There is 47footer (i think) in Diamond Cove Marina in Montauk, NY for sale. Aluminum is the way to go. If you want a new boat built, take around three hours for a telephone conversation with John Taylor from Ironwoodboats.com the builds boats up to 65foot and is super talented.
CONSIDER AN ALUMINUM SUPER HULL BOAT
Having started fishing in a 14’ John Dory with a 18hp Evinrude in 1971, to a 22’ Boston Whaler Revenge, a 22’Glacier Bay Cat, to a 24’ Albemarle, as well as running a 28’ Albemarle and many other friend’s 30 to 50-foot Sportfisherman boats, I saw the things I liked, and all the things I didn’t like about each boat’s setup and what things I would change to have to make them better fishing machines. While fishing offshore, I heard the many stories of boats hitting unseen logs, telephone poles and shipping containers, ripping out their running gear, fracturing their hull and even sinking a hundred miles offshore. With the slim pickings of today’s canyon fishing returns, having ample range and not running out of fuel, or having enough ice and space to keep your catch for a couple of days in the canyon. All of these things pointed me more and more towards an aluminum hull. Now, I heard all the hype about why East Coast boaters don’t like aluminum, most of which is just their lack of knowledge of how great aluminum really is. After all, on the West Coast the largest percentage of commercial fishing and recreational fishing boats are built from aluminum and have been for many, many years. What’s the difference in the water from the East to the West coast? Is it the salinity? Is it the size of the waves, the temperature…No! Its just the builders on the West coast have understood just how durable and long lasting aluminum is. It’s not uncommon for an owner of an aluminum boat to have 10 to 20 thousands (yes, I said thousands) of hours in their aluminum boats with little or no problems. No gel coat fading or cracking, no wood stringers encapsulated to replace, no paint to scratch unless you chose to paint your aluminum boat. The fact is, a good aluminum boat builder can really give you all the things that make a good canyon runner a great one. Strength, speed, extreme range, stability, comfort and fish ability, all with very, very low maintenance, everything an offshore fisherman could want from a boat.
In the early part of the Seventies, I spent my last three years of high school in BOCES boat building coarse and really loved working, and rebuilding all kinds of boats. For me, now after so many years and owning so many different boats, I was about to begin the process to design and development my own offshore aluminum sports fishing battlewagon. I knew exactly what I wanted and needed. First, she had to be made of high-grade marine grade aluminum, not fiberglass. With the typical ¼” thick aluminum hull it is very resistant to fracturing or puncturing. I also wanted buoyancy or watertight bulk heads for additional safety, something very few fiberglass boats over 25-feet can give you. I wanted the hull to be between 28 and 32 feet long, have a 9 to 12 foot beam, a variable dead rise, very large fuel capacity, and a tower that could be lowered for trailering. I wanted a forward leaning windshields in a hard top cabin that I could have a second station on the roof to troll from. I didn’t want twin engines for two reasons; first, was with twin engines the fuel capacity had to be reduced due to engine space. Secondly, the cost, I was trying to build the boat of my dreams (just the hull and engine running) for $125,000.00. I figured with my carpentry, electrical and electronics skills; I could build out, fit, wire and finish the rest of the boat myself, saving me tens of thousands of dollars. Trying to find a builder who would build me just the hull and a running engine was more of a challenge than I thought. For the builder, this meant letting go their profits they would normally make finishing the entire boat. Since I still was pushing my annual budget to dock, maintain, run, and store the bigger boat, I didn’t want the boat of my dreams to eat me out of house and home, so the single engine worked well for me.
