There’s more to life than engine rooms, of course. And while the 52’s conventional, two-head, two-stateroom layout is perhaps less impressive than her engine room’s equipage and arrangement, her interior’s got several unique, high-end features that are worth mentioning. Chief among these is the quality and finish of her joinerwork, most of it done in solid teak, all of it varnished to the nines (see “Old-Fashioned Craftsmanship,” this story). Next in line are her comfy fitments and furbishments: From Hand-Craft innerspring mattresses in the berths to Raritan Atlantis MSDs in the heads, everything’s top-shelf goods.
“Wanna go for a boat ride?” asked Weidhaas, once I’d got my mind around his remarkable build-a-boat-first-then-figure-out-the-cost-later statement. I tossed off the bow lines, and he dealt with the stern.
Things went smoothly enough. My job on the foredeck was facilitated by an Awlgripped nonslip surface underfoot—way safer than the mirror-smooth, highly cambered, slippery-when-wet foredecks of numerous other sportfishing vessels I’ve tested over the years. We hit the trail for Miami’s Government Cut to do speed and acceleration runs, preparatory to venturing into the Atlantic for a test drive.
The spiffy 47.2-mph top speed I recorded was indicative of things to come. Moreover, thanks to a little extra elevation in the bridge deck and some comparatively lofty chrome pedestals on the Murray Brothers helm chair, visibility over the bow while we were zooming up and down the cut was excellent. And thanks to power-assisted hydraulics from Teleflex SeaStar, a stainless steel Release Marine wheel, and a set of Palm Beach-style engine controls (also from Release) on either side of the sweetly varnished control station, handling was excellent as well.
The test drive was flat-out fabulous. Over the years I’ve run several Davis boats designed by Nick Boksa, the naval architect who used to work for Buddy Davis himself but switched to Egg Harbor when Egg Harbor bought the Buddy Davis marque. Every one of these vessels evinced super-quick turns, rail-straight tracking down-sea, a dry ride going up-sea, and the sort of lithe agility that’ll put a smile on just about anybody.
The 52—a Boksa boat—ran like all the rest. I greyhounded her around the Atlantic for at least an hour, in three- to four-foot seas, sometimes at full throttle, sometimes at two-thirds throttle, sometimes on one engine (top speed: 18.4 mph), enjoying every smooth, dry, fun-filled minute. Eventually, though, it got a little late and I had to “head for the barn,” as they say.
I wound the day up in characteristic fashion, sitting in one of the Murray Brothers ladder-backs with a notebook and an idle pen, thinking about what I’d seen and experienced during the day. Certainly the interior of our test boat had a conventional layout and a decor that was as gorgeous as her broken-sheer, Carolina-flare styling. And certainly her open-water performance had been absolutely enjoyable and rousing. But what made the Davis 52 Express special for me was her engine room. Charge offshore in dicey conditions and all that solid, heavy-hittin’, safety conscious stuff down there’s gotcha covered. Big time!
Davis Yachts (609) 965-3877. www.buddydavis.com.
Gear on Board >> Murray Brothers Rides Again
Besides fish-fighting accoutrements like her PipeWelders tower, built-in baitwell, tackle center, fishbox, and freezer, our 52 was equipped with ladder-back helm chairs from Murray Brothers. After purchasing the faltering Murray Brothers’ trademark, Egg Harbor began building chairs to the old Murray Brothers specifications, meaning using top-shelf marine fabrics, solid teak, stainless steel fasteners, and solid, investment-cast stainless steel hinges and brackets. Gorgeous!
Spotlight on | Old-Fashioned Craftsmanship
Davis Yachts has been building Carolina-style sportfishermen for decades, and part of the Davis cachet entails lots of gleaming teak below decks, all finished with patience, persistence, and skill. Mirror-like surfaces seemingly ten fathoms deep (right) come courtesy of modern varnishes and other products that are laid on in three separate and painstakingly distinct phases.
The first begins with 220-grit sandpaper laboriously applied either with machines or manually. Then a grain sealer from Ilva is carefully laid on. The second phase entails application of successive layers of clear polyester, each faired using long boards, elbow grease, and exceptionally fine sandpaper. The layers don’t stop until a thickness of 22 mils is built up.
The third phase is complete only after six coats of clear Imron are applied, with hand buffings between coats using 1,200-grit sandpaper. That’s a total of 16 layers.
The result is striking. Instead of having a brash, plastic look, the 52’s interior evinced a reddish warmth that outshone the boat’s exterior brightwork, which is comprised of four layers of West System epoxy and eight weather-beating layers of catalyzed varnish.
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