BLACK­FIN 272

Ven­er­a­ble Brand De­buts All-New De­sign

Sport Fishing - - SF BOATS - BY RANDY VANCE

Skip­per Brandon Sim­mons had a prime float plan set for our early-May Fish Trial of the Black­fin 272. We would mo­tor the cen­ter con­sole 30 miles east of our Duck Key home base into the open At­lantic wa­ters and troll the famed Is­lam­orada Hump.

The hump, a seamount ris­ing from depths of 700 feet to within a few hun­dred feet of the sur­face, fre­quently fea­tures an up­welling. Re­cent re­ports sug­gested the zone was swarm­ing with black­fin tuna. But when the weather-ser­vice fore­casts pre­dicted 7-foot seas, we re­luc­tantly chose plan B: chas­ing tar­pon near the bridges.

STEADY AS A ROCK

Turns out we were wise. Seas built to more than 12 feet that af­ter­noon, and we still bat­tled sloppy waves pound­ing in from all di­rec­tions — a mad­house of con­fused chop.

We also had a big crew of nine, in­clud­ing pho­tog­ra­phers and mod­els, plus their gear. As the boat bobbed near the pilings of the old Over­seas High­way Bridge, an­gler Pierce Burns strad­dled the bow, cast­ing to snap­per at the struc­ture. He see­sawed at least 6 feet as tightly packed rollers squished through the stone arch­ways, toss­ing the 27-footer in their fre­netic path.

Once an­chored, Sim­mons bal­anced at the tran­som, prep­ping three rods tucked in a tri­pod in one of the three shot­gun rod hold­ers. He was deftly spinning Bi­mini twists and ty­ing in 50-pound leader tipped with 5/0 cir­cle hooks. I tied a spi­der hitch in one. He cast a sus­pi­cious eye at it and tugged just as doubt­fully at my leader con­nec­tion and improved clinch knot to the cir­cle hook. I’m no­body’s fool at fish­ing, but as he said, “I don’t know you.”

NIM­BLE AND QUICK

We didn’t know the Black­fin 272 ei­ther. This pro­to­type is one of three in the works for the re­cently re­struc­tured com­pany; the other mod­els in­clude a 21-footer we tested and an even larger 30-footer soon to en­ter the lineup. All rep­re­sent the con­tin­u­a­tion of a sto­ried brand of rugged, highly fish­able and re­spected sport-fish­ers.

This is an out­board-pow­ered ves­sel, though; Black­fin’s orig­i­nal rep­u­ta­tion fo­cused more on the larger in­board bat­tlewag­ons. Still, in my tests at wideopen throt­tle in this chop (the twin 300 hp Mer­cury Ver­a­dos pushed us to more than 61 mph), we could tell this 272 was ev­ery bit as tough as its leg­end de­manded.

A full com­pos­ite stringer grid is bonded into the hull, and car­bon-fiber re­in­force­ment makes the struc­ture so rigid that no hatches rat­tled and even the rugged custom hard­top failed to shud­der.

SE­RI­OUSLY FISH­ABLE

Black­fin man­ager of en­gi­neer­ing Ma­son Cum­mings iden­ti­fied some fine points of the build for me. The 30-gal­lon livewell, fed by an 800 gph pump, seemed light at first glance, un­til I looked in­side. Gem­lux drains and valves — all com­pletely ad­justable from within the well — let us set the out­flow and in­flow at the top and bot­tom drains.

For our choppy con­di­tions, we nearly closed both drains and let the over­flow squeeze out the gas­keted lid and bleed over­board via a clever gut­ter in the tran­som. The tank filled to the top mostly free of aer­a­tion, and all thanks only to the 800 gph pump (no ex­pen­sive sea chest needed).

I found four gun­wale rod hold­ers ide­ally placed on each side of the aft cock­pit, and three hor­i­zon­tal racks along port and star­board in­wales. The hard­top pro­vides stowage for more rods, and even bet­ter yet, its rocket launcher hung within reach for most of our crew.

That’s a ma­jor im­prove­ment over com­peti­tors, and Cum­mings wasn’t even brag­ging about it. He should have been. Turns out this hum­ble “boat han­dler” I’ve known for sev­eral years is one of the com­pany’s top en­gi­neers and is even re­spon­si­ble for custom-de­sign­ing all the hinges and latches on board.

