Stephen Dougherty has been fishing and tinkering since he was old enough to stand. As a youngster, he took things apart and put them back together, played with wires and asked his dad how everything with moving parts worked. So it is no wonder, as president of Everglades Boats, he is the design visionary and innovative brain behind each and every one of their 17 models.
Known for building luxury family fishing boats, Everglades Boats recently introduced their first tournament design, the 355T. (Editor’s note: The new boat is featured on our front cover this month.) “All our boats are worthy of fishing tournaments,” Dougherty said. “The 355T has a little more of a tournament-specific design.”
Starting with the popular and well-established 35-foot hull, Stephen completely redesigned every detail from the hull up. Fifty new molds were made for the center console “T” design including the deck, hatch covers and work station.
According to Dougherty, the center of gravity moves between the cuddy cabin, center-console and second station designs, so a great deal of effort is put into designing the hull to allow for the variations. “We continue to retool as we learn,” he said.
All Everglades Boats hulls are designed by Stephen’s father, CEO Bob Dougherty. The senior Dougherty invented and patented the Rapid Molded Core Assembly Process, or RAMCAP, which allows the fiberglass skins to be assembled around pre-molded foam, making it light weight and durable. This is unlike the traditional process of injecting the foam core between the hull and the deck.
“Ours is the best process in the world to manufacture a hull,” Stephen said, referring to RAMCAP. “A properly built hull is where everything starts. I’ve been criticized for building new boats without building a new hull design. It’s like when Mercedes builds a new car – they don’t build new tires.”
The main workstation has a clean design with lid access to a fresh and raw water sink, cutting board and optional electric grill. The lid conveniently holds four leader spools, pliers and knives.
Standard fare is Stephen’s patented, signature hydraulic windshield, which can be opened for better night visibility or closed for protection from adverse elements.
Innovative, large tackle boxes sit port and starboard of the workstation. Designed by the younger Dougherty, they have drawers holding Plano-style boxes with additional storage in back. The dedicated starboard tackle locker under the gunwale holds up to 40 lures with leaders.
The 355T factory-installed second station option is sportier and smaller than those on previous 32-foot and 35-foot models. It has a dedicated stereo system and cup and rod holders. Designed by the younger Dougherty, one person can fold and