After commercial fishing for more than four decades and building boats and fishing equipment for more than three decades, Bill Webber has formed some definite ideas about what works and what doesn’t in commercial salmon fishing Alaska’s Copper River delta. When it came time for him to build his “final” fishing boat, the 35’ bowpicker Paradigm Shift, he specified twin Volvo Penta D6 330As.
Webber combines his fishing and boatbuilding with his own innovative marketing program, selling his high quality catch for top dollar directly to restaurants and other high-end nationwide customers. “I retain ownership and control of the fish all the way to market through verticle integration and owning my own supply chain. That way I can create a very high quality product.” Webber is very active in the fishing community, serving as vice president of the regional seafood marketing association and on the local advisory board to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
To make his direct marketing business model work efficiently, Webber needed a highly customized boat and so spent three and a half months designing a vessel that would properly pamper the catch. Not only were hundreds of parts specially created for the boat through computer aided design, it was equipped with machinery of Webber’s own design, some of which he hopes to patent.
When it came to the propulsion, however, Webber chose a more conventional course with the D6 packages. “I’ve repowered hundreds of vessels, many of which were Volvo Penta installations.” Webber says. “And my friends and customers were very pleased with the D6s.” Webber continues, “I’ve been extremely pleased with the engines. I don’t care about 40 knots, but I do care about fuel efficiency. The weight carrying capacity of the D6s is phenomenal. From a builder’s and owner’s perspective, I think Volvo Penta has achieved design and engineering perfection with their D-series engine packages.”
The fuel efficiency of the Paradigm Shift is truly impressive. At 2850 RPM the vessel cruises at 25-26 knots while burning only 19-20 gph.
And as if to put a punctuation point on the success of his new build, soon after launching the Paradigm Shift, Webber towed his son’s 30’ gillnetter home at a steady 23 knots after that boat had an unfortunate engine failure.