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January 15, 2014

Henriques 50 Boat Review

This essential model from the New Jersey-based builder is a breed apart — as is her proud owner.

Mike Harrer will be the first to tell you how he feels about his Henriques 50 flybridge sport-fisher. In fact, he will tell you how he feels about almost anything that concerns his Henriques 50 flybridge sport-fisher without you even asking. Harrer, an orthopedic surgeon by trade and a serious offshore fisherman by choice, is as gregarious, outgoing, personable, genuine, welcoming, social — well, I think you get the picture here — as any boat owner I’ve met in all the years I’ve been walking down gangways and hopping aboard boats for a day out on the water.

“I tell you what, Ken,” he said. “You get here, oh, let’s say about 2 a.m. on Saturday, and with the weather window I’m looking at, we can make a run out to the Canyon for some tuna fishing. Drive down the night before, and you can stay at my house in Ocean City, [New Jersey]. Or you could bunk on the boat.” I had to settle with meeting up with Harrer and his crew of loyal fisherman friends early the next morning for a post-offshore get together, some quality time away from the dock and lots of Henriques 50 talk. Also along for the day was Manny Costa, who, along with sister-in-law Maria Henriques and wife Natalia Henriques, runs the company.

Construction

From my vantage point on the dock, Henriques’ no-nonsense, straightforward approach is quite obvious, including the distinctive “gill-slit” louver system air intakes up on the house sides, which cut down on any water or spray finding its way into the engine room. Jack Henriques founded Henriques Yachts in 1977. He is a fifth-generation Portuguese boatbuilder who immigrated to the United States as a young man, and he quickly saw the opportunity to deliver his kind of fishing boat to the hard-core angling market.

The flagship 50 has a bulldog-tough appearance that is quickly confirmed once you step aboard. It’s solid underfoot, with no deck flexing found anywhere, and has beefy hardware, thick rails and grabs. You’ll find the success story of the build in what you can’t see. “People know that our boats are built for serious offshore work, and even those who buy them for cruising instead of fishing have the same kind of confidence being aboard that the tournament owners have,” Costa says.

Dr. Bones features a hand-laid fiberglass bottom sandwiched between two layers of vinylester resin up to the waterline, with Divinycell foam coring for the hull sides, house and decks. The stringer system is made out of high-density foam encapsulated in glass, with multiple cross members and bulkheads, especially underneath the forward floor, where there are additional structures. The two parts of the boat, the hull and the topsides, are joined together and through-bolted, with 5200 adhesive added before the pieces are glassed over, resulting in a strong, tough, solid structure.

Interior

“With our interiors, there is no set plan and nothing is pre-made,” Costa says. “Our semicustom profile allows us wide flexibility; for example, the two or three layouts that we may present can be mixed and matched according to what a particular owner wants and needs, including fabrics, woods and finishes.” Dr. Bones, for example, features a two-stateroom, two-head layout with the forepeak arranged as over/under bunks with a removable insert allowing for a queen-size berth. It was easy to see how four could sleep comfortably here.

The master lies to starboard with Harrer opting for the portside galley-down configuration where a third stateroom could go. He wanted maximum room in the main deck salon for his 75-year-old father and fellow anglers to spread out, be comfortable and even grab a bunk on the 23-inch wide couches if necessary. Each couch, by the way, has an abundant amount of storage space below for rods and other gear.

Indeed, throughout this Henriques 50, where fishing-related storage is a must, Costa and his crew delivered big time. “I probably have room for four dozen rigged rods and reels and all my other fishing related stuff,” Harrer says while opening closet after closet and space after space on the bridge, main and accommodations decks, proudly showing me where he keeps the trappings of his passion. “For me, it was the perfect fit.”

Engine Room

In the Henriques’ style of building, when the hull is about 50 percent fitted with the boat’s main machinery, the deck goes on before the rest of the equipment, such as the battery banks, pumps and compressors, is placed. “In this way, we can really see what is already accessible and what else needs to be. It should not be an afterthought,” Costa says.

During my time in this most important space, I found this to be true, as all critical maintenance areas are quite easy to get to, with plenty of room to swing tools if necessary. There’s even enough clearance to get to the outboard sides of either of the two 1,015 hp Caterpillar C-18 Acert diesel engines. Besides the all-important accessibility, the entire space, including the lazarette, is covered with gelcoat, but not before being prepared with
vinylester resin and sanded down no less than three times before finishing.

The compartments forward and aft of the engine room are completely watertight, and there are five bilge pumps aboard, with crash pumps on the engines as well. The main centerline fuel tank is a T-shaped, 750-gallon affair that fits neatly under the cockpit fish boxes. The port and starboard saddle tanks are molded in fiberglass, following the shape of the bottom. “When things get low on that main tank, a simple transfer pump switch at the helm will get the fuel
back in,” Costa says.