— By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
|The JC-31 is a lightweight, bare-knuckled bluewater brawler built to go the distance.|
George Maib really likes to build boats, especially custom sportfishermen that flatten seas like a heavyweight boxer flattens opponents--with a big punch. That's why Maib, president of JC Boats of Florida, has spent the last three years bringing the custom Downeast-style JC-31 to southern waters.
Sharing his affinity for the Downeast look, I hopped a plane from New York with childlike anticipation to watch the JC-31 spar with the blue water. On my arrival, I walked down the gas float at Fort Lauderdale's 15th Street Fisheries' dock past a group of kids in a center-console Boston Whaler with a cooler full of dolphin. The kids said they'd found these colorful fish under a weed line about five miles out, so it looked like a fine day of testing and fishing lay ahead.
As I boarded the JC, the wide-open, 104-square-foot cockpit on this stripped-down fishing machine struck me immediately. My eyes were drawn forward to the starboard helm, with the wheel and Morse dual-lever controls an easy reach from the optional Pompanette chair. There was ample space for electronics above the controls, clear visibility across the cockpit, and close proximity to lines, so working a big fish should never be a problem.
Abaft the helm on the centerline, a cushioned engine cover doubles as a seat. Beneath it our test boat carried a single 370-hp Volvo Penta diesel, although JC will install almost any engine brand, single or twins. (To date, the list has included engines from John Deere, Volvo Penta, Yanmar, Cummins, and Caterpillar.) As Maib and sales manager Chip Edmonds lifted the teak-trimmed seat to show me the diesel, I noted a few grunts. The engine cover/seat is heavy. Yet at 11,000 pounds (loaded), the 31 is light for her 31'4" LOA and 11'2" beam, which could make her a good megayacht tender.
Although the boat looked tough, with her broad-shouldered beam and flared bow, the question remained: How would the JC-31 do in the ring with Neptune? Maib cranked up the Volvo Penta, and we headed out to the weed line on a fairly relaxed ocean. En route, my radar gun showed a top speed of 23 mph at 2750 rpm as the four-blade bronze Michigan propelled the boat forward with ease. (Later, during our acceleration runs inside by the Port Everglades turning basin, she hit 25.6 mph.) Although not particularly fast, the JC-31 is what Edmonds calls "a sipper." Our boat burned just 19.6 gph at WOT, yielding a nearly 150-mile range from her single 370-hp Volvo Penta diesel engine and making the most of her 160-gallon fuel capacity.
In addition to being economical and spacious, our JC-31 also showed good footwork. At one point, with the boat at WOT, Maib yelled, "Hold on, fellas," and put the wheel hard over to port, scribing a tight, nearly perfect circle, then back to starboard, carving a figure-eight. All the time the 31 performed smoothly, if a bit loudly: Our decibel meter read 101 dB-A at the helm at WOT (65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation). Additional acoustical insulation is available as an option, and I'd order it.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.