Entering Black Pearl Marine's Marco Island, Florida, office, I knew straight away I was dealing with serious anglers. Although he's a salesman, Capt. Steve Sprigg was simultaneously tinkering with a half-dozen grapefruit-size Shimano Tiagra 80-pound reels and poring over the contents of a morning shipment of fishing miscellany. Marc Brunsvold, company president and founder, answered e-mails and fielded calls surrounded by a still-in-the-box pair of Rupp outriggers and a new custom-made fighting chair. It seems they were doing some early-morning prep for that weekend's Gulf Coast marlin tourney. And if that wasn't enough, PMY senior editor and hardcore fisherman Capt. Patrick Sciacca and the rest of the crew were heartily lying to one another about fish they'd landed over the years while I checked on my test equipment in anticipation of that morning's sea trial.
Little surprise this happened in a Post dealership. The New Jersey-based builder has a reputation for building not only a serious battlewagon but also a comfortable, capable semicustom sportfisherman with more than its share of repeat buyers. It's also known for soliciting feedback from its owners, most of whom have been asking for a model between the 50- and 56-footers for several years. Thus, the 53 Convertible was born.
Hull No. 3 was fueled up and waiting for us dockside. My initial reaction when I saw her was, "She looks fast." A sharp entry and moderately raked forward section gave the 53 the illusion of movement when she's standing still. While Sprigg and Brunsvold finished in the office, I explored the engine room, which is accessible through a port-side hatch in the forward part of the cockpit. On my way down the stainless steel ladder, I found five tackle/tool drawers to port, within reach from the either the cockpit or below. Headroom in the engine room itself is 4'9", forcing me at 5'11" to crouch. Our test boat's 1,200-hp common-rail MTU 8V 2000s were bolted into six-inch-thick engine beds of fiberglass-encapsulated mahogany and were serviceable on all sides. A 3'4"-wide space between the big blocks provides adequate real estate for two mechanics and their tools. Racors and dipsticks are inboard for simple inspection, and the fiberglass battery boxes, each containing six batteries, are in a nearly two-foot-wide space between the engines and the bulkhead. A 12-inch fan on the forward bulkhead cooled me off on this muggy, 84F morning. But as impressed as I was by the layout here, I was also baffled by the placement of the Onan genset: to starboard on the aft bulkhead. Its power controls are outside the engine room, but to read its digital display—showing A.C. voltage and frequency, coolant temperature, oil pressure, battery voltage, and hours—you have to crawl all the way between engine and genset.
An engine-room tour won't reveal much about a vessel's fishability, but her cockpit surely will. At nearly 130 square feet, the 53's is as roomy as it is well-equipped. Putting four flush-mounted rod holders in each of the pilasters is smart: They make for easier bait spreads on the outriggers and a quick grab during hookup from the bridge or saloon. I counted four more flush-mounted rod holders in the gunwales and six in the rocket launchers on the bridge. An optional 44-gallon livewell is flush with the 29-inch-high gunwales. The two in-sole fishboxes, each measuring 54"x23"x19", are removable for easy cleaning, though the heavy lids could benefit from gas struts, since when open they can reach and slam against the gunwales if you're not careful. A 28-inch-wide transom door, a top-loading refrigerator/freezer, and freshwater washdown in the forward part of the cockpit complete the amenities. Our test boat didn't have a fighting chair, but the one-piece, balsa-cored cockpit—glassed, bolted, and additionally secured to the hull with 3M 5200 marine adhesive—had an aluminum plate glassed in its sole to accommodate one.
With the detail Post paid to fishing amenities, you might expect them to have paid less attention to the saloon. Not by a long shot. The 53's grain-matched teak in the cabinetry and staterooms is accented with well-crafted joinery. An optional Sharp 32-inch LCD TV will keep the crew entertained and is viewable from the port-side L-shape settee as well as from the dinette to starboard. The chef-friendly galley, with EuroKera two-burner cooktop, Sharp microwave/convection oven, and stainless steel sink with single-lever faucet and instant hot-water spigot, is to port. One Sub-Zero drawer-style refrigerator and one freezer are standard; our boat had two of each. And the 88"x29", Corian-topped island should provide adequate space for preparing all the food inside them. Our boat also had the three-stateroom, two-head layout, with both heads equipped with showers having 6'3" headroom. Two 45"x82" bunks in the forepeak stateroom and two 30"x82" bunks in the starboard cabin are roomy enough for four broad-shouldered fishermen. Throughout her interior, I was hard pressed to find a rattle or squeak on any of the doors or stowage compartments.
Now that I'd spent adequate time with her at the dock, it was time to run her. Heading out into the Gulf through Smokehouse Bay for the sea trial, the 53 began to reveal her athleticism. Threading her way around dredging equipment and through sections of the channel that nearly turned back upon themselves, the 53 responded beautifully to the power-assisted helm. Outside she hit an average top end of 42.5 mph with her trim tabs deflected. Our calculations showed her 30-mph cruise speed was good for a 317-nautical-mile range, sufficient to take her well offshore and back. Attempts I made to rattle her composure with hard turns at any speed were met with aplomb; she carved tight figure-eights, and her flying bridge offered clean sightlines on all points.
Like all her predecessors in Post's 48-year-old history, the 53 is true battlewagon. She'll take you and your crew of hardcore anglers to the canyons quickly and safely and be ready and able to troll all day. And with a refined interior and smooth ride, she'll guarantee you a comfortable ride home, too.
2/Release Marine helm chairs; Delta anchor; Glendinning Cablemaster; Splendide washer/dryer; Corian sink and countertops; Sharp Carousel microwave/convection oven; 2-burner EuroKera cooktop; Sub-Zero drawer-style refrigerator and freezer; hardtop w/ 6-rod rocket launcher; 21.5-kW Onan diesel genset; 27" Sharp Aquos LCD TV, Sony SLV-D350P DVD/CD player, STR DE597 digital surround sound system; Bennett trim tabs; teak interior
Furuno NavNet, BBFFI sounder, Icom M602 VHF; Simrad AP25 autopilot; 36'' Rupp outriggers; Muir 2500 windlass; 8/Rupp flush-mounted rod holders; isinglass enclosure w/ vent; 44-gal. in-transom livewell; bridge-galley intercom; high-glass teak-and-holly sole in heads and galley; 32'' Sharp Aquos LCD TV in saloon, 13'' in master; teak cocktail table; Hunter Douglas Silhouette window shades; Tundra refrigerator on flying bridge; decor artwork, fabrics, pillows, and upholstery upgrades
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,200-hp MTU 8V 2000 diesel inboards
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF 550A/1.97:1
- Props: 32x43 nibral 4-blade
- Price as Tested: $1,507,110
This article originally appeared in the August 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.