Building big fishing boats in Coombs

Roy Brown at Independent Shipwrights in Coombs is building the biggest boat of its kind on the West Coast.

Roy Brown looks up at the hull for the largest boat they have built at Independent Shipwrights in Coombs.

Roy Brown at Independent Shipwrights in Coombs is building the biggest boat of its kind on the West Coast.

The 60-foot long commercial fishing boat will be unusually wide at 23-feet, competing with boats a third longer, said Brown, who has been building boats on the property for 36 years.

“I started training on building wood boats in New Zealand in 1972,” he said.

“Back then you had to go to the East Coast or overseas,” he said of his early interest in the craft.

But very soon after starting his business back in his home province, he had to switch to fibreglass, which was already standard in the industry.

“It takes about a third of the man hours to do the same work in fibreglass,” he said.

Unable to find waterfront property, he moved to then very rural Coombs where “I could build my own building and nobody bothered me.”

Today he’s still building his biggest boat in that same original building where the hull pretty much takes up the whole space.

The boat will be so big that they will have to move it to French Creek Marina with special permission through empty roads from 2-4 a.m., with hydro and utility company cooperation.

They do about half the work in the shop, building the hull like the foundation of a house, then move it without the wheelhouse, which will be built in place once the boat is in the water.

With a 7,000 gallon fuel tank and a huge amount of storage capacity, the “very beamy” or wide boat will be able to spend months out in the middle of the ocean between stops to re-fuel and unload their catch.

The 70-ton boat, being built for long time local customer Neil Main, will be able to operate with just two deck hands and a skipper and despite its large size, still slips in under the 100 ton mark where regulations get a lot more complicated, Brown said.

It will fish black cod off B.C. and Alaska, mid-Pacific tuna, coastal prawn and brown fish like halibut.

“This is the first new build this size in fibreglass in 20 or 30 years on the coast of B.C.” Brown boasted, mourning the loss of much of the boat building not only in the region, but across North America, with much work being outsourced over seas.

Despite the trend in larger boat building in general, Brown is excited about his market in what he called “small boats,” with a resurgence in the market for those under 100 tons.

“The market is growing, the fleet out there is getting too old now,” he said, adding they have at least a year and a half of work booked.

Brown, who also builds fibreglass tanks and components for salmon hatcheries all over the coast, invites people to stop by their supply shop in Coombs, just past the goats on the roof. Call 250-248-2293 or visit www.independentmarine.ca for more.

Just Posted

Town of Qualicum Beach to sell more than $5M in real estate

Sales to pay for recent real estate purchases, including St. Andrews Lodge

Living with obsessive compulsive disorder

The Big Read: Vancouver Island mom calls for more mental health services as son battles OCD

Parksville councillor says info more ‘forthcoming’ in the future on supportive housing project

Leanne Salter said she was ‘kept in the dark’ on details about 222 Corfield St. South

CanUS Jazz Band back for Morningstar Farm event in Parksville

Morningstar Farm’s annual jazz concert takes place July 15

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

Most Read