I spent the four years websurfing to find every aluminum boat builder around the world. The more sites I visited and the more builders I talked to about my design and desires, the more I really learned about the versatility of aluminum. As I got financially close to being able to actually build the boat, I wanted to have a way to show each builder what exactly I wanted. So, I bought and learned how to use AutoCAD, which is a computerized drafting system. This allowed me to email my drawing to the different builders to get solid prices. After drawing my boats design, I found resistance from different builders, because what I found was 95% of the builders use preset jigs that do not allow for the change in the actual hull deadrise angles from stem to stern. I wanted a sharp entry but a lesser deadrise at the transom so the boat would be a rock-in-roller like my Albemarle. Out of thirty plus builders, I narrowed the playing field down to three, then just two builders. At this point, I started negotiation my cost to build my dream boat. My nightly ritual was spending hours surfing the web, them low and behold, I was in final negotiations with the two builders when I hit this website called www.ironwoodboats.com
. On the front webpage was this beautiful 28ft new style Boston Whaler looking wide bow flared center console aluminum boat. WOW! What beautiful lines, lines like I had never seen before of any aluminum boat. I went on to read every detail and photo of their past builds on this website, I was impressed.
Well, I sent the guy an email and a day or two later received a phone call from the builder, John Taylor. I told him that I could believe how different his boats looked to all the other aluminum builders I had been looking at. I asked him to tell me about his company and boats. I was blown away, this guy went on for nearly an hour and a half. WOW! WOW! WOW! First, he knew virtually everything about every builder I had researched. He explained why they didn’t build variable draft hulls like I wanted. See, a variable deadrise give a boat the ability to increase lift and decrease its drag thus, go faster. The only other way to do it is with steps in the bottom, like the ones in the GO FAST boats like Fountain and Donzi. The steps break up the planning hull’s surface and adds air bubbles which eliminates the water’s drag to the hull. I also wanted a very high bow, one that was typically a foot higher than any boat builder could build without lots of extra expense. John said that he not only could give me the extra high bow but also would deliver a bow flare which none of the other builders could or would do. When I re-examined the website pictures, he was right, his bows have an extreme flare to them. In fact, on many a trip in rough seas, you could take the same picture as the one used to make the Buddy Davis ad photo, the bow just parts the seas and sends it off to the sides. Getting back to John, he also uses a super powerful computerized marine design software system that takes AutoCAD drawings and creates a colorful set of three dimensional pictures of your hull and boats complete exterior design. When I received the multi-color PDFs of the design, I was blown away. I made very few changes from the original design, he was quite the designer. Every detail was worked out to the 10th of an inch, he had given me a curved and reverse back cut transom, tunnelholm curved sides and a super high and wide bow flare like the fancy Buddy Davis Carolina Sportsfisherman have. In November of 2004, I signed the final contract and sent off my $40K deposit check. In December my boat was put into the building stage, and I was in heaven! I was chomping at the bit each week waiting for John to email me my next set of construction pictures. The more pictures I got the more impressed I was and the more pictures I wanted.
The entire boat is cut using a computer CRC router system taken from his AutoCAD drawings and is within .001 of an inch in accuracy. John starts his hulls with a full stem to stern ½” x 6” keel, then adds ten full frames of which three become watertight bulk heads, he includes eight stem to stern 2-1/2” x 1-1/2” Tee bar longitudinal stringers each with braces welded in on each side of the frame, everything is fully welded in. Now, here again, John goes above and beyond what all the other builders do, he makes all of his hulls over 25-feet in length with the heaviest material, 5/16” bottom plates making the hull almost bulletproof. Almost all of the other builders depended on their hull’s strength to come from just a couple of panel frames and poured in closed cell Styrofoam to give their hull strength and flotation. He called it the Boston Whaler effect, but one of the down sides with poured in closed cell foam, is over time the foam soaks up water increasing the boats weight, slowing it and costing higher fuel usage. Secondly, the salt water trapped in the chambers with the foam and the aluminum can cause electrolysis and major hull damage. Very few, if any, fiberglass boats have them, and they give me an outstanding chance of staying afloat should something penetrate one portion of the hull. John doesn’t use any pre-molded extruded metal joints for joining the bottom plates to the side plates as some builders do to speed the fabrication time up. These poured extrusions are made of softer metal and are not as strong and corrosive resistant as welding the two plates together with two outside welding beads and two inside beads at these seams. Every frame is welded 100% on both sides to the bottom and side plates. At the keel to bottom joint, there are six weld passes made, three inside beads and three outside beads. All of these frames, stringers, bulkheads, side and bottom plates are fully welded making a ridged, monolithic hull unlike anything I have seen. John also used a special 1/4” rubber and aluminum clad sound deading sheet material that is cut and glued to the entire inside of the hull below the waterline. This makes the hull very quite, in fact it is so quite with the cabin door closed that it’s like being in a fine automobile. You can just talk at a normal tone, no yelling, no loud engine roar. Oh ya, the entire engine compartment has 1” sound deading and since it is in the rear and there are two water tight bulkheads in between the engine and the cabin its just plane quite. In addition to the multiple watertight compartments, John installed one 1500-gallon bilge pump low in the engine compartment and a secondary 2500-gallon pump 3” higher, both with automatic switches. Then he took the removal of water from the front three watertight compartments a step further by installing a 2” rubber hose into the bottom of each compartment that attaches to a massive manual hand pump. Safety and strength, how can you go wrong?
