During a 1997 tour of various North Carolina Outer Banks boatbuilding shops, my boss and I happened upon a single small shed with a boat’s bow peeking out the large open door. It had the bow flare like the rest, but this one sported a much prettier shear line than the others we’d seen. There was no sign on the shed, but there were a few people around, and since the boat was a work in progress, we decided to ask about her.We were quickly greeted by Paul Spencer and his crew, and just like other Carolina builders, he was proud to give us a tour of what he said was going to be his own new charter boat. After seeing most of the builders in town and many boats, it was clear this boat was something special. It had a great look, with balanced proportions and clean, sleek lines.
From that first boat, Spencer quickly rose to the top of the boatbuilding pack. Now that there are 79 of his boats on the water, it’s almost impossible to go anywhere in the world of sport fishing without seeing one. His boats regularly win tournaments and set records wherever they go. Right now in Cap Cana Marina in the Dominican Republic, there are eight of his builds ranging in size from 57 to 66 feet. One of them is his latest: a 62-footer built for Bobby Jacobsen named Marlin Darlin. Every boat Spencer builds is a one-of-a-kind boat, and this 62 is no different. Jacobsen has owned four other boats that he was very happy with, but he wanted something truly unique this time.
Speed and Efficiency
Jacobsen wanted the fastest, most fuel-efficient 62-footer that Spencer could build. He wanted to cruise at 30 knots while burning 80 gallons or fewer, and at 40 knots, he wanted to burn fewer then 130 gph. To accomplish this, Spencer combined the new MAN 1,800 hp engines and his fairly new cored composite-constructed hull to bring the boat in at 70,000 pounds. That cored construction provides a weight savings of 6,000 pounds over wood. The hull is not only lighter but also stronger because there are extra laminates added to protect the core from point loading or from an impact. Spencer vacuum bags the entire running surface, which increases adhesion properties and strength by consolidating the laminates to the core.
I met up with Spencer and the crew of Marlin Darlin to fish a day out of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Like all Spencers, this 62’s sleek and beautiful lines stood out on the dock. The overall profile of the boat seems a little lower then most of the Spencers I’ve seen, but it’s a nice look, and I’m sure it helps lower the center of gravity. Marlin Darlin also sported a shiny Palm Beach tower, a mezzanine and a gray hull with white topsides. I’d already heard about the faux teak transom and toe rail being painted to look like teak, so I had to take an extra-close look at them. If I hadn’t been told ahead of time, I wouldn’t have picked up on them. I did not ask how much weight was saved by painting over a foam core, but I would have to guess a few hundred pounds — and the maintenance must be nonexistent.
Although it wasn’t rough enough to really get the full idea of the ride quality Spencer hulls are known for, I could tell the boat rode well as we clipped along at 32 knots in a 3- to 4-foot quartering sea with a 5-foot wave sneaking in at times. We were turning 1,700 rpm and burning 100 gph as Capt. Eddy Wheeler added just enough trim tab to bring down the bow to soften the ride but not throw water on the bridge in these conditions. Occasionally, that bigger wave would come along, and there would be a slight hull slap because the bow was up. All that was needed to prevent the slap was a little extra tab down. I like the range and options you have to control the bow when running a Spencer — you don’t have to add much, if any, tab, and the bow rides high and proud, keeping you dry. If you want to get somewhere in a hurry and use all your speed, start adding tab until the sharp bow entry gives you a comfortable, but sometimes expected, wet ride. With a little fine-tuning, you can find that happy medium with the tabs, and you get all three: dry, fast and comfortable. What I found interesting about the little hull slap we did have on the 28-mile run out was it did not sound any different then the wood Spencer boats I’ve been on. Wheeler has run five other wood Spencers and now has more than 350 hours on this boat. He didn’t notice any difference either and says he is very happy with the boat’s ride, feel and performance.
After the run, we dropped the riggers and put out some teasers and baits hoping to do some marlin catching. It was nice to see a clean and well-organized wash at 7 to 7.5 knots — you won’t have any problem spotting a fish swimming up into your spread. I’ve been told by a few naval architects that a lighter boat tends to be a more active boat in the water, but because of this boat’s wide beam, I couldn’t tell the difference.
The boat was stable and comfortable to get around on. The underwater exhaust was quiet, and the MAN engines, with the common-rail fuel system, ran smooth and quiet and yielded no diesel exhaust smell. No matter where you decided to perch on this boat, you could find a comfortable spot. Whether up on the bridge, down in the cockpit or inside the salon, every part of the boat was laid out nicely for fishing in comfort.
We finally raised our first blue marlin, but as fishing goes, we experienced a tackle failure; a swivel parted on a squid chain, and the marlin went jumping away from us with half a pink squid chain in tow. We soon raised another one that did not want to tease. At the end of the day, I spotted a fish coming under the left squid chain. The crew went to work while Wheeler teased the fish in from the flybridge. As it ate the flat line, a second fish came in on the right squid chain. This time everything went smoothly, and our anglers hooked both fish.
The fish split off in two different directions, forcing Wheeler to execute some fancy maneuvers. Even though this boat is bigger than the one I normally run, with its 1,800 hp motors, it had the power to do whatever was needed. I was very surprised that it spun and got back on the first fish as quickly as it did, even with a full load of fuel. We managed to catch both blues and then a white marlin just before lines out. I really enjoyed fishing on this boat. Spencer Yachts made it easy for me to write a great review on this latest build. If asked, I would not be able to find anything that would make me hesitate to be the captain on this very boat and head out on a world tour the next day.
I enjoyed spending the day with Spencer the most — talking about the new building processes and refinements he has made since I saw his first boat peeking out of that shed. That enthusiasm he had when he gave me that first tour still burns inside him. Although Spencer admits he had some bumps along the way, he and his staff have streamlined the building process without compromising quality. Spencer’s family and crew did a great job working with this boat buyer, and it shows.
This boat was built in 15 months, and Spencer says that although it was not one of his over-the-top yacht boats, every detail — from exterior to interior -— was covered, and everything had a great fit and finish. After seeing the new Marlin Darlin, it’s obvious that Spencer Yachts gives all it can to make sure you are fully satisfied. If you’re in the market for a fast, beautiful Carolina custom-fishing machine, don’t hesitate to go to the Outer Banks and get your own tour of the Spencer yard.
Beam: 17′ 4″
Weight: 70,200 pounds
Fuel: 1,600 gallons
Water: 275 gallons
Power: Two MAN V12-1800 engines
Generator: Onan model No. 21.5MDKBR
Spencer Yachts, Inc.