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Double-Crossing Death on the Pacific

An account of the sinking of a ship named the A.C.E. off the Southern California coast...

October 10, 2011
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Author’s Note: When I dove the A.C.E. for the first time in August of 2010, I descended with very little knowledge of the vessel, but within a couple of minutes knew there was a much larger story that needed to be told. While a Google search pulled up several news stories following the accident in 2005, most centered on the dramatic rescue, but very little was mentioned about how and why the boat went down. It was a story ripe for reconstruction.

Scott Marshutz is a freelance writer based in Dana Point, CA. His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Scuba Diving, California Diving News and several trade journals. A graduate of Chapman University in Orange, CA, he also served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1980s.

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DOUBLE-CROSSING DEATH ON THE PACIFIC

By ****Scott Marshutz

Trouble

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The crew noticed the weather changing as they motored toward the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station on the northern edge of San Diego County. The slight breeze and calm conditions they cruised through for much of the afternoon and night had morphed into a wicked offshore wind sometime after midnight.

The A.C.E., a 58-foot commercial fishing vessel, was on a northeasterly course heading in after a night of bait fishing and riding in the trough. Large vertically shaped swells—coming in sets of three only seconds apart—began pounding the boat’s portside.

Captain Robert Machado and his three crewmembers continually checked to make sure the A.C.E. wasn’t taking on any water. But there was one area they couldn’t check—the portside compartment, which stretched from the engine room to the lazarette compartment. The only access was from a topside circular hatch on the low-lying deck and since almost a foot of water now covered it removing the hatch wasn’t an option.

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For more than an hour the wind-generated swells dumped on the vessel.

Machado felt the_ A.C.E._ starting to list, only slightly but enough to cause some concern. It was just a hunch, but he had a feeling that the hatch’s seal had broken and water might be leaking into the compartment.

In the distance, they could see the lights of the Dana Point Harbor maybe six or seven miles away. He was confident they could make it. After all, they’d made it more than 65 miles already and with a full load of fresh bait anglers were depending on them to deliver.

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Down below, engineer and second-in-command Adam Souder had a bad feeling. He was trying to get some rest after being awake for nearly 20 hours, but every time the A.C.E. was hit by another wave, the boat wasn’t responding correctly. The list was more radical now, and it was starting to submarine itself.

“The boat would go up, come down and stay down,” he remembers.

Souder had to do something. He popped up from his bunk and headed up to the wheelhouse where Machado was white-knuckled. They slowed the boat down and moved the boom from the center to the starboard side to see if it might help shift the weight. The maneuver helped and the A.C.E. leveled off a bit. (1-footnote)

Even so, Machado was thinking about calling Buck Everingham who had managed the family business since his father Roy retired. Roy designed the boat in the mid-1980s. It was named after Buck’s grandfather Adolphus Charles “Buck” Everingham. In his head, Machado was rehearsing what he would say, trying to minimize any panic Buck might detect in his voice.

But he never made the call.

They were hit by two more large swells, which tipped the boat radically on its port side.

He ordered his crew to abandon ship and as he reached for the microphone to issue a mayday, the 61-ton, steel-hulled vessel was slammed by yet another wave and rolled into the angry Pacific. “When it rolled, it rolled fast,” Souder remembers.

Crewmembers Andrew Rector and Kane Shanahan ran to the starboard side of the boat and jumped on top of the rail as it went over. Souder, who was standing on the deck above the cabin on the starboard side, hung on while it rolled. Machado pushed himself out of the wheelhouse doorway and clawed his way up the side of the vessel as it rolled on top of him. His days of setting lobster traps with his father, growing up in Laguna Beach and riding dirt bikes in Carlsbad all flashed before him in a neatly designed grid.

The force of the falling mast and wheelhouse displaced thousands of gallons of seawater as it sliced into the ocean before disappearing into darkness.

In the seconds that elapsed, Machado found himself submerged under the vessel.

Although it was upside down, the six 500-watt halogen deck lights they used to help them fish at night were still illuminated.

He opened his eyes and saw the bottom of the 14-foot skiff that was chained to the back of the A.C.E.

Rector and Shanahan made it to the skiff first. Machado’s instincts told him to swim toward the stern, but the net had slid off the drum and blocked his passage. Fearing that he might get tangled up if he tried swimming underneath it, he swam back to the bow and surfaced.

