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A Sport and a Passion

John Bayliss, Boatbuilder, Bayliss BoatworksBy John Bayliss, Boatbuilder, Bayliss Boatworks

I’m just as passionate about building sportfish boats as I am about catching a bunch of sails somewhere. I like it. And it is interesting that you can tweak a boat and keep pushing the envelope and keep evolving.

A lot of the builders in North Carolina, including myself, we’ve all spent a lot of time in the ocean and it’s not a super-friendly place to be. When you’re fishing 12 months a year you get exposed to a lot of sea conditions and a lot of situations that are not great to be in. Especially on the commercial side, when you’re out there with a lot of gear out and you’re seeing things that not everybody gets to see.

Bayliss 84 Orion
Bayliss 84 Orion

I think the heritage of the North Carolina boat is that every guy who builds a boat here wants to be known for a good ride—that’s something every single guy is stuck with here. We’re all going to have different interpretations of what bottom is best and why, and to a certain extent, all bottoms are a little bit of a compromise: They’re really good for fishing but they’re terrible in a head sea, or they might be great in a head sea but they roll too much, and each builder has to interpret what he thinks is best, for his customer and for what he would like to see maybe for himself.

My background was always sportfishing, and sometimes you grab everybody and go: “Wait a minute—we’re trying to build something that’s still efficient for something that’s going on behind your boat, not within it.” And I still love that part of what we do. When we started building boats here we were going to try and build the meanest, baddest sportfish boat that there was, and keep function at the forefront. 

You’ve got to be able to look at the overall and say this is a worthy cause to push for. A guy who’s not passionate about being a mate or captain should get out. Because he’s not going to do the vocation a service by staying in. Part of liking fishing or boatbuilding this much is we’re surrounded with a lot of people who are as passionate about it as we are and that just makes everybody better.

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