By Capt. Jeff Waxman
Owner: Dr. Pasquale Petrera, MD
Boatyard: Worton Creek Marina – Chestertown, Maryland
Docked: Indian River North Shore Marina – Indian River, Delaware
Everyone, everywhere in our world knows the 31’ Bertram. Most of us have an opinion (usually a very strong one) about this iconic boat. The universal opinions stem from the boat’s impact. The 31 Bertram began the deep v revolution, in many ways paving the way for offshore fishing to gain popularity. Many of the several thousand built are still in use today, around the globe, still catching more than their share.
And many, probably most, have been modified, repowered, and renovated. The forms of resplash are as varied as the ports the 31s call home – from adding outboards to slicing off half of the topsides; if you can think of it, likely it’s been done.
With the variety of Bertram 31 modifications out there, comes the inevitable debate – who has done it best? There are many contenders for the throne, but there is something about one 31’ in particular, delivered new in 1971… the Priceless owned by Dr. Pasquale Pertrera and fished out of Indian River, Delaware. She is a Bahia Mar version of the 31, produced in the early days of the Express boats popular today.
My parameters for evaluating a refit lie at the intersection of three pieces of the puzzle: 1) Vision and good taste. 2) Execution (by the boatyard). 3) Funds (more than a little). We all know the Bertram story and have all seen some of the worst and some of the best renovations. Here are some key points on the Priceless: Thrust, Power, and Fuel Consumption: She is powered by twin 315 HP Yanmar diesels that provide the push to cruise 27 knots at 3150; with 34 Knots at 3800 WOT.
Priceless is equipped with oversized shafts swinging 18×19 wheels. The result is efficient performance. On a typical canyon run (65-70 miles each way), with a full day of trolling she burns 110-120 gallons. Fishability and Comfort: The cockpit is non slip (Dr. Pertrera is considering adding teak Sea Dek). It is equipped with a Pompanette Fighting Chair with striking rod holders center mounted. To accommodate all of the tackle necessary for canyon trips and trolling, the Priceless has 12 rod holders on gunwales and on transom, plus two additional rows of six rocket launchers on marlin tower.
The engine boxes are covered with blue/white striped cushions with four inches of heavy-duty foam, extra insulation added. Helm and passenger seating is a custom arrangement – they seat two each complete with footrests and storage. The seat backs flip both ways in order to watch forward or astern. She boasts full electronic instrumentation at helm and on tower.
The original windshield was removed and replaced by an EZ2CY three quarter enclosure with various openings for ventilation. Further modifications include a custom hardtop with several handholds, LED overhead lighting extended to ends of engine boxes and a custom safety raft mount on top below the marlin tower floor. The tower is anchored by stanchions of three-foot custom aluminum tubing and provides seating for two.
Dock Appeal: The boot stripe and house stripe blue were changed and painted in flag blue Awlgrip. The hull is polar white gel coat. The cabin is redone, she’s air conditioned, complete with a new head and enclosure. The refrigerator has been replaced and all new cushions complete with overhead rod racks. The deep step from cockpit to cabin is covered by custom starboard that provides a flat floor across entire cockpit.
She has controls top and bottom electronic, tachs digital. Four centerline automatic bilge pumps keep everything dry. All that said, Priceless is greater than the sum of her parts. She looks salty, runs true, is exceptionally comfortable…and catches fish! And, the way she has been designed with marlin tower location balance and engine weight set a bit deeper in the hull, this Bertram is not as wet as most…not dry, but much better than most 31s. Finest 31’ renovation around? You decide…I think so!
If you have any notable resplashes that you’d like to see in the magazine, send us a note and some pictures: email@example.com – ITB