Christmas may have come and gone, but that’s not stopping us from giving readers a little something extra in this issue.
As the cover “teaser” promises, this issue marks the return of our popular Year of New Boats review.
This special 12-page supplement recaps 2014 new boat launches from the pages of Commercial Fisheries News. It’s like welcoming back an old friend.
One of our most popular and reader-requested annual features for a number of years, we suspended publication of the Year of New Boats review in 2008.
You probably know why.
There just weren’t many boats being built.
For the next several years, most commercial boat builders and finishers in the region struggled just to keep the doors open – and, sadly, a number of them didn’t.
We did features during that period on some of the alternative projects our builders turned to – sportfish/utility boats/pleasure boat projects – that kept the bills paid and the lights on. But there weren’t many new fishing boats to cover.
Slowly, however, commercial boat building crept back – probably riding on the back of record lobster landings, as much as anything else.
In Maine, we watched as SW Boatworks built up their stable of molds to offer, adding the well-known Young Brothers models and Ernest Libby’s hulls to their range of Calvin Beal designs.
Meanwhile, H&H Marine expanded their own lineup by widening and lengthening a number of their existing Osmond Beal-designed models.
South Bristol, ME’s John’s Bay Boat went from having no wooden lobster boats to build for a while to being booked out for several years.
And the custom finish shops started to fill up as well: with bigger hulls; bigger engines; more workroom on deck; more tankage and storage under the platform.
At the same time, renewed strength and prosperity in the big boat scallop fishery prompted a modest, but fairly steady, stream of new construction projects for the New Bedford fleet. That activity continues.
Truthfully, when it comes to boat launches, we can’t be everywhere, of course, and so we don’t claim to catch every new boat that hits the water. But we try.
Sometimes, we encounter a boat owner or builder who’s on the shy side and prefers not to be written up. But there are other times when we simply just don’t know about a particular boat project.
Rest assured we’re just as interested in what’s floating along the coast as you are. So don’t hesitate to give us a heads-up when you see, or are a part of, a project that we can feature.
We’ve been listening when you’ve come up to the CFN booth at shows and festivals and told us you appreciated our coverage of the news (both good and bad) and the politics (both bad and not-quite-as-bad) of fishing.
But we’ve also heard what else you said:
• How about more about boats, gear, and people?
• Your new boat pieces helped me when I was thinking about having one of my own built.
• How about more product briefs and reviews? You guys get around and see a lot of stuff.
• Loved your feature about so-and-so.
• Last month’s Bearin’s’ column made me laugh.
• Last month’s Bearin’s’ column put a tear in my eye.
• Great cover shot! Did you get wet?
Just as CFN has worked hard to help you navigate the treacherous waters of fisheries politics over the years, and will continue to do so, we want to help you make decisions about the new boat/gear/engine in your future.
We want to let you know what others have done; what works; what’s on the horizon.
Just as importantly, we want to entertain you – make you grin; make you laugh; and, yes, occasionally put a tear in your eye in the best of ways.
So enjoy this issue’s return of the Year of New Boats review – and the return of our good friends at Furuno as sole sponsor of this year’s supplement.
Keep watching the pages of CFN for even more great coverage of both the news you need, and the news you want, in the months ahead. /cfn/
Read the rest of this month’s stories in the February issue of Commercial Fisheries News. Buy this issue or Subscribe.
(Read online immediately with access key and download for future reference.)