Boat Talk

Ride in Com­fort CAPT. DAVE LEAR

Saltwater Sportsman - - Table Of Contents / Departments - By Capt. Dave Lear

Op­ti­miz­ing your boat for com­fort should be the first step in prep­ping for an ex­tended trip. Two savvy off­shore pros shared the tricks and the gear that keep their crews com­fort­able when the go­ing gets long.

Balanc­ing Act

Capt. Frank Crescitelli of New York City is a TV show host, char­ter cap­tain and tour­na­ment an­gler who runs a 28 Buddy Davis cen­ter con­sole. He loads up to 500 pounds of ice into the for­ward fish box to help keep the bow down.

Gear stor­age is an­other con­sid­er­a­tion. Crescitelli added Dubro rod racks to store heavy tackle for­ward for bet­ter weight dis­tri­bu­tion. “If you have four Penn 50s with line on gim­bal-butt rods, you’d be sur­prised how fast that weight adds up,” he ex­plains. In ad­di­tion,

Pick any coast, it doesn’t mat­ter. From Catalina to the Gulf rigs or Mid­dle Grounds, to the Ba­hamas, Cuba or the mid-at­lantic canyons, with set­tled sum­mer weather and long days, the hori­zon beck­ons.

Ride in Com­fort

he typ­i­cally loads all tackle bags and ex­tra gear in­side the con­sole but warns about a pos­si­ble com­pli­ca­tion: “If you have metal in the bags, it could throw off the elec­tronic com­pass sen­sor if it’s mounted in the con­sole or un­der the helm.”

Mar­cus Kennedy of Mo­bile, Alabama, a long­time tour­na­ment player on the South­ern King­fish As­so­ci­a­tion tour and the Gulf big-game cir­cuit, runs a 39 Yellowfin cen­ter con­sole rigged with triple Yamaha 350s and, like Crescitelli, he keeps up to 400 pounds of ice in his for­ward fish boxes to bal­ance the load. He also mounts his boat bat­ter­ies un­der the helm seat or in­side the con­sole for ad­di­tional com­pen­sa­tion.

“Some builders put the bat­ter­ies in racks in the stern or bilge, but that’s just adding un­nec­es­sary weight aft,” he says. “If you have sev­eral bat­ter­ies, at 60 to 70 pounds apiece, that’s a lot of weight that can be shifted for­ward.”

Fuel man­age­ment is an­other way to im­prove the ride. Crescitelli burns his sad­dle tanks first and holds the for­ward aux­il­iary tank in re­serve. That keeps the ex­tra weight for­ward of the boat’s cen­ter of grav­ity un­til it’s needed. One gal­lon of gas weighs 6.1 pounds, so strate­gi­cally lo­cat­ing that load def­i­nitely im­pacts the ride.

At­ti­tude Ad­just­ment

Hull de­sign and con­struc­tion also af­fect how soft a boat rides. “There’s no sub­sti­tute for rigid­ity and the op­ti­mal run­ning at­ti­tude,” Kennedy says. “There’s a trade-off in build­ing ul­tra­light. Sure, you add speed, but go too light and you lose han­dling and rough-water per­for­mance.” Kennedy adds that stepped hulls gen­er­ally run level at cruis­ing speeds, even with a cou­ple of for­mer col­lege foot­ball line­men in the cock­pit.

“Trim tabs are crit­i­cal, es­pe­cially on deep-v hulls,” Crescitelli says. “Tabs al­low you to put the bow down and just let the dog eat. So when we’re in sloppy seas, and ev­ery­one gets be­hind the weather cur­tains, you can make ad­just­ments on the go with the touch of but­ton.”

Kennedy shared a neat trick for any­one who still has trou­ble keep­ing the bow down: “You can al­ways put some sand­bags in the for­ward hatches.”

Portable Lounge

“I’ve been us­ing bean­bags for years, but the up­dated de­signs and con­struc­tion are re­ally the ticket,” Kennedy says. “The chair shapes with con­toured arm­rests re­ally make them more com­fort­able. Ocean-tamer and E-searider are qual­ity prod­ucts with marine-grade vinyl that lasts longer and doesn’t mildew eas­ily. I carry enough for ev­ery­one on the boat.”

Crescitelli prefers E-searider bags, which come in dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes. “My friends in Louisiana call them the red­neck sa­lon. They’re very com­fort­able. I’ve tried the in­flat­able ones, but you just bounce around too much in those.”

Cushy Foot­ing

There’s still an­other ac­ces­sory to keep in mind, says Crescitelli. “I’ve used an­tifa­tigue mats, and they re­ally help lessen the bumps.”

Kennedy agrees. “I keep the Blue Mar­lin Chron­i­cles anti-fa­tigue mat at the helm. It con­sid­er­ably re­duces the shock com­ing off a big wave. It’s a solid 2 inches thick and has rounded edges that suck down and stay put.

“And don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the role of a good pair of boat shoes,” he adds. “They cush­ion the ride too.”

So be­fore your next trip 60 miles off­shore, take a good look at the var­i­ous op­tions avail­able to soften the ride. Give your back and knees a well-de­served break, and you won’t need to see your chi­ro­prac­tor.

TOP COM­FORT: A bean­bag chair does dou­ble duty once on the fish­ing grounds.

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