Jim Smith 86 – Boat Review

This new beauty from Jim Smith Boats is fast, beautiful and efficient as well

October 20, 2015

Whether you’re meeting John Vance of Jim Smith Boats for the first time or you’ve known him for many years, it’s evident he is not only a master craftsman but also a historian of the sport-fishing industry. Vance continues the heritage that has kept Jim Smith Boats at the top of its game for many years. That tradition continues with the launch of the new 86-foot Smith, Sapelo. With classic lines designed for speed, economy and comfort, Sapelo’s streamlined look makes it seem as though it’s piercing the water even while sitting still.


Upon entering Sapelo, the first thing you notice is the great amount of space in the salon and galley area. There is a clear view from the salon door all the way into the galley dinette, which gives the salon the feeling of a great room. One of the most gratifying things about the boat for the owner of Sapelo is the level of fit and finish in the interior of the boat. The sofa and ­seating area sit along the port side of the salon, and all seating areas come properly equipped with charging stations for all your personal electronic devices. The starboard side of the salon is lined with cabinetry loaded with AV equipment.

A 22-cubic-foot ­refrigerator on the port side leads into the counter, which then connects to the stove-top. This divides the salon and galley, with an entry on the starboard side. The galley was designed for ease of maneuverability, with an island in the middle, and it has a settee that can seat up to eight people. The starboard side of the galley encompasses a wet bar, ice machine and wine cooler. In the forward part of the galley, a door leads you into the pantry area, which takes up the entire brow of the boat and houses a 22-cubic-foot freezer and full-size washer and dryer.


The storage in the pantry can accommodate several months’ worth of dry goods, along with all the cooking utensils needed for everyday living. The four-drawer ­Sub-Zero freezers add additional freezer capacity. Vance says the owner wanted self-sustainability and the ability to carry as many supplies as needed for his trips. The boat will serve as a mothership for all the diving, fishing and other excursions the owner enjoys.


Going down the ­companionway on the starboard side, you find a full-beam master stateroom beneath the galley. The master has his-and-her closets and plenty of drawer space under the master berth. The master shower is situated in the middle, with his-and-her heads on either side. Continuing down the companionway, on the port side is the VIP ­stateroom. The full-size bed has ­nightstands on either side, and the stateroom connects to its own shower and head. The high bow deck gives the staterooms a roomy feel.

The starboard-side stateroom is attached to its own head and shower; it has two twin beds and a third fold-down trundle bed. At the bow, two V-berth ­staterooms divide the boat in half. Two equal staterooms on both the port and starboard sides share one common head and shower located all the way ­forward. Each room has two bunks, arranged with one stacked above the other.


Engine Room

The first thing you notice in the engine room is the immense amount of space. Even with twin 2,600 hp MTU 16V Series 2000 M94 diesels, there is more than enough room. Vance says having the galley over the master stateroom made it necessary to raise the overall salon deck, creating an enormous amount of headroom in the engine room. The extra space on the aft bulkhead is utilized for mounting the ice machine, compressors for all of the cockpit refrigeration, Acme isolator boosters, fuel filters, and the hydraulic ­reservoir. Both engines are equipped with hydraulic pumps to run the Wesmar bow thruster and the anchor windlass on the bow.

The boat’s batteries are mounted outboard of the engines. Two 33 kW Onan generators with sound shields come mounted on both sides of the pump-room door. Mounted on the aft bulkhead above the generators are two ­FCI 1,600-gallon-per-day ­watermakers. Chilled-water systems sit on open shelves, and underneath that area are all the air-conditioning and raw-water pumps needed on the boat.


The bridge console is an island, with walk-around access to the front of the bridge on both sides. There is a teak step up just aft of the console, and three teak helm chairs with cushions mounted on the step. The console is laid out symmetrically, with two full-display engine monitors; four full-size Garmin touch screens, which are completely interfaced with one another; and a Simrad autopilot. Forward of the bridge console, there is full bench seating, with additional seating on both the port and starboard sides of the bridge. In the center of the bridge, there’s a cocktail table that can be hinged to convert into a two-person lounge chair.



The cockpit is ­beautifully designed, with a teak bulkhead and mezzanine along with teak covering boards and a teak cockpit deck. The mezzanine deck has one refrigerated drink box that can be used as a freezer, along with storage on the port side of the mezzanine. On the starboard side of the mezzanine is a full-size tackle center with an Eskimo ice machine ice-dump box beneath it. There is one in-deck livewell and a fully insulated transom livewell, which can also double as a fish box.


When pulling away from the dock, Sapelo’s 14-inch bow thruster helps make her extremely maneuverable in even the tightest situations. By the time the engines turned 1,100 rpm, the boat was completely on plane as she glided across the water. When she reached her cruising speed of 30 knots at 1,600 rpm, she burned only 100 ­gallons per hour. And with a 3,500-gallon fuel capacity, that gives her over 30 hours of cruising and a range of almost 1,000 ­nautical miles. The owner is extremely happy with her efficiency and range. Even with an overall length of 86 feet, at cruise speed she leans into her turns and is nimble and responsive to any ­steerage.


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