There was no moon; the water temperature was in the 50s and the wind was blowing in the neighborhood of 25 knots.

A veteran seaman with more than 30 years of fishing experience, there was one skill Machado hadn’t mastered well: swimming. Struggling to pull his boots off, he heard his crewmembers yelling, “Hal where are you?”

Although Hallett was his middle name, everyone called him Hal.

He tried answering them but started swallowing water as he swam the length of the boat back to the skiff.

Between the swells and the wind he doubted they could hear him anyway.

He was laboring. Ten feet away from the skiff, he started cramping.

“I was having trouble staying afloat myself,” Souder recalled. “I yelled to Andrew that I couldn’t help Hal. Andrew said ‘don’t worry about it, I’ve got him.’”

Rector spotted his captain and jumped back in without hesitation. A former high school water polo player, Rector reached him in seconds.

Now freezing cold, soaked in diesel fuel and salt water and hanging on while the skiff slammed repeatedly into the stern of the capsized A.C.E., Machado, Rector, Souder and Shanahan tried to regain their composure.

Gone Fishing
Robert Hallett Machado was anxious to go fishing.

For the past week, the A.C.E. was docked at San Diego’s G Street Pier for routine vessel and net maintenance during the winter season.

But being “on the street” was the last place a commercial fisherman wanted to be.

Adding to his stress, he knew that Dana Wharf Sportfishing was running low on bait, he was receiving reports that anglers were catching yellowtail and white sea bass off Catalina Island and the holiday weekend was only a day old.

Arriving early on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, Machado figured his crew had about eight hours of work before they headed up the coast.

He recruited two of them personally after Everingham Bros. took over the contract from Mello Bros. to supply live bait to Dana Point and points north a year earlier.

At 31, Adam Souder was already beaten up from years of fishing the California coast with his father. He had fished in Alaska for a summer and survived two vessel accidents in roughly 15 years.

When Machado called his former partner on the Mona Lisa, Souder was a fleet manager for a rental car company. While the job offered him stable and safe employment, fishing was in his blood—the Souder family is deeply woven into Orange County’s fishing fabric dating back nearly 100 years. So he listened to Machado’s pitch. Everingham was offering a salary, and he’d be joining the crew as the engineer and deck boss. There was even talk of moving into a captain’s position in the near future. Souder thought he was hearing things. A salary was unheard of and he felt the pull.

Like Souder, skiff man Kane Shanahan, 19, grew up in the business, but on the sport fishing side. His father Tom Shanahan was owner-operator of the Game Fish and later became a freelance captain for several boat owners.

Andrew Rector, 24, had answered an ad for a general crew position.**** Rector, who stood 6 foot 4 inches, was an Army veteran with mechanical experience. A standout high school water polo player, Machado thought Rector was full of piss and vinegar; he liked strippers and bad girls—the sleazier the better. They called him Drew.

On G Street that morning, the crew replaced the net’s purse line, patched the rest of the holes and rolled it back on the drum. They pumped on 50 gallons of lube oil and hydraulic oil and loaded supplies to keep them going for at least four days.

On the short ride to the fuel dock, the crew completed the remaining items of a list, one of which was checking to make sure the deck hatches were properly sealed.

Machado didn’t like the way Shanahan and Rector were doing the test so he had Souder take the wheel while he checked all four himself—the portside hatch had given them problems during previous trips. “It was always a primary concern,” added Souder.

After filling both tanks, about 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel, the A.C.E. was on its way.

Drum seiner (or limit seiner) bait boats are known for their long clean decks, a boom and the motorized skiff that is often seen riding piggyback from the vessel’s stern. The main cabin, which is set on the forward half of the deck, carries topside controls to give the skipper a clear lookout for bait schools and tidal conditions.

Fully loaded, they sit about a foot above the water line.

Although it was clear and calm at 4 p.m., forecasters predicted an offshore wind ranging from 10 to 30 knots for the area northwest of Oceanside starting late Friday night into Saturday. It was a large variable.

Buck Everingham, who was vacationing with his family in Lake Tahoe during the holiday, spoke to Machado by phone about the forecast, but the captain didn’t seem too concerned. Buck told Machado he’d rather have him wait for the weather to pass, but ultimately it was up to his captains to make the final call. (2-footnote)

On their way up to Oceanside, where the bait had been consistently good, they kept an eye out for schools while passing Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Torrey Pines and Del Mar.

