End­less Possibilities

Power & Motor Yacht - - 26 -

Fam­ily and friends load up a Pur­suit S368 Sport and search for bites in the Ba­hamas.


TThe use­ful­ness of de­vices like the note­book com­puter I’m us­ing to type out this ar­ti­cle, word by word, makes them in­dis­pens­able. But I’ve also no­ticed that the screen and key­board also can con­sume en­tire days with writ­ing and edit­ing, e-mail and the In­ter­net. Re­gard­less of good de­sign and flaw­less func­tion, a de­vice can fail to im­prove one’s life. Case in point: I put this screen in my line of sight for too long, and I be­gin to lose my sense of place in the world. The idea of north and south, or sun and wind, or clouds and cur­rent all slip away into vague con­cepts. Best to take a mo­ment or two and get back into all those el­e­ments. Shut down the com­puter and let those vari­ables all be fac­tors in the grand equa­tion to set me back on the proper path.

Speak­ing of a proper path, I’ve found there are some de­vices that, er, ac­cel­er­ate the process. Ex­hibit A is the Pur­suit S368 Sport, and for me, the way for­ward started with a visit to that boat in the Aba­cos in the Ba­hamas, to tag along and fish with a group of old friends. David Glenn, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of S2 Yachts, put to­gether a nifty little itin­er­ary to show­case two boats from the Pur­suit Sport line, the S368, which launched in April, and the S328 that I ini­tially saw at the Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Boat Show in Fe­bru­ary.

Glenn’s idea was this: Put to­gether two crews, in­clud­ing his wife, Nathalie, and two of his three sons, Daniel and Matthew, as well as some friends, in­clud­ing Sonny and Julee Hen­drix and their son Jack, plus fish­ing bud­dies Capt. Chase Cor­nell and Joe Beale, and photo- and videog­ra­phers Marc Mon­toc­chio and Nate Har­ring­ton. Then, take the two boats across from Ft. Pierce, Florida, to the Ba­hamas, and fish for a cou­ple of days out of Span­ish Cay.

Julee had never tan­gled with a mar­lin. What a great op­por­tu­nity to see what these boats—and our des­ig­nated an­gler—can do.

Dateline: Span­ish Cay

On the first morn­ing, the two boats shared a fin­ger pier on Span­ish Cay, and that dock was a hive of ac­tiv­ity. But as ev­ery­one hus­tled to get to the blue­wa­ter, I had to push the slo-mo but­ton for a minute and watch how the crew used the lay­out of the S368. David and Joe were in the cock­pit re­view­ing the ter­mi­nal tackle and check­ing knots and rigs. Mean­while, Marc had his lap­top out on the com­pan­ion seat, look­ing over some of the im­ages he and Nate shot the night be­fore, af­ter the cross­ing. And in the bow, Sonny was pack­ing a cooler with fresh ice and cold drinks. Ev­ery­one could get around with­out get­ting in any­one else’s way. The re­sult: re­duced stress for a crew to get off the dock on a sched­ule.

The space worked just as well un­der way, as we sprinted for the fish­ing grounds with our crew of seven and topped-up fuel on the S368, which was equipped with triple 300-horse­power Yamaha F300 out­boards. Capt. Cor­nell took the younger set on the twinengine S328. The boats ran like a pair of champs through 2- to 4-foot seas. On the S368 at around 4000 rpm we saw a cruis­ing speed of 24 knots with a fuel burn of 27 gal­lons per hour. That pace got us where we needed to be in about an hour and a half, but it was a good feel­ing to know that there was a fair amount of ad­di­tional speed if we needed it. I don’t mind say­ing that, watch­ing the S328, it looked like we had the bet­ter ride, but that stands to rea­son in our larger boat. And the S328 was no slouch.

Pur­suit seems to have hit the nail on the head with this Sport line, and the S368 is re­ally a stand­out—not too big, not too small. The boat is cen­tered on a con­sole that is siz­able enough to have some meat to it, but not so big you feel like you’re look­ing around it. It has a hard­top, not a T-top, with an in­te­grated wind­shield and sturdy aft stan­chions, all pow­der­coated. The helm area is on an el­e­vated deck one step up and the seat­ing is com­fort­able, with fold­down arm­rests that al­low for flex­i­bil­ity. I caught up with Pur­suit’s en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign team, Mike Ward, and An­drew Bartlett, to get an idea about why the boats work.

“We have an en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign team that is full of boaters,” Ward said. “We get it. We’ve had the good days on the wa­ter as well as the bad. We un­der­stand the wants and needs of our mar­ket and blend them with our per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence to re­fine each as­pect of the boat to be the best we can make it.”

