Bertram 25 Reborn
Stripped down to her bones and built back up again, this 30-year-old Bertram is all new, from stem to stern. A dream realized for a first-time boat owner.
Most blokes toil away on small runaboats before laying tools on their first big project, but—amazingly—this beaut Bertram is Byron Gobernatz’s first boat. Fortunately, he had some help from one of his best buddies, Jack McKenzie of Finesse Marine. Let’s plunge into the fiberglass dust storm on this superbly reconfigured Bertram 25.
Tell us about the Berty, Byron.
She’s an ’86 model, called Odin. That’s the original name. They don’t call these old girls the bulldozers of the sea for nothing. They’re wide and stable at rest—perfect for our waters off Mackay, Queensland.
What’s she built for?
We live on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef and love exploring the white sandy bays and taking trips to the outer reef. We spearfish and don’t mind hand-lining big yellowfin if they’re on the chew.
Where did you get her and what condition was she in?
It was a four-day road trip to Melbourne to pick her up. Most of her life had been spent in a marina, and she was your typical neglected 30-year-old boat. One of the inboard engines had seized, the drive legs had corrosion holes through them, many fittings were rusted on and 30 years of grime had built up in the bilge.
Angle grinder alert! Tell us about the rebuild.
We stripped her back to a bare shell, modified the transom with a bracket and did a complete refit. We put in new fuel and water tanks, plus a newly fabricated frame and a composite hardtop.
And the itchy stuff?
Odin is a full composite construction using Thermo-Lite and high-density foam. Everything was hand-laid by Jack using vinylester resin for the tanks and epoxy resins for the extension and fairing. We also used poly resin for general construction. Each resin had a certain purpose.
Does Jack have any good glassing tips?
Plan and prepare the job. Get your tools ready, cut the glass to size and have resin and buckets ready. Don’t tackle more than you can handle, and wear the right safety gear.
And the paint finish?
She was fully faired in West System microballoons. Then an epoxy system was used for the prime. She was polyurethane-primed and finished in Awlcraft 2000 before a topcoat of two-pack Awlgrip. Jack treats every step like he’s prepping for a topcoat. He’s a fussy bloke.
Just the guy you need. Describe the boat in five words.
Fast, heavy, comfortable, excessive, beast.
Now that she’s on the water, how does she ride?
Odin eats up the slop for breakfast and skims across the glass at 45 knots pushed by a pair of Suzuki DF300s running two 16 x 18.5-inch propellers. Her cruise speed is 30 to 32 knots.
Hit us with some boat specs, Byron.
She’s 25 feet in length with a 10-foot beam and 7,700 pounds empty. She holds 211 gallons of fuel and deadrise is around the familiar Ray Hunt mark of 22 degrees.
What have you bolted on?
A Simrad 16-inch NSS Evo3 screen, Simrad autopilot, through-hull transducer, 3D structure scan, Zipwake interceptors, JL Audio system, custom-built switch panel, an Isotherm fridge and a whole lot more.
Holy freckle! What did the missus say about that?
Fortunately, she’s the adventurous type. She was cool, well, apart from those first few itchy nights in bed!
How long did your masterpiece take—and what did it cost yah?
It took 18 months and cost about $100,000. But she’s everything I wanted in a boat. She looks great, goes fast and does all the things I love to do on the water.
What do you wish you knew before starting such a big project?
Even with Jack’s advice, I definitely underestimated how bloody long it would take and how labor-intensive the painting process would be. There’s 500 hours in the painting and fairing alone!
It’s handy having a qualified boat builder as a mate, huh?
For sure. Jack started in fairing and spray painting, so the finish is really important to him. He also brought his big-boat experience to Odin.
What was Jack’s best tip?
He encouraged me to have a plan, and we rarely deviated from that. Jack did all the calculations for weight redistribution, including the hull extension. Everything was spot-on. There were no afterthoughts.