Bruce Pfund is the technical editor of an excellent publication known as Professional Boatbuilder, http://www.proboat.com/
. He is also an avid sportfisher. He has written many excellent articles on a whole range of boatbuilding subjects both power and sail. Reference some of his work here at this link http://www.bpspecialprojects.com/
This past June/July ’06, Issue # 101 he wrote an article titled “Shootout”. I’ll just quote the pre-amble text he opened the article with: At two recent sportfishing tournaments, the author trolled for details—small but significant finishing touches on (mostly) big custom boats. They represent the sort of technical refinements that may eventually appear on production-built models, even those of modest size.
"Walking the Harbour Island, Bahamas, docks where the sportfishing yachts in the Custom Boat Shootout had tied up was a fascinating experience. Bring together a few dozen of the Eastern United States’ premier custom boats, their owners, captains, and skilled crews, and there are bound to be refinements of traditional setups, along with innovative new equipment you won’t see at a typical boat show—just yet.
For the past two years I’ve made the trip from the U.S. mainland to the Bahamas to fish, and to take in what I can of the very exclusive fleet assembled there for the annual tournament. Last year 28 boats from 15 builders were on hand.
Pleading professional obligations, I dodged washdown and cleanup duties on Unexpected, the 61’ (18.6m) Sonny Briggs I fished with, to wander the docks looking for interesting details specific to these highly evolved craft; some items might eventually appear on other types of boats. Several participating vessels were predictably opulent—although still successful in raising fish— while others were decidedly spartan. Without exception the fleet was specialized for offshore fishing. I tried to stay focused on details that might be relevant to other builders and designers: naturally, I found a couple of boats I just really liked. Here's a selection of what I saw.”
Obviously this text is enough to make any avid offshore fishing guy want to find and read this article. And while you’re at it you might also look up another article of his from Aug/Sept ‘02, Issue #78, “Sportfishing Boat Layouts”.
So now that I’ve turned you on to two really good articles, I’m going to digress a bit.
In the article “Shootout” Bruce reinforces the general need to innovate, and innovation in tower design in particular, by referring back to a pod tower concept designed by the Fla fisherman and builder Jim Smith back early in his career 1959.
Here is that ‘pod tower’ concept as included in the ProBoat article: An Innovative Tower
The accompanying photo of Boca Jima—a 35’ sportfisherman designed and built by the late Stuart, Florida, builder and fisherman Jim Smith early in his career—ran in the May/June 1987 issue of WoodenBoat magazine. The boat itself was built in 1959, cold-molded of double-diagonal cedar and epoxy, and capable of 44 knots, a speed still impressive today. But it was the innovative aerodynamic styling and functionality of the pod tower concept that remains especially appealing to me. Strangely, Smith’s good idea, which also replaced the conventional port and starboard tower access ladders with an elevator, was not embraced and copied. This tower—a radical departure from existing boats, then and now, might have been a bit too extreme for the sportfishing fraternity.
According to John Vance, president of Jim Smith Boats, there’s more to the Boca Jima story. “Jim was a real innovator,” he said, “and sometimes looked to Detroit for styling trends. Boca Jima has a hit of a ‘57 Chevy look to it, doesn’t it?”
“Look closely at the picture. Note that the contours of the tower’s hardtop match the contours of the top of its pod. There’s a crank mechanism that retracts the top so that it sits flush on top of the pod, which reduces drag and protects the pod from the weather. Jim chartered the boat for quite a while. He had a wooden leg from a motorcycle accident; the elevator was a big help to him. But he told me he’d leave the car in the up position so his charterers wouldn’t pester him.”
“Jim was an early adopter of many things.” Vance continued, “including adhesive bonding. Boca Jim’s tower was braced by four aluminum sailboat masts, with flanges welded at their bases. Jim bonded the flanges to the deck and cabintop with whatever the equivalent of (3M) 52OO was in those days, using just a few screws to hold each flange in place. Everyone thought he was nuts. When the boat sold, the new owners tried to remove the tower so that it could be bolted down more conventionally. They tore off plywood trying.”
Kind of radical, huh? (to be cont…)