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Davis 58

PMY Boat Test: Buddy Davis 58
Davis 58 — By Capt. Ken Kreisler — November 2001

Survival of the Fittest
Designed to run the legendary waters of Carolina's Outer Banks, the Davis 58 is a go-anywhere product of her environment.
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Designed to run the legendary waters of Carolina's Outer Banks, the Davis 58 is a go-anywhere product of her environment.

While Darwin's theories on evolution and adaptability were conceived with living things in mind, it's not that much of a stretch to apply his observations to regional boatbuilding.  Certain locales, due to their particular ties to the sea, have given rise to unique types of boats, each with an instantaneous recognition as coming from that place. The New England lobster boat and the high, tuna-clipper-inspired bows of many boats from the Pacific Northwest are just two examples. Likewise, it's easy to see how the challenging waters of Oregon Inlet, Cape Hatteras, and the Outer Banks gave rise to the Carolina sportfishing boat.

Local lore has it that the design began in the late 1950s when Manteo native Warren O'Neal built his first sportfishing boat. But it was charter boat captain and O'Neal protégé Buddy Davis who elevated the design to what some now call an art form when he built his own vision of the Carolina boat in 1973. The latest product of that lineage is the Davis 58.

The 58 is a direct descendent of Davis' 61, a boat that in the world of elite sportfishing vessels is held in high esteem for its superior seakeeping abilities and uncanny knack for raising record fish. "I had spent almost 10 years getting our 61-footer just right when I decided it was time to replace it with the 58," says Davis. "We learned a lot from that boat and applied all the right things to the new one." In fact Davis built three 58s on a limited-production plywood mold to use as a baseline.

Like all Davis boats, the 58 is a product of the collaboration of renowned naval architect Don Blount and Davis. Blount was responsible for engineering, hydrostatics, and stability analysis for the new vessel, which resulted in a sharp entry for dealing with big seas, convex surfaces aft, 15 degrees of transom deadrise, and large chine flats for quick planing on minimal power. Her pivot point is far enough aft to allow her a good ride in a following sea, and prop tunnels give this 70,000-pound vessel a moderate 5'6" draft and the ability to swing a pair of 34-inch-diameter wheels. Blount considers the pivot point--known as the LCG, or longitudinal center of gravity--as one of the most important aspects of the design of the Davis 58. "By getting this balance point, which is the center of weight for the boat, relative to the shape of the bottom results in a well-designed boat," he said. "It means an agile, efficient performer with excellent seakeeping abilities."

Her hull is solid FRP from the keel to the chine, with foam-cored hull sides and a deck of vacuum-bagged Nidacore, which also provides sound deadening. A new stringer arrangement forward has outboard ledgers that add rigidity at the chine while allowing some flexing in big seas. (According to Blount and Davis, too rigid a structure can lead to excessive stress in vital areas in heavy seas.) The engine beds have one-inch encapsulated steel caps, and Davis makes wide use of Baltek and Nidacore to save weight. A new mold, created by Precision Shapes of Virginia, allows Davis to laminate the 58's foredeck, cabin, and bridge as a single unit, eliminating secondary bonds and joints in the bridge. Blount also figured largely in the 58's look, putting a slightly softer edge on the superstructure and bridge face, but leaving intact that trademark Davis bow flare, sweeping foredeck with teak toe rail, and gentle tumblehome.

Next page > Davis 58 continued > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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