At 5 a.m., I stood in the cockpit of the newest Dean Johnson, a sleek 57-footer, as the crew scurried to make ready for sea. Capt. Josh Temple – not known for infinite patience – suddenly screamed through the darkness from the flybridge, “Why the *&%# are we still tied to the dock?” One minute later we started motoring out of the new Marina Riviera Nayarit at La Cruz in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, on our way to challenge huge yellowfin tuna and hopefully catch my first black marlin.
This 57 carries plenty of Caterpillar power, consisting of twin C18s rated at 1,000 hp each, as well as a Caterpillar generator on the forward bulkhead. And thankfully, you’ll find the crash-pump valves immediately at hand when you enter the compartment – just as they should be. I’ve never understood builders who put them all the way at the forward end of an engine room.
Large people will find the engine-room access tight, down a short, very vertical ladder. Heading aft from the cockpit hatch, a fairly spacious tunnel opens up, leading all the way aft to the steering quadrant.
The mezzanine fish box has two hatches but is one box. You can request lots of other insulated boxes and storage places here too. I did enjoy one concession to modernity, however: A row of ports dump welcomed air conditioning onto the occupants of the mezzanine seats.
One feature setting this boat apart from many others is four 1 hp Jacuzzi pumps used to feed the tuna tubes, the livewell and saltwater washdown hoses. Each individual pump is capable of running the entire system. Interestingly, there are no hatches in the cockpit sole, and all game-fish catches go into an insulated stainless box incorporated into the mezzanine.
I found the climb up the ladder to the flybridge to be very vertical, and the hatch prevents you from grabbing a rail or flybridge coaming to help the climb. Certainly, you can hold onto the hatch itself, but that relies completely on a small spring latch that holds it open. But that’s a small issue. Functionally, you won’t find a better layout. From the wheel you can see the forward two-thirds of the bow and the cockpit from the rod holders on the back of the fighting chair aft. I also appreciated the ability to move around, behind and between the helm and companion seating without disturbing the occupants of either.
At 600 rpm on one engine, the Johnson idled along at 6 knots. With both in gear, she idles at 8. But Temple does a ton of live-bait fishing and uses the ZF trolling valves to dial the Johnson back to a barely measurable creep, with zero turbulence behind the transom.
Temple regularly cruises the 57 at 30 knots, turning 1,850 rpms and burning a relatively modest 68 gph. At her top speed of 37 knots, the 57-footer burns 100 gph at 2,250 rpms. Let’s just put it this way: If you push the throttles forward while at cruise, the acceleration will plumb walk you backward if you aren’t holding on.
The Dean Johnson 57 handles seas extremely well on all points. With an 18-knot wind abeam, we stayed bone-dry on the open flybridge through a complete day’s fishing.
Overall, the Johnson 57 qualifies as a most capable custom fishing boat. Luxury yacht quality? Perhaps not. Totally functional? Without question. Temple says, “I’ve been at the helm of a lot of boats with the pressure on – in tournament fishing situations to outrunning hurricanes – and we’ve won every tournament we’ve fished on this boat. And she’s brought us home through some truly biblical weather.” Mr. Johnson understands what big-game captains and serious fishermen demand. This 57 is living proof of that! – Dean Travis Clarke
POWER……T 1,000 hp CAT C18 diesels
Dean Johnson Boatworks / Wanchese, North Carolina / 252-473-5018 / [email protected]