For a die-hard boater without quite enough time for a fishing trip on a rainy, lazy Sunday, it’s hard to beat an hour or two of clicking and scrolling through Boat Trader’s listings, looking for dreamboats to drool over. For this month’s Expert’s Choice listings we came up with a classic Downeast North Carolina center-console fishing boat, a robust and capable passagemaking trawler, and one of the most iconic sportfishing boats ever built. Curious? Read on.
This story will be available in the future as part of Boat Trader’s Best Boat Deals series, but the boat listings below may not be. If you click through to an expired link it means that someone nabbed the bargain — or the owner had second thoughts about selling.
– Boat Trader editors
2006 Jones Brothers Cape Fisherman 20 LTE
Built to handle the unpredictable and sometimes dangerous waters off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the center-console fishing machines made by Jones Brothers Marine inM orehead City, NC, have a legendary reputation for their ride, build quality, and fishability. They’re so popular in the area, in fact, that you’d be hard pressed not to encounter one of these boats during the fall false albacore run off Cape Lookout—probably 60 to 70 percent of professional fishing guides in the area run some sort of Jones Brothers boat.
That’s why we were excited to find this 2006 model Cape Fisherman 20 LTE among the Boat Trader listings. In case you’re wondering, “LTE” stands for Light Tackle Edition, and it gets you a load of fishing-friendly features such as pop-up navigation lights, pop-up cleats, cockpit lighting, and a console rod rack. There’s also under-gunwale rod stowage, flush-mounted deck rod holders, and more.
This nice-looking light blue model has a Yamaha 150-horsepower F150 four-stroke outboard bellied up to the stern with about 800 hours on the clock. Expect a top-end in the mid 40s, and an efficient cruise in the mid 20s. If our experiences in the ocean off Cape Lookout are any measure, you’ll enjoy a great ride at most any speed.
Composite construction with not a splinter of wood anywhere means this boat’s got many years of fishing left in her. Included in the price is a 2013 aluminum EZ Loader Trailer, Garmin 740 fish finder/GPS, Uniden VHF radio, Fusion stereo, an optional 30-gallon livewell, and an upgraded two-battery electrical system with isolator switch. At $27,000, this model represents great savings over buying new—about a $20,000 savings, in fact. If you’re angling for a virtually indestructible fishing machine that can run with the big boys in the rough stuff, this is a model you should give a closer look.
2011 Beneteau Swift Trawler 34
Beneteau was a relative unknown in the United States powerboat scene when this 2011 model Swift Trawler 34 was built. That’s because it wasn’t until around 2010 when Beneteau started introducing a number of different powerboat models to the U.S. market, including this excellent coastal passagemaking vessel. Fast, and amazingly well set up for cruising, this boat is well equipped and ready for adventures. Seeing the listing had us dreaming about a cruise down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway this fall towards tropical climes.
The “Swift” designation in the Swift Trawler 34’s name reflects this boats uniquely designed hull. Instead of being full displacement, as many boats of this type are, the Swift Trawler 34 has a semi-displacement hull, allowing it to partially ride on top of the water’s surface instead of pushing through it. With a single 425-horsepower, six-cylinder Cummins turbo diesel you’re talking a 22-knot top-end and a 16-knot cruise. That’s an awfully nice feather to have in your hat, at least when you’re trying to put lots of miles under your keel.
With a robust, shippy-looking design, the Swift Trawler has just about everything needed for extended passagemaking or a long weekend exploration of your home waters. The master stateroom is situated all the way forward in the bow, while a smaller guest stateroom is located just aft of it, to port. An enclosed shower and head are located on the same level. Up in the main saloon are a galley, the helm, and an expansive dining area that can be turned into a sleeping berth. Large expanses of glass make the area feel open and well–lighted. A large aft cockpit is great for hanging out and relaxing, and a teak-capped swim platform makes getting in and out of the water easy. Above is a large flybridge deck with commanding views and comfy seating.
This boat appears to have been well maintained, and the owner has kept detailed records of her upkeep, describing her as “like new.” Visions of that trip down the Intracoastal, or maybe an adventure up north to New England in the summer, still dance in our heads.
1974 Bertram 31 Flybridge
You could easily say that the Bertram 31 was legendary naval architect C. Raymond Hunt’s masterpiece—a true work of art. Its deep-V hull, sleek lines, rugged construction, and amazing sea-keeping abilities have lifted it almost to cult status. The design is so popular, in fact, that a good number of the 1,800 original hulls are still around, having been extensively refitted and repowered, keeping the design alive. The Bertram brand has even been reborn because of this design—a new 35-footer based on the original 31 is in the works. You can see why this 1974 model made us take a closer look.
Repowered in 2007 with new 375-horsepower Crusader gasoline engines, the listing’s pictures illustrate a boat that’s been extremely well-maintained. Expect a top speed around the upper 30s, and an efficient cruise speed in the mid 20s. As an added bonus from the original power plants, these Crusaders are fresh-water cooled. That means less worrying about corrosion issues inside the engines.
Though the Bertram 31 typically came equipped as a flybridge, this model also comes with a beautifully built Palm Beach tuna tower and additional helm station. A fighting chair accents the huge cockpit—a beloved design element of this boat—and the owner has added many fishing features to make this a capable angling machine. Electronics aboard include a Furuno FCV 585 fish finder, Furuno depth finder, Garmin GPS, and an autopilot—a great tool for trolling. If you can’t find and catch fish with this boat, you may want to take up another hobby. Just saying.
Inside, the Bertram’s accommodations are fairly Bohemian, though there’s plenty of comfy seating and additional room for stowing gear and fishing tackle safely out of the weather. There’s a V-berth stateroom situated in the bow for casual overnighting—or daytime siestas—as needed.
This classic has an asking price of only $59,900. If you’re interested you’d be smart to jump as soon as possible. Our guess is this boat won’t last long.