Whenever I sea-trial one of Sunny Briggs’ boats, I expect to like it from the outset. Briggs started his career on the water as a fisherman, and he remembers how to build boats with fishing in mind. There’s only one real surprise on his new offering: All previous Briggs boats came with a cold-molded wood and fiberglass hull, but this one is all composite, with no wood in the hull whatsoever.
Briggs purchased the composite hull from a well-known custom builder who, for commercial reasons, prefers to remain anonymous. The hull consists of two layers of Core-Cell foam on the bottom and one on the sides and was vacuum-bagged with biaxial and mat fiberglass and Kevlar. This high-tech method creates an exceptionally light, stiff, strong and quiet hull. And Briggs couldn’t be more pleased with the initial results he obtained from using these materials. With twin C32 ACERT 1,850 hp Caterpillar diesels, the 68 cruises at an impressive 32 knots and hits 40 at wide-open throttle.
Briggs knows what a fishing cockpit needs and made sure that this boat came well equipped. The teak deck is functional and gorgeous, hand-laid and not pre-cut. He put in two abovedecks livewells and installed a rack of tuna tubes in the center of the transom – but it doesn’t intrude as far forward as a fish box would. This extra space allows the big Release fighting chair, with an offset pedestal, to clear the corners of the transom with a standard rod tip.
From any Briggs flybridge, the skipper can see the fighting chair and can tell if the reel is turning or not, which is essential for any serious heavy-tackle pursuits. The helm seat and companion chair at the helm station sit atop a raised platform, which provides an unobstructed view of both the fore deck and the chair.
The electronics displays are set at an angle so you can easily see them from both the helm chair and companion seat. And you’ll find comfortable seating on the bridge forward of the helm console, with ample rod storage under the seats.
The engine room makes it obvious that Randy Ragland, skipper of the new 68, and Briggs himself see eye to eye on what constitutes a well-equipped and well-planned engine space. All aspects of preventative maintenance are close at hand. Dual reversible Oberdorfer pumps, one on each engine, allow easy oil changes, and should either pump fail, one can quickly and easily be moved to the opposite side.
All filters both for lubrication and the dual Raycors on each main engine and those on the twin Northern Lights 25 kW generators are easily accessible for routine or emergency changes. You’ll also find sight gauges on all fuel tanks, with dual pumps from the main aft tank to twin saddle tanks.
During our trials in the Intracoastal Waterway, the Briggs Custom 68 spun well, even with the rudders centered, and she really zipped around with the rudders working with the one engine in forward gear. She steered easily in either direction with only one engine in gear despite a gale force wind blowing against her bow. With the angler and reel easily visible from the helm, this boat makes a great platform for fighting big marlin or tuna on heavy tackle.
The only thing I would really miss on this boat is a tower for spotting fish and birds. If I have ignored the hundreds of lovely details the builder incorporated, it is not because I didn’t appreciate them, but they were too numerous for the space I am allowed in this report.
From a bare-bones charter boat (one is under construction in the Briggs shed right now) to this state-of-the-art, gorgeous boat with all the bells and whistles and superb finish, Briggs knows fishing boats and would be more than happy to build one for you.
POWER…….T C32 ACERT 1850 hp
Briggs Boatworks / Wanchese, North Carolina / 252-473-2393 / www.briggsboatworks.com