Powering A Legacy: The Contender

The Contender fishing boat cruising out on the waters of the Pacific Northwest powered by a John Deere marine engine.


From the inner islands of the Puget Sound to the shoreline of the West Coast, the Baxter family has been fishing the waters of the Pacific Northwest for generations. 

As a fourth-generation fisherman, Jayme Baxter knows how critical it is to have a vessel that can take on the ever-changing conditions of the open waters, no matter the season. That's why when it came time to get a new boat, he turned to the experts at Rozema Boat Works to design and build the custom fishing vessel of his dreams. 

Dream boat
Having previously owned four other boats, Baxter knew exactly what he was looking for in his new custom fishing boat. Based in Bellingham, Washington, he fishes Dungeness crab and shrimp. His fishing operation runs year-round, with the crabbing season taking place in the fall and winter and shrimping season taking place during the late spring and summer. With such a diversified operation, Baxter needed a boat that could operate under a variety of conditions.

Knowing there was only one crew up for the job, Baxter reached out to the team at Rozema Boat Works, a three-generation family-owned boat-building company. Rozema Boat Works designs and builds custom boats for a variety of uses, including fishing, oil spill response, work boats, tugs, and more. 

"For something as versatile as what I wanted built, I was confident only Rozema could take it on," says Baxter. "There's no second-best boat builder in this area close to Rozema and the quality they offer. Everybody on that crew takes pride in their work and it comes through."

A John Deere marine propulsion engine inside of The Contender fishing boat.


A need for speed and power
Baxter came to Rozema Boat Works looking for a custom fishing boat that would provide him with the speed, power, and efficiency that's needed to fish both along the shoreline, where weather conditions can get rough, and in the inner islands of the Puget Sound, where he has a lot of distance to cover. After meeting with Baxter, the Rozema Boat Works team went to the drawing board to determine what type of engine package they would need to meet the weight, size, and power requirements for Baxter's boat.

Rozema Boat Works reached out to its long-time collaborator and engine distributor Cascade Engine Center, the John Deere marine engine distributor for Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii, for input. Rozema Boat Works and Cascade Engine Center have been working together for more than 20 years. After the two consulted, Rozema Boat Works landed on twin John Deere 6090SFM85 marine propulsion engines that are rated 550 hp (410 kW) at 2500 rpm coupled to Twin Disc 5086A marine transmissions.

"This particular engine was determined to have the best combination of horsepower, weight, size, and fuel economy for this hull design and this particular commercial application," says Tim Sandeman, vice president of operations at Cascade Engine Center.

The Rozema Boat Works team was impressed by the versatility of the twin-engine package. The 6090SFM85 marine propulsion engine offers high torque that provides excellent vessel control and maneuverability, and the low propulsion rpm helps keep vibration and noise at a comfortable level for the crew.

"We have a long history of working with Cascade and John Deere engines and were confident in the power and reliability that this twin-engine package offers to power a vessel that operates across such different fisheries and conditions," says Dirk Rozema, president of Rozema Boatworks. "Other benefits of going with a John Deere engine is not only the technical support we received from Cascade but also the availability of the John Deere service network up and down the coast."

We have a long history of working with Cascade and John Deere engines and were confident in the power and reliability that this twin-engine package offers to power a vessel that operates across such different fisheries and conditions

Dirk Rozema
President of Rozema Boatworks


A legacy passed on
After confirming the design and engine package, Rozema Boat Works got to work and in just under a year, the vessel of Baxter's dreams was ready for its maiden voyage. Baxter fished his first shrimp season with it this past spring. The vessel includes living quarters that can accommodate up to four people, plus amenities like a stove, refrigerator, freezer, and heat to make it a comfortable stay. 

"It's everything I wanted. It's a very comfortable boat for living aboard if I need to but it's also a fast boat to get me home in a single day trip, too," says Baxter. "You couldn't have a more first-class group of guys to work with. The guys at Rozema wouldn't do anything to this boat that they wouldn't do on their own. I was gone a lot of the time when they were building it, but I didn't have to worry about anything. I knew it was in good hands."

When it came time to christen his new vessel, Baxter already had a name in mind. 

"I named the new boat The Contender, which was the name of the last boat my grandpa had," says Baxter. "He is one of my biggest inspirations and I wanted to honor him and the legacy he's passed on."

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