I’ve always been fascinated with the back stories behind some of the incredible sport-fishing boats on the water today, especially the custom builds. Most are built for specific purposes: to travel and fish distant locations, or compete at the highest level in tournaments. Bid Time, the new 70-footer from Spencer Yachts, is something completely different.
Her owners, twin brothers in the paving business, enjoy a wide variety of activities on the water. They’re passionate fishermen, and although they may fish only a few tournaments each year, they target nearly everything that swims. A typical season may find them chasing tuna or fishing for sails off Florida or in Mexico. Bottomfishing for big grouper and snapper? Check. Scuba and freediving? They love it. Just hanging out with their families and kids on the hook in the Bahamas? Yep, that’s on the books too. So when they were looking to upgrade from their current boat, they went right back to Paul Spencer (this is their fourth from the popular North Carolina boatbuilder).
I had a chance to check out Bid Time in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on a blustery day in early December. Welcoming me aboard was Capt. Mark Rogers and mate Austin Spitz.
As we started going over the boat’s cockpit layout, several interesting features quickly caught my eye, starting with a 1,000-pound-per-day Eskimo ice maker and the huge dump bin that spans both the upper and lower levels of the mezzanine on the port side. “The owners love to tuna fish,” Rogers says, “so we wanted to make sure we always have plenty of ice.” The next two boxes were set up to be used as either refrigerated or freezer space, with the lower one serving as storage for rigged baits, eliminating the need for an on-deck bait cooler. Moving starboard is the engine room access hatch. On the starboard-side of the salon doorway, a Kenyon grill is housed in the top of the box while tackle storage drawers are in the front and side. The side drawers are configured to hold a huge supply of lead weights for bottomfishing, a nice custom touch. Below in the mezzanine deck is a 70-gallon livewell. And while the owners don’t do a ton of live-baiting, there’s also a secondary fitting under the gunwale that can supply seawater to either an on-deck livewell or tuna tubes. Nice.
A fully insulated Carolina-style fish box occupies the transom, along with full-teak covering boards. The rest of the gingerbread though, from the transom to the bulkhead and even the toe rail around the bow, is faux teak, a painted finish that is nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. “Not only does it save a ton on maintenance, it’s also considerably lighter than real wood,” Rogers says. And it can also be easily touched up in the field.
One other notable feature was the lack of fish boxes or any other hatches in the cockpit sole. No matter how waterproof a builder makes them, any hatch will eventually leak water down into the lazarette below. Bid Time had a Pompanette rocket launcher in place for sailfish season, although it’s easily swapped out for a full-size Pompanette fighting chair when chasing blue marlin.
Most boat reviews begin in the engine room for practical reasons: It gets darn hot down there after running the engines through performance testing, so it’s usually best to head below early.
Bid Time features a pair of 1,925 hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT engines. These are the new Tier 3-compliant engines: powerful and fuel efficient. A pair of Cat 29 kW generators provide house power; Bid Time can run on just one generator if needed, but having a second backup helps when traveling to remote locations.
Forward of the engines are the filters for the Dometic Spot Zero system. This is an especially nice touch since Bid Time’s hull is swathed in a beautiful dark Corinthian blue color that would easily show hardwater spots.
There’s a Fireboy fire-fighting system and an AC/DC fuel transfer pump; even in the remote chance of both generators failing, the captain can use battery power to transfer fuel between the boat’s main tank, which holds 1,600 gallons aft and 500 gallons in the forward tank. Bid Time also holds 500 gallons of fresh water.
Stepping inside the salon is reminiscent of entering an upscale English pub, with its dark satin-finished walnut wood complete with crown molding throughout, an unusual touch that looks terrific. A wraparound settee to port and matching couch to starboard further lend appeal to the interior.
Each of the doors and the companionway entrance overhead are inlaid with a wood burl for a unique accent. The master suite is forward, and the VIP stateroom is to port; there’s an additional guest berth to port with over/under bunks, and a crew quarters to starboard with another set of over/under bunks. Each of the four staterooms and three heads is accented in different soft goods and furnishings, giving each one an individual look and feel.
Rather than the usual washer-and-dryer setup that’s found on many boats, the team at Spencer Yachts converted that space into a tackle locker on Bid Time. This easily holds four 80s, six 50s and six more 30s, with rods and butts broken down and locked into place — there’s additional rod storage on the bridge for nine more outfits.
The galley is another area that received quite a bit of custom attention. The countertops are made of natural granite that’s been cored to save weight, with four-drawer refrigeration, a cooktop and convection microwave oven. There are plenty of additional storage drawers that line the back of the galley, with pullouts for a Keurig coffee maker above and a custom bar setup below. The television swings out on hidden brackets to reveal an Xbox (a must-have for kids on board) as well as a full-size printer, an invaluable piece of gear when traveling to foreign destinations, which often request multiple paper copies of passports, cruising permits and other boat paperwork.
The helm is dominated by a pair of 22-inch Garmin multifunction displays, surrounded by carbon fiber in the electronics compartment. The teak helm pod holds the Cat engine displays, while the VHF radios, controls for the Seakeeper gyrostabilizer, trim tabs and other accessories are mounted in pods flanking the helm. A cool feature: In the overhead looking forward is a recessed display for the Furuno backup nav system and radar. When chasing yellowfin tuna under birds, the captain can just glance up to check the radar while looking ahead.
Two sets of teaser reels occupy the overhead: Miya Epoch US-9s offer the option of pulling dredges, while Precision Auto Reels have the speed to quickly retrieve squid chains or lure-style teasers, even from a hot blue marlin. The full Pipewelders tower looks beautiful and complements the Pipewelders hydraulic outriggers. Up top in the tuna tower, there’s another 12-inch Garmin display, engine and bow-thruster controls, and a remote for the Miya Epoch teaser reels, so it’s fully functional. On the bow, there’s a Delta anchor with low-profile chute, which offers the flexibility to anchor out in destinations that are well off the beaten path.
Spencer Yachts builds its boats with an eye on speed and fuel efficiency, so that means an extensive amount of cored materials in their construction. A cold-molded boat, Bid Time tips the scales at around 83,500 pounds, despite being 70 feet in length. Carbon fiber was used throughout the boat for its strength, rigidity and very light weight. She’s both tough and beautiful.
Our test conditions were pretty sporty outside Ponce Inlet, with 20-knot winds and white-capping 5- and 6-footers. Rogers pointed Bid Time up the beach, dropped the tabs a bit and eased up the throttles. In a few seconds, we were up on top of the seas, and soon we were cruising at 33 knots without any spray hitting the bridge curtains. Rogers says that at 70 percent load, the boat is cruising at 34 knots while turning 1,850 rpm and burning 130 gph. Bump that up to 80 percent load, and she’s making 36.5 knots at 140 gph. That’s full of fuel and against a hard outgoing tide too. Wide-open throttles yield a top-end speed of 43 knots and 200 gph. The boat also backs down at over 7 knots without taking water over the transom, and is more than a match for any billfish in terms of maneuverability.
Far from a one-trick pony, Bid Time was built to handle many different assignments with style, from tournaments and fun fishing to travel and even diving and island hopping with the kids. Whether at home in Florida or far afield in a foreign destination, Bid Time can handle anything that’s thrown her way. She’s another winner from Spencer Yachts