“It’s re­ally more of a team ef­fort,” he said.

Port and star­board 54-gal­lon fish boxes in the cock­pit sole are long and deep and mac­er­ated for quick over­board drainage. The an­chor locker boasts an op­tional wind­lass and comes with an ex­tra slot for a fluke an­chor to de­ploy astern.

While our fish­ing trip pro­duced mostly man­grove and mut­ton snap­per, we also re­leased nurse sharks and a small tar­pon boat-side. The 272’s tall free­board seemed in­tim­i­dat­ing at first, but at 5-foot-11, I could still reach the water to leader a fish.

HAPPY CREW

The 272 I tri­aled was clearly a fish­ing ma­chine, adorned with dual Ray­ma­rine dis­plays and a small Ves­selView gauge. The helm was en­closed in glass but came with an elec­tri­cally op­er­ated win­dow vent to usher in a breeze on hot days.

The bol­stered dual helm seat sports arm­rests, and yes, Black­fin is mak­ing the hard­ware with a laser cut­ter. The hinges for the ex­tra-wide tran­som seat are cut too, and un­like most other sim­i­lar fish boats, the seat back is a real seat back, not a sheer ver­ti­cal tran­som bol­ster. The seat pulls out quickly and eas­ily with one hand and slaps back in place, one-handed, so you can tend to a fish or rod.

When a fam­ily fishes, no­body’s happy un­less ev­ery­one is com­fort­able. The 272’s com­fort factor car­ries for­ward to the bow seat­ing. Two smart in­serts in the coam­ing bol­sters slip out of their sock­ets and fit at 90-de­gree an­gles to the fore­deck cush­ions. Now, in­stead of a deep-padded coam­ing bol­ster, each makes a seat back for for­ward-fac­ing lounges.

Although we re­mained well within our safety pa­ram­e­ters with our crew of nine, we were well above what most would con­sider an ef­fi­cient fish­ing team. Yet Black­fin’s en­gi­neers had pre­served amaz­ingly wide walk­ways be­tween the gun­wales and helm; two peo­ple could eas­ily pass head­ing fore and aft.

On the star­board side, a 4-foot-wide con­sole door opens into that walk­way on custom hard­ware that al­lows the door to swing for­ward in a man­ner more akin to a slid­ing door than a hinged door. Dual levers rigidly latch it down. This con­fig­u­ra­tion al­lows hooked-up an­glers or a gaff man to work freely there, even if the door is open.

SPIT AND POL­ISH

When you choose a boat like this one, it’s not enough to buy dura­bil­ity, fishability and per­for­mance. You want last­ing good looks too. The 272 ac­com­plishes that in mul­ti­ple ways. All the mul­ti­col­ored up­hol­stery is crisply de­signed, with drum-tight vinyl and knife­like cor­ners. The gun­wales fea­ture highly pol­ished Black­fin-em­bossed pull-up cleats. All the custom hinges and hatches glis­ten.

The hull’s black gel­coated sides are smooth enough to read a pa­per in their re­flec­tion. The glossy hard­top sup­ports sport two durable, black pow­der-coat­ing treat­ments (you can opt for white) and two clear top­coats so gear and rods won’t gouge them.

My trial of the 272 clearly re­vealed the ves­sel as a solid com­peti­tor in the sport-fish­ing mar­ket. It also comes with ad­di­tional en­tice­ments to pam­per fam­i­lies. And this Black­fin team is just get­ting started.

Black­fin’s new 272 cen­ter con­sole con­tin­ues that com­pany’s sto­ried rep­u­ta­tion for fine fish-boat builds.

Top: The drains for the 30-gal­lon livewell eas­ily ad­just for op­ti­mal flow. Right: Black­fin laser cuts its hard­ware and fin­ishes its cush­ioned up­hol­stery — fore and aft — with knife­like edges and pre­cise fits.

The 272 eas­ily fishes a crowd, based on our ex­pe­ri­ence in the Florida Keys. Its walk­ways fea­ture broad paths fore and aft.

The test boat’s twin Mer­cury Ver­ado 300 out­boards pushed the cen­ter con­sole to more than

61 mph on the top end, and pro­pelled the boat to 30 mph in 7.8 sec­onds.

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