REBUILDS - Bertram 35

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A Port Macquarie owner rediscovers this second-hand classic 35 tricking her out for hardcore blue-water billfish hunting. GLEN BOOTH reports.

REBUILDS - Bertram 35
REBUILDS – Bertram 35

A Port Macquarie owner renews his love with Bertram, buying the second-hand classic 35 found between these pages and tricking her out for hardcore blue-water billfish hunting. GLEN BOOTH reports.

The memories of first love tend to remain through our entire lives, but it’s not just members of the opposite sex that exert this hold on us — it applies to items as diverse as faithful dogs, cars and of course boats. Port Macquarie-based Terry Nocelli is like a lot of boat owners in that he found a particular marque and became a lifelong fan. His first Bertram 35 Shotgun was a perfect example.

Originally an auto electrician with a successful sideline in marine electronics, Shotgun Marine Services, Terry sold off the automotive side to concentrate on and grow the fun stuff around 10 years ago. Sometime later, and after 20 years in business, he figured he was due some R&R and North Queensland beckoned.

The faithful Bertie would be a little cramped for an extended liveaboard cruise with the family, so it was reluctantly replaced with a Riviera 48 that was more suited to coastal family cruising as well as a bit of fishing. The trip away was a fantastic family experience; plenty of places explored, and many fish caught.

Watching the weigh-in at the 2009 Port Macquarie Golden Lure Tournament, Terry’s teenage son Kurt — a gamefishing world record holder in his own right — expressed a renewed interest in blue-water fishing, so the quest for a genuine fishing boat began. Terry favoured a do-upperer that he could fit-out himself rather than a turnkey package.

"The hull spent the next nine months on the hard, completely stripped back to virtually a bare shell"

Whether a Bertram or of the locally built Caribbean lineage, the 35 is a real multi-tasker, which is why examples of any vintage remain in such demand. They have plenty of room for family weekends or weeks away, but once all the inflatable water toys, folding chairs and the barbecue have been packed away, they morph back into hard-charging thoroughbred gamefisher once again.

Ideally, Terry wanted another Bertie, but the right combination of boat and motors were hard to find. Then one day, while idly flicking through the pages of Trade-a-Boat, he spotted his old boat for sale. The original asking price was a bit too rich, but he knew it had been repowered with Volvo Penta D6-330s, which were a step-up from the original 230B series Volvos. Three months later the price had dropped to a more reasonable $160,000 and it was time to act. He made an offer of $145,000 and his old pride-and-joy was soon on its way back to Port Mac.

Needless to say, at that price the old girl needed a bit of work, but Terry also wanted to change a few things. The boat spent the next nine months on the hard, completely stripped back to virtually a bare shell.

The hull had osmosis so that had to be addressed, and the fibreglass fuel tank was also a mess. Aside from the accumulated gunk in the bottom, the 3mm baffles had broken loose and were sloshing around inside. The tank was pressure washed, 5mm baffles were installed and Lloyds-approved fuel lines replaced the existing ones.

The downstairs helm, which was about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike, was done away with which freed up plenty of storage. This is also now home to a flatscreen TV on an electric worm drive and disappears beneath a flap in the expansive dash area.

A new 5kVa Northern Lights generator has been installed to supply the AC power requirements and to run the air-conditioning when away from shorepower, as well as a 1500W inverter. The wiring is immaculate, as you’d expect on a boat owned by a marine electrician.

The original three-blade props were replaced with four-bladers resulting in improved fuel efficiency and around 3kts of extra top-end speed. A full day’s gamefishing, including running to the grounds at 20kts, Shotgun uses about 230lt, which is reasonably economical. At a trolling speed of 8kts the motors burn 7 lt/h per side.

All the timberwork, upholstery, carpeting and clears were done locally in Port Macquarie, with just the Corian bench top made out of town.

The rosewood doors, cabinets, table and trim have been painted with Awlgrip polyurethane, which makes it easy to maintain and looks like it has just been done.

The charcoal grey leatherwork, again a local job, is beautifully finished off and matches the carpet.

While later-model Bertrams/Caribbeans have a reduced flare to create more space in the forward cabin, Terry’s is the original shape so he gets the legendary seakeeping abilities. The bed and a half in the bow is still generous enough for two ‘friendly’ people to sleep in.

Unless you’re aboard a 60-footer, the head of any boat is usually a fairly bleak, soul-less sort of place, especially if you’re suffering from mal de mer. In this instance, however, the addition of some simple timber trim, rosewood sliding doors on the cupboards, and recessed LED lighting adds a bit of cheer.

