By Stephen Rappaport
BROOKLIN, ME — Twelve miles isn’t a huge distance in the abstract, but there’s nothing abstract in the pounding a boat and its passengers can take crossing a dozen miles of rough seas.
Buzzards Bay, the long inlet that separates Cape Cod from the southern Massachusetts mainland, is notorious for its testing seas. From late spring well into the fall, the prevailing afternoon southwesterly wind — the “smoky sou’wester”— often blows hard against a strong ebb tide. The result, especially near the mouth of the bay around the island of Cuttyhunk, is a short, steep chop that can loosen the fillings in a sailor’s teeth or the fastening in a boat’s planking.
That’s where Jessie-Lin will make its home and earn its keep. Delivered by her builder fully commissioned and ready to run earlier this month, Jessie-Lin will make its home in New Bedford.
For eight months of the year, the boat will ferry her owner between the old whaling port on Buzzards Bay’s western shore and his second home on Cuttyhunk. During final sea trials on Blue Hill Bay, Atlantic’s Nate Hopkins said the customer’s requirements made building Jessie-Lin a challenging project. The boat had to be seaworthy enough to handle the Buzzards Bay chop at a good speed and rugged enough to take the pounding of steady use in rough conditions. The owner also wanted a high level of finish, but easy maintenance. To meet those goals, Atlantic first stretched the solid, reinforced vinyl ester glass Duffy 31 hull with its high-density foam-cored stringers by adding 2 feet at the transom, and installed and raised the sheer 3 inches. That allowed room to install a 480-horsepower Cummins QSB diesel engine — the largest the company has yet installed in a 33-foot hull — under a cockpit platform that is completely flat from main bulkhead to transom. Driving a 24-inch by 23-inch cupped propeller through a ZF 2:1 reverse reduction gear, the electronically controlled engine drives the boat to a cruising speed of 25 knots at just 75 percent of engine power and fuel consumption of 16 gallons of diesel per hour. Top speed is 29 knots.
To keep the weight down while maintaining the stiffness and ruggedness required for the boat’s planned use, Atlantic used foam-cored composites for Jessie-Lin’s superstructure. In a nod to the owner’s desire for low maintenance, as well as for weight savings, there is no wood on the boat except for a moderate amount of well executed satin-finished interior trim. Enclosed by roll-up curtains and equipped with a heater for chilly weather, the pilot house is spare, but well furnished, with Stidd pedestal mounted captain’s chairs to port and starboard and a full suite of Furuno electronics — radar, GPS chartplotter and depthsounder with a 1,000-watt transducer. A Furuno autopilot is connected to the boat’s stainless steel, dual-ram hydraulic steering system. Ventilation in the pilothouse, important in muggy, southeastern Massachusetts weather, is excellent with three opening windshields and sliding side windows.
Although fishing isn’t the boat’s primary mission, Jessie-Lin is equipped with 10 rod holders and two outriggers mounted on her cabin top. All lighting throughout the boat is provided by LEDs. “It’s a simple boat, but everything is top of the line,” Hopkins said.