Before sunset, Machado spotted several vessels circling on the horizon. Through his binoculars, he recognized the San Pedro gillnet fleet. Since the fleet was going after barracuda, Machado knew damn well that barracuda targeted the same bait species he was after.

“Yes, we needed bait,” says Souder. “But you’re running out to catch something that might not be there. Our nets aren’t efficient at depths of more than 150 feet. Any time your nets don’t touch the bottom, you have a chance of losing the fish because they can swim out from underneath it.”

About 10 miles off the coast of Oceanside, Machado’s hunch proved correct: the A.C.E.’s sonar picked up a large school of sardines and two smaller schools of mackerel.

“From what I remember, the school was very scattered. There was a lot of fish in that area. We knew the load was going to be sardines or anchovies, but we didn’t know the size or quality,” adds Souder.

With a full load of bait, they rolled the net back on the drum, secured their gear and headed back to shore; they’d be tied up in the harbor well before dawn.

For the moment, Machado felt a sense of calm and reflected on his life.

Nearing 50, he was looking forward to getting married for the first time so the year ahead was definitely looking bright.

Tied up in San Diego. (courtesy of Everingham Bros. Bait Co.)

Ed Westberg points to the area where he spotted sparks from the flare. (photo by Scott Marshutz)

The A.C.E._ became a dive site last year. (photo by Boonchob Vijarnsorn)_

In the Skiff
Machado, Rector and Shanahan were huddled in the aluminum skiff; Souder was still hanging on the side. At 250 pounds, he was exhausted and didn’t have the strength to pull himself into the boat.

The conditions were making it difficult for the others to pull him on board.

The y-shaped alloy chain connecting the small boat to the stern of the capsized A.C.E. tightened on the crest of each wave and then slammed them back into the slowly sinking vessel—a constant battering of aluminum crashing into steel repeatedly as huge swells rolled under or broke on top of them.

The A.C.E. heaved in the churning sea—uttering its final breaths of a 19-year run. Its engine prop was still sticking out of the water; the hull was already submerged.

They wondered why the life raft hadn’t automatically inflated or why the emergency radio beacon failed to send a signal to the Coast Guard.

The current moved them down the coast and farther out to sea as the minutes ticked by.

They rolled so quickly there was no time to grab a lifejacket so Machado started improvising.

The skiff had rubber bumpers—fenders filled with air that covered its perimeter. (It also had a small tool box containing flash lights and other supplies, including a flare pistol.)

He cut the bumpers off, tied the pieces together with fishing twine and made a small flotation device for each person.

Machado emptied the batteries out of one flashlight, taped the red plastic illumination piece to the top of another flashlight and then taped the modified light to a broomstick handle. He gave it to Rector, the tallest of the four. They steadied the lanky Army veteran so he could stand straight up and wave it above his head like he was directing aircraft on a runway.

Meanwhile, Machado grabbed the flare pistol, loaded a round and fired. They watched the red ball of sparks cut through the clouds and disappear—hoping someone, anyone might see it. But at 3 a.m., it was a safe bet that most of Dana Point and San Clemente were still sound asleep.

They took turns waving the flashlight.

Since he was still in the water, Souder attempted to disconnect the skiff by diving under the _A.C.E. _ The chain connected to a longer rope line securing the skiff to the vessel. Souder thought if he could get past the chain and cut the rope he’d be able to free the skiff. He tried a couple of times, but the chain stretched too far under the vessel and without an air supply and a light source there was no chance he could disconnect it. Rector and Shanahan tried too, but Machado ordered them back in the skiff, knowing that their chances of getting badly injured or killed were too high.

Machado shot off another flare.

He scanned the shoreline to figure what the shortest distance might be in case they had to swim. Since the current was pulling them out to sea and away from shore, he calculated their odds; they weren’t very good.

Something’s Out There
Ed Westberg’s blood pressure medicine made it difficult for him to sleep through the night. He’d wake up before dawn needing to urinate.

True to the pattern, Westberg felt the urge to go to the bathroom about 3 a.m. Saturday morning.

He could hear the Santa Ana winds, which had kicked up earlier in the evening, whistling around his home.

Groggy, he pulled himself out of bed and walked to the bathroom. As he looked through the sliding glass door of his second-story bedroom, a red spark caught his eye.