That per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence must have in­cluded fish­ing on a boat with no com­fort­ble seat­ing at some point, be­cause this boat has it right where you want it. “The raised aft-fac­ing mez­za­nine seat be­came a fea­ture we wanted to pro­tect dur­ing the S368 de­vel­op­ment process,” Bartlett added. “It’s a highly func­tional fea­ture that pro­vides a su­pe­rior van­tage point while fish­ing the boat, and it pro­vides com­fort un­der­way and at rest. It has be­come the fa­vorite seat in the house.”

Talk about the right plat­form to get me back on the proper path. Un­der wispy white clouds set in a cerulean sky, I breathed deeply and looked around our group as they talked about the day, the deep color of the wa­ter, the color of the wa­ter we were look­ing for, what our tar­get depth would be, where we may find it. As we set the lines in our spread, putting out a flat-line teaser of green plas­tic squid and a com­bi­na­tion of Ilan­der lures and bal­ly­hoo on flat lines and off the out­rig­gers, Julee was all busi­ness. Once the spread hit the wa­ter we be­gan to troll, with the S328 scour­ing the area, keeping eyes peeled for patches of weed and other good signs of ac­tion, and lis­ten­ing for up­dates or ideas from the other boats on the ra­dio.

We stayed at it, oc­ca­sion­ally pick­ing up and mov­ing if Chase spot­ted work­ing birds on his radar. “Birds are the el­e­ment in the Ba­hamas,” he told me later. “Tune the radar to see birds, with red

and green targets mixed to­gether. You can see how dense they are or if they’re trav­el­ing and fly­ing high.”

As we trolled, the con­ver­sa­tion turned from fish­ing to fam­ily to foot­ball, back to fish­ing, boats, travel, and back to fish­ing. Each per­son moved among the crew, from David at the helm to the cock­pit with Joe and the raised mez­za­nine seat that al­lowed three to sit com­fort­ably in the shade of the hard­top and watch the baits. Be­cause of our trolling speed and the wide decks on ei­ther side of the con­sole, it was easy to get for­ward to the bow, where the cooler had been stashed out of the way. For­ward of the con­sole was a wide chaise sun­pad built into the front of the con­sole. There’s a large stowage area be­neath that lounge, a pleas­ant sur­prise and a bonus, since I had ini­tially thought that wide sun­pad came at the ex­pense of head­room for the cabin be­low.

We ate snacks and had cold drinks from the cooler and moved po­si­tions around. Beale re­trieved the lures and some­times re­baited, check­ing his rigs and mak­ing sure they were trolling with a cer­tain ap­peal.

The day’s trolling wound down with little to show for it. David nod­ded to Marc and to­gether they made the next plan, us­ing the af­ter­noon light to get some pho­tos of the boats in the turquoise wa­ter while the crews did some snor­kel­ing. As we nosed into the shal­lows tucked be­hind one of the keys in the area, Marc stepped up onto the bow cov­er­ing boards and looked across the white-sand bot­tom. He asked David to nose the bow right up to the edge of the sand where it met a patch of tur­tle grass to make the most of the color con­trast. We an­chored as the dive gear came out.

Our crew pulled on fins and dive masks to get in the wa­ter, as Marc ex­plained to David about some im­age he was try­ing to get. I im­me­di­ately for­got about it as I stepped through the star­board cock­pit dive door and into the cur­rent. As I got my face in the wa­ter what did I see, about 15 feet down and half buried in the sug­ary sand, but the di­lap­i­dated wreck of a huge steamship, her ribs, boil­ers, wheels, and other parts ar­rayed be­neath us for in­spec­tion. Sonny and Natalie dove on her and ex­plored, peek­ing into crevices and dark spots while Marc snapped pho­tos. You never know what you’ll find—or where you’ll find it—in the is­lands.

What a find it was, we agreed as we com­pared notes. Marc took a mo­ment to ad­mon­ish the group jok­ingly, all too true in its bit­ing hu­mor: “You all could learn some­thing from Nathalie,” he said. “She truly looks at home in the wa­ter.” Score one for the mer­maid!

Next stop, we hit the beach. Af­ter the fruit­less trolling it would be good to lounge a bit. David and I set up the for­ward sun­shade, which de­ploys eas­ily on three stain­less steel spars and adds a sat­is­fy­ing bit of shade, even as the af­ter­noon breeze kicked up a notch. It was a nice ad­di­tion, all the bet­ter be­cause of its sim­ple, solid en­gi­neer­ing. I didn’t worry it would blow out.