In the cockpit, the new custom built rodholders are well positioned for trolling or bottom fishing, and will handle 60-kilo tackle if asked.

The deck is Flexiteek and was laid in 2010. It is relatively maintenance free and far cheaper (and probably more environmentally friendly) than the real deal. It also remains nice and cool under foot on hot days.

The heavy tackle gamechair is a custom design that made the journey across from Terry’s old boat, and its high-gloss finish really complements the look of this beautifully restored gamefisher.

A fully plumbed bait tank, while only the width of the transom, has a surprisingly large volume and is capable of accommodating a slew of yellowtail and slimy mackerel.

The divided icebox/freezer to starboard is also custom job. Terry is going to fit an Isotherm flap to divide it into two sections. When the temperature in the icebox compartment rises to, say, 5°C, the flap will open up, allowing cold air to spill in. When it reaches 2°C, the flap shuts, thus doing away with the need for a second set of eutectic plates. There’s also another massive removable icebox lurking under a hatch in the floor, just before the cabin doors.

Terry’s rekindled enthusiasm for gamefishing got off to a flying start. The boat is a proven fish-raiser (no real surprises there), as evidenced by the successful release of a 220kg blue marlin on a Stella 20000 reel no less!

It wasn’t a super-serious fishing day and the crew had really only gone out to demo the boat and its incredible electronics package (see below) when the big animal climbed on. Now threadline reels, 50-kilo braid and spin rods aren’t really the right sort of tackle for taking on the mightiest of all gamefish, but and the marlin was at the boat in surprisingly quick time, despite the handicap of a small hook and short, relatively light leader and no harness.

It’s fair to say that the rebuild of this classic boat has been a labour of love, but plenty of thought has gone into every aspect of it. It will certainly have gamefishers and Bertram gamefishers in particular, drooling with envy.

Being a marine electrician and an agent for a number of marine electronics brands, you’d expect Terry’s boat to be kitted out with all the latest. The Simrad BSM-2 broadband sounder and Simrad GPS fitted with Navionics Platinum chart cards running through two NSE 12S head units were this expert’s choice.

The broadband sounder is an amazing piece of equipment. Two transceivers are linked to two separate transducers (one narrowband and one broadband) transmitting on high- and low-frequencies. The long pulse provides depth penetration and the higher signal the detail. Compression Modulation or CHIRP technology adjusts the return signals to provide amazing detail at virtually any speed and under a variety of sea conditions.

When he’s not taking on blue marlin of incredible size on seemingly inadequate gear, Terry’s just one of a growing band of recreational anglers who are deep-dropping the continental shelf and beyond with electric reels for deep and delicious species like bar cod, blueye trevalla, bass and gemfish. It can take a fair while for a couple of kilos of lead to hit the bottom in these sorts of depths, and if you miss the spot it’s a long and boring wind-up with nothing to show for it. Factoring in wind speed and current direction, the incredible on-screen clarity provided by the BSM-2 makes bottom fishing in water hundreds of fathoms deep much more productive.

For the rest of the time, the sounder’s role in highlighting where deep reefs, dropoffs and canyon walls lie equates to more gamefish bites when trolling or drifting.

Of course, there’s more to this electronics package than just razor-sharp clarity on the offshore grounds. It’s all incredibly easy to use, with single-touch adjustments and intuitive menus. A 6kW open array radar is perched on the hardtop roof, so this boat is equipped to go anywhere and fish anywhere, under a variety of conditions.

The next stage of the Shotgun project will be to fit an engineroom camera and a cockpit camera to record all the day’s activities. With a super-fast 80GB hard-drive already in place, it’s possible to record eight hours of all the craziness of what’s taking place downstairs. Then it’s just a matter of downloading it onto a USB drive to have a permanent record of a hot day’s fishing — or if the fish aren’t cooperating, a lot of boring blue ocean…

COST OF RESTORATION: Approx $140,000

Hull osmosis treated and fuel tank renovated, lower helm station removed and replaced with storage and flatscreen TV, new generator, new four-blade props, interior furnishings, timber joinery and bench tops renovated, extensive interior and exterior lighting fitout, cockpit upgraded for gamefishing including a fighting chair and custom rodholders, new bait tank and refrigeration system, and new Simrad electronics package.

MATERIAL: Fibreglass
TYPE: Deep-vee monohull
YEAR: 1983
LENGTH: 10.67m
BEAM: 4.03m

FUEL: 1350lt
WATER: 400lt

MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Volvo Penta D6-330
TYPE: Six-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 330 at 3500rpm (max)

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 423, Feb 2012.


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