Iconic Work­horse

Anglers Journal - - CENTER CONSOLES -

IT’S IM­POS­SI­BLE TO TALK ABOUT TROPIC STAR with­out men­tion­ing its well-main­tained fleet of Ber­tram 31s.

The twin-diesel Ber­tram 31s are to this lodge what float­planes are to the fly-in op­er­a­tions in Canada and Alaska: rugged, de­pend­able work­horses. They are not the fastest or largest fish­boats on the wa­ter to­day, but they are strong, sure-footed and nim­ble. And they can run safely through the snot­ti­est seas.

“To me, the 31 is the most iconic sport­fish­ing boat ever built,” says Capt. Richard White, the fish­ing di­rec­tor and man­ager at the lodge. “They’re so ma­neu­ver­able and ver­sa­tile. And the hulls are ab­so­lutely bul­let­proof.”

The lodge op­er­ates 13 of the Florida-built boats — which de­buted in the early 1960s — with two op­er­a­tional spares on hand. Tropic Star also has the ex­per­tise and fa­cil­i­ties to re­pair, re­place or fab­ri­cate in glass, metal or wood just about any­thing on the boats, be it a steer­ing or an elec­tri­cal sys­tem, a shaft, strut, rud­der or en­gine.

“Our boats fish 300 days a year,” says Tropic Star Capt. Zane An­drews, the son of the for­mer owner, who started driv­ing 31s when was 13 years old. “They have to be easy to work on. We can change an en­gine be­tween tides. And we al­ways have more boats than we can run. Fisha­bil­ity is a big thing.”

The lodge con­tin­ues to tweak the boats to make them more func­tional. The fleet is in the early stages of be­ing up­graded. The hulls will be re­pow­ered, the cab­ins en­closed and air-con­di­tioned, the bridges and heads up­graded, and the helms graced with new Ray­ma­rine elec­tron­ics.

One of the keys to suc­cess at re­mote lodges is re­source­ful­ness, an at­tribute that was em­bed­ded in the DNA of Tropic Star by for­mer owner Mike An­drews, a hands-on, do-it-your­self guy. “When some­thing breaks, there’s no­body to call,” says John Brown­lee, host of An­glers Jour­nal TV, who has stayed at Tropic Star a num­ber of times. “You have to be able to fix ev­ery­thing your­self down here.” Given the va­ri­ety of fish­ing and species avail­able, the vari­a­tions in sea­sons, the re­mote lo­ca­tion and more, a trip to Tropic Star gen­er­ates ques­tions. The lodge’s web­site is an ex­cel­lent source of in­for­ma­tion (trop­ic­star.com). Tropic Star has of­fices in Or­lando, Florida, and Panama City, Panama. reser­va­tions@trop­ic­star.com

The Ber­tram 31 is syn­ony­mous with the lodge.

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