In 30-plus years of marlin fishing I have fished on just about every high-end game boat on the water. And if I had to choose just one boat to fish from, it would without a doubt be a G&S.
My first experience on one of these custom masterpieces came in the summer of 2010 and I haven’t been the same since. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill shut down our local Gulf fishery and my good friend Doc Conkle invited me to go the Bahamas on his 51-foot G&S named Miss Babbie.
Doc’s boat is powered by a pair of 660-hp QSM11 Cummins with a 15-kW genset and I convinced him to try a little experiment on our trip to Key West from Pensacola. We plugged the boat to the brim before departing on May 25 and decided to 8-knot it all the way to Key West, fishing our way south and traveling slow at night. We had to stay on the east side of the B.P. closure down to the islands, and the trip took us a total of 69 hours from dock to dock. We did cheat and picked up the RPMs to steam into Key West at 25 knots with just enough time to make happy hour. We produced some favorable figures on that trip that blew me away.
We ran the genset and the mains for 69 hours in just under a three-day trip. Over that time we burned just 440 gallons of fuel total — that’s 6.3 gallons per hour. If I wasn’t so bloody thirsty for a cold one and wasted 60 gallons steaming into Key West, it would have been right at the 5-gallon-per hour mark.
This trip was my first eye-opener as to how special these G&S boats are. Burning less than 450 gallons of fuel on a 50-foot sportfishing boat in 3 days! C’mon, man.
My second eye-popped-wide-open experience occurred when we hooked our first blue marlin of the trip. We were locked into a beast off Long Island in the Bahamas and we were wrangling with the fish on a 50. The big marlin was heading offshore fast. As soon as the deck was cleared and Doc’s 13-year-old grandson was in the chair, I backed down hard to slow the rate of line loss.
The boat never settled and the expected white water bath I thought Junior was about to get never happened. Miss Babbie felt like she started to plane… backwards! No bloody way!
I looked over my shoulder at the GPS and it showed 9 knots — in reverse. I eased up as Junior cranked for all he was worth. I can state this for fact, no other boat I have ever stepped foot on could have gone from 6 knots forward to 9 knots backwards in mere seconds! If I had this boat in my Vanuatu years I would have doubled my numbers of blue marlin.
Buddy Gentry and Steve Sauer have been building boats for more than 40 years. They started back in the late 1960s when Buddy was a well-respected charter boat captain. Steve was attending LSU and working on his engineering degree. The two young men got together in the offseason and built their first fiberglass boat. They had so much fun on the project, that when Steve graduated he convinced Buddy that they could do this for a living and G&S was born.
Buddy and Steve started out building charter boats for the Destin, Florida, fishing fleet along with a beamy 31-foot sportfishing hull that became an instant classic among the locals. Orders started to really increase though out the 1970s and the two men branched off, building their first couple of high-end sport-fishers.
The boats got bigger, the teak more beautiful, the hulls fine-tuned and as always, the pursuit of excellence and perfection remained the ultimate goal. Today each G&S is a hand-laid fiberglass composite custom hull with no structural wood.
Sauer’s engineering background can be seen in the lines of these beautiful boats, along with the wheel pockets for the props and shaped sterns for extreme backing-down maneuvers.
One look at a G&S and it’s easy to see why these boats are in such demand with light-tackle anglers and world-record seekers.
It takes over a year for G&S to build a 50-foot-class boat, but when you compare the price to even a production Viking or a Hatteras of comparable size, you might be shocked to learn that a G&S will usually cost less.
If you are in the market for a new custom boat, there’s a chance of a lifetime right now to pick up a classic G&S a lot faster than the normal one-year build time. IGFA Hall of Fame angler and multiple world-record holder Stewart Campbell passed away recently and his legendary 51-foot hull is currently at the G&S yard and for sale. You have to see this boat in person to appreciate it, but the same could be said for any G&S. These are some of the most respected hulls with marlin captains for good reason. They’re built to catch fish and get you out and back safely. And they sure are pretty.
For more info visit www.gsboats.com or call 850-835-7700.