There’s not a charter fleet in the world that fishes as many days offshore as the boats out of Oregon Inlet Fishing Center in North Carolina. The captains and crews that fish from this storied inlet are as salty as they come and have an incredible knowledge and love of the sea that not only make them excellent fisherman but, out of necessity, good boatbuilders as well.
Dare County has produced some of the most well-known names in sport-fish boatbuilding: Davis, Tillet, Mann, Scarborough, Cannady, Briggs, Spencer, Bayliss, Howell, Jarrett Bay and, of course, the godfather of Outer Banks builders, Warren O’Neal.
Many of these builders got their start out of necessity, building their own charter boats during the winter off-season. Buddy Cannady, the highly regarded skipper of his Capt. BC, has built some 130 boats ranging from 19 to 60 feet during his career, with 35 of those having been more than 50 feet. Taking what he learned from his time on the shop floor with O’Neal as a base, he built one boat a year for 15 years and fished it each season, giving him a unique opportunity to evaluate and continually improve and tweak the bottom, as well as just about everything else.
Capt. Billy Maxwell runs Tuna Fever out of the Fishing Center and early on partnered with Cannady to form
BB Boats Inc., building 23 boats together that are each more than 50 feet. Maxwell spends 150 days a year on the water in an eight-month span — days off are few and far between. Cannady passed on his knowledge and experience on how to operate the boatbuilding/charter-fishing business to Maxwell.
BB Boats gets its extremely knowledgeable workforce by employing a number of captains, mates or commercial fishermen who work in the boat shop during the winter months when the weather is too bad to fish. During the course of the build, when one of these guys picks up a piece or part to install on the boat, he knows what it is and how it is going to be used.
Clean and Simple
I flew to Charleston, South Carolina, to check out the latest BB, a 58-footer named Wadmacallit owned by charter skipper Gasper Marino, and I fell in love with what I saw. I loved the common sense, the economy, the simplicity, the cleanliness, the character, the fishability, the economy, the handling, the operating costs, the layout, and did I mention the economy?
“Our goal is to go as far as we can on one gallon of fuel — our boats are all about economy and being easy to maintain,” Maxwell said. “We want to be able to fish hard all day, come in, hose her off and go home for a nap, so we can get up, go out early and do it all over the next day.” From what I saw, mission accomplished.
Wadmacallit is as clean and simple as they come without being bland or miserly. She has everything you need to fish competitively with any fleet in the world, and she is built stout enough to handle the 150-day duty cycle in an eight-month window. She’s rigged with a pair of 825 hp Series 60 Detroit Diesels and a single 8 kW Westerbeke generator.
She is plenty comfortable, but there are no frills, smoke and mirrors, fancy pillows or silver-and-gold fixtures on board this boat, although BB will give you that if that’s your sort of thing. Built to be a charter boat, Wadmacallit is completely comfortable and totally functional. Her simple bridge layout consists of an L-shape seat in front of the console as well as a fore and aft bench seat along the port side, with a divider creating an aft-facing seat at the end of the bench.
There is a single Pompanette helm chair, but you’ll find plenty of room for a companion bridge chair if you want one. Her well laid out console puts everything you need at arm’s length.
Marino kept the electronics package simple yet stout. He installed two Simrad NSE multifunction units, engine monitors, VHF radios, and a stereo and autopilot user interface under a lift-up, clear acrylic glass lid, keeping them out of the weather but close at hand.
The interior layout stays true to the boat’s working heritage. Marino was adamant about his charter customers’ comfort, and he wanted them to be able to enjoy the inside of the boat without concern for hurting something, so everything inside is indestructible and easy-to-clean.
A queen island berth sits fully forward, while just aft, you’ll find over and under bunks along the port hull side with a chest freezer aft of the bunks.
There is stand-up rod storage to starboard as well as a shower and head that is super easy to hose out and keep clean. Going one step further, the head backs up to the forward engine room bulkhead so the pump can easily be pulled out from the engine room to be serviced or repaired. Everything is installed so that it can be maintained easily with no loss of fishing days. You’ll find an engine room entrance at the forward engine room bulkhead next to the companionway going up to the salon.
The spacious and open salon features a dinette in the forward starboard corner, with a large flat-screen TV mounted in the forward bulkhead cabinet. A bench seat with leather cushions and rod storage stretches along the starboard side, and a large tackle cabinet sits in the aft starboard corner.
The galley lies forward on the port side with a microwave mounted in the over-counter cabinet. There is a large L-shape settee along the starboard side with storage underneath and more easy-access rod storage. The rod storage is under the cushions, but because the base is set back, the overhang of the cushion allows for great exposed rod storage, offering quick and easy access to rods.
The cockpit is clean, simple and efficient — it has everything you need to catch anything you want to chase. The boat boasts the customary built-in transom fish box, large uncluttered deck and a great mezzanine set to port. The mezzanine comes with a giant storage locker under the seat, large enough for rods or whatever other kind of gear you need. A corner locker to starboard has even more tackle storage underneath and a large bait tray on top with a lid.
BB puts two drink boxes in the mezzanine platform as well as another engine room access and a large storage bin on the starboard side. The bridge ladder is set to port away from the salon door to keep the area open when everyone wants to see the action.
The engine room is clean and simple, with serviceability and maintenance considered for every piece of equipment. This spacious area provides enough room to work and should be a relative breeze to keep clean — another part of the boat that is well thoughtout and well executed for ease of use.
Driving Wadmacallit couldn’t be easier; with single-finger steering, her big rudders allow her to spin within her own axis and make her turn and bite. She backs around and follows the rudder commands you give her, spinning and backing with a purpose — another example of a great Oregon Inlet boat that is capable of catching big numbers as well as big fish.
She’ll run with the big dogs too. She planed off at 1,200 rpm, making 15.6 knots and sipping 20 gph. At 1,750, she’s making 25 knots and burning a scant 38 gph. At 1,850, she clipped along at 28 knots burning 46 gph. Pushing her up to 2,000 rpm, she makes an honest 31 knots using 55 gph, and on the pins at 2,350, she busted 37 knots burning 65 gph at 97 percent load. She’s efficient as can be for her size and rides just as well.
Common sense, economy, great fishability, comfort and Carolina looks are just about all anyone could ask for, and BB delivers them at a fair price. The guys at BB build honest, solid fishing boats that prove themselves over and over, day in and day out and on some of the toughest fishing grounds in the world. Check them out if you’re looking for a great boat with great value. Choose single or twin power, and you’re on your way.
LOA: 58′ Beam: 17′ Disp: 38,000 pounds Draft: 4′ Fuel: 700 gallons Water: 100 gallons Power: 825 hp Series 60 Detroit Diesels
BB Boats Inc. 252-473-1097 www.bbboatsinc.com