Load up a Pursuit S368 Sport with family and friends, point the bow for the Bahamas, and see what happens next.
The usefulness of devices like the notebook computer I’m using to type out this article, word by word, makes them indispensable. But I’ve also noticed that the screen and keyboard also can consume entire days with writing and editing, e-mail and the Internet. Regardless of good design and flawless function, a device can fail to improve one’s life. Case in point: I put this screen in my line of sight for too long, and I begin to lose my sense of place in the world. The idea of north and south, or sun and wind, or clouds and current all slip away into vague concepts. Best to take a moment or two and get back into all those elements. Shut down the computer and let those variables all be factors in the grand equation to set me back on the proper path.
Speaking of a proper path, I’ve found there are some devices that, er, accelerate the process. Exhibit A is the Pursuit S368 Sport, and for me, the way forward started with a visit to that boat in the Abacos in the Bahamas, to tag along and fish with a group of old friends. David Glenn, marketing director of S2 Yachts, put together a nifty little itinerary to showcase two boats from the Pursuit Sport line, the S368, which launched in April, and the S328 that I initially saw at the Miami International Boat Show in February.
Glenn’s idea was this: Put together two crews, including his wife, Nathalie, and two of his three sons, Daniel and Matthew, as well as some friends, including Sonny and Julee Hendrix and their son Jack, plus fishing buddies Capt. Chase Cornell and Joe Beale, and photo- and videographers Marc Montocchio and Nate Harrington. Then, take the two boats across from Ft. Pierce, Florida, to the Bahamas, and fish for a couple of days out of Spanish Cay.
Julee had never tangled with a marlin. What a great opportunity to see what these boats—and our designated angler—can do.
Dateline: Spanish Cay
On the first morning, the two boats shared a finger pier on Spanish Cay, and that dock was a hive of activity. But as everyone hustled to get to the bluewater, I had to push the slo-mo button for a minute and watch how the crew used the layout of the S368. David and Joe were in the cockpit reviewing the terminal tackle and checking knots and rigs. Meanwhile, Marc had his laptop out on the companion seat, looking over some of the images he and Nate shot the night before, after the crossing. And in the bow, Sonny was packing a cooler with fresh ice and cold drinks. Everyone could get around without getting in anyone else’s way. The result: reduced stress for a crew to get off the dock on a schedule.
The space worked just as well under way, as we sprinted for the fishing grounds with our crew of seven and topped-up fuel on the S368, which was equipped with triple 300-horsepower Yamaha F300 outboards. Capt. Cornell took the younger set on the twin-engine S328. The boats ran like a pair of champs through 2- to 4-foot seas. On the S368 at around 4000 rpm we saw a cruising speed of 24 knots with a fuel burn of 27 gallons per hour. That pace got us where we needed to be in about an hour and a half, but it was a good feeling to know that there was a fair amount of additional speed if we needed it. I don’t mind saying that, watching the S328, it looked like we had the better ride, but that stands to reason in our larger boat. And the S328 was no slouch.
Pursuit seems to have hit the nail on the head with this Sport line, and the S368 is really a standout—not too big, not too small. The boat is centered on a console that is sizable enough to have some meat to it, but not so big you feel like you’re looking around it. It has a hardtop, not a T-top, with an integrated windshield and sturdy aft stanchions, all powdercoated. The helm area is on an elevated deck one step up and the seating is comfortable, with fold-down armrests that allow for flexibility. I caught up with Pursuit’s engineering and design team, Mike Ward, and Andrew Bartlett, to get an idea about why the boats work.
“We have an engineering and design team that is full of boaters,” Ward said. “We get it. We’ve had the good days on the water as well as the bad. We understand the wants and needs of our market and blend them with our personal experience to refine each aspect of the boat to be the best we can make it.”
That personal experience must have included fishing on a boat with no comfortble seating at some point, because this boat has it right where you want it. “The raised aft-facing mezzanine seat became a feature we wanted to protect during the S368 development process,” Bartlett added. “It’s a highly functional feature that provides a superior vantage point while fishing the boat, and it provides comfort underway and at rest. It has become the favorite seat in the house.”
Talk about the right platform to get me back on the proper path. Under wispy white clouds set in a cerulean sky, I breathed deeply and looked around our group as they talked about the day, the deep color of the water, the color of the water we were looking for, what our target depth would be, where we may find it. As we set the lines in our spread, putting out a flat-line teaser of green plastic squid and a combination of Ilander lures and ballyhoo on flat lines and off the outriggers, Julee was all business. Once the spread hit the water we began to troll, with the S328 scouring the area, keeping eyes peeled for patches of weed and other good signs of action, and listening for updates or ideas from the other boats on the radio.
We stayed at it, occasionally picking up and moving if Chase spotted working birds on his radar. “Birds are the element in the Bahamas,” he told me later. “Tune the radar to see birds, with red and green targets mixed together. You can see how dense they are or if they’re traveling and flying high.”
As we trolled, the conversation turned from fishing to family to football, back to fishing, boats, travel, and back to fishing. Each person moved among the crew, from David at the helm to the cockpit with Joe and the raised mezzanine seat that allowed three to sit comfortably in the shade of the hardtop and watch the baits. Because of our trolling speed and the wide decks on either side of the console, it was easy to get forward to the bow, where the cooler had been stashed out of the way. Forward of the console was a wide chaise sunpad built into the front of the console. There’s a large stowage area beneath that lounge, a pleasant surprise and a bonus, since I had initially thought that wide sunpad came at the expense of headroom for the cabin below.
We ate snacks and had cold drinks from the cooler and moved positions around. Beale retrieved the lures and sometimes rebaited, checking his rigs and making sure they were trolling with a certain appeal.