Being a single engine vessel, I wanted a bow thruster to make docking easier. Here again, I asked for it with an itemized price, when I saw $5,500.00, I thought, heck I can cut the holes and have a 8” tube welded in and save myself at least $3,000.00. Well, John explained that he didn’t just cut a hole and weld a pipe tube in for the thruster. He builds a raised ridge towards the bow and is countersunk towards the back of the tube. This forces the water away from the tube instead of into the tube when you are running, eliminating constant pressure on the blades. So, I still felt there was a savings by me shopping around and buying the thruster directly. I got a price for just the thruster tube to be installed by John. Ah! $1,800.00, I found the composite Maxum 7” thruster with controls for $1,900.00 on the web, and it took me 8-hours of labor to install and wire, a nice savings. From the pictures below you can also see the extreme bow flare as well as how heavy duty the underside is built.
With the upper superstructure, I wanted a full cabin, watertight door, sliding side windows, and forward leaning windshields. I like staying with all my things completely dry in a fully enclosed cabin during rough or rainy conditions. The West Coast boats almost all have the forward leaning windshield, some with more angle than others. I wanted an extreme lean to the windshield, this lets the rain and spray instantly run down the windshield while a backward or typical automotive angled windshield leaves the water sitting on the windshield where it , then windshield wipers are an absolute necessity. John also went a step above here too, instead of the customary ¼” safety glass he used 3/8 light blue tinted marine safety glass. This combination of angle and thickness makes the windshields very strong against a large wave busting over the bow. With just a coat of RainX on my glass I haven’t used my wipers yet, no matter how heavy the rain has been. The tower on the roof was designed where it has a full bench seat and I will be eventually installing a small steering/navigation console allowing me to navigate the boat from up their. But, as I said in the beginning, I had a limited budget. So this will come in a year or so. I wanted the tower to be able to fold forward or backwards to allow easy trucking if I wanted to trailer the boat down south for the winter. My 7-foot tower sits on top of my cabin superstructure. In the pictures below you can see the two Lee Jr. outrigger brackets with 22-foot poles and double spreaders on them. Then off the back center of the tower seat, there are two more 15-foot corner riggers and one 15-foot center rigger, giving me a total of the five outriggers. I troll 11-rods without my downriggers and 13-rods with my down riggers and outriggers. Their layout allows me to make multiple short, sharp turns and throttling up and down when the first line gets bit without tangling. Doing so, usually gives me multiple fish hookups, as my lures dance all over the sea.
