Boat Review: Jim Smith 71

With Jim Smith's new 71-footer, the go-fast boat becomes a go-far boat.

October 12, 2001

Building a highly customized boat can be a long and arduous process, taking lots of money and up to two years to complete. Of course, the plus is that in the end you should wind up with exactly what you wanted. With Jim Smith’s newest and largest hull to date, the 71-foot Off Duty, the result was definitely worth the wait.
Off Duty’s owner wanted a boat that would be self-sufficient while conducting long-range fishing excursions. So the planning process came down to figuring out where you want to go, what you want to take, and then what you need to build to accommodate that, says John Vance, president of Jim Smith Boats. And on the Off Duty, owner influence is evident throughout.

“The concept of this boat was to be completely self-contained,” Vance says. But more than that, the owner wanted the boat built so that while he’s traveling, if he sees a spot he’d like to fish, he can stop and fish. That means no deck-loading fuel, and no coolers in the cockpit. You have to be ready to go with a clean layout and everything stored away properly.
“Before we built this thing, the owner knew exactly where he wanted everything to go, right down to the canned goods and the cereal boxes,” Vance says. “So we built 50 drawers in the boat, with at least half of those in the galley, to provide planned storage space for everything.”

The Off Duty’s provisions for long-range cruising go far beyond having the plates tucked nicely away, though. This boat can easily manage extended stays in foreign waters, thanks to an extensive redundancy of systems.


The boat features the standard fare of two 20-kilowatt Alaska Diesel generators, but also has two Filtration Concepts water makers that can process 2,400 gallons per day, or 100 gallons per hour. In just half a day’s fishing, Vance notes, the Off Duty can top off her tanks even if they’re completely empty. The boat’s air-conditioning system runs off two three-ton chillers, either one of which could cool the boat on its own. The Off Duty also carries 100 gallons of engine oil, enough for two complete oil changes plus some top-off oil. That’s enough for 450 engine hours between pit stops. And if it pumps water or filters fuel, chances are you’ll find two of them in this engine room.

This boat’s stint at traveling also becomes apparent in its freezer capacity, which the Off Duty has more of than the typical sport-fisher. A giant 24-cubic-foot freezer with two access doors resides on the bridge, just forward of the helm console. Also on board is a 3-cubic-foot drink box/freezer on the bridge, a 6-cubic-foot freezer in the cockpit and another 6-cubic-foot freezer in the galley. Thanks to the digital controls, the skipper can set up each of these units as a freezer, a refrigerator or just turn them off. That gives great flexibility when divvying up the groceries, bait, drinks and dry goods.

Of course, no Jim Smith boat would be satisfied with going far without going fast, and the Off Duty holds up that tradition nicely.
Thanks to her efficient hull design, light weight and 1,450-hp Detroit 1692s, the 71 tops today’s magical mark of 50 mph under friendly conditions. At her top-rated 2,400 rpm, she hits 51 mph while burning 160 gallons per hour. That would eat up her 2,000 gallons of fuel capacity in about 500 miles.


But what’s more impressive than top speed is this boat’ s low-end performance. At 1,200 rpm with full load of fuel, water and provisions, the Off Duty reaches 22 knots and burns 45 gallons per hour, which gives the boat a range in the neighborhood of 1,000 nautical miles. (At her more moderate middle range of 1,900 rpm, the Off Duty attains a cruise speed of 40 mph while burning 110 gph, for a cruise range approaching 600 miles.)

“Everybody knows these boats go fast,” Vance says, “but what really stands out here is the efficiency. If you’ve got a boat that’s efficient at the low end, you’ll have a boat that goes fast.”

In the cockpit, the Off Duty offers pretty much the standard fare, which on a 71-foot custom boat pretty much means it offers everything you could want.
In addition to the prerequisite live well, fish boxes and bait-prep station, the Off Duty features an Eskimo 600 slush machine that is plumbed to the fish box. (If you don’t want the fish box full of ice, it has holding plates that will turn it into yet another freezer.) Two separate top-loading ice boxes hold plenty of cold drinks, and a tray at the top makes them ideal for storing the day’s baits above the ice.
The tackle station has eight large drawers, and another cabinet houses a number of small sealed containers that keep all the small stuff needed for fishing dry and corrosion-free.


On the 71, all electronics are angled behind the teak pod-style helm underneath tinted glass, making everything easy to see and reach from the two infinitely adjustable Stidd helm chairs. A chart drawer stores a wealth of nautical help, though with the custom electronics installation, it’s feasible that the skipper need not open that drawer except on the most dangerous of passages.
A flat-screen computer offers the skipper the ability to display the navigational chart for the area, overlaid with a selectable combination of plotter, radar or color sounder. Dedicated units for each task are also included in the layout.

Inside the Jim Smith, the three-stateroom/three-head layout includes an owner’s suite and guest suite amidships, with crew’s quarters in the bow. Heads are finished with teak and holly flooring, and traditional varnished teak is used on all bulkheads, cabinets, rails and drawers.
Yet despite the very typical sound of that description, the Off Duty has a very different feel – perhaps of an English pub or old university library – thanks to a heavy use of teak and brass hardware throughout.

Instead of the traditional dinette, the boat’s owner opted for an office suite that includes two large file drawers and a desk housing a computer and fax machine (both of which are routed to the boat’s landline, cellular and satellite phone systems). A bookshelf, large chairs, bar stools and large granite bar complete with the traditional brass kick bar contribute to the antique look, but the 40-inch plasma TV, remote-control high/low table and pneumatic pop-up sofa bring you back to the present readily enough.
“The owner involvement in this boat was very heavy, in all aspects of its design,” Vance says. “But we welcome that here. It makes my job easier, and you end up with a better product in the end.”


For more information, contact:
Jim Smith Boats
2980 SE Dominica Terrace
Stuart, FL 34997









75,000 pounds


2,000 gallons


400 gallons


1,450-hp DDECs

Base Price



More Boat Reviews