Boat Review: B&D 68

Buddy Davis never had it better. The fight over his name? Resolved. Hurricane season? Passed. He now owns a rock-solid business in his hometown of Wanchese, North Carolina...

Buddy Davis never had it better. The fight over his name? Resolved. Hurricane season? Passed. He now owns a rock-solid business in his hometown of Wanchese, North Carolina. His sons have stepped in to carry on the tradition and the name. And the boats he builds now? Honestly, they've never been better. To top it all off, his wife and his dog both stay by his side every day. What more can a man ask for? Well, a smart offshore fisherman might ask for a new B&D 68.

Performance
As you'd expect from Buddy Davis - or any Oregon Inlet-inspired boat for that matter - the new 68 offers unsurpassed head-sea ability. The sharp entry transitions to a moderate 14-degree deadrise at the transom, affording a quick time to plane, improved fuel economy and excellent lateral stability. And in anything less than a gale, that Carolina flare really keeps the spray down.

With a pair of CAT C-32 engines rated at 1,650 hp each, this 68 tops out at 38 knots turning 2,350 rpm, burning about 155 gph. Cruising at 25 knots at 1,600 rpm drops that to 125 gph.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the 68 is how well it maneuvers at speed. With the advantage of standard-issue power-assist steering, one finger leans the 68 into a tight, banking turn, accomplishing a 180-degree change of heading in several boat lengths. It spins, backs straight and performs all those other fishy maneuvers without any idiosyncrasies. It does seem to enjoy a slightly better speed (and ride) by adding a few degrees of the stainless-steel recessed tabs.

Interior
This hull features a four-stateroom/four-head arrangement. Two of the starboard cabins come equipped with over/under singles, while the master stateroom to port amidships and the VIP guest quarters in the bow both offer queen-size island berths - with storage underneath. Beneath it all, Davis hides a "machinery tunnel" faired and glossed out with Awlgrip where you can store several tons of ? well, stuff.

Throughout the interior, "wood" floors are actually made of Amtico, a vinyl product you'd swear was wood. Corian counters abound in the galley and all heads.

The galley against the forward bulkhead features a breakfast bar, Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer drawers or stand-up units (your choice), and both ceramic cooktop and microwave/convection oven.

The U-shaped dinette seats four adults comfortably and hides even more storage, as does the L-shaped settee diagonally across the salon.

Flybridge
This 68 sports a traditional flybridge layout with centerline helm, portside companion seat, wraparound seating via an L-shaped settee to port, and a straight bench to starboard. I particularly liked the huge, insulated drink box in the forward corner. It sure saves lots of hassle getting drinks passed up from the cockpit. And thankfully, you'll find enough room to pass behind the helm seat to access the companion seat without your captain needing to step aside. And yet, seeing the after-half of the cockpit from the wheel during a fish fight poses no problem.

Cockpit
I'd be surprised if anyone still tried to build a boat this size without a mezzanine. The mezzanine deck on the 68 provides seating, under-seat storage, an insulated baitwell/drink box that doubles as the location for the optional Eskimo ice maker discharge, a freezer and the walk-in engine access.

On the other side of the huge cockpit, Davis builds in an insulated transom fish box and a tuna door. You'll also find space for mop and gaff storage, shore-power cable, fresh- and saltwater washdown outlets (found in the engine room, flybridge and anchor locker as well) and dockside hookups for cable and water.

Engine Room
I always like an engine compartment with plenty of headroom. Right at the bottom of the entryway, you'll find the emergency crash pump system - one on each engine. A quick flip of the Y valve, and you instantly get a lot of horses drinking up any water in your bilge. All through-hull fittings sport quarter-turn sea valves, making them easy to handle as well. A single 25 kW generator comes standard, and a second is found on the options list. Like the machinery tunnel, the entire engine compartment gets faired and painted with Awlcraft 2000 engine-room paint for the absolute easiest maintenance and leak detection. In addition to the 1,650 hp CATs on this 68, Davis offers other power options, such as DDC/MTU 10V2000s rated at 1,500 hp; 1,800 hp Caterpillar C32-Acerts; and DDC/MTU 16V2000s at 2,000 hp each. It should run like a scalded dog with the latter.

Design and Construction
Buddy Davis works with Don Blount, one of America's foremost naval architects, to draw the lines of the 68. But the best-laid plans go astray if you don't execute well. To that end, Davis builds all interior non-structural bulkheads and cabin walls of lightweight, Okume marine plywood cores, often covered with book-matched cherry or teak veneers. From an aesthetic standpoint, I love the bull-nose moldings, flush-mount doors, and drawers utilizing hidden hinges and "push-pull" door/drawer hardware.

Davis builds the hull like most Carolina custom boatbuilders do - using the latest cold-molded wood, epoxy and fiberglass technology as well as vacuum-bagged Nida-Core composite in the decks.

So despite the various storms Buddy Davis has weathered over the years, his boats have never been better, or stronger.

Specifications
LOA 68' BEAM 19'6"
DRAFT 5'8" WEIGHT 80,000 pounds
FUEL 2,000 gallons WATER 250 gallons
POWER T 1,550 hp BASE PRICE $2,195,000
B&D Boatworks, Inc. Wanchese, North Carolina 252-473-6446 ext. 232 www.banddboatworks.com