For the electronics in this boat I spared nothing, I put in the Simrad CX54e 15” flat screen multi-function unit with the super accurate S-GPS, 1000-watt 38-200kHz echo sounder and I had the giant 24” long Simrad transducer flush mounted amidships which was boxed in with ½” plate into the hull. Being flush to the bottom, the unit gives me a clear picture of the bottom in 600 feet of water at full speed. For the radar antenna I went with the 36” open array antenna mounted on the tower at nearly 15-feet off the water this aids in being able to pickup flying birds on fish and lobsterpots without high flyers, I also added the high speed power converter that allows the radar to update twice as fast with as the normal rotation speed. The unit’s chart plotter can also be over laid onto the radar, but I usually run at night and in fog with the dual screen radar on. I’ll set my left window in the 1.5-nm and the right window in the ¼-nm range for running around Montauk Point and when running to the canyon at night I use the 3-nm and ¼-nm ranges. Also, on the tower sits, two VHF radio antennas, Northstar 800X Loran and 951GPS antennas, and the Sitex Radio Directional Finder antennas with two halogen spreader lights and navigation white light all site high up where they increase their effective ranges. On the cabin top is where my second steering station will go eventually, but for right now there are just my AM/FM radio, Simrad GPS and Northstar GPS antennas. I also just added the Garmin 376C XM Weather/GPS unit to give me up to the minute “Where I am at” weather forecast including lightning, wind, wave heights and speed, and weather radar information. To run my two Cannon Mag20 Downriggers, I have a Bottomline 5300-echo sounder and GPS unit. In the transom, I installed two stainless steel underwater halogen green tinted fishing lights to attract squid and baitfish while in the canyon at night. I installed a 2500-watt inverter/triple battery charger with a giant 8-D deep cycle battery for both A/C power on the boat, and the third battery system for redundancy. All of my electronics sit isolated on the three separate battery systems and double or triple fused to provide me with the greatest redundancy and lightning protection. Speaking of lightning, an aluminum boat with a full aluminum cabin provides probably the greatest shielding against a lightning strike. As the full metal hull sits in the water it is completely grounded. The Blushing Rose an aluminum boat out of Shinnecock, has taken a near direct lightning strike, Brice didn’t loose any electronics while other nearby boats lost everything, and some had server damage.
As you will see in the picture below, as part of my cost savings, the interior was completely built and finished by myself in stained and varnished red oak plywood. I own a large security integration firm and doing all the low voltage electrical and electronics was right up my alley, its done super neat. Every wire is neatly loomed, labeled and listed on a cable directory for the entire boat. The port side of the cabin has a front and back bench seat with a table top that makes it into a bed. The center floor boards are hinged and store my 30-plus spreader bars and other tackle, while all of my emergency gear is under the rear seat and storage for clothes and stuff is under the forward seat. Forward of that is the head. To the starboard side under the helm controls is a nice closet for my microwave and food storage as well as access to the electrical panels. The helm electronics are nicely and very functionally laid out. The captain’s seat sits on top of a storage compartment for my gimbal belts and gear, while just behind me is the nine drawer tackle station. I made louvers in each of the top six drawers to keep all the trolling lures from becoming a mess. They have worked out quite nicely. The bottom next two drawers keep the terminal tackle while the large bottom drawer keeps my manuals, spray lubricants, spare 2lb. Spools of line and other things neat. You also can see I have ample interior rod storage for over 40-rods, two flying gaffs, a tag stick, squid telescopic net, and line pusher.
