SURRY — Wesmac Custom Boats launched its latest Super 46 last week, and though it has celebrity owners it is hard to imagine a more serious fishing machine than Battle Wagon.
TV talk show host Maury Povich and his wife, newswoman Connie Chung, ordered the boat nearly two years ago for their son Matthew to use, primarily, in the commercial offshore canyon fishery for bigeye and yellowfin tuna, the fish often marketed under the Hawaiian name “ahi” in restaurants.
Battle Wagon was originally scheduled to launch several months ago but, as is often the way with big custom boats, Linda Greenlaw Wessel said this week, “a one-year project becomes a two-year project,” as a result of changes ordered by the owner during construction. While waiting for the new boat to be completed, Povich and Chung bought a used, conventional Wesmac 46, the Hazel Browne, that Greenlaw Wessel captained at one time.
The wait is now over and, at a first look, was certainly worthwhile. Early this week, Battle Wagon was getting the finishing touches on her interior — waiting for cushions, a crew from Kramp Electronics in Southwest Harbor completing the wiring for her extensive complement of electronics — but just about ready to go to work. And it’s work the boat is destined for, not partying.
“I call this a hybrid,” Greenlaw Wessel said of the boats such as Battle Wagon that Wesmac is starting to get more orders for. It has “a commercial exterior, but the owners want yacht interiors.”
From the outside, the boat could hardly look more like a working machine built for a specific purpose: fishing for tuna far offshore at the edge of the continental shelf where great subsea canyons cut through the sea floor with vertical walls that can extend to depths of nearly 4,000 feet.
The Super 46 is a huge boat. It is 46 feet 9 inches long, with a 17-foot beam (2½ feet wider than the company’s regular 46-footer), 5 foot 6 inch draft and a displacement of some 40,000 pounds.
Powered by an 1,150-horsepower Caterpillar diesel turning a five-blade 32 inch-by-34 inch propeller on a 2¾ inch shaft, the boat tops out at 26 knots with wide open throttle and cruise at 18 knots.
While heading for the fishing grounds, Greenlaw Wessel said, “it will cruise very economically at 11 knots.” With its 1,000-gallon fuel capacity, that gives it a cruising range of more than 1,000 miles.
Battle Wagon is also equipped with an Imtra hydraulic bow thruster and a 12 kW Northern Lights generator.
The interior of the boat, while extremely spacious and comfortable, is by no means lavish. There is a well-equipped galley in the wheelhouse. The boat has heat and air conditioning, so it will be comfortable in all seasons, and there are two small staterooms with upper and lower berths and a head with full shower below decks. What woodwork there is, and as befits a boat that will fish seriously, it is relatively little for a boat as big as Battle Wagon, is brightly varnished.
The real clues to the serious purpose of the boat, though, are in its cabin sole and its electronics. Unlike a yacht with the classic teak and holly sole, the deck throughout the interior is cork. While it looks like teak, the decking is non-skid, easily repaired if damage and easy on the legs and back of a crew spending long hours on the fishing grounds.
The electronics package is impressive. At the inside helm (the boat also has helm stations in the cockpit and in the aluminum crow’s nest-tuna tower) three 9-inch touch screen monitors display information fed through a Furuno NavNet system that incorporates digital radar, depth sounder, CHIRP (compressed high intensity radar pulse) echo sounder, satellite weather receiver and AIS (automatic identification system.) Among the other electronic goodies, there are also both a satellite compass and a gyro compensated heading sensor, as well as a Simrad autopilot and extensive radio communications gear.
The cockpit, designed with the assistance of well-known fisherman Archie Jost, is a pure work platform. In the center is the raised hatch that gives access to a 10,000-pound fish hold that will be chilled by dual Eskimo ice makers supplied by a fresh watermaker. A “greenstick” fishing pole rises up on the centerline abaft the tuna tower and a pair of hydraulic Bandit reels (instead of the usual one) are mounted on the aft corners of the cockpit.
To be able to work at all hours, Battle Wagon has five powerful, military grade Durabrite LED work lights — one forward and four facing aft — on the tuna tower.
“She’s going to light up like a Patriots game at night,” Greenlaw Wessel said.