Better Than I Remembered
While growing up on the rough waters off Long Island's south shore, one boat always stuck out to Charlie Johnson: the 31 Bertram. "With their great-looking lines and rough-water performance, 31 Bertrams were the boat to own!" he likes to tell anyone who'll listen. Too bad that back in the 1970s he was too young to own one. And when he finally could afford one, they were no longer being built. So the search was on. "I found the perfect boat right off, but I was outbid," says Johnson. "I kept looking over the next five years until, by chance, I ended up buying that first boat I saw." The gas-powered flying bridge fit his needs for a dependable, overbuilt, seaworthy fishing machine. So why sell it?
The problem with the 31 Bertram is that it's a fishing boat first with few comforts, and Johnson wanted to get his wife and three daughters out on the water with him. So he sold the Bertram and bought a bigger boat. "After three years with the big boat, my kids lost interest and I found myself staring at other people's Bertrams. I wanted my 31 back!" says the enthusiastic Johnson. This time it didn't take five years. A friend had just put his refurbished Bahia Mar Express on the market. The boat was just what Johnson wanted, and after a little bargaining it was his. It had new Yanmar diesels, dripless shaft seals, new running gear, and a generator. The only thing that needed work was the interior and the paint on the hull. "This second 31 has exceeded all my expectations," says Johnson. "I can easily fish it alone with its open layout, and it runs faster while burning much less fuel than the bigger boat."
Johnson is confident that he's finally found the boat he'll keep for the rest of his life. He may say he believes in catch-and-release, but when he finally lands that elusive 50-pound striped bass, I'm sure he'll hold onto it with as tight a grip as he has on his Bertram.