Dongara Marine has delivered the 26m Holdfast, one of the largest capacity high-speed lobster boats in Australia.

With capacity for 210 baskets or 6.2t of live lobster, Holdfast is the fourth over 20m lobster boat in as many years to be designed by Southerly Designs, joining Ohana (2015), Daydawn (2016) and Gambler (2017).

Although not the lead builder for the Daydawn and Gambler projects, Dongara Marine played a key role as the manufacturer of their resin-infused composite wheelhouses. The weight, noise and temperature insulation, finish and maintenance advantages that the wheelhouses have over conventional aluminium or fibreglass structures are driving their popularity with both fishing and workboat operators.

Fittingly for a boat that has been both designed and built-in Port Denison, the Cockman family that owns Holdfast is also from Dongara, the mid-west of Western Australia. Brothers Bruce and Jeff Cockman will take turns skippering the new boat.

Planning for the new boat began in 2016 when market and fishery conditions both supported investment for the future.

Bruce Cockman explained: “The quota system was working well, the Puerulus (post-larval lobsters) monitoring results promised good seasons ahead and our existing boat was getting on, so we thought it was the right time to upgrade.”

The focus was to build a boat that enabled them to provide a commercially optimised response to the market forces that shape modern fishery.

Cockman said: “In the quota regime the key is to be able to land high-quality product in the required quantities when demand and prices are high. That can mean working at times of the year, and in places, when fishing is harder than it would otherwise be.

“As a result, we often work outside, fishing and anchoring out up to 100 miles offshore. So we needed a boat that would enable us to do that with a degree of comfort, be able to hold a sizeable catch and kept in top condition.”

The big live tank capacity, up from 4.5t on the Cockmans’ previous fleet flagship, is critical to bringing in product that will attract the highest price. Holdfast is equipped with a Maretron system for tank level and flow monitoring.

Cockman said: “This was the seventh boat we have had built, and despite it being the largest and most complicated, it was also the easiest build process.”

The demand for Dongara Marine’s boatbuilding, reft and specialist composite manufacturing service meant that the fabrication of Holdfast’s aluminium hull was subcontracted to Niche Marine in order to meet project timelines.

In addition to fabricating and installing the composite wheelhouse, Dongara Marine undertook all engineering and fit-out, acid sealing and painting, electrical work, installation of the Windows West windows and project management of all the specialist subcontractors who contributed to building the vessel.

With overall and measured lengths of 25.95m and 23.95m respectively, the new Southerly Designs monohull shares its hull form with last year’s Daydawn

Bruce Cockman sees the boat as evolutionary rather than revolutionary: “It’s basically a sister ship to Peter Bailey’s Daydawn but each boat gets a few changes; that’s just natural continual improvement and customisation.”

Compared to Daydawn, the wheelhouse on Holdfast extends further aft to provide more protection for the crew when working at the pot hauler, tipper and main cray tanks. This design change also results in a larger flybridge.

Within the wheelhouse, the port side helm station reflects the increasing levels of technology available to fishermen. Although Cockman says that the electronics were kept simple, the console is dominated by displays rather than steering and throttle controls (which consist of a joystick and levers respectively).

Two large (42in) flat-screen multi-function displays enable the skipper to access information from a variety of types and sources. These include navigation information from the MaxSea system, Furuno radar, and Furuno AIS, vessel monitoring through CCTV and data directly supporting fishing, including that from the Smart Catch system and the WASSP multi-beam sonar system.

Also fitted are a Furuno 1150 sounder and Simrad AP70 autopilot. Geraldton Marine Electronics supplied the electronics.

Drawing power from the boat’s two Yanmar 25kVA gensets is an array of external lights. This includes a huge bank of forward-facing LED Stadium floodlights and deck and underwater lights. All navigation lights are Hella.

Having had electronically controlled engines in previous boats, the Cockmans were attracted to the simplicity of Yanmar’s mechanically controlled 6AYM-WGT main diesels. Supplied and installed by Brand Mechanical Services, each of the two engines is rated to 911hp, giving a cruise speed of 18.5kt (exceeding the expected 17kt) and a top speed of 23.5kt. Pro Marine supplied the boat’s five-bladed, 39in Teignbridge propellers, which are driven via ZF 2000 gearboxes.

The twin props, dual pintle hung rudders and a Side Thrust tunnel bow thruster provides excellent manoeuvring capabilities at all speeds.

While homeported in Port Denison, Holdfast is capable of fishing the length of the west coast. It has tanks for 8,000l of fuel, ensuring a range of 600 nautical miles, and is in NSCV 2B survey for operations up to 200 nautical miles offshore with as many as 12 people on board. Combined with the huge work deck, this provides flexibility to take on other roles in the future or when the quota allocation has been exhausted, such as offshore support.

The below-decks accommodation includes a three berth cabin forward, aft of which is a four-berth cabin, plus one queen cabin and a cabin with two single berths.

Dongara Marine has ensured that all wheelhouse and accommodation areas are very quiet, with 71db at full throttle being the result, and of course lower at cruising revs. Noise is very tiring on boats, so a great deal of effort was expended to achieve this result.