The day’s trolling wound down with little to show for it. David nodded to Marc and together they made the next plan, using the afternoon light to get some photos of the boats in the turquoise water while the crews did some snorkeling. As we nosed into the shallows tucked behind one of the keys in the area, Marc stepped up onto the bow covering boards and looked across the white-sand bottom. He asked David to nose the bow right up to the edge of the sand where it met a patch of turtle grass to make the most of the color contrast. We anchored as the dive gear came out.
Our crew pulled on fins and dive masks to get in the water, as Marc explained to David about some image he was trying to get. I immediately forgot about it as I stepped through the starboard cockpit dive door and into the current. As I got my face in the water what did I see, about 15 feet down and half buried in the sugary sand, but the dilapidated wreck of a huge steamship, her ribs, boilers, wheels, and other parts arrayed beneath us for inspection. Sonny and Natalie dove on her and explored, peeking into crevices and dark spots while Marc snapped photos. You never know what you’ll find—or where you’ll find it—in the islands.
What a find it was, we agreed as we compared notes. Marc took a moment to admonish the group jokingly, all too true in its biting humor: “You all could learn something from Nathalie,” he said. “She truly looks at home in the water.” Score one for the mermaid!
Next stop, we hit the beach. After the fruitless trolling it would be good to lounge a bit. David and I set up the forward sunshade, which deploys easily on three stainless steel spars and adds a satisfying bit of shade, even as the afternoon breeze kicked up a notch. It was a nice addition, all the better because of its simple, solid engineering. I didn’t worry it would blow out.
After an hour on the beach, the boys on the S328 were getting a little restless to do some reef fishing so I swam over and joined their group. Chase hunted up a promising section of reef on the bottom machine in combination with some secrets from his black notebook while Jack took the time to show me the drill. “Drop that sinker and ballyhoo chunk all the way down, crank it tight, jig like this,” Jack said. “If you get a bite, reel and don’t stop, to keep him from getting his head into the reef.” Whatever he told me, it sure worked and the guys put some nice grouper in the box.
The sharks were waiting for us back at Spanish Cay, hanging out beneath the docks, looking for handouts as Chase and Joe cleaned the day’s catch, which was headed for the grill.
Day of Reckoning
The next day we headed offshore, a bit farther than the day before. A big swell was running and Natalie took her leave and went below to have a lie-down. David told me she wasn’t feeling well. That made me feel better because I don’t always like a roll offshore, especially when trolling with the breeze.
We trolled and chatted and were on the radio with Chase, who kept moving us farther offshore. Suddenly the whole scene changed before my eyes. A few seabirds were around now, and the vibe shifted into gear. Joe became a bit animated as we watched the baits, and while we watched, one of the rods went down. Bam! The reel sang its tune as Julee reached for her gimbal belt and harness. Joe handed her the rod, and she ended up reeling in a 15-or-so-pound yellowfin tuna—perfect eating size for billfish.
We hooked a few more, and Julee reeled them in—ah, the life of the designated angler. Things quieted down and we pressed even farther offshore, finding more and more birds. The electric feel of things seemed to subside rather than amp up, and the sun began its descent. David got on the radio.
“Chase, what do you think?”
“I don’t know, felt good there for a while, but I don’t know what’s going on,” Chase came back. “Let’s give it five more minutes.”
After this exchange, Nathalie emerged from the cabin and took the starboard companion seat. She sat up there and looked around, and then said something to David I couldn’t quite hear.
“What?” David said, as though I had elbowed him in the ribs, to prompt her to speak up.
“What about the fin?” she said again, assertively.
David’s head was on a swivel, and he looked at her and practically shouted, “Where?!?”
Nathalie indicated a maddeningly general direction with her hand and said, “Right there.”
As only a husband can understand, David cut the wheel and pulled the spread right over the spot, and no sooner did the boat’s course change that the port flat line went down hard. Joe was on it and went for the set but the hook didn’t hit the mark.
Almost immediately the starboard rod slammed down. Joe didn’t miss that one.
Julee was still in fine form after whooping a few of those tuna and, after the marlin leapt free of the water, she had the fish to the leader in short order. The other boat joined us to cheer on Julee and watch the action. Marc and Nate slipped into the water as the fish was brought boatside, and they shot stills and video as the fish was revived and released unharmed, its tail pumping as it retreated to the safety of the depths.
What an amazing confluence of events: Good friends enjoying a couple of days of bluewater fishing, only to have it come together within the last five minutes. It was true, what we had talked about in the shade on the mezzanine seat.
“Fish don’t show up for those who don’t look for them,” Sonny had said. And it all gets back to preparation, from those rigs getting set up at the dock and checked each morning, to a cooler stocked with cold drinks and snacks to keep everyone hydrated, nourished, and happy, to Julee ready to step into her angler’s role with confidence and aplomb.
“One crimp, one knot,” Marc said, as we headed for the hill, “is all it takes for the whole rig to fail.” But when our tools, or our “devices,” work the way they’re designed, as the Pursuit S368 Sport did, they help us find the proper path.
TEST CONDITIONS: Air temperature: 70°F; wind: 5-10 knots.
LOAD: 350 gallons of fuel, six batteries, a genset, 20 gallons of diesel, four persons.
Pursuit S368 Sport - Final Boat Test Numbers:
Range is based on 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Speed and fuel-burn numbers provided by Yamaha Applications Engineers.
DRY WEIGHT: 16,659 lb.
FUEL: 425 gal.
WATER: 45 gal.
TEST POWER: 3/300-hp Yamaha F300 four-stroke outboards
TRANSMISSION: Yamaha, 1.75:1 gear ratio
PROPELLERS: Yamaha Saltwater Series II 15 ½ x 17 stainless steel
WARRANTY: 5 years hull and deck structural; 5 years blister-free; 2 years limited
BASE PRICE: $436,000