Giving the die-hard a soft edge
From the moment I boarded the SeaVee 430 Fish-Around one sunny South Florida day this past December — using the convenient molded-in step near the base of the tower ladder — I knew this sailfishing trip would be special. SeaVee designed this unique vessel for anglers just like me.
“Our customer loves the ability to fish an open platform,” SeaVee co-owner Ariel Pared told me as we headed out Haulover Inlet off North Miami. “But he’s getting a little older and wants more comfort.
“We also built it for people coming from bigger boats, wanting a vessel they could run themselves, who are looking for less maintenance and more fishability.”
SeaVee marketing director John Caballero coined the perfect phrase for what the 430 delivers: pampered hard-core fishing.
SeaVee pulled the best aspects of a center-console — including complete 360-degree, level-deck fishing space plus an easy pass-around design at the transom — with the creature comforts of an express. Combining such qualities while reducing the inherent trade-offs was a steep challenge, but SeaVee, with its serious fishing pedigree, has strongly scored.
The seas off Miami heaped up as we began the run offshore. Capt. Dean Panos (doubledcharters.com) negotiated the slop from the tower well above as our crew took positions in the cockpit. This was a shakedown cruise and prefishing day for the 43’s first tournament, the SeaVee-sponsored Sailfish Kickoff, Dec. 4-7.
Panos advanced the throttles on the quad Mercury 300 Verados, heading south toward Fowey Light. The 43 sliced the 3- to 5-foot seas and brought its 12 tons to bear on wave crests. Confused seas made the way challenging, but even with the rare thump, the vessel felt solid, and I was able to actually sit comfortably in the bridge-deck area.
I did quickly discover my favorite perch: a small leaning post/bolster just to the port side of the captain’s chair, which is on centreline.
Panos idled the Fish-Around into position as our crew deployed six lines from two kites. The electric kite reels plugged into outlets at the base of the bridge deck. As Pared and his crew discussed the best kite setup for this maiden voyage, they also conceived a rod-holder extension to perfectly package the kite rod, reel and outrigger lines.
Twin 48-gallon livewells in the aft corners kept goggle eyes and threadfin herring separate. The curved-glass-front livewells could be classified as works of fiberglass art, employing about six molds to build. The glass lies on the inside of the well so that the water pressure naturally enhances the seal. SeaVee also thought to put a toe kick beneath the well for anglers fighting fish astern.
Pared put live-chum baits in the 45-gallon well at the bow. (A fourth well — holding 70 gallons — can replace the insulated storage box in the cockpit sole.)
The drift was flawless, and despite the rough seas, I could easily stand without a handhold as the boat rolled under me.
Bonito pestered the baits at first. I took the first hookup and easily passed the rod around the outboards as the fish changed directions. At the port aft corner, the coaming pad hit me high on the thighs — still comfortable for me, even though I’m shorter than most anglers. Gunwale height should hit the lower to midthigh of the average fisherman.
With all lines in, Panos was about to run when he spotted a cruising sailfish that ate one of our bait discards. Four crew members grabbed already prepared spinning rods from the 10 holders (20 total) lining each side of the bridge deck, and cast out some live baits.
The sailfish swam off without feeding. We saw multiple, similar tire kickers throughout the day and jumped off a tiny sail in 145 feet of water off south Miami.
As Panos moved to locations farther north, he spotted fish near the baits. We dropped back, hoping for a hookup. Finally, a sail picked up a free-lined threadfin and began to swim off. I pushed the lever drag to strike and madly reeled. The circle hook held, and I was on.
This particular sail was strong but never jumped. After the hookup astern, Panos helped me get on top of the fish as I reeled and moved effortlessly toward the bow. At the bow, the gunwale height and width grew. I still felt comfortable, and even found an easy seat on the flat top of the bow livewell.
From that spot, I could pump and wind, and avoid the effects of the pitching seas. As the fish came boat-side, I backed up for Pared to grab the long leader. As he pulled the fish close, it thrashed and spit the hook. First sailfish ever aboard the 43!
Our able crew quickly returned to deploying baits, while I found a cold drink and headed to the air-conditioned bridge deck. Miami in late fall can be decidedly summerlike.