SURRY — What does an impatient fellow who wants Wesmac Custom Boats to build him a 46-footer to hunt the big fish that lurk off Nantucket or along the Jersey shore do when he finds out there’s a three-year wait for a new boat?
John Reilly, a Barnegat Light, N.J., businessman who already owns three much larger boats, bought a 42-foot sport fisherman, Christine, that Wesmac launched about 10 years ago and had the yard remove the fly bridge, lengthen the hull and house and redo the accommodations, systems and electronics.
Earlier this month, Wesmac launched Four Belles, the end product of all that work and the functional equivalent of a brand new 46-footer. It took just over one year to reach its owner instead of three.
One look at its Surry shop makes it clear that Wesmac is busy. The crew is currently working on a pair of 46-footers, a pair of “super wide” 46s that are 2½ feet wider than the standard model, a 46-foot kit boat that Wesmac may wind up finishing and a gigantic 54-footer, Wesmac’s founder, Steve Wessel, said this week. In an effort to keep up with orders, the company has also arranged with the Front Street Shipyard to mold hulls for the 46-footer in the Bucksport plant where Front Street builds a line of 30-foot multihulls for Trefoil Marine.
As soon as there’s room in the shop, the Wesmac crew will start on a pair of 38-footers and, Wessel said, he’s hoping to land an order for another 54 in the near future.
Knowing the boss, or even being married to him, is no guarantee of getting a boat when the shop is so busy.
One of the 38s about to get under way was supposed to be finished as a lobster boat for Wessel’s wife, Linda Greenlaw. Although she now lives in Surry, she still fishes off Isle au Haut and wanted a faster boat than the one she now has to get to her gear.
With “her” 38 now going to another customer, Greenlaw has put in her order for an even bigger boat, but she won’t get it soon.
“I figured, if I’m not going to be able to get a Wesmac I might as well not be able to get a 46,” Greenlaw said Monday.
Although vestiges of Four Belles’ precursor remain, she really is a completely new boat.
The most prominent links to the past, of course, are the solid fiberglass hull and house, although the hull has been extended by four feet and the house was extended as well. Both additions are flawless and invisible on the finished boat. Also invisible are the completely new plumbing and wiring throughout the boat.
Lengthening the hull wasn’t as big a deal as it might sound, Wessel said recently, because the company’s 46-foot hull is built in the same mold as the 42-footer with an extension to the aft end.
Also flawless are the boat’s accommodations and the level of finish accomplished by the Wesmac crew.
One step up from the cockpit that incorporates a wet tackle station for baiting up and a custom rod holder is a large pilothouse with the galley installed in the aft corner to starboard opposite a settee and table arranged for comfortable dining. Forward, a double-wide passenger seat lies to port of the companionway. The helm station is to starboard and it is fully equipped.
The spare but warm look, with impeccably varnished mahogany trim and teak and holly cabin sole, invites you to plunk down and enjoy Four Belles’ accommodations.
Of course, Four Belles has all the creature comforts: galley with concealed cooktop, refrigerator-freezer and microwave; reverse osmosis water maker; heat, air conditioning and satellite television.
Hidden by all that’s new, one other element of the original boat remains, said Shawn Dyer, the lead man who did much of the work on Four Belles — an almost new Caterpillar 3406 diesel with only 660 hours of use. That scarcely counts on an engine that is often run 10,000 hours or more in fishing boats.
Even the engine was tweaked, though. A new chip installed in its electronic control system boosted the horsepower from 800 to 880, Wessel said.
Coupled to a 32-inch-by-34-inch five-blade propeller through a ZF 2.077:1 reverse reduction gear, the big Cat gives Four Belles a top speed of 28 knots at 2,320 RPM’s. The boat will cruise at 19 knots turning a more thrifty 1,800 RPMs.
Thrift is all relative. The new boat carries 750 gallons of fuel divided among three tanks — a pair of 250-gallon aluminum tanks and a 200-gallon fiberglass tank just forward of the new transom, all under the non-skid cockpit sole.
Also tucked away is a large, insulated fish hold with a sump that drains overboard. If appearance is any guide, the fish hold is likely to be full whenever Four Belles’ owner has the opportunity to use her.