Southern fleets look north for supplies; the life of a builder is measured in skiffs
August 4, 2021
Fishermen in the Chesapeake Bay and mid-Atlantic have developed commercial relationships with shipyards in the Gulf of Mexico due to their interaction with the bay’s growing oyster fishery.
The central and southern Atlantic commercial fishing entities are also linked to the New England marine infrastructure due to their long-standing interaction in the Atlantic scallop fishery.
A good example is Bill Mullis of B&C Seafood. in Newport News, Va., which owns nine Atlantic scallop fishing boats. Mullis is a former employee of a seafood company in New Bedford, Massachusetts where he worked as a buyer directly from the boats, building a broad relationship within the industry.
B&C Seafood was founded in February 2001 by Mullis and his longtime friend and fishing partner, Charles Olsovsky. Through his relationship with New England, Mullis worked closely with RE Thomas Marine Hardware of Hancock, Maine; Fairhaven Shipyard & Marina, in Fairhaven, Massachusetts; and Rose’s Marine Supplies of Gloucester, Mass. Fairhaven Shipyard is a major player in the transport and maintenance of Mullis’ New England-based trawler fleet, he says.
Mullis says most of the large commercial fishing vessels on the East Coast now operate out of New England, and that there is a strong repair and maintenance infrastructure in that area. In Chesapeake Bay, however, large boats are no longer a major player in the fishery. “The companies that used to build, transport and repair the big commercial fishing boats just don’t exist here anymore,” says Mullis.
He recently had two projects that were equipped with trips north to stock up. Mullis and Gloucester County, Va. Son-in-law Waterman Ryan Waddell purchased a 32 ‘x 10’ fiberglass main boat built in Maryland for $ 1,100. Mullis and Waddell have 300 acres of leased oyster land on the James River. They’ve been “pouring” seeds into the field for two years, and they’re about to be harvested, says Mullis. They have the boat rebuilt to dredge the oysters from these lands.
Carpenter David Rollin from Poquoson, Va., was hired to do the rebuilding. The large lead boat style house / wheelhouse has been removed and a traditional bay style small house / wheelhouse will be installed. “The old house took up a lot of space,” says Rollins. “Ryan will need as much workspace as possible so that he can work the dredge and carry the payload.”
Rollins rebuilt all the structural elements under the ceiling and installed a new glass ceiling (interior floor). A new Cummings 6BTA 5.9 220 hp diesel engine will be installed. The custom 1-1 / 2 “stainless steel shaft and cutlass bearings were supplied by RE Thomas Marine Hardware. Hydraulic wash and power steering pumps, two coxswain positions and steering rod for the rudder were supplied by Rose’s Marine Supplies.
An example of Mullis’ close relationship with northern suppliers was highlighted by his recent need for a tree in his 55.6ft x 14ft x 4.7ft Linda Carol purchase boat in Chesapeake Bay .