” mold was part of a multi-model package purchased by SW Boatworks in 2008; today it is the shop’s most popular hull. “I feel good about Stewart Workman buying my molds,” says Beal. “His workmanship is great and he puts out a good product.”
Performance and economy
At one point during our conversation, I ask Dave about overnighters. And that’s when I get a flash of the very serious Dave Carraro.
“Absolutely,” he says. “Once our season starts, the boat’s out every day – often 3 to 5 days at a time.”
He looks me dead in the eye.
“I’m not here to catch fish – I’m here to catch fish and make money. Going out and returning every day is nothing more than wasting money.
“You have to do this with a business sense,” he says. “If I stay out, the only thing I spend out there is my time.”
Alrighty, then: we’ve established that economy is key to Dave’s operation. How did he feel about his new 44-footer’s 1000-horse C18 Caterpillar once they’d had a chance to run her for a few days?
“We had the boat close to working trim for sea trials,” says Dave. “And I’m really happy with the performance.”
AccuTech Marine Propeller spec’d a 32”x34” 4-blade for Tuna.com’s C18 Cat/2.04:1 ZF gear combo and it dialed in well, says Dave.
“At wide-open throttle, we were turning 2350 RPM and pulling 96% load on the Cat.” (The C18 is rated at 2300.)
“We actually have two cruise speeds,” he says. “For charters, we’ll cruise 16-17 knots – but when we’re commercial fishing, I’m really only looking for a 10-knot cruise … and I can do that with this boat and only burn 10 gallons an hour.”
And the bottom line?
“My old boat would do 10 knots/10 gallons an hour … but now I have almost twice the working space. This is great.”
Dave’s style of fishing doesn’t call for much trolling, but when he does, his ZF CruiseCommand controls (see sidebar) offer the option.
“Right now, we can troll at about 3.5 knots,” he says. “I’m going to recalibrate it down to 2.5 … when we do troll, that’s the speed we want.”
R.E. Thomas provided Tuna.com’s 2-1/2” AQ-22 shaft and running gear while Soundown keeps the big Cat quiet with engine room insulation.
Dave Carraro has his choice of three helm stations aboard Tuna.com, depending on where the action is – main bulkhead, aft of the wheelhouse on the starboard side, and at the transom. All three stations feature a ZF CruiseCommand single-lever electronic control head, which give Tuna.com’s C18 Cat and ZF 500 marine gear their marching orders. The CruiseCommand system features plug-in installation and push-button set-up for ease of programming. That transom station will no doubt see its share of green water, but not to worry: each CruiseCommand control head is self-contained and watertight. For more information, contact ZF Marine at 1-877-896-4040 or visit <www.zf.com/marine>.
Lights … camera …
One has to wonder: was the Wicked Tuna series even a consideration during the building of the boat … as far as layout, for instance?
“No – not at all,” says Dave. “You have to remember: when we take charters, that’s six extra people. When we’re commercial fishing and they’re filming, it’s only one guy with a camera. They have several fixed cameras – the helms, the cockpit – but the one guy besides us is nothing. He’s non-existent.”
How about – and I gave Dave the option of “no comment” if he preferred – the idea of staged moments or repeating something for the camera?
“When we’re fishing, we’re fishing,” he says. “No concessions. Yeah, if we’ve landed one and we’re bringing it aboard, I’ll make sure they can get a good shot of it – but we’re not going to take a chance on losing a fish.”
He pauses, then adds, “Really? The only time they’ve asked us to do something over was early in the morning, walking down the dock. They’ve had us do it a few times: they’ll shoot your feet one time; then they’ll shoot your face … but really, that’s about all.”
There were no National Geographic Channel cameras in the wheelhouse during our visit, but there was a lot of Simrad equipment, supplied by BOE Marine. BOE also provided elements of Tuna.com’s lighting arrangement, along with New England Bow Thruster and Hubbell.
A Northern Lights genset will be the source for spark at sea during the hours laying-to. Wiring (an extensive job for this project) was handled by Kramp Electronics. Steering and hydraulics were supplied by Lonnie’s Hydraulics.
Tuna.com’s wheelhouse began as a standard CB 44 molded unit; the windshield was moved ahead 20” and the housetop was lengthened overall.
Accommodations above include a small galley and settee in the wheelhouse, along with cabinetry by Custom Marine Plastics Inc. Dave’s Pompanette captain’s chair is matched by a Pompanette bench on the port side. Down below are an oversized v-berth, a hanging closet and an enclosed head.
Dave Carraro is big on regular maintenance and spare equipment and fluids; his 44-footer allows for a spacious engine room (even with the C18) and plenty of storage area.
Metal fabrication for the project was split between Nautilus Marine and Esposito’s Welding. Esposito also built Tuna.com’s twin aluminum fuel tanks, with a total capacity of 800 gallons.
On hand for Tuna.com’s sea trials (as he is for a good chunk of the fishing season) was Dave Carraro’s dog Pickles. The 9-year-old Wheaten Terrier is as fierce about fishing as his master – perhaps even more so. Pickles equates the starting of the main engine with hooking up a tuna – to the point where he gets agitated if someone even moves in the general direction of the main helm.
Tuna.com’s bilge pump switches happen to be mounted in the spot where the ignition key was on Carraro’s previous boat; every check of the bilges sent Pickles into a “Where’s the tuna?” frenzy.
For more information on Tuna.com Charters (and Pickles), e-mail <email@example.com> or visit <www.fv-tuna.com>.
On the evening of June 19 at 8:13 PM the post went up on the FV-Tuna.com Charters Facebook page: “Bye-bye, Maine. 14 long months and we’re ready for tuna charters! 20 knots, calm seas and 139 miles to go.”
Tuna.com was officlally headed home, looking to be headed out on her first charter within a couple of days.
Meanwhile, Stewart Workman and his crew were back in the shop with plenty of work ahead of them.
Dave Carraro had a few weeks of charter trips before the commercial tuna season got going … and the Wicked Tuna filming begun.
SW Boatworks had no immediate plans for further television exposure … but one never knows.
Reality boatbuilding, perhaps?
The TV Series
From the National Geographic Channel folks: “Viewers will have to wait until early 2016 to catch Dave Carraro on the fifth season of Wicked Tuna, but there’s plenty of bluefin battles, high-stakes drama, and intense competition on the popular spinoff series Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks.
“When it comes to commercial tuna fishing in the Outer Banks, there’s no such thing as Southern hospitality. Gloucester captains Dave Marciano of the Hard Merchandise, TJ Ott of the Hot Tuna, and Tyler Mclaughlin of the Pinwheel are in for a rough ride asthey race to catch fish before the government catch quota runs out. But Mother Nature has her own agenda – the weather in the Outer Banks is notoriously unpredictable, so the New England captains must be ready for extremely rough seas, high winds and erratic currents.
“The Gloucester captains will also have to contend with a tough group of highly skilled Carolina fishermen: Captain Greg Mayer, last season’s champion and captain of the Fishin’ Frenzy; Captain Britton Shackleford of the Doghouse, plus two new competitors – local legend Charlie “Grif” Griffin of the Reels of Fortune, and Captain Tami Gray of the Reel Action, who helms an all-female boat.”