Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Land & Sea: Wooden vs. Steel Longliners

This episode explores the tension surrounding wooden and steel-hulled longliners at a time when boatbuilding design was evolving to match new fishing technology.

Take a trip back in time with an archival episode from 1980

A longliner launches in Hibb's Cove. (Land & Sea)

This 1980 episode of Land & Sea opens with the scene of a champagne bottle exploding on the bow of a new longliner.

The show explores the tension surrounding wooden and steel-hulled longliners at a time when boatbuilding design was evolving to match new fishing technology. 

Owner Charles Hussey of Port de Grave isn't bothered by the $500,000 price tag for his new, wooden, 17-metre vessel, the Eastern Harvester, built in Arthur Petten's boat yard in South River.

The rising prices of these new vessels is controversial, and many fishermen wonder if they should be purchasing longer lasting steel vessels for that amount of money.

The next longliner launch the Land & Sea crew shot was the Beulah Land, designed and built by the Kennedy Brothers of Hibb's Cove. 

The show then moved to Henry Vokey's shipyard in Trinity, and captured the community's excitement as two boats are launched one after the other: the $700,000 Sea Voyageur for skipper Montrose Genge of Anchor Point, and the Cape Ray II for Rufus Genge of Cook's Harbour.

Skipper Rufus Genge of Cook's Harbour is seen here in an 1980 episode of Land & Sea. (Land & Sea)

At that time, provincial regulations limited the length of vessels to just under 20 metres.

Bauline's Orman Whelan's new Avalon Harvester was at the top of that limit, and the boat was so heavy a tractor had to be brought in to push it down the rails into the bay.

Exciting times back then for Vokey's Shipyard in Trinity. (Land & Sea)

The Land & Sea crew went south in this episode to Bayou la Batre, the headquarters for steel-hulled boat building.

The Alabama town is known worldwide for the creation of steel shrimp boats. Perhaps those boats inspired the only Newfoundland boatbuilder at the time to make his first steel vessel, the Iron Cow.

The show ends with the crew back in Newfoundland, as Springdale's Cyril Pelley asks skipper Ray Newman of Little Harbour Deep if he appreciates the vessel's stability in rough seas.

With files from Land & Sea