New 7m netter for Looe from Kilkeel boat yard.

Looe skipper Robert Chapman recently took delivery of a new 7m GRP netter built in Kilkeel, Co Down by G Smyth Boats, reports Martin Johns.

Above: Bellerophon leaving Kilkeel harbour for engine trials.

ast year, skipper Robert Chapman had decided to scale back his netting operations somewhat from his 9m-long wooden netter Mordros FY 523, with which he had worked up to 25 miles offshore.

Initially unsure of what size or style of new boat to have built, once Robert Chapman had made two visits to Kilkeel and seen the superb quality and finish of the Gary Mitchell-designed GM 7M built by Gerry Smyth and his team, he had no hesitation in placing an order for his new boat.

Designed primarily as a netter, with the option for some hand-lining, the boat is named Bellerophon II after the old warship upon which Napoleon surrendered after the end of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Bellerophon II is based on a modern full-displacement GRP hull, with an overall length of 6.95m, a beam of 2.85m, a generous draught of 1.2m and an estimated weight of three tonnes.

It has a centre-line forward wheelhouse tucked into a whaleback, which is fitted over a heavily flared French-styled bow with a deep forefoot.

The boat’s GRP forward wheelhouse is trimmed in oak and features a hand-crafted wooden wheelhouse door and a bespoke teak steering wheel. Her electronics are mounted both on the forward console and in an eye-level console above the forward windows. They were supplied by Barry Electronics of Killybegs in Co Donegal and comprise a Furuno 1715 daylight viewing radar, Furuno FCV-628 dual-frequency colour sounder, Furuno GP-1870 chart plotter, Simrad AP 24 auto-pilot and an Icom M323G DSC VHF radio with integral GPS. The forepeak area under the whaleback is shelved for storage use.

Below decks, Bellerophon II is divided from aft into three compartments; steering and fuel tanks, fish room and engine room, each being divided with a bulkhead with watertight doors.

The netter’s engine room is located below the wheelhouse where a Beta 45kW main engine is fitted with a C-type control panel installed in the wheelhouse. The engine is coupled to a PRM 280 gearbox with a 2.94:1 reduction, which in turn drives a 1.75in stainless steel propeller shaft inside a fibreglass stern tube and a 24in x 16in propeller. A clutched hydraulic pump is driven from an integral power take-off on the aft end of the PRM gearbox, making for a very neat installation without the use of any belts.

All the boat’s stern gear was supplied by Clements Engineering of Bedford, along with her galvanised rudder and skeg assembly. The engine room can be accessed through a hatch in the port side of the wheelhouse floor or through the watertight door from the fish-room.

The fish-room itself, which Robert Chapman estimates to have a capacity of around 10 boxes, has a flow-coat finish throughout and a GRP floor, with access to the shaft and stern gland through a removable GRP board. Moving further aft, another watertight door in the bulkhead gives access to a stern compartment housing GRP fuel tanks on either side, each with a capacity of 159 litres. Fuel is piped forward to the engine through a Parker filter. The hydraulic steering ram, part of a steering system supplied by Helmsman Systems of East Sussex, is mounted on a steering flat between the two tanks while the boat’s wet exhaust system runs through the stern compartment to the transom via a Centek Vernalift muffler.

Aft of the wheelhouse, the main deck – constructed of marine plywood and fibre-glassed on both sides – is completely flush with no obstructions and has three scuppers aside.

Bellerophon II’s sealed flush deck is a feature of the boat that skipper Robert Chapman feels will be of great benefit compared to his previous boat, which had open deck-boards through which weed from the nets would often fall, sometimes necessitating daily cleaning of the bilges.


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