It all started in 1948 when Franklin and Ennis Merritt opened Merritt Boat & Engine Works in Pompano Beach, Florida. Almost four generations later, the company still sits atop the list of most respected custom sport-fishing boatbuilders in the world. Now that’s longevity!
With twin Cat 1,850 hp C32 ACERT diesels, you can hear the turbos spool up on the 72 and feel the boat speed up, but you experience no bow rise whatsoever. It just goes faster or slower. The 28-knot cruise feels like you’re standing still.
People say you can’t effectively fish a boat this size. Au contraire! It backs down with complete steering control at 6 knots and spins just fine. You don’t even feel a three- to four-foot head sea. And you can troll with a perfectly clean wake at anything less than 10 knots.
I liken boarding Brier Patch to walking into the most exclusive old-world men’s club in London. No flash to be found anywhere aboard, but the moment you walk into the salon, the classy ambience overwhelms you. The term “tasteful” doesn’t do it justice.
The forward cabin’s unique layout features a private head and over/under queen-size berths, with the upper sporting a Pullman curtain. The boat’s owner mostly takes family trips, and the two adult children with spouses can both share this cabin and still be comfortable.
The master stateroom features an athwartship king berth with a large bathroom suite. To further please the senses, Merritt adds terrific radius curves below, created easily with Tri-Core composite paneling and fine-wood veneers. Real burl wood, rather than Amtico or the like, makes up the flooring to a spectacular effect. Counters belowdecks are all made from onyx, while granite rules in the galley.
Other accommodations include Marlin’s own Capt. Karl Anderson’s cabin (a single) and crew’s quarters for the two deckhands.
A huge three-sided leather settee (with storage under all of it) wraps around the hi-lo coffee table. Raise the table and the custom-built leaves slide out, turning it into a large dining table with room for at least eight.
As you’d expect on a vessel this size, there’s easy access to the outboard sides of the engines via the forward ends, infinite flexibility in changing oil and moving fuel around, and overall easy maintenance.
The cockpit area on Brier Patch is nothing short of immense – and it comes with all the latest bells and whistles. You often lose rigging space with the new mezzanine designs; however, Brier Patch boasts a rigging station to starboard complete with a swiveling table that fits into a nearby rod holder.
The tuna door overlaps at the bottom, forming a narrow step into which the dive ladder mounts; it also keeps water from coming through the door when backing down on a fish. Another detail finds the athwartship fish box with a specially designed ice-machine pipe that distributes the ice along the entire length of the box rather than letting it pile up on one end.
Thanks to an elevated six-inch-high platform behind the wheel, Brier Patch provides amazing vision from the flybridge helm both fore and aft. The captain controls all navigation electronics via a pair of flat, rubber computer keyboards and matching Logitech waterproof trackball mice. Brier Patch represents hull number 90 from Merritt and consists of epoxy-impregnated multidirectional E-glass and carbon fiber vacuum-bagged with Core-Cell composite coring.
As always, Merritt does a masterful job of marrying the most advanced technologies with traditional, classic styling. The results speak for themselves.
– Dean Travis Clarke
GENERATORS……T 32 kW Onan generators**
POWER……T 1,825 hp Caterpillar C32 ACERTs
Merritt Boat & Engine Works / Pompano Beach, Florida / 954-941-5207 / www.merrittboat.com