Westberg’s large single-family San Clemente home is a little north of the famed Trestles surfing spots. Set on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, he can see Cotton’s Point, another surf spot known for its long left walls, Seal Rock straight ahead and the entrance to the Dana Point Harbor to the north.

“I was still half asleep,” says Westberg. “I was thinking ‘Was that a flair I saw out there?’”

He woke up his wife Jan and told her what he had seen and that he was going to call 911.

The operator connected him to Tina Maguire, the Orange County Sheriff’s dispatcher.

He described what he saw to Maguire and told her to call back, if they needed more help. Westberg stayed awake and went downstairs to get a better look from his deck.

About five minutes later, he saw a red light—a very dim one in the same area as the flare. He estimated it to be less than two miles off shore in the area between Cotton’s Point and Seal Rock.

An experienced sailor, he knew there was someone out there and they were most likely sending a distress signal.

“We watched the fire boat leave the harbor and move down the coast,” the now- retired dentist said. “With its blue light on, it was easy to spot.”

By the time the patrol boat reached the San Clemente pier, Westberg’s phone started ringing.

Maguire told him that deputies Russ Endsley and Diana Honicker were having trouble seeing anything because of the sea conditions. “I told her they hadn’t come south far enough,” Westberg said.

As the boat headed down the coast, Maguire said they still couldn’t see anything.

Westberg asked Maguire to connect him directly to Honicker.

“You need to come further south and then away from shore,” Westberg told the deputy.

Rescue
The radio inside the Dana Point Marine Substation squawked at 3:09 a.m.:

“RED FLARE SEEN FIVE MINUTES AGO THREE MILES OFF SHORE JUST SOUTH OF SEAL ROCK…”

When the two harbor patrol deputies heard the call, they were skeptical. Nobody should have been out there, not in those conditions.

They had received plenty of calls like it before; people see something, but the sightings turn out to be fireworks, the lights from a squid boat or a figment of their imagination.

But Honicker and Endsley had no time to debate the validity of the call. They grabbed their floatation coats, sprinted out the side door of the small facility and untied their 32-foot Seaway fireboat, both engines already warmed up.

At the mouth of the harbor, Honicker, who was at the wheel, told Endsley: “You better put your lifejacket on.”

In the 20 years the two had patrolled Orange County waterways, they’d experienced rough conditions and difficult rescues, but this one was going to be rougher than most.

“When we were headed out, the swells were clearing the canopy, and I was completely drenched—the water was hitting me in the face consistently,” Honicker said.

As they headed down the coast, eight-foot waves dropped out from underneath them, sending the boat on a wild ride of peaks and valleys.

The radar was useless.

The Newport Beach dispatcher Tina Maguire radioed with an update:

“ADVISING FLARE WAS SEEN A LITTLE FURTHER DOWN COAST AND ABOUT THREE MILES OFFSHORE…HE SEES LIGHTS FROM A BOAT OUT THERE BUT IT’S HARD TO TELL DISTANCE IN THE DARK…”

The dispatcher connected the informant directly to Honicker.

She changed her heading, but still couldn’t see anything. Westberg told her to come further south and then proceed away from shore.

“I saw a little flash, a tiny little flash—something caught my eye. So I turned and headed away from shore. But he was saying, ‘No, no, no you’re going in the wrong direction.’ I told Endsley, ‘Listen there’s nobody out here except for us and whoever’s in trouble. I saw something, and that’s where I’m headed.’”

Honicker took a new compass heading.

What she saw next surprised both of them. They shined the boat’s search lights off the port side and at first Honicker thought it was some kind of military hover craft, which wasn’t too far out of the realm of possibility, considering the Camp Pendleton Marine base was only a few miles south.

But as they got closer, she realized it was a huge engine prop sticking out of the water.

“And there was a small boat that was right on top of the prop,” Honicker remembers. “The skiff was angled with its stern popping up as the A.C.E. was dragging it down. I saw how big the prop was and I yelled, ‘What kind of boat is it?’ And one of the crewmembers yelled back that it was the A.C.E. bait boat.”

Knowing bait boats carried large nets and rigging that could get tangled up in the engines, she turned the vessel sharply to the right, cut the portside engine, shifted it into reverse and backed the boat so its swim step was a foot from the skiff.

While Honicker tried to maintain their position, Endsley assisted each crewmember onto the fireboat.