John’s ingenuity was great, he designed huge air intakes into the sides of the cabin, then ran then down the sides under the gunnels to the engine compartment adding strength to the sides. He added full length shelves in the cockpit under the gunnels. On each of the cabin walls I added curly wash down hoses which lay neatly out of the way on the shelves. I had toe rails welded in under the shelves along the gunnels. These toe rails allows anyone standing at the gunnels either bottom fishing or fighting a big fish in really rough seas to tuck your boots under them, keep their balance or keep a big fish from pulling them overboard. They work great! I didn’t want a shower in my head, so I installed an outside freshwater shower, something covenant to take a quick wash with, leaving the head, dry and moisture free inside the boat. In the top left picture below, you can see the curved transom, tunnelholm sides, add to extra air exhaust vents, and the four large scupper openings which have 6” balls in them to stop water from coming in when your backing down hard on a fish, there are vertical gaff holders on each side of cabin walls, you can see the starboard side gaff in the picture, the automatic Ebirb, 70-quart Icey-Tek box for food and sitting on while trolling, a wall mounted fish box light, 7-tower mounted rocket launchers rod holders and center and corner riggers. The right photo shows the new PVC PlasTek tounge and grove 40-year guaranteed non-skid material that looks like real teak, another maintenance free feature. You also can see the toe railing, 2’x3’ under deck hatch to a full 6’x3’x3’ storage compartment, the full gunnel shelf, the air intake chamber that brings lots of fresh air to the big diesel. The 1500lb. Exacta box has two gas operated openers and stainless steel hinges to hold the lid open making loading of fish easy, I also added 18-PVC rod holders around the sides of the box to allow clearing of all the rods when we hookup. I added a 9-knife holder and 3-marker bouy holder to the front side of the box with a bottle opener. There is agressive non-skid material on the gunnels with 13-rod holders flush welded in. The last photo shows just how flared the bow is with the sharp entry.
For range, speed and dependability, I wanted at lease 300+ gallons of diesel fuel with a single large Volvo diesel inboard/outboard. Now your probably saying why a single engine and not dual and you also saying why an outdrive and not an inboard. Here was my reasoning… I looked and talked too many of the large offshore longliners, draggers and lobster boats running hundreds of miles offshore making their living. Most of these commercial boats have a large single inboard diesel. With diesels, the issues are few and with some basic training most problems can be handled at sea. I figured that with an outdrive instead of a propeller, shaft and rudder to be taken off if a log or shipping container were hit, the running gear could pop up and would have the greatest chance of keeping the boat moving. This thinking led me to a choice between a Yanmar 315hp diesel engine mated to a Mercrusier Bravo II single prop outdrive or the new super duty Volvo duoprop outdrive mated to their 310hp diesel engine. Having run two Albemarle’s with Volvo diesels and outdrives; there was only one choice for me, Volvo! Yes, the service parts are higher in cost, but my past good experiences and their excellent warranty plan; I went for the more expensive Volvo setup. With the first year now gone and nearly 300 hours on her, I am glad I did.
So with the excellent technology the new diesels have, I felt comfortable building her with a single 310-hp Volvo Diesel engine, although I would have liked to have the 350hp engine. The engine size really wasn’t a mistake, as much as a timing issue. See, when I ordered the boat only the 310hp engine was the only available engine, but just after the engine got delivered, the 350hp version came out. I do wish I had the extra horse power, now you probably would say why, because right now, she runs a solid 25-knots. That’s with a full load going on a canyon trip, 1500-pounds of ice, bait, chum, 310-gallons of fuel, 40-rods, lots of gear, food, water, a crew of five and burn 15-gallons per hour. But, I really think I can get 29-30knots at cruise with the 350hp package. At this point, when she is ready for a re-power they will probably have a 400hp+ package available. I opted for a small raised engine box, since I wanted high gunnel heights, 31” at the transom. It is only 8” high and not a problem to navigate with a fish on due to the non-skid PlasTEAK decking. The engine hatch has gas charged openers and reveals a huge compartment where the engine, five batteries, inverter, wash down pumps & shut off valves, fuel filters, water separators and other important components are easily accessible.
The propulsion was the next choice I had to make. After seeing many boats with their inboard drive shafts and props wrapped in lobster pot high-flyer lines I didn’t want to be under the boat in the water cutting off ropes or smacking a log and bending a shaft and a set of props. I looked at jet drives like they use in the northwest river boats, because they can run right over a lobster pot rope and not suck it up. But after further research, they create a foamy un-fishy trolling pattern. This led me to the newly developed giant heavy duty Volvo duo-prop outdrive. Volvo’s Swedish development of these massive diesel capable outdrive has the torpedo twin counter rotating propellers. If I am traveling at night and hit a floating object, the hull can handle the impact and the outdrive will flip up out of the way with little or no damage. I also felt that when I wrap a rope on the props being able to raise the drive up would make having to get into the water less of a chance.
