Boat Review: BB boats 57

While generally not considered flashy or fancy vessels, BB boats represent some strong and mighty seafaring hulls built for the men who use them every day, far offshore, staking their very lives on them in all kinds of weather.

1108br_bbboats_main

1108br_bbboats_main

In the 1950s, an old-timey boatbuilder in Manteo, North Carolina, named Buddy Cannady started building boats during the winter months, using charter-boat captains and mates as the construction workers since they weren't heading offshore in the wild weather off Oregon Inlet anyway. The practice worked especially well since these same workers were often the buyers. Cannady made a good name for himself building solid, hard-core commercial charter-fishing boats.

Charter skipper Billy Maxwell started working with Cannady in this fashion, and the two struck up a strong friendship. That friendship eventually became a partnership in 2000, and BB Boats was born.

The most recent start in the BB Boats shop - a 57-footer - has already proven successful in some respects. BB's hull number one of this design, Aggressor, presently fishes out of Charleston, South Carolina.

BB Boats starts all of their boats with juniper frames, covering it in AB fir marine-plywood planking. Ultimately, the cold-molded hull receives two layers of ½-inch marine plywood on the bottom and two layers of ¼-inch on the sides. BB encapsulates all the wood in 1708 fiberglass cloth impregnated with Gougeon Brothers' West System epoxy inside and out, and seals the deal with high-gloss Alexseal epoxy paints.

The cockpit on the newest 57 boasts an insulated fish box, ice chest and bait-rigging station as well as freshwater and saltwater washdowns. And since today's sport-fishing boats no longer seem so desirable without mezzanine seating/storage in the cockpit, BB Boats signed on world-famous Spencer Yachts to produce advanced-technology, lightweight mezzanines for its boats.

Interior plans call for an open, charter-style salon, forward cabin, over/under single bunks in the companionway and a single head. As befits a working charter-fishing boat, you'll find tackle storage, dry lockers and a bait freezer below. But even workboats demand some comfort, so BB includes a 24,000 Btu Cruisair air conditioner powered by an 8 kW Phasor generator. Though standard power for charter purposes would be the twin 575 hp Cat diesels offering about a 27-knot cruise, you can order this 57 with up to 1,015 hp Caterpillar C18s. But with the smaller C9 Cats, you can expect to burn a measly 35 gph at cruise.

The 2009 hull marks the 31st boat exceeding 55 feet that Buddy Cannady has built in his career and the first designed and lofted by his partner, Billy Maxwell. And since the company prides itself on being a traditional Carolina-style boatbuilding operation, BB Boats guarantees price and delivery in the spring of 2009.

Unlike many custom boatbuilders today, BB Boats still operates in the time-honored tradition of frame building. From plans drawn on plywood to the captains and mates who serve as carpenters, BB Boats are built by fishermen - for fishermen.

While generally not considered flashy or fancy vessels, BB boats represent some strong and mighty seafaring hulls built for the men who use them every day, far offshore, staking their very lives on them in all kinds of weather. As Cannady once said to me, "Our boats are good enough for those who use them."

While visiting his workshop, I asked to see the line drawings for the boat under construction at the time. He ambled over to a dust-laden shelf and extracted a cedar shingle with charcoal drawings on it. "I trash paper plans, so I started using these 'cause they last longer," he explained. And that sums up BB Boats philosophy: Figure out a way to make them stronger so they last longer, but don't spend a fortune in the process.

Oh, and I know we usually run an artist's rendering of the coming boat in our On the Drawing Board section, but it's pretty tough to reproduce a drawing from a cedar shingle. - Dean Travis Clarke

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA......57'
**Beam......
17'
Draft......3'8"
Weight......29,000 pounds (loaded)
Fuel......600 gallons
Water......55 gallons
Power......T 575 hp Caterpillar C9 diesels**
Price......$650,000

BB Boats / Manteo, North Carolina / 252-473-1097 / www.bbboatsinc.com