Because of Souder’s weight and fatigued condition, it took every ounce of strength Shanahan, Rector and Machado had to help him on to the swim step. When Endsley grabbed him, all of Souder’s weight shifted as the two boats were coming down on the crest of a swell and Endsley felt a sharp pain in his shoulder. With all of Souder’s weight now on Endsley, he pulled Souder on the boat, but in the process tore his rotator cuff.

With Souder on board, both Shanahan and Rector jumped from the skiff onto the rescue boat.

Machado followed. By all accounts, it took less than five minutes to get the crew off the skiff; Honicker shifted into drive and they were gone.

Endsley helped the four inside the small cabin, gave them blankets and cranked up the heat. According to the deputies, the crew was hypothermic and in various stages of shock. The fact that none of them were seriously injured or had been killed was a miracle.

As they pulled away, Machado remembers seeing Honicker looking back to where they were seconds earlier and her face turned white; the skiff had disappeared.

The mood inside the small cabin was a mixture of nervous laughter and emotional release. As the fireboat bounced hard off the swells, Shanahan looked at Rector and said, “Aren’t you glad Hal put the flare pistol in the skiff?”

According to the dispatch record, the search and rescue was completed in less than one hour thanks in large part to Ed Westberg’s involvement.

Back inside the Sheriff’s facility, the crew showered and changed into dry clothes. They declined medical treatment.

“Machado was in tears,” Honicker remembers. “He was hugging me—extremely grateful. I think they all realized just how close they came to dying out there.”

Aftermath
For several days after the accident, the Sheriff’s Search and Recovery Team, the Coast Guard and a large number of charter fishing boats and private boat owners searched for the A.C.E., but were unsuccessful in locating the vessel.

By February, fishermen started to notice something on the ocean’s smooth sandy bottom where there hadn’t been anything before. “The San Pedro squid fleet would snag their nets on something in between Seal Rock and Cotton’s Point,” Machado said. “That’s where we rolled, and that’s where I was looking for a possible beach area to swim to in case we weren’t rescued.”

Although Machado went back to work for Everingham Bros., he wasn’t the same. He suffered from posttraumatic stress, his wedding plans were put on hold and he felt his fishing career slipping away. Losing the A.C.E. was like having an albatross around his neck. “That’s something I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life,” he said.

To combat the depression, Machado sent hand-written letters to government officials and the Sheriff’s Dept., detailing the rescue and how the efforts of Westberg, the dispatcher and the two deputies saved him and his crew.

On February 8, 2006, Westberg was recognized by The Orange County Board of Supervisors for his civic involvement. Machado and Honicker attended.

A month later, the Sheriff’s Dept. hosted its 18th Annual Medal of Valor Luncheon where Honicker and Endsley received medals for life saving. Buck and Kate Everingham attended and presented the deputies with a plaque as well.

Initially, Machado declined the invitation. By then, he was unemployed and going through a rough period in his life.

When Westberg heard that Machado wasn’t coming, he called and insisted that the captain attend and even offered to drive him to the event.

After Westberg persisted, he reluctantly agreed and afterward said the event put some closure on the accident.

Machado’s life eventually turned around. He married his fiancé Mary—they’d been engaged since before the accident—in 2008; he is now managing the warehouse operations for a national office supply company in San Diego.

Like his captain, Adam Souder returned to Everingham Bros., but a back injury forced him out of the fishing business for good. Today, he is a shift manager of one of Southern California’s large grocery chains.

Kane Shanahan declined several requests to be interviewed for this story. Andrew Rector, according to Shanahan, is believed to be fishing somewhere in American Somoa.

Commercial fishing continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. In 2007, the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health developed the Commercial Fishing Incident Database. From 2000-2009, 504 commercial fishing deaths were recorded in the U.S. Of those 504 fatalities, the majority occurred after a vessel disaster (261 deaths, 52%) or a fall overboard (155 deaths, 31%).

While the Alaska region had the highest number of deaths (133), the West Coast ranked third with 83.

New Beginnings
Five years after the accident, Hosam Elshenawi, owner of Beach Cities Scuba, and his business partner were discussing ways to market their new business Riviera Charters. They planned to position the Riviera as a general excursion charter out of the Dana Point Harbor as well as to offer scuba divers another opportunity to go diving without having to drive to San Diego, San Pedro or Ventura.

