Spencer 57 - Boat Review

Hop aboard the new Paul Spencer 57 and see firsthand the performance aspects of a pod-driven sport-fisher...

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The first boats installed with Volvo's IPS drives were not fishing boats; however, when I ran them at Volvo's test center in Goteborg, Sweden, and again here in the United States, these unique drive systems made an immediate impression. I couldn't wait to run them in a real sport-fisher. Several years ago I got the chance to run the Volvo company boat, a Tiara, and we released the first billfish ever caught on a boat equipped with an IPS drive system. We raised several white marlin that day, catching two for some happy young anglers, but at the time there was a lot of talk on the docks about whether pods would raise fish or scare them off with their underwater exhaust.

The white marlin we caught didn't seem to mind a bit - they came up real close and hot on the teasers. That told me right away that the whole exhaust issue was just a bunch of talk. A couple of years later, Paul Spencer built a real fish boat with IPS drives, a 43-foot express that I got to run in a tournament. The boat was a joy to fish.

Fast-forward to June 2010, and a hot new 57-footer made its way to St. Thomas with a pair of Volvo IPS 1,200s, and once again, it's the forward-thinking Paul Spencer who built the boat. I recently tested his latest offering on a summer afternoon out of Jupiter, Florida, and saw firsthand the performance aspects of a pod-driven sport-fisher.

Performance
The Spencer 57 accelerates and jumps up to plane in eight seconds, displaying little effort and cutting a clean path into the seas. I was really impressed with the silky smoothness of the boat as well as how quietly it ran, both inside and out, in the cockpit or up on the bridge. At a 1,900 rpm cruise, we made a solid 27.5 to 28 knots, burning a miserly 53 gph - that's 0.49 nm to the gallon. Back it down to 1,750 rpm, and you still hit 24 knots and burn less than 50 gallons an hour. For a better long-range cruise, back it off to 1,000 rpm. Put the lures out, and at 9.6 knots, you'll get 0.73 nm per gallon and for an estimated range of more than 850 nm.

At lure trolling speed, the boat produces a fairly clean wake and offers a couple of clear alleys to fish in. Slowing down to bait speed, the wake is virtually nonexistent, with just a dissipating bubble trail fading off into the spread. This particular boat comes equipped with an exhaust bypass for trolling that allows you to flip a switch and send the exhaust out of the transom as opposed to exiting out of the pod as it normally does when running.

The vessel's agility is impressive when spinning and backing down-sea. When feathering the throttles, the 57-footer will come back plenty quickly; it would be hard for a fish to get too far away with a good captain at the wheel.

Design and Construction

With its raked stem and trademark Spencer sheer, this 57 is a real looker that's accented by a fine finish and graceful curves. There's no doubt that today's Carolina builders have evolved, not only modernizing their looks, but also integrating more advanced boatbuilding techniques and technology - and I'm not just talking about power and drive options. Not just a coastal canyon runner, this traveler sports two 12.5 kW Mastervolt generators, a pair of ISO boost units and an Octiplex system that provides the convenience of regular system checks, early warning features and other vessel monitoring information.

Built as a one-off boat on a jig, this 57 boasts a fully composite construction with 100 percent epoxy and Core-Cell coring material, utilizing blends of E-glass and Kevlar for its skins.

You access the engine room through the cockpit mezzanine hatch on centerline, dropping down between the engines. Generators and other gear line the forward bulkhead, and outboard of the engines a spacious area houses pumps, the fuel-transfer system, Octiplex breaker panels, fire bottles, air-conditioning units and the like. And since the drive units are powered by a jack shaft that connects to the engines well forward, you get a straight shot looking aft into the lazarette from the engine room.

Cockpit
The cockpit boasts as many fishy details as anything out there; it features huge scuppers to shed any on-deck water and a beautiful teak deck for good grip when stand-up angling and wiring big fish. A Carolina fish box sits on centerline in the transom, with a tuna door to starboard. A Release Marine fighting chair, six gunwale-mount rod holders and dedicated storage lockers for mops, gaffs and other gear round out the fish-fighting part of the cockpit.

The mezzanine is hinged along the bulkhead and lifts up to access the tops of the engines. You'll find an ice dump for the Eskimo ice maker in the starboard corner under a seat and a large freezer under the port seat. A drink box and storage bins also hide under the mezzanine deck.

Interior
Entering the salon from the starboard side, you'll notice a counter with a small electrical panel and the Octiplex monitor screens on the bulkhead. Forward of that a leather-bench lounge and wine cabinet steer you down to the companionway stairs via graceful sculpted cabinetry on both sides. The salon houses a leather, L-shaped settee to port with storage underneath.

The galley is set to port and is separated from the salon with a bar counter that houses the Sub-Zero refrigeration and freezer drawers. Along the forward bulkhead are a sink and a cooktop with storage above and below. Spencer slightly offset the large flat-screen TV on the forward bulkhead so that every seat in the salon enjoys a good view of the evening's entertainment.

At the base of the companionway stairs, under the salon and galley, you'll find the first stateroom with raised twin bunks. Moving forward, the teak-trimmed master stateroom with an island bunk and a full head with a huge shower sits to port. To starboard you'll find another full head and shower and an awesome tackle locker that will come in very handy on long journeys. A V-berth forward has a single bunk low to port and another single high to starboard with a hanging locker and drawers for crew gear.

Spencer builds an honest boat with quality components that's meant to run and fish hard. As testament to that, take a look at the number of tournament wins that Spencer owners have garnered over the past several years. If you put a good crew on any Spencer boat, you should catch more than your fair share of fish. Paul Spencer builds excellent fishing tools.

Specifications

LOA......57'
Beam......16'
Draft......54"
Water......250 gallons
Fuel......1,250 gallons
Disp.......60,000 pounds
Power......2 Volvo IPS 1,200 hp

Spencer Yachts / Wanchese, North Carolina / 252-473-6567 / www.spenceryachtsinc.com