Famous fishing boat gets green overhaul

Posted: Monday, January 11, 2010

Under a project by SeaLand Environmental Inc., a Bradenton, Fla., company, the Time Bandit will be going green.

Don't expect to see the Time Bandit's skull-and-crossbones logo painted fluorescent green, though. This week, SeaLand Environmental owner Jeff Steele meets with the Hillstrands in King Cove to start a retrofit of the 113-foot crabber that will incorporate environmentally friendly products and technologies.

Steele founded SeaLand Environmental in 2001 after a career in commercial fishing. The company's green retrofit of the Time Bandit is its first venture on a large commercial fishing vessel in Alaska. Some changes, such as putting on copper-free, anti-fouling bottom paint, will be done next spring in dry dock. Other changes can be done during the break between king and opilio crab seasons. In King Cove and Dutch Harbor, Steele will make some of these changes:

* Change hydraulic fluid to a vegetable- based, fire-resistant, nontoxic product;

* Install the HydroMarine on-demand hydrogen assist fuel system to increase fuel efficiency and reduce omissions;

* Install new oil filters and an oil monitoring system that delays oil changes while keeping oil clean;

* Supply nontoxic, soy-based cleaners and degreasers.

"Those are the things we can do this time under those logistical conditions," Steele said.

Already installed and being tested on the Time Bandit is a product called "No Ice," a clear coat that keeps freezing spray and rain from icing up on the ship.

Used in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, No Ice actually releases heat right before water freezes and stops large amounts of ice from building up the kind of ice that fishermen sometimes have to break up with baseball bats.

"This would be a breakthrough for guys fishing in Alaska," Steele said.

To make sure everything works and to teach the Time Bandit crew how to use the new products and technologies, Steele also will accompany them from King Cove to Dutch Harbor and then St. Paul.

"We'll give it a trip, make sure everything works as it's supposed to," he said.

Although he's lived 16 years in Florida, Steele is no stranger to northern seas or the marine industry. He was born and raised in Brooklin, Maine. He commercially fished in Maine for 12 years. His father was a boat builder and his grandfather a lobsterman.

SeaLand Environmental's approach is to survey vessels and other industries and provide businesses with an analytic report recommending environmentally friendly products and technologies.

For the Time Bandit, Steele met with the Hillstrands last October, and then through SeaLand's Green Source Analytics Group prepared a 15-point plan for them.

The analysis shows "you can go green, save money and it's cost effective," said Bryan Jennings, a spokesman for SeaLand. "We went out and got the products ready under one roof and did the research."

"It's definitely a niche," Steele added. "We're the only company there that has everything under one roof."

"Going green" is more than being environmentally responsible. It also saves fishermen money. According to the Time Bandit's green analytics report, new fuel and oil filtering systems can save the crabbers about $14,000 a year. The HydroMarine system can increase fuel efficiency an average of 20 percent.

Steele met the Hillstrands in Florida and later pitched them his program.

"We got talking a few months back, and we said, 'Guys, this stuff is ready to go,'" Steele said. "The Hillstrands are ecstatic about this. They feel they're making a statement, particularly in an industry that has gotten some bad knocks," Steele added.

Steele said he hopes SeaLand's green retrofit of the Time Bandit will lead to more projects in Alaska, and not just for big commercial fishing vessels. SeaLand has done green retrofits for yachts and pleasure boats and for land-based industries. Steele sees potential not just for boats, but for harbors, too, he said.

"We want to get to Homer and get with some of the officials," he said. "They can clean up what they're doing quite a bit, too."

For more information on SeaLand, visit www.sealandenvironmental.com. A link to its Green Analytics report for the Time Bandit also is on the site.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong.@homernews.com.

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