The F/V Loui M – Ideal for seining, crabbing
by Daniel Mintz
Working with Wahl: After taking a 10-year break from commercial fishing, Mark Anderson got back into it with a splash. In late 2012, he returned with a new 58-foot seiner/crabber, the F/V Loui M.
The construction of the Loui M rekindled Anderson's longtime collaboration with Fred Wahl, a well-known Reedsport, Oregon-based boat designer and builder. Wahl built Anderson's first new boat, the F/V St. Patrick, in the 1990s, when the Fred Wahl Marine Construction boat yard was just starting.
"I was a young, upcoming fisherman, and he was an up-and-coming boat builder," Anderson said.
Seeking to spend more time with his family, Anderson sold the St. Patrick to the University of Washington in 2002 and ran it as a research vessel. A decade later, he was invited into a partnership, working with Wahl on the construction of the Loui M and a 58-by-26-foot combination boat, the F/V Magnus Martens.
At the time, Wahl was trying to market a boat design featuring a 22.5-foot beam – a configuration ideal for seining and crabbing.
Anderson was open to it, and that design was chosen for the Loui M. When the boat's construction was finished in December 2012, Anderson had traded his ownership share of the Magnus Martens to become co-owner of the Loui M with Mike and Fred Wahl of Wahl Fisheries.
The vessel worked the Southeast Alaska pink salmon seine fishery in 2013, followed by the Oregon Dungeness crab fishery. Wahl quickly sold two more of the narrow-beam boats. "He was totally right – there was a market for it," Anderson said.
Faster, more affordable: The Loui M's beam design makes it "a little bit more of an elegant seiner," said Anderson. It also offers some practical advantages.
"We felt that it would be a more affordable boat to operate, it would be faster, and it would be an easier boat to seine with," he continued. "Those were the things on the drawing board that we felt were important."
The vessel is outfitted with a 19-liter, 600-hp Cummins main – the same engine used on the wider Magnus Martens. But the Loui M is more fuel-efficient and, surprisingly, more stable.
"I find the Loui M to be slightly more of a comfortable ride on the ocean," Anderson said.
Another notable aspect is the vessel's ample 160,000-pound hold capacity. Anderson attributes that to having "a bigger, deeper, fuller hull" than other boats with the same width.
The Loui M also has something that's unique to Wahl-built boats – an electrically powered hydraulic system augmented by a separate system driven off the main engine. Electric power can be used for lower-load crabbing operations, but for higher-demand salmon seining, the hydraulics are run off the main with electric as a backup.
"It takes so much hydraulics to run a seiner operation these days, it's hard to do it electrically," said Anderson.
'Hooked on the lifestyle': A resident of Friday Harbor, Washington, Anderson is 59 years old and began commercial fishing work in 1977 as a means of paying his way through college.
"I was not thinking I was destined to be a commercial fisherman, but by the end of my college career I was pretty hooked on the lifestyle," he said.
After working his way up through the cannery industry, Anderson got his first boat in 1986 and sold it four years later. He explored boat-building partnerships, but nothing clicked until he visited Wahl's boat yard.
Anderson was impressed, and the construction of the F/V St. Patrick advanced his fishing career and was also part of Wahl's early boat design and construction work. The development of the Loui M brings the working relationship to the present day.
Anderson splits operation of the Loui M with Patrick "Sully" Sullivan, who heads the boat's Dungeness crabbing operation from winter to spring in Oregon.
Being a co-owner of the boat, Anderson finds that "it's hard to hand it off to someone else," but Sullivan has shown that he's worthy of it.
"He takes care of the boat very much like it's his own, and I really like how he manages his end of things when he's got it," said Anderson.
Fishery search: Southeast Alaska and Puget Sound salmon seining complements the crabbing, but Anderson gave the Oregon squid fishery a try last year and expects to do it again this spring.
He's also considering pot fishing for black cod. "At this point, we're looking at whether it would be cost-effective to rig the boat up for that and maybe to lease quota," Anderson said.
Starting next year, pot fishing for cod will be legal in Alaska. "Nobody knows how it's going to go," said Anderson, adding that the cod fishery is "hard to dive into" because of its expenses. But adding cod to the Loui M's range of fisheries is "on the drawing board."
This year's Alaska pink salmon season only saw half the catch that was predicted and, Anderson said, the Dungeness fishery is carrying more weight for the Loui M than salmon. Adding a third fishery is one of Anderson's goals.
Oregon's Dungeness fishery wasn't significantly impacted by last season's toxic algal blooms. California's season was drastically delayed, however. "You never know when it's going to be your turn – maybe next year it will be Oregon's turn or Washington's turn or everyone's turn," he said.
But unpredictability is part of the nature of commercial fishing, Anderson continued, and he views the future optimistically. "I don't think I'd be a commercial fisherman if I wasn't somewhat of an optimist, and I don't think I'd be as heavily invested in fishing if I wasn't optimistic about it," he said.
Getting the job done: F/V Loui M
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