Bertram 31 Fly­bridge Cruiser

Soundings - - Used Boat -

Life doesn’t stay the same. Boats don’t, ei­ther. Dug Stowe has had his Bertram 31 for al­most 20 years, and it has made the tran­si­tion from a “fish­ing with the guys” boat to a fam­ily cruiser that’s a per­fect fit for his com­pan­ion, Kerri, and their 2-yearold daugh­ter.

Stowe, who is 48 and lives is Shrews­bury, Mas­sachusetts, bought the iconic deep- vee boat 18 years ago as a fish­ing plat­form to re­place his cen­ter con­sole. “I didn’t have a spe­cific goal in mind when I bought it; I just wanted a stock Bertram 31 that ran well and was com­fort­able,” he says. After spend­ing the night in the mid­dle of Fisher’s Is­land Sound at an­chor in the fog, on a boat without shel­ter or elec­tron­ics, “I wanted to have some­thing more than a cen­ter con­sole.”

As he puts it, he de­cided to take charge of his boat­ing des­tiny. “I wanted to do more than just catch blue­fish and stripers,” he says. “So I de­cided to buy a plat­form that I could do ba­si­cally what­ever I wanted with.”

Just out of busi­ness school, Stowe in 1999 paid around $22,000 for his 1969 Bertram 31 Fly­bridge Cruiser. “There were a cou­ple of Ber­trams in our har­bor [ in Mys­tic, Con­necti­cut], and they struck me as a very good­look­ing boat,” he says. “Of course, I knew their rep­u­ta­tion.”

But buy­ing the boat was just the be­gin­ning. “It was in bad shape,” Stowe says. “It had twin 440 Chrysler en­gines, which should strike fear into any knowl­edge­able boater. We drove it from Swansea [Mas­sachusetts, where Dug Stowe with (from left) Olivia and Kerri it was pur­chased] to my home port in Mys­tic, and to this day I don’t know how we got it there.” In sub­se­quent in­spec­tions, Stowe says, he found many “scary things,” in­clud­ing rot­ten ply­wood and worn-out en­gine parts.

The Bertram was gut­ted “from the fire­wall back,” re­pow­ered, rewired, re­painted and fit­ted out with up-to-date elec­tron­ics to make it the re­li­able, com­fort­able boat he wanted.

Then Stowe started to go to Bertram ren­dezvous. “I no­ticed that the Bertram 31 seemed to have two things. It has a cult­like fol­low­ing, and it’s a boat that peo­ple re­ally like to mod­ify. I started see­ing what peo­ple had done with their 31s — I was in­trigued. I saw the pos­si­bil­ity to cre­ate some­thing un­usual.”

Stowe de­cided to make his Bertram ready for “an­other 25 to 50 years of use,” fix­ing the leak­ing side win­dows, chang­ing to a solid wind­shield, stiff­en­ing the fly­bridge, solv­ing the en­gine prob­lems he’d been plagued with. “I needed a real plan,” he says. “I had a boat that was de­serv­ing of the in­vest­ment. I said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s save up the money to do it right.’ ”

The first phase in­volved gut­ting most of the in­te­rior, then rewiring and plumb­ing, in­stalling teak soles and deck­ing, up­dat­ing

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