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Crew boat was built in 18 days

May 24, 2004

Crew boat completed in 18 days

J.E. McAmis Inc. of Chico, Calif,. moored the crane barge Crystal Gail at the Tongue Point docks east of Astoria, Oregon last winter. Close to the end of its annual overhaul, the owners realized the barge's SIZE crew boat was also in need of major repairs.

A month before scheduled departure from the Columbia River, McAmis asked Astoria's J&H Boatworks to patch up the battered aluminum hull.

J&H's owner Tim Hill took a look at the boat, realized it was not worth saving, and proposed an alternative: he could build a safer, stronger boat and deliver it before the carane barge's departure.

Hill quickly produced a study plan for a husky 22 footer with a 9 ft 6 in beam that could carry a 2000-lbs load, and McAmis agreed.

Hill's first job was to get the aluminum ordered and delivered. It took a little persuading, but the material arrived before the end of the week. By then, he had the design completed and was ready to start cutting the 1/4 inch plate.

"I drew up a boat that would be a safe stable platform and provide the maximum useful space," explained Hill. "It's a hull type his crew is very familiar with, and after a week's work the hull was taking shape."

The boat has a 15-degree V bottom with frames every two feet, topped with a full-length self-bailing cockpit, which the old boat didn't have.

"This gives enough reserve buoyancy to ensure the boat has positive floatation," Hill pointed out. The rectangular foredeck provides safe footing for boarding, and a solid mount for a husky pair of push knees; which also made a firm base for a 36 inch high handrail. The 135 hp Honda four-stroke outboard is mounted in a well that protects it from impacts, with a 125-gallon fuel tank mounted under the center console. From here, the helmsman has a clear view of the bow when the boat is loaded. Hill added a drop-in board between the knees to keep the fore deck dry in choppy water.

To complete the job, Hill needed 50 feet of 4 inch D-section rubber fender, but was unable to find any on stock in Portland. With the deadline looming, he located a local rubber manufacturer who custom-extruded the material. Hillreports this actually saved money.

After 18 days of actual construction, the crew boat was given a quick sea test. Top speed with five people on board was approximately 35 mph, cruise speed 25 mph. Hill certified the boat to carry six passengers and 1,000 lb of cargo. Fitted with more seats, it would easily seat a dozen. The next day, the crew boat was loaded onto the Crystal Gail and on its way to the Bering Sea.

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