Little did I know that all of these battleship hardening designs would come into play on our maiden voyage to East Atlantis canyon last June. We had left Montauk at 11:00PM and headed to East Atlantis to the warm core eddy that had broken off the Gulf Stream. I am very comfortable running at night and in the fog while being in the HOOD! Typically, this is what my father, a World War II bomber training pilot and TWA 747 Captain called it when he put the trainees into Instrument Training. They use to really put hoods over the cockpits and fly the planes by instruments only. I have thousands of hours running my boats at night and in the fog strictly by instruments. You have to have good instruments and you have to trust your instruments not your feelings. So, we traveled 120-nautical miles at 25-knots “Under the hood” but it really wasn’t under the hood because we had a beautiful moon to follow. At 3:30AM I throttled back to trolling speed, put out eleven rods out in the darkness and waited for first light to break and the first tuna of the season to bite. We trolled East Atlantis’s canyon west wall, then the east wall, and then down the 100-fathom line towards Vetches Canyon, where we spend a few hours working in and out. Finally we worked our way back towards and past East Atlantis till we were a few miles from West Atlantis. The weather started to turn so we headed to the barn. We only found one lonely but delicious Mahi Mahi around 18-pounds. I ran the boat for a couple of hours at 24-knots down to 22-knots as the seas were building, then down to 20 knots when I gave the helm to my brother so I could take a nap.
All of a sudden, his complacency was rudely interrupted as well as my nap. BOOM! A sudden jar, what was that I yelled from my forward bunk? No answer, what was that? Then the answer. A telephone pole! What? A Telephone Pole! How Big? I don’t know 15-feet or so! What? Dammit! Matt, you got to keep your eyes open! I am sorry! I came over the wave and it was sitting in the trough, by the time I saw it, I hit it. I throttled back to neutral and examined the outdrive, I slowly gave her throttle and there wasn’t any vibration, so I got her back to an 18-knot cruise in the five to six foot seas. This December when I pulled her out for the winter, I found the paint that had gotten scratched off when we hit the pole. No dent, nothing but scratched off bottom paint. So, not really wanting to test my design, we did, and she came through in flying colors.
That trip, in total, we ran 125-NM at 25-knots, trolled nearly 14-hours, then ran back 100NM, and we burned 160-gallons. I thought that wasn’t bad. Speed, range, economical, strong and safe, just what I wanted. Later during the season, I did manage to wrap two lobster pots and my own anchor rode using my anchor ball system in rough water. All three times I hung over the transom, raised the outdrive up, stood on it and removed the rope. Twice I did have to loosen the outer prop to get the rope out, but I was successful. I came up with a safety harness to keep all my sockets and wrenches from meeting the depths of Davey Jones’s Locker if I slipped and dropped one in the drink.
I also have to tell you how I came up with the name for the boat. Being divorced and no longer getting to take the write-off from my house, my accountant wanted me to buy a new house or get something I could take a write-off on. So I talked it over with my Fiancé and explained it would really be pushing things to buy a house right now, but if I took a home equity loan, I could give us a bigger boat and bring home more Sashimi. She loves to fish and loves to eat them even more, so she gave me the blessing to build the boat. Now that’s when you know you have the right woman! So I named the boat after her Chinese nickname. I named the boat “XIAO MU JI” (she-ou-mu-gee) which means little chicken since she is born in the year of the chicken. So, its time to catch some tuna, marlins, wahoo, dolphins, and striped bass. If you see me out their feel free to check out my trolling spread and the way she runs. I also can help you if your interested in getting a boat built, you can email me at [email protected]
. Tightlines, and lets have a great season. Capt. Mty