BLACK­WELL BOAT­WORKS 57

Hy­brid is a hard­core, easy-to-fish ma­chine that is at home any­where in the world

Marlin - - RUN & GUN - BY CAPT. TOM SOUTH­WARD ALL PHO­TOS COUR­TESY BLACK­WELL BOAT­WORKS

The se­cond unique 57-footer built by Black­well Boat­works, Hy­brid is de­signed with fea­tures you would find on a smaller cen­ter con­sole, yet pro­por­tion­ate to a much larger day boat. The owner was look­ing for a sport-fish­ing con­cept boat to be used as a yacht ten­der and a fast fish­ing plat­form in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emi­rates. Those famed wa­ters host a mul­ti­tude of species, in­clud­ing blue mar­lin, sword­fish, tuna, dol­phin and king mack­erel, among many oth­ers, so Black­well de­signed the boat’s lay­out to ac­com­mo­date var­i­ous fish­ing meth­ods: trolling, drift­ing and uti­liz­ing a green stick for tuna.

COCK­PIT AND MEZ­ZA­NINE

The cock­pit is where the owner and his fam­ily will spend the ma­jor­ity of their time, so the mez­za­nine was con­structed a bit dif­fer­ently to ac­com­mo­date their needs.

Each side of the mez­za­nine con­tains a standup cab­i­net and aft-fac­ing bench seat. The port cab­i­net houses a tackle cen­ter and a two-burner cook­top. “The owner re­ally en­joys catch­ing fish and cook­ing meals with his friends and fam­ily while at sea,” says Craig Black­well. The star­board-side cab­i­net of­fers a re­frig­er­a­tor be­low and a stain­less-steel sink/bait tray up top. In ad­di­tion, each bench seat can be uti­lized for dry stor­age or as a cooler.

The owner wanted to have a green stick avail­able for tuna fish­ing. Since this is not the sole pur­pose of the boat, Black­well and his team crafted a green stick, which can be raised and low­ered on a swivel base. More­over, it can be re­moved and stored on board along the port side, com­pletely out of the way. Mov­ing aft to the cock­pit,

Hy­brid con­tin­ues to of­fer more unique fea­tures, in­clud­ing a mas­sive in-deck livewell that is more than 6 feet in length and nearly 3 feet wide. Aft, there are two tran­som doors and a re­mov­able teak swim plat­form, which al­lows for easy board­ing from a rigid-hull in­flat­able ten­der. As ex­pected, there is a tra­di­tional Car­olina-style fish box in the tran­som; it dou­bles as a se­cond livewell and is set up for tuna tubes.

Since the boat of­fers 360-de­gree fish abil­ity, the walka­round area can­not be missed. Just two steps up moves you quickly be­side the bridge deck and for­ward to the bow. Each side of the area be­low the gun­wales con­tains rod stor­age and open bins for ad­di­tional stor­age. A large bench seat is built into the trunk cabin, al­low­ing for even more dry stor­age. For­ward of the bench seat is the hatch to the truly mas­sive seg­mented ice hold fed by two high-ca­pac­ity ice mak­ers. The 600-plus-cu­bic­foot area re­minded me of an ice hold you would find on a North­east sword­fish boat — it is cav­ernous.

LIV­ING AREA

With the fo­cus on se­ri­ous fish­ing and hav­ing ac­cess to a larger yacht for overnight or longer trips, the liv­ing ar­eas were con­structed to be min­i­mal yet func­tional. Ac­cess to the liv­ing area is gained through the port side of the bridge deck. Walk­ing down the stairs, to port is the elec­tri­cal panel and hang­ing locker. Once be­low, there are two bunks to port, and a guest wet head aft. On the star­board side is the owner’s state­room with a bunk and pri­vate head. In keep­ing with func­tion and low main­te­nance, Lon seal vinyl floor­ing is used through­out the liv­ing ar­eas and bridge deck, mak­ing for easy cleanup.

EN­GINE ROOM

The fo­cal point of the en­gine room is a pair of Cater­pil­lar C18 diesels with ZF gears.

The en­gine room is large and yet quite low-pro­file, ac­com­mo­dat­ing all of the equip­ment you would ex­pect to find on a cus­tom Car­olina boat, in­clud­ing a 20 Kw Cater­pil­lar gen­er­a­tor, wa­ter­maker, pumps, tool box and ice mak­ers. Ev­ery com­po­nent ex­cept the wa­ter­maker has a backup unit for quick fixes while fish­ing.

