FV Southwestern keeps on fishing with Yanmar
Southwestern skipper Jason Scimone acknowledges with pride the near 40 years fishing experience of his dad Brian Scimone. But Jason was keen to steer the family fishing business, (and choice of new engine brand for their fishing vessel), on a different course – decisions that have proven that new generation thinking and Yanmar’s dedicated marine engines like the 6HYM-WET can keep fishing businesses moving and improving.
Professional fisherman Jason Scimone took a big chance a few years ago, but it wasn’t the kind of risk usually associated with commercial fishing.
“I had this lightbulb moment you could say,” says Jason – a second-generation fisherman and son of the well-known Brian Scimone who has fished out of Bunbury and Augusta in Western Australia for many years.
“I realised that just about everyone was scrolling through their phones – through Facebook and other sites – to get all their news and everything.
“So I decided to start showing what we do as a commercial fishing operation and talking about our profession on social media, kind of like a diary to express myself I suppose.”
Thus the Southwestern Fresh Fish Facebook page was born. But not without trepidation. “No one in our industry was doing it, and fishermen often don’t get a lot of good publicity,” Jason admitted.
If there was going to be a backlash to the Southwestern’s activities, (the dreaded “haters”), it was going to become a very public fight. Jason confesses his fears at the time in the same manner that many among pro fishers do – just exactly how it is! “It was one of the biggest risks we took and yeah, I was worried it might bring criticism our way,” Jason said.
“But the exact opposite happened – within a day we had 1,000 or so “likes” and heaps of people following the page.”
In fact Jason’s foray into putting his business on show via social media has been so successful, he has much of the catch sold and retail customers lined up at the Southwestern Fresh Fish retail shop before the boat gets back to port!
“A lot of people in our industry talk about Yanmars”
Jason Scimone gets a little sheepish when it comes to saying how good the new Yanmars have been in the 1999 Fremantle-built Southwestern. “Let’s just say we’re careful in fishing about saying how good things are going when they’re going good – as soon as you say that, things go bad,” Jason says with a laugh. In fact, Jason gets a little superstitious talking about boat engines at all. The last time he put the question to his online followers about which brand to repower the Southwestern with, things went VERY bad!
The Scimones had been thinking about a repower for their remaining vessel Southwestern for some time, but couldn’t make a decision on whether to stick with the European brand of engine that had been running in the vessel since it was built, or try something new.
“We’d been hearing a lot of people in our industry talk about Yanmars and how good they were,” Jason said.
“Dad knew about a cray vessel working down in South Australia that had clocked up something like 63,000 hours on its 900hp Yanmar without having a spanner layed on it!”
“You get a bit interested when you hear stories like that.”
But the Southwestern’s old engines had been pretty good, so the decision was not an easy one. “So I thought ‘I know, I’ll ask our online followers what they think’,” (Southwestern Fresh Fish had around 10,000 followers at the time).
“The night I posted the question to our followers on Facebook about what brand of engine to put into Southwestern, we got a phone call to tell us that the fire brigade were fighting an engine room fire in our boat at the wharf.” So the re-power job suddenly became somewhat of a priority, even though a much larger engine room repair was now in order after the wharfside mishap.
“We decided that the engines we were putting in had to be reliable and we didn’t want to be doing rebuilds every 10,000hours, so the Yanmar 6HYM’s were our choice,” Jason said.
“I have to put a shout out to Nick Marsden from Power Equipment over here too – he really was brilliant and worked with us through the whole thing with no hassle.
“Power Equipment was also able to get us engines when no one else could. It was a huge help and nothing was a problem.” As many already know in the boating industry, the Yanmar 6HYM series of commercial engines, (like most Yanmar boat engines), are a dedicated marine engine – not a re-purposed or “marinised” industrial or truck engine.
6HYM-WET “L” rated engines (478kW (650hp) @ 2,150rpm) were put into the Southwestern. A 13.7 litre, 24-valve engine, these are an incredibly efficient diesel for their size and horsepower, utilising high volume twin turbos that give premium volumes of air to the intake mix. It’s once that fuel and air mix gets into the business end of this industry-favourite engine that true Yanmar design brilliance shines.
