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For Frank Thompson, lobster fishing is a family legacy that spans generations — back to the 1960s, maybe even longer. "My grandfather did it, my wife's great-grandfather did it. I mean, we've been at it for quite a while," recalls Frank. "My boys are the fifth generation." Both Frank and his wife, Heather, run their own lobster boats. Two other boats are captained by their sons, Spencer and Nathan. The boys' grandfather, Gary Stout, is also a lobster fisherman.
With decades of commercial fishing experience, the Thompson family has insight into boats and engines that are well-suited for Maine lobstering. The Thompsons agree that ample horsepower in a compact engine package is a key ingredient for speed, and three family members found that in the lineup of John Deere PowerTech™ marine engines.
In 2015, Gary repowered his 2005 Triple H (named for his daughters Heather, Hilary, and Holly) with a PowerTech 6090SFM85. The 410-kW (550-hp) engine powers the 11-meter (36-foot) boat to an impressive top speed of 30 knots. Frank and Spencer both run new lobster boats powered by the 559-kW (750-hp) 6135SFM85.
"I've been impressed with the fuel economy and load percentage that I'm getting while cruising," says Spencer. "When fully loaded with 120 traps, 12 anchors, and a couple of barrels of rope, I cruise 17 knots at 70 percent load and burn 25 gallons (94.6 liters) an hour."
In addition to propelling the vessels, the John Deere engines' auxiliary drives power hydraulic pumps for the steering and pot haulers. Frank's 13.5L also powers a winch that he uses when dragging for sea urchins. "I go out lobstering in the winter, so I have all of my drag gear on my boat and about 80 traps — so I'm really loaded at times. Even if it's 30 degrees below, there's no preheating the engine. It's awesome," says Frank.
Although the Thompsons each work independently on their own boats, Frank says there is a sense of togetherness — a shared passion — that is very satisfying. "We are very lucky that the whole family can do it and make a good living out of it," he adds. "It's really pretty neat, you know; I'm very fortunate."