Vanoli Aloncar

Vanoli Aloncar

Despite crisis, Argentinian  yard delivers three artisanal boats

Astillero Vanoli Aloncar, a shipyard based in the Argentinian port of Necochea that resumed operations a couple of years ago after a long period of inactivity, is about to launch three new boats, despite the country’s economic challenges.

The new vessels will be operated in the Patagonian port of Rawson by local artisanal fishermen – but that does not mean these are simple boats. Vanoli Aloncar director Hugo Obregozo’s thinking was to provide all technology and construction quality of a larger boat.

‘We invested a lot of time in improving their design in order to maximise their hydrodynamic and waterline profiles. This way we can have better propeller dimensions and enhance the engine’s efficiency,’ he said.

The three new boats have a 9.90-metre length, which is the maximum length for artisanal boats in Rawson. Don Matute and Nuestra Señora de Itatí 2 have exactly the same design. Natanael has a few differences in the arrangement of the wheelhouse and has an open bow section.

Don Matute and Nuestra Señora de Itatí side by side on the slipway at Astillero Vanoli Aloncar / El Don Matute y el Nuestra Señora de Itatí codo con codo en las gradas del Astillero Vanoli Aloncar

Although those projects could not be submitted to marine tests at a university, the engineers – the shipyard worked together with INA Ingenieria on the design – took painstaking measures to ensure highly stable vessels, considering that Patagonian waters can be a challenging part of the world to fish.

The engine and equipment are basic, according to Hugo Obregozo. The three boats each has a 331kW engine powering a 1300mm propeller. Outfitting includes radar, AIS and electronics to pinpoint the best areas fishing areas, said Ramón Sovak, the owner of Nuestra Señora de Itatí 2.

‘I have had a boat with the same name for 15 years. I needed to expand its carrying capacity and engine power,’ he said, and explained that his main catch is Argentine red shrimp, but the uncertainty concerning the stocks – which have been variable in terms of location and volume from a season to another – prompted him decide to prepare to fish for hake as well. The boat has a 45m3 fishroom.

Don Matute is one of the three new coastal fishing vessels for owners in Rawson / El Don Matute es uno de los tres nuevos buques de pesca costera del armador de Rawson

‘With my old boat, if I decided to head northwards, for instance, 30km was as far as we could go. The new boat is much heavier, has an extended bow that maximises its seakeeping abilities, and there is an additional 50kW engine power,’ he said.

Hugo Obregozo said that he avoided using materials other than steel, given that maintenance and repair can be difficult in the region – and steel is easier and cheaper to work with.

‘All the insulation is fireproof, in order to comply with the Argentinian rules,’ he added.

The fishroom is insulated but does not have freezing capacity, given that Rawson’s coastal boats do not fish for more than a day and usual practice is take ice to keep catches fresh.

The primary target species is Argentinian red shrimp, with options for also fishing hake / La principal especie objetivo es el camarón rojo argentino, con opciones de pescar también merluza

‘We usually leave before 4AM and are back in port by 4 or 5PM, going as far as 12 miles from the shore. In my old boat, the crew could not sleep on board. The new one has bunks for them,’Ramón Sovak said. The three boats have a small galley area and accommodation for up to five crew.

According to Hugo Obregozo, he and his three clients have known each other for a long time. Ramón Sovak, for instance, used to work for Obregozo’s father decades ago.

‘I was looking for high quality and good prices. I knew I would get both with Vanoli Aloncar. Besides, reliability is very important in this industry,’ Ramón Sovak added.

The intention was to conclude the builds of the all three projects within six months, but the Argentinian economic crisis, further intensified by the mounting prices of commodities since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ended up delaying the process by a few weeks.

‘Luckily we were fast with the build process and the situation was kept under control. Steel sheet prices tripled in some cases over the past months, which had a serious effect,’ Hugo Obregozo said, commenting that the shipyard team took advantage of the delay to upgrade the electrical systems of the three boats. ‘We hope to conclude everything within 20 days,’ the director said.

The shipyard is currently working on a fourth project and Hugo Obregozo hopes that the raw material prices will not affect this too seriously.

‘We have to be always optimistic here. I hope the markets will stabilise,’ he said.