The low-pro­file height al­lows for a lower floor height and higher gun­wales for safety in the cock­pit. As I tra­versed the walka­round area, the gun­wales were at midthigh in the cock­pit to waist level near the bow.

BRIDGE DECK

The bridge deck is large and spa­cious, with room akin to a con­vert­ible’s salon. The helm hosts a wide ar­ray of elec­tron­ics, in­clud­ing three 16-inch Garmin mul­ti­func­tion dis­plays. For­ward of the satin teak-fin­ished helm pod are the Cater­pil­lar en­gine read­outs and a Garmin GSD 26 sounder. To star­board is a pair of Stan­dard Hori­zon GX5500 VHF ra­dios, Garmin au­topi­lot, FLIR re­mote, Fu­sion stereo and a Bo­cat­ech switch panel.

The helm seat­ing is unique in that it re­sem­bles a cen­ter is­land with a set of Sub-Zero re­frig­er­a­tor draw­ers be­low and a re­mov­able helm seat fac­ing for­ward. Above and star­board of the is­land is a fold-down 32-inch tele­vi­sion, which al­lows for view­ing through­out the bridge deck. Aft against the bulk­head are set­tees on each side, con­tain­ing ad­di­tional stor­age be­low. The is­land also houses a four-leaf fold­out ta­ble for guests sit­ting on the rear set­tees.

A fea­ture im­por­tant for fish­ing on a ves­sel with walka­round ca­pa­bil­ity is vis­i­bil­ity, and Hy­brid’s is out­stand­ing, even with a com­pletely en­closed bridge deck. This is due to the nu­mer­ous win­dows and two side-slid­ing doors and one rear cabin door. The boat’s lay­out al­lows an an­gler in the cock­pit to see an­other an­gler on the bow through the bridge deck.

The boat’s hard­top con­tains a pair of 18-foot tele­scop­ing Taco out­rig­gers. In ad­di­tion, there are LED lights built in on all four sides to il­lu­mi­nate the decks and the wa­ter around the en­tire boat.

An­other unique fea­ture is the place­ment of the life raft in the aft sec­tion of the radar bump. Stor­ing the raft on the hard­top al­lows for man­ual or hy­dro­static re­lease and makes ef­fi­cient use of the space.

CON­STRUC­TION

Un­like other Car­olina builders who were once cap­tains, Black­well’s back­ground is strictly in boat­build­ing, hav­ing worked for the Gougeon broth­ers at West Sys­tem Epoxy and Buddy Davis be­fore be­gin­ning his own busi­ness in 1989. With 80 boats un­der his belt, his knowl­edge of build­ing tech­niques and ma­te­ri­als is vast and evolv­ing.

Hy­brid is the first big boat Black­well has built with an all-com­pos­ite hull, deck and bridge, uti­liz­ing Diviny­cell. The tran­som is con­structed with Coosa. The only wood used in the boat is in the keel, stringers and chines. In ad­di­tion, it is also the first hull de­signed en­tirely by Dar­ron Roop, of Roop Yacht De­sign.

Hy­brid is de­signed to be towed by a larger yacht, so it has a mas­sive pol­ished-stain­less-steel tow strap that is through-bolted to the keel and chine with mul­ti­ple back­ing re­in­force­ments, which are also fiber­glassed for ad­di­tional strength. “You would have to rip the front of the boat out to pull the tow strap from the stem,” Black­well said.

PER­FOR­MANCE

Hy­brid dis­plays ex­cep­tional han­dling through­out the tight turns in the sound off Wanch­ese, North Car­olina. The boat ap­pears to dance on the wa­ter as it turns, show­ing the re­spon­sive­ness of a much smaller boat. It ran com­fort­ably at 1,850 rpm, mak­ing 33 knots. On the top end, it is fast: 42 knots fully loaded. Speed was a very im­por­tant fac­tor for the owner be­cause they may en­counter pi­rates in the wa­ters where they fish. The need for a fast boat that could out­run and out­ma­neu­ver pi­rates was a pri­or­ity.

Black­well’s goal with Hy­brid was to cre­ate a unique walka­round fish­ing-fo­cused bat­tlewagon that would be suit­able for a va­ri­ety of species. Af­ter watch­ing the build process and spend­ing some time on the boat, I would agree this highly ex­pe­ri­enced builder may be on to some­thing.

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