— By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — August 2000
|Part 2: The JC just punched the ocean out of the way.|
As we neared the weed line, Maib climbed the 450-pound, 19'6", Will Garrett tower and I moved to the helm seat. At 5'7", I had a sightline problem while sitting when the boat was on plane, so if you're my height, you might want to consider a step-up deck or taller seat. This JC was built for Maib who, measuring about five inches taller than I, had no trouble peering over the bow. However, I did fit easily into the bare-necessities cabin, which features V-berths, a head with shower all the way forward, and a maximum headroom of seven feet.
At the weed line, everyone looked for signs of life as Edmonds prepared the lures and pulled some lively ballyhoo from the 40-gallon livewell that's in the deck between a stowage hatch and steering-access hatch. Capt. Ken Kreisler , who was along for the ride, took the wheel atop the tower, Maib prepared the Lee outriggers, and the hunt was on. The morning went by fast as Edmonds and I swapped "one that got away" stories, but it was apparent we were a little late for the all-you-can-catch dolphin bonanza. A large sea turtle, however, came up to investigate our bait presentation. He swam around a bit and appeared to nod in approval before flapping his flippers to head back down below the surface. Well, at least somebody liked them.
The wind picked up as we drifted out the morning, putting the JC-31 broadside to the building swells, but when she rolled over them, her hard chines kept her stable, a great quality if you drift fish or troll or are susceptible to the motion of the ocean.
Maybe it was the unusual 90-degree-plus March weather that kept the fish down, but as the morning faded Kreisler had to get back, and skunked, we headed home. As Maib pushed the 31's 3'1"-deep keel through the ocean, a small but refreshing spray popped through the soft-covered helm enclosure--nothing a quick washdown from the port-side, 50-gallon freshwater tank couldn't fix. If you're looking for an even drier ride, molded spray rails are optional.
The morning provided such an affable ocean that a truly accurate picture of this boat's sea-handling ability remained unknown--but we weren't done yet. After we dropped off Kreisler, a nice northeast breeze kicked up, producing a steady three- to four-foot chop. Now we'd get a chance to push the boat a bit. And maybe, finally find a fish.
As Maib charged the whitecaps at about 19 knots (according to our handheld Garmin GPS), I placed one hand on the tower in anticipation of the boat bouncing, but the JC just punched the ocean out of the way. "This is JC water," Edmonds remarked. "This boat just isn't scared." This is at least partially attributable to the JC-31's solid construction: Her hull, forward deck, side panels, and wash rails are hand-laid fiberglass with Baltek balsa coring. Bulking up the structure, the cockpit floor has two laminations of 1/2-inch plywood with a fiberglass mat surface and two-tone gelcoat.
After trolling and drifting another couple of fishless hours, it was time for us to call it a day. While we were heading back in a following sea, I worked my way up the tower to see for myself how this single-engine 31-footer maneuvered. I was surprised. Her steering was virtually unaffected by surfing down the backside of swells, and she never once got squirrelly.
Not so predictable is her surprisingly reasonable price. Our decked-out test boat came in at $138,250. Any fisherman looking for an affordable, well-built, semicustom boat that will go the distance will want to step into the ring with the JC-31.
New River Yachts Phone: (954) 584-2500. Fax: (954) 791-7522.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.