Af­ter an hour on the beach, the boys on the S328 were get­ting a little rest­less to do some reef fish­ing so I swam over and joined their group. Chase hunted up a promis­ing sec­tion of reef on the

bot­tom ma­chine in com­bi­na­tion with some se­crets from his black note­book while Jack took the time to show me the drill. “Drop that sinker and bal­ly­hoo chunk all the way down, crank it tight, jig like this,” Jack said. “If you get a bite, reel and don’t stop, to keep him from get­ting his head into the reef.” What­ever he told me, it sure worked and the guys put some nice grouper in the box.

The sharks were wait­ing for us back at Span­ish Cay, hang­ing out be­neath the docks, look­ing for hand­outs as Chase and Joe cleaned the day’s catch, which was headed for the grill.

Day of Reck­on­ing

The next day we headed off­shore, a bit far­ther than the day be­fore. A big swell was run­ning and Natalie took her leave and went be­low to have a lie-down. David told me she wasn’t feel­ing well. That made me feel bet­ter be­cause I don’t al­ways like a roll off­shore, es­pe­cially when trolling with the breeze.

We trolled and chat­ted and were on the ra­dio with Chase, who kept mov­ing us far­ther off­shore. Sud­denly the whole scene changed be­fore my eyes. A few seabirds were around now, and the vibe shifted into gear. Joe be­came a bit an­i­mated as we watched the baits, and while we watched, one of the rods went down. Bam! The reel sang its tune as Julee reached for her gim­bal belt and har­ness. Joe handed her the rod, and she ended up reel­ing in a 15-or-so­pound yel­lowfin tuna—per­fect eat­ing size for bill­fish.

We hooked a few more, and Julee reeled them in—ah, the life of the des­ig­nated an­gler. Things qui­eted down and we pressed even far­ther off­shore, find­ing more and more birds. The elec­tric feel of things seemed to sub­side rather than amp up, and the sun be­gan its de­scent. David got on the ra­dio. “Chase, what do you think?” “I don’t know, felt good there for a while, but I don’t know what’s go­ing on,” Chase came back. “Let’s give it five more min­utes.”

Af­ter this ex­change, Nathalie emerged from the cabin and took the star­board com­pan­ion seat. She sat up there and looked around, and then said some­thing to David I couldn’t quite hear.

“What?” David said, as though I had el­bowed him in the ribs, to prompt her to speak up. “What about the fin?” she said again, as­sertively. David’s head was on a swivel, and he looked at her and prac­ti­cally shouted, “Where?!?”

Nathalie in­di­cated a mad­den­ingly gen­eral di­rec­tion with her hand and said, “Right there.”

As only a hus­band can un­der­stand, David cut the wheel and pulled the spread right over the spot, and no sooner did the boat’s course change that the port flat line went down hard. Joe was on it and went for the set but the hook didn’t hit the mark.

Al­most im­me­di­ately the star­board rod slammed down. Joe didn’t miss that one.

Julee was still in fine form af­ter whoop­ing a few of those tuna and, af­ter the mar­lin leapt free of the wa­ter, she had the fish to the leader in short or­der. The other boat joined us to cheer on Julee and watch the ac­tion. Marc and Nate slipped into the wa­ter as the fish was brought boat­side, and they shot stills and video as the fish was re­vived and re­leased un­harmed, its tail pump­ing as it re­treated to the safety of the depths.

What an amaz­ing con­flu­ence of events: Good friends en­joy­ing a cou­ple of days of blue­wa­ter fish­ing, only to have it come to­gether within the last five min­utes. It was true, what we had talked about in the shade on the mez­za­nine seat.

“Fish don’t show up for those who don’t look for them,” Sonny had said. And it all gets back to prepa­ra­tion, from those rigs get­ting set up at the dock and checked each morn­ing, to a cooler stocked with cold drinks and snacks to keep ev­ery­one hy­drated, nour­ished, and happy, to Julee ready to step into her an­gler’s role with con­fi­dence and aplomb.

“One crimp, one knot,” Marc said, as we headed for the hill, “is all it takes for the whole rig to fail.” But when our tools, or our “de­vices,” work the way they’re de­signed, as the Pur­suit S368 Sport did, they help us find the proper path.

The S328 shows off her board­ing lad­der in the crys­tal wa­ters, but it’s the sun­shade on the bow of the S368 Sport that re­ally catches the eye.

Nathalie Glenn, right, shows Alex Kowal­ski a thing or two as they dive the wreck of a steamship dis­cov­ered on a midafter­noon snorkel break.

The au­thor joined the crew for some reef fish­ing.

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