Offshore fishermen share a common trait: They go with what they know. The new Gamefisherman 50 Express is a prime example. Her owner decided to downsize from a larger, custom-built convertible and move forward with a more simplified platform that was a better fit for his needs. Based in Stuart, Florida, Gamefisherman has been in operation since 1985, designing and building beautiful open and convertible rigs ranging from 26 to 50 feet.
By eliminating the flybridge, the express style provides a centralized command station, allowing the helmsman to be closer to the cockpit action. This not only keeps the operator in the game, but reduces the need for a full crew. The build required a great deal of thought to make sure the captain could perform double duty.
Overhead, within easy reach of the helm is a teaser reel compartment; a raised teak platform provides 360-degree visibility through the enclosure by Canvas Designers of Riviera Beach—delivering protection from both sun and spray. A pair of BlueWater helm chairs with adjustable footrests provide a good vantage point for charging offshore or monitoring activity in the cockpit, and the hatch in the platform lifts to expose cavernous storage for tackle of all types.
A raised dash is home to the Caterpillar engine instrumentation, a battery of Garmin navigation equipment—including a pair of 24-inch multifunction displays and a 25-kW radar—and dual Standard Horizon VHFs, all installed by Marine Technologies of Stuart.
A varnished teak helm pod is flanked by single-lever electronic controls with buttons in the handles to control the Lewmar DC bow thruster; a slight crown on the top edge of the pod keeps the polished stainless-steel steering wheel from hitting your gut when navigating rough water.
SeaStar hydraulic steering keeps steering responsive.
An L-shaped lounge to port conceals rod and gear stowage; to starboard is a deep drink box and additional seating. The Gamefisherman team can adapt this area to your needs, so be sure to bring your wish list. A clever companionway door includes a combination swing door and a split, raised hatch with a piano hinge for security, natural airflow and privacy for the cabin below.
Complementing the build is a custom-designed Bausch American tuna tower, complete with a standing platform to provide a second feature-packed helm—right down to the freshwater outlet for rinsing off the salt on the way back to the barn.
A hatch in the teak-planked command bridge sole accesses the brightly illuminated Awlgripped engine room where the centerline headroom between the C12.9 Caterpillars is nearly 5 feet.
The machinery’s simplicity and layout is indicative of the builder’s commitment to deliver what an owner/operator desires. Mounted on the forward bulkhead is a pair of Newmar three-stage smart chargers, and just behind the ladder is a Cummins/Onan 21-kW generator flanked by an FCI Aquamiser watermaker to port and an Atlantic ice chipper to starboard.
Access to maintenance and service points for this equipment is excellent. The emergency engine-pump-out system is especially sweet, with a cable connecting the two valve handles so that throwing one lever operates the other in seamless fashion.
Concealed beneath various hatches are pumps and strainers, batteries, oil-transfer systems for engines and gearboxes, a pair of Rule 1500 bilge pumps with Ultra float switches, and an Ultra high-water alarm. A platform forward of the engines allows ease of passage to get outboard; other than plumbing and wiring neatly secured to the hull sides, it is a wide-open space.
A few steps below the command deck is a practical and surprisingly spacious salon with a teak and holly sole and satin teak joinery throughout. Although lacking in natural lighting, it is a comfortable and air-conditioned social area.
A few of the interior elements include: an oversize L-shape, white leather lounge with stowage below; a rod storage compartment built into the hull side; a Scotsman icemaker concealed in a teak cabinet; a high-low table; and a flat-screen television mounted on the bulkhead. On the starboard side, the galley features a stone countertop, under-counter drawer-style refrigeration, a stainless-steel sink, a Summit two-burner electric cooktop, and a microwave oven.
Just past the laundry center, the private master stateroom features a full-size walkaround bed, complete with drawer storage below and a flat-screen television mounted on the wall. More stowage can be found in the teak side lockers.
A hatch in the sole lifts to expose the perfectly faired bilge housing a freshwater pump, another Rule pump and an Ultra switch—all of which again reiterates the builder’s attention to detail regarding ease of maintenance and accessibility to service items.
The teak-planked, 150-square-foot cockpit is open and uncluttered. From the twin mezzanine seating to the transom, Coral C is perfect for trolling, bottom dropping or kite fishing, and several other clever touches make it even more so. Cockpit depth is 27½ inches and it’s a 39-inch reach to the waterline. A wide, gateless transom door serves fishermen as well as swimmers—a point I make because there is sufficient room in the lazarette for dive tanks.
Dual fish boxes in the sole measure 65 inches long, 23 inches wide and 18 inches deep; each with a uniform series of drains in the gutter to divert water before it can spill into the box. For live-bait fishing, a pair of supply and discharge fittings are flush-mounted to the deck to keep out excess water while using portable livewells.
There is also ample storage in the side lockers beneath the port and starboard covering boards, and even more is available under each of the mezzanine lounges, with room to stow a sounding rod for accurately checking fuel levels—an old trick that brought a smile to my face—to take the guesswork out of gauging how much fuel you have.
Gamefisherman offers both composite and cold-molded boats. A composite hull is the standard fare and cold-molded construction is an available option on request.
Coral C is cold-molded with triple-planked Okoume marine ply over fir longitudinals, sealed on both sides with epoxy and E-glass fiberglass laminates and finished throughout in-house. The foredeck and bridge sides are composite, constructed with E-glass and Corecell foam.
At 45,000 pounds, she made short work of running offshore in the 3-foot slop created by a 15- to 18-knot southeast breeze, delivering a 31-knot cruise at 1,800 rpm, consuming 65 gallons per hour according to the Caterpillar display. Top end at 2,300 rpm showed 39 knots, burning 50 gallons per side.
The Gamefisherman 50 Express shares a commonality of style and craftsmanship that envelops quality, fit and finish in an unassuming manner. There is no ignoring her custom pedigree, yet she doesn’t broadcast her flashiness. Instead, she just gleams with a readiness to head offshore, put the spread out, and look great while doing it.