Fred Wahl Marine Construction in Reedsport, Oregon, hauled the 86' × 36' Bay Islander, a pollock and cod boat, out of Newport, Oregon, on July 20, 2023, to have its wheelhouse upgraded and a raised fo'c'sle built. The vessel returned to the water on January 11, 2024, gaining two feet long and numerous improvements.

“It was a pretty extensive job,” said Mike Wahl, manager of Fred Wahl Marine Construction. Built in 1969 by Bender Machine Co. in Mobile, Alabama, the 53-year-old Bay Islander's last extended stay at a boatyard dated back to 2002 when it was sponsoned and acquired another boat's wheelhouse that became available during the sponsoning.

But 21 years later, that wheelhouse's interior space was described as “minimal and rustic” and in need of being brought up to a more refined and functional level, says Kendal Blake, marine designer at Fred Wahl Marine Construction.

Redesigning the deckhouse and wheelhouse created more room in the deckhouse and space to house electronics between the fo'c'sle and the bridge decks, where "the Bay Islander will utilize some of the most advanced electronics packages currently available," said Blake. Lifting the fo'c'sle increased the accommodations area and allowed for laundry facilities in the head, a larger commercial refrigerator in the galley, an under-sink dishwasher, and more cabinet space. A benefit of building the now higher forward bulwarks is additional protection from the North Pacific's boarding seas.

A feature not on the Bay Islander when it arrived at Fred Wahl Marine Construction is the new bulbous bow. It will provide increased buoyancy and house transducers and hydrophones.

The Bay Islander has been owned and operated by the Cochrans, a fishing family out of Newport, Oregon. Craig Cochran owned and operated the Bay Islander when it was sponsoned. Then Craig's son Kurt took over ownership and operation; the Bay Islander is now operated and co-owned by Kurt's son Keith Cochran.

As usual, the Bay Islander wasn't the only major boatbuilding project at Fred Wahl Marine Construction.

“There's been a lot of haul-outs, shaft alignments, and repowers,” said Wahl. When things start to slow down, which, he notes, hasn't been often, work starts up on a 58' x 28' 6" crabber that's being built on spec.

Michael Crowley is a long-time Maine-based correspondent for WorkBoat Magazine, specializing in stories related to new vessel contruction and new gear, such as electronics, deck equipment and diesel engines.