The outrigger clips start bursting like popcorn, rods are bent to my left and right, and I hear drags in surround sound. I jump off my perch on the cushioned, split-level mezzanine, grab the closest rod, and start cranking. There’s a mass exodus out of the salon as the rest of the crew floods the cockpit and dives for rods. Even with a quadruple hookup, there’s plenty of room to do the over-under, your-fish-crossed-my-fish dance. A few minutes later, the mate swings the gaff and drops the first 30-pound yellowfin into the insulated transom box, which is plumbed to do double-duty as a livewell. Note the fittings in the side of the box: Custom-fitted tuna tubes slide into place and thread to these fittings for those days you want to live-bait with fish half the size of the ones we’re catching right now. Another yellowfin soon drops into the box, then another. By the end of the day there will be 15 in there-the per-boat limit-with room for more. You want to kill fish like there’s no tomorrow? Then you need to open your heart-and your wallet-today for Bayliss’ 65.
Finding a massive teak cockpit on a 65′-long custom battlewagon is no surprise, but there’s plenty to get excited about on the Bayliss that you won’t find in competing fishboats. First off, eyeball that cockpit carefully. Notice how there aren’t any seams in the teak trim? That’s because Bayliss crafts the trim from a single massive piece of teak. Every hatch, door, and cabinet enjoys the same level of care and is built to 116″ tolerances. Even interior veneers are made from the same section of wood so the peaks in the grain on each cabinet symmetrically match.
This acute level of attention to detail runs through every system of the boat, from the hull plating to the helm station. The cold-molded hull is built with triple-planked Okoume ply that’s encapsulated in fiberglass. The wonderful feeling such construction gives you underfoot in heavy seas simply can’t be overstated. The boat-all 70,000 pounds of it-felt like it wanted to leap across the 3′ to 4′ seas on test day, and it cleaved them open without any hesitation or vibration. It feels firmer, yet somehow fleeter, than a molded fiberglass boat. Case in point: We cruised across the riled ocean at more than 30 mph on the way out, while sitting in the salon and sipping coffee. However, I did spot one item that leaves room for improvement: The under-counter refrigerator and freezer drawers don’t have external catches on them. No matter how big a boat may be, in extremely rough seas drawers such as these will slide open unless secured.
The mechanical systems on this boat are incredibly well thought out. All water intakes come via a pair of sea chests to minimize through-hull fittings and the drag that goes along with them. Engine-driven crash pumps allow you to employ all 3,300 horses for evacuating water, in the extremely unlikely event you take any on. All fuel lines are loomed in place and clearly marked. The oil exchange system is easily accessible; washdowns in the cockpit, on the bridge, and in the engine room have quick-disconnects; and the steps from the salon to the staterooms are on hydraulic lifts, so you needn’t stretch while accessing the attics. Nothing has been overlooked-even the scuppers are special, with custom-made baffles, so you don’t hear the slosh of water as you back down.
****As with most custom boats, you can pick and choose what goes into the cockpit of a Bayliss. On this 65, the Ultra, they chose everything. Kite reel and electric deep-drop reel receptacles are installed under the gunwales. The bait freezer under the port-side mezzanine holds enough ballyhoo to feed every critter in the National Aquarium for a week. There’s dedicated gaff stowage under the gunwales, gobs of tackle stowage, and a drinkbox under the step to the cabin. Flip up the hatch next to it to access the ice dump for an endless supply of chipped ice. Plan on trolling under a blazing hot Florida sun? Cockpit misters are installed in the flying bridge overhang to keep you cool. There’s even dedicated stowage for your inflatable and a four-horse Yamaha outboard belowdecks, with an integrated 18-gallon fuel tank so you never have to haul gas cans.
What other boats provide you with so much? Frankly, not many. But one that Bayliss shoppers may compare the Ultra with is the Scarborough 65, which starts a few hundred thou less with the same powerplants. (Of course, pricing on these boats changes constantly as material costs vary during the extended build times.) The Scarborough trades off some interior room because of its framed construction method, which boosts its strength. Weaver Boatworks also produces a 65′ cold-molded convertible that busts the 40-mph mark, features extreme detailing, and starts right around the $3 million mark. In all these cases you’re looking at cream-of-the-crop boats and if you have to make the tough choice, well, we’re crying for you. . .you bastard. Now grab a rod and start cranking.