Paul Spencer made his mark as a respected captain and fisherman on the offshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean. As with most of his ilk, his passion for all things nautical began at an early age with summer jobs in the North Carolina fishing charter business, and he earned his ticket by the time he was 20 years old. Armed with a personal vision of what a sport-fishing boat should be able to do and a hands-on, experienced-based approach to design and construction, he founded Spencer Yachts in 1996 in Manns Harbor, North Carolina. From its humble beginnings in a tin shed, the facility now boasts some 125 employees and custom builds from 37 to 87 feet in length. Attitudes is owned by Joe Pregont, a seasoned boat owner with a passion for real wood and sport-fishing boats with style and flair. He was drawn to Spencer Yachts with an image for his own version of the company’s time-tested, sea-proven 59-footer. “I saw Mimi, a Spencer 59 in Harbour Island in the Bahamas and really liked it,” Pregont says. “After I met Paul there and finished making the rounds stateside, I decided to build my first custom boat with him. This is my second Spencer now, and I can’t wait to get her out on the water.”
As with any custom build, the needs of the individual owner must be met. And for this particular project, it began with a request to make sure the living spaces of Attitudes were big enough, in terms of height, for the Pregont family. “Most of the boys, including my son-in-law, are on the tall side, averaging about 6 feet, 5 inches,” says Pregont. “So when we laid out the interior, we made sure Spencer and his people took that into consideration.” To that end, and without sacrificing that sleek and proportional Spencer profile, Attitudes has an average of 78 inches of headroom or more everywhere inside, from the 80 inches in the accommodations area to as high as 84 inches in the forepeak master. With some of the larger builds, there’s obviously a bit more wiggle room. However, the art aboard this boat meant that the design needed to be just right. “We measured every room layout and every space, not only on Attitudes but on others to make sure it was done to the family’s specifications,” adds Capt. Jamie Van Winkle.
A fully found galley is forward of that, and a comfortable dinette sits to starboard. For the accommodations below, it was agreed that the three–stateroom, two-head layout would include an open starboard hallway bunk, measuring some 80 inches long and 36 inches wide with massive storage below. And whether in the forepeak or guest quarters, there is more than ample space in which to keep all those necessary items for extended trips.
With excellent fit and finish noted everywhere, the salon features tons of rod and reel storage below the portside seating area.
A rod closet below allows storage for all the gear you could need.
Well-lit and beautifully finished, the engine room is accessed through a centerline hatch forward in the cockpit. “I had that hatch and dogging entrance door made wide enough to slide my spare props right in, eliminating any need for boxes being on the deck when we are traveling,” Van Winkle says. Once inside, the engine room offers more than ample space to access all equipment, including batteries and electric systems, pumps, valves, refrigeration units, air conditioning, sea chest, and switches. The CAT 21.5 kW generator came encased in a sound enclosure and mounted athwartships in front of the twin C18 1,150 hp Caterpillar mains. An alleyway leads from the engine space to the lazarette. Not only is it an excellent storage area with easy access, it also eliminates the need for a deck hatch, thus preventing any chance of water intrusion during a tussle with a big fish or big water.
The cockpit featured all the necessary accessories, such as mezzanine seating, fish boxes, livewell, refrigerator and freezer compartments, and a BlueWater chair. “I’ve been dealing with the company for years and really like the way Tom Ackel and his crew deliver a product,” says Van Winkle. Made with high-grade stainless hardware and selected teak, it’s the biggest one they make, and it will definitely see a lot of action on this boat. Her coamings and transom are all teak. This owner really likes his boat trimmed out as much as possible; to show off the aft end of Attitudes, about 30 coats of varnish were applied to the transom before being covered with clear coat, after which the gold-leaf name was applied and then buried in multiple layers of clear coat as well. “We go out of our way to keep the deep-drop lead and the marlins from scratching it up,” Van Winkle says. “All this stuff is the real deal with a custom boat.”
Simplicity was key to laying out the bridge area. To that end, the helm features a three-screen electronics display. Practical and kind of old school by some standards, it offers a clean, uncomplicated seating area forward for guests, while giving the skipper all the tools and view aft for when the action is hot and heavy. Electric reels and radios are in separate overhead compartments, and I found excellent storage areas here as well. The Pipewelders tower is an outstanding piece of equipment and finished off as well as any I’ve seen anywhere. “I try not to overdo it up here,” Van Winkle says, noting how easy it is to reach anything he could need while fishing or getting from place to place.
Once the jig is set up in the Manns Harbor shop, the hull is trucked to Wanchese where the interiors, engines, painting (with Imron) and the rest of the finishing projects are completed. Attitudes is a cored boat, using Divinycell and Core-Cell, and it upgrades tried-and-true construction methods with new materials. For strength, her backbone — being the stringers — is still laminated wood, as are the chines. All that is set on coring, which is glassed over and vacuum-bagged. Once the whole boat is done, it is then cooked by building an oven around it to cure it and get rid of some post-cure issues. “She’s the second boat we’ve done this way. Because of the resultant weight loss, strength and stiffness, Spencer Yachts will be doing it from now on,” says Van Winkle.
“I just didn’t like the harmonics of the five-bladed props,” Van Winkle says to me as we headed out of Pirates Cove Marina in Stuart, Florida, for some time out on the water. Swapping them out for a pair of Veem four-blade, 31-inch wheels, his reaction was immediate: “Now that’s how things should sound,” he says. “Quiet.” Having not been aboard with the former props, I could not judge the difference, but a smooth increase in speed was quite apparent as we approached 1,750 rpm with a 70 percent load.
Holding her there, Attitudes moved through the water at 29 knots at what I would call a slow cruise. (Not too shabby at 1,500 as well, with a 23-knot rate.) When we advanced the throttles to 2,000 rpm, at 76 percent load, I noted 34.5 knots. She has a definite sports-car feel with quick response to the helm as she cut tight and steady turns, and she tracked straight and true.
Spencer’s particular knack for building a boat results in a sleek, well-proportioned look wrapped around an impressive performance package. From the front of the house, to the shape and size of the windows, to the sweep of the overhang, Spencer boats share a unique profile. With the 66-foot Alpha Bravo, a 74 named Flight Plan, Inappropriate, a 69-footer, and Gratitude, which measures 62 feet along with several others in the works, you’ll be seeing a lot more Spencer Yachts on the water in the near future. And that’s a good thing. Photo Courtesy Spencer Yachts