A fellow dropped into my office a couple of months ago with a novel idea. He is the owner of a Power Scow which is a type of boat I would expect only a few readers of my design write-ups to be familiar with. A power scow is pretty much what the name says; it is a powered barge on the water long used in the Southeast Alaska fisheries as buy boats which are boats that goes out to the fishing grounds, buys fish from the fishing boats and sells ice and other limited supplies to the fishermen. After filling their own holds with fresh caught fish, the buy boat heads off to the nearest town or cannery to offload. This chap has a particularly nice power scow built in the 1940s and he has done a yeoman’s job of keeping her in good shape and running condition. She has the latest fillet machines, flash freezing capabilities and vacuum packing on board and for these premium line caught salmon and halibut, she does an extraordinary job of keeping the fish fresh, clean, and ready for the freezer or the skillet.
But back to our visit — you see he is a visionary type of guy always thinking out into the future with a keen eye on the prize of keeping his power scow working hard and efficiently and also keeping several fish markets and a growing internet market supplied with his amazing product. These Alaskan fish are of such quality that anyone could provide them a place in their diet without fear or regret. But he had a new vision one that was just at the wee starting place of forming shape and that is where his visit with me came into the picture. He was thinking that there might be a small number of individuals who are in their late middle years, perhaps even retired from their first careers, but not yet ready to hang it all up. These individuals might also want a bit of adventure in their lives, ready to see waters and areas that they hadn’t the time to do earlier in their lives and careers. And so he was thinking that these hardy souls might be interested in setting up small fishing businesses built around the design that I am outlining here and built around his power scow.
With the power scow, he would have the facilities for the fishermen to drop off their catch on a daily basis, take a shower and have a hot meal each day, and maybe even a hand or two of cards before crawling into the sack. Up at dawn, or just a bit before dawn, to drop in on the morning bite and they are back to work. If a longer trip is desired to explore a little, the accommodations on the Kingfisher are compatible to the skipper and crew and anything from a couple of days to a longer trip might be possible, springing them only slightly loose from the friends and convenience of the power scow each night.
So let’s take a closer look at the Kingfisher design that I came up with. She is not a huge boat at just over 30 feet in length but with that utility of staying close to the mothership, she really doesn’t need to be much longer and therefore have good fuel economy and seaworthy comfort for the crew. She can be rigged for either hand trolling (non-powered gurdies which control the lines for bringing the fish into the boat) or she can be powered with a small hydraulic pump that would run off the engine and can be rigged as a power troller. There are twin 18 foot long trolling poles on either side of the single mast and these are lowered to about a 45 degree angle off the port and starboard sides of the boats helping to keep the fishing lines out of each other’s way. They can also be used to set small paravanes for running when the weather is really snotty and these simple gear additions can really make the difference between just a crappy day and one that could provide you with real story fodder. If you are anything like me, even though I like a good story, the older I get, the less I desire to experience those “really good” story days if you follow my drift. Anyway, the paravanes work very well at allowing the boat to continue into waters that might really blunt the progress of an unstabilized hull.
There is good deck space and instead of a fixed cargo hold (which could be done but a simpler solution is available), we are using large poly plastic totes that are chucked on the deck and when offloading fish, a bag that is held in the tub can be hoisted to the buy boat and a simple cleaning of the deck and totes is all that is necessary to keep the boat clean and organized. Moving forward into the pilothouse, the cabin follows a couple of ideas that I might have tried to hit you over the head with in the past but without hearing much of a thud, I want to try them again and they involve two subjects that need addressing. The first is the head and how to keep the crew and the skipper happy and comfortable. While the Kingfisher concept is one that might involve a single fisherman on board, (and my first inclination was to reduce the need or desire to have anything like a private head compartment on board), upon presenting the preliminary sketches to my co-workers, I was told rather bluntly that the boat would need a head to have any chance at seeing the light of day as a concept. So let’s address the idea of how to deal with a head in a boat and have it be really be functional enough to allow some privacy when being used. One of the features I noticed on lots of working boats, fishing and tug, is that the head compartment is very often not common or connected to the interior of the boat. That is to say they are accessed from the stern or side decks of the boat with an entirely separate door to the deck. And with no common door to the interior of the boat, you have a chance to actually use the head with some semblance of privacy. Once a common door to the inside of the boat gets put in the design, those privacy features go literally out the door. If you use the head for a shower, then you have the additional problem of what to do after adding considerable moisture into the interior of a boat that might be operating in a high humidity environment and the problem of how to truly and easily dry out the boat, which leads nicely into the second thought of mine.
Heat is a problem in most boats that run in the Northwest coastal waters of North America (my favorite and most often frequented waters), and it’s not called the rainy northwest for nothing! It’s not unusual for a typical cruiser or boater to do a long trip up to Alaska and back and never once put on a short sleeved shirt in the whole summer. In fact, we occasionally have summers where wool shirts and jackets are worn every day as a hedge against the cool and moist climate. On virtually all Northwest Coast working boats they fix this problem with a simple and ingenious solution, one that anything from a 20 feet cruiser up to a boat well over a hundred feet in length can use. The solution is an oil cooking range. Some of the best of these and the ones most common in the Northwest are made by the Dickinson company of British Columbia just to the north of my own Washington State. They come in a variety of sizes and configurations and the idea is that they are lit early in the trip, even sometimes before the engine is started, the thermostat and heat control has simple settings and burning diesel or even a cleaner burn with kerosene fuel, they just sit there and heat away, letting the whole interior of the boat stay warm and dry. The cast iron top of the stove radiates the heat very well and a pot can be kept on one of the corners instantly providing you with warm beverage capability whenever desired. If you come into the interior of the boat with wet rain gear, the boat doesn’t instantly fog up with the added moisture and you keep your windows clear and warm your bones up very quickly. I call this the ‘haven of warmth’ theory, and if you ever try it, you too will realize that when you wrap your head around the idea that the boat is always warm and dry no matter what the conditions are outside, you will quickly think of your boat as being protective and a haven of warmth and comfort. So even if we are foolish enough to have the door to the head opening into the interior of the boat, we can still dry her out quickly after taking a hot shower and everything will stay smelling nice and sweet.
I say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to my eye, this design looks just about right with good utility and function and she is trailerable to boot. With her inboard diesel engine, the fuel economy is good and depending on how much horsepower you give her, the speed can be adjusted from anything in the full displacement range up to semi-displacements speeds. – Sam Devlin
The Kingfisher 30 is available as study plans and as a custom build from Devlin Boats.
Kingfisher 30 Specifications
|Length on Deck||30 ft. – 2 in.|
|Beam||10 ft. – 1 in.|
|Power||Inboard diesel 110-160hp|