Sitting around a table one afternoon, Elshenawi said, “too bad there isn’t a ship wreck in the area that we could take divers out to.” And his partner answered, “You know, a bait boat sank outside the harbor a few years ago.” Elshenawi’s partner knew the Sheriff deputy who had the vessel’s coordinates, but getting them wouldn’t be that easy. After approaching the deputy numerous times and persuading him about how important it was for their new charter business, he relented.

Soon after, Elshenawi assembled a search team that included D.J. Mansfield and Andrew Bolling. Using the_ Riviera’s_ sonar_,_ they passed over the coordinates several times, verified the bump and dumped markers in a 50-yard square.

Mansfield, who used a single steel 100-cubic-foot cylinder with 31 percent Nitrox, needed only 12 minutes to find the A.C.E. “I started a u-shaped pattern oriented north to south. The first thing I noticed was all of the fish. That indicated to me that we were in the right area. As my bottom time clicked to 12 minutes, I was about to give up at 114 feet. I was on my fourth pattern when I saw a shadow to my left. I meandered over and ran right into the mast,” said Mansfield, an experienced wreck diver. “The very first thing out of my regulator was a garbled ‘HOLY COW!’, and I did a little dance on the sea floor. I couldn’t believe how encrusted she was. She’s covered in anemones.”

After Mansfield returned to the Riviera, another team went down and rigged the buoy system. In less than a day, the team opened up a new chapter in the A.C.E.‘s history, which had served the sport fishing community from the Mexican border to Newport Beach for nearly 20 years.

The Riviera started taking divers out to the A.C.E. in August 2010.

Notes

1. Turning the A.C.E. in the right direction (heading into the swells in this case) and at the right speed could have maintained a fairly dry deck, at least enough to open the hatch long enough to open the suction valve so the pump could strip the compartment until a safe port was reached. This had been done on a few occasions and Machado was aware of the procedure, according to Buck Everingham.

_2. Based on the forecast for Friday night into Saturday, Everingham advised his captain to wait, but Machado, who had been “on the street” for a week, was anxious to go. Adam Souder is on record saying that waiting an extra 12 hours would not have reduced their chances of catching bait fish. _

EXTRA: Designing the A.C.E.

After World War II, the Everingham family got out of tuna fishing and moved into the live bait business.

Adolphus Charles “Buck” Everingham went to work for Lyman McDonald who owned Mac’s Bait. Soon after, Adolphus’ son Roy got tired of chasing tuna as well and joined his father at the bait company. MacDonald, who was looking to exit the business, eventually sold it to the Everinghams.

Two years later, Roy took over the business after his father died suddenly at age 52. He later bought out his brother Charles.

Everingham continued to modernize the business and by the mid-1980s wanted to expand the fleet by adding another catcher for short hauls.

Like other California fisherman at the time, Everingham figured that if he built the new boat to meet the 58-foot Alaskan limit seiner length he’d have a better chance of reselling the vessel into the world’s largest salmon fishing market, if the opportunity presented itself. (A “seine” is a net while a “seiner” refers to a type of fishing boat that is equipped with a net.)

Limit seiners are known for their long clean decks, a boom and the motorized skiff that is often seen riding piggyback from the vessel’s stern. The main cabin, set on the forward half of the deck, carries topside controls to give the skipper a clear lookout for bait schools and tidal conditions.

Everingham’s design included two long compartments on the port and starboard side of the bait tanks, which were air voids to enhance stability. The port side compartment ran from the engine room bulkhead to the lazarette (rear) bulkhead. On the starboard side, there was a doorway leading into a pump alley (housing all the pumps and valves) that took up roughly half of the size of the air void compartment on the port side. Behind the pump alley was a smaller air void. There was access from the engine room into the pump alley, but the only way to get into to the port side compartment was from a circular deck hatch.

The hatches were located about six inches from an 18-inch platform where the net drum was positioned. Combined, the net and the drum weighed 20,000 pounds.

When fully loaded, the deck was only a foot above the water line.

Running at full speed in smooth conditions, a small amount of water would pool at the aft step to the net reel deck from the wave of its own wake.

The bait tanks were positioned below the deck with fresh circulating seawater bringing in oxygen to keep the fish alive, similar to an aquarium.

The two fuel tanks were located in the stern to help ballast.

Everingham selected Peacock Boat Building in Wilmington, Calif. to build the boat. Named after the family patriarch Adolphus Charles Everingham, the A.C.E. was launched in 1987.

–Scott Marshutz

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