60 — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
— May 2003
Suit to Fit
|After years of owning custom sportfishermen, one boater decides to build them his way.|
I'm not a clotheshorse by any stretch, but I remember when I bought my first "real" suit. This wasn't just an off-the-rack-and-hope-it-looks-good garment--it was tailored to fit me. The break at the shoes, the length, the fit around the waist just--well, suited me. This perfect fit was accomplished because the suit's material was first-rate, my tailor was skilled, and the tailor listened to exactly what I wanted.
Custom boatbuilders are a lot like my old tailor--you could even call these boatbuilders boat tailors. They take their hull designs and aim to fit an owner's wants and needs into them. It so happens that back in 1999 North Carolina resident Jim Sculley, who coincidentally owned many custom boats over the years, decided to take his knowledge as an owner and become a boat tailor himself. Enter Sculley Boatbuilders. The first launch, a sportfisherman dubbed the Sculley 58, was built of cold-molded okume plywood and featured a Donald Blount-designed hull bottom. She was well received, and two were built and quickly sold.
Now custom boats take a lot more time to design, plan, construct, and tweak than a production boat, and new models don't usually come quickly. This was not the case at Sculley. To the builder, the 58 was just right on many levels, but the Sculley team thought some improvements could be made on the initial model and soon brought a 60-footer--aptly named the Sculley 60--to the table.
The 60, which I tested out of Sailfish Marina in West Palm Beach, Florida, was built on the same basic hull design as the 58, but modified by Sculley's in-house design team, which includes former Buddy Davis vice president, Jim Polatty. "We made a larger planing surface aft, which has provided more lift," says Sculley's marketing man, the other Jim Sculley (big Jim's son), adding that the 60 comes out of the hole quicker than the 58 and averages about a knot or so faster overall.
The 60's hull, like the 58's, is built keel-up (upside down) using cold-molded construction. The boat's jigs are pre-cut and assembled to make the hull form. Three 9-mm layers of okume plywood make up the bottom and two 12-mm layers are used for the hull sides. Do the math and you're talking about a one-inch-thick bottom and slightly less on her sides. The layers of plywood are impregnated with epoxy to help make the 60 a monocoque structure. In addition, the boat has three watertight bulkheads (located forward, amidships, and aft) that help keep any potential water-intrusion problems localized and beef up the hull's structure transversely. That's some heavy-duty construction, and during my test with Sculley (the son) and company sales' director Ken McLeskey, the two said they wouldn't have it any other way. "We want to build boats so you can run in rough water as fast as possible and still be comfortable," Sculley says, noting that he's seen the 60 knock down eight-plus-footers with ease.
The 60 has a heavy build without a heavy weight; with a 68,000-pound (dry) displacement, she's comparable in weight to her peers, and, like Sculley says, she moves quite well and comfortably when paired with standard twin 1,480-hp MTU 12V2000 Series diesel inboards. (You can also pick an engine package that fits your particular speed needs. After all, this is a tailored boat.) These powerplants happen to be in one of the cleanest engines rooms I've seen in recent memory. The whole area is Awlgripped white (standard) and has about six-foot headroom and walkaround access to both engines.
This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.