Micro-sized multiple holes in the all-new injector design of the 6HYM produces an even finer fuel-oil mist than ever before, making for a more powerful, but cleaner burn. So whilst still a mechanically-controlled diesel, the 6HYM still meets IMO Tier II emissions standards.
“At our usual cruise speed, around 9-10 knots (that’s running the Yanmars up to around the 1,200rpm in Southwestern) we’re using around 20 litres per hour, per engine,” Jason says.
The two mighty Yanmars will give the boat a 20knot sprint if needed, but Jason prefers the ease of positioning the boat that twin screws offer – particularly with Yanmar’s crisp and direct electronic control at the throttles. “It’s pretty good, because we can put 1,000litres of diesel in and run for four or five days without having to even think about fuel.”
It’s nice not having to worry about what your engines are doing and Jason is a big fan of the larger-sump, 500hour oil-change regime of the 6HYM’s too.
“When the boat is working, we’re easily putting 350hours on the engines every three weeks, so having to change oil every 200 or 250 hours is a nuisance. The Yanmar’s 500 hour oil change regime is a much better system.” The 6HYM-WET is designed with a dedicated PTO on the front of the engine, and Southwestern’s port side Yanmar delivers all the hydraulic power needed for line and net drums onboard.
Doing things different pays off
“It’s not good weather for fishing at the moment,” a matter-of-factly explaining Jason Scimone says on the day Power Equipment is talking to him, “so most of the fishing boats are just floating around.”
When those boats are working however, there is very little “just floating around” involved and perhaps none work harder than the Southwestern. Since the 2017 refit with its new Yanmars, the Southwestern has some 7,500 trouble-free hours on those engines. A picture of Jason’s dad standing beside one of the new Yanmar 6HYM-WETs that went into Southwestern hangs on the wall of the family seafood shop.
“The old fellas love seeing those big engines because they’re pretty impressive-looking units,” says Jason.
The Yanmars are a smooth-running diesel, helping with fatigue in applications where the engines are running for many hours of a working day onboard. “I’d have to say the Yanmars definitely run smoother than the old engines, but that would also be helped by a quality fitting. That helps with good balance and vibration factors as well.” Jason says.
But even though the engines are running sweet, the sea (and commercial fishing) is no place for complacency and at the not-too-salted age of 31, Jason is well aware of the vagaries of fishing for a living.
“When I started skippering (at just 19 years of age) we used to travel many miles,” Jason said.
“I wanted to do things different, but don’t get me wrong, Dad (Brian Scimone) is a very good fisherman and taught me everything I know, I just built on that knowledge.”
Jason started fishing different areas, not necessarily further out to sea “just areas that maybe hadn’t been fished as much.”
“I studied charts a lot more, put a bit more intensity into our fishing, checking lines more often, that kind of thing.
“It was working and by 2015 we were having our best catches ever, but our returns on those catches were really only borderline,” Jason said, “like, some trips you were hard up covering your bait and diesel, and then there are crews to pay.”
Not wanting wholesale markets to dictate his family’s fishing business future, Jason decided to gain experience in the full processing and retailing of his fishing catch – and had yet another realisation hit home.
“I saw that people were really keen to buy local, fresh seafood – it’s what everyone wants!” Jason enthuses.
And so the Southwestern Fresh Fish retailing business was born and accounts for a good proportion of the catch coming ashore from the family’s fishing vessel – helped fabulously by a healthy Facebook fan following of course!
“These days you’ve got to capture an audience with a story, and show where things have come from. Everyone wants that.”
Jason says his son is showing a keen interest in the fishing game and may take the Scimone legacy into professional fishing for a third generation.
“I don’t really have any hobbies, I just fish. But fishing is a real rollercoaster ride so it’s good to be able to show people what it’s all about through Facebook,” he says.
Some 13,500 followers on Facebook later, you’ve got to give it to the Scimones for being able to make things work! Even dad Brian – originally a skeptic of the social media gambit – regularly takes photos for their Facebook page.
The Southwestern’s success is sure to continue if and when Jason’s son takes over the helm, no doubt with the Yanmars still proving their longevity, reliability and efficiency into a third generation of their Facebook story.