Just outside Swansboro, North Carolina, Tim Winters and his team at Winter Custom Yachts have been quietly producing some of the sport’s most beautiful boats. He’s also not one to shy away from a challenge, so when a client approached him with a concept for something truly unique, Winters was all in.
The result was Hull No. 34, the 50-foot Moonstruck, a two-year project from design to completion that would incorporate a long list of custom features, many of which had never been seen before in a sport-fisher of any kind.
“This client had many things on the list, foremost being the functionality for this boat to not only fish well, but to also cruise along the coasts of New Jersey and South Florida as well as trips to the Bahamas,” Winters says. “They wanted an automotive feel, something they could handle without a crew—just the owner and his wife—and they also wanted speed.” The result is a one-of-a-kind walkaround coupe with a full forward windshield, sunroof, and quad Mercury 600 hp outboards that tips the scales at just 32,000 pounds, thanks to its all-composite construction.
Stepping on board Moonstruck, it’s clear that Winters made full use of the boat’s available space, from the large, air-conditioned bridge deck to the two-stateroom/one-head layout below. There are two full-size bunks aft beneath the helm area where the engine room would normally be in an inboard boat, with the salon up, galley mid-down and a full queen master forward. The galley area is highly functional and designed to seat five to six guests in comfort; the woodwork is a beautiful reconstituted teak veneer that is stained and then finished in high gloss, with genuine teak doors and furnishings. The helm is well-laid-out, with two multifunction displays within easy reach, along with controls for the accessories and VHF radios. Beneath the bench seating is customized storage for the boat’s complement of rods and reels.
Moving aft, it’s clear that the goal of easy operation with minimal crew is continued here, with an aft helm station with joystick. There’s mezzanine seating with ample storage throughout, with a Carolina-style transom fish box/livewell with viewing window. The impressive list of additional options includes a Spot Zero system, Frigibar ice maker, refrigerated plates in the in-deck fish boxes, Seakeeper 6, ElectroSea system, Side-Power bow thruster, and multiple redundant air-conditioning systems throughout the boat. A 17 kW Kohler generator supplies house power while underway. “We were able to incorporate a lot of the systems normally found on larger boats into this one, while still keeping everything accessible for routine maintenance and service,” Winters says.
Perhaps one of Moonstruck’s most distinctive features is the 8-foot partially retractable sunroof. “It’s a product that came from Sweden,” Winters says. “At first, I wasn’t sure about it, but it really opens up the natural lighting on the bridge deck, and it also has a blackout feature if you don’t want the light. It’s a unique feature of the boat.”
Winters says he ran Moonstruck during its initial delivery. “It was raining and blowing 30 [knots], and yet we were dry and comfortable,” he says. “The sunroof and the additional insulation all around really give the boat an automotive feel—it’s solid and quiet.”
Because the owners also enjoy bottomfishing, Winters was tasked with setting up multiple anchoring systems. After a bit of head scratching, his team came up with a way to incorporate three anchors—plow, fluke and grapple—along with two large anchor lockers and two windlasses on the bow. For nighttime swordfishing, light bars placed strategically around the boat can provide full illumination—just another custom touch based on how the owners intend to use the boat. The walkaround design means safe, easy access to the foredeck, whether fighting a fish, anchoring up or handling the lines at the dock.
With 1,100 gallons of fuel, plus another 50 gallons of diesel for the generator, range with the 600s is more than enough to cover the bases without being overloaded. Of the new Mercury engines, Winters had plenty of praise as well. “The 600s are quiet, fuel-efficient, fast, and have the torque we need for a big boat like this,” he says. “Normally it’s difficult to stay on plane at slow speeds in rough conditions, but we designed this boat right from the start for the additional weight of the engines, and with the torque they give us, it’s not an issue at all.”
Having had larger boats, the owners are now able to enjoy the intimacy of running their own rig with just family and friends aboard. It’s a testament to the versatility and unique nature of a builder willing to start with a blank sheet, creating a one-of-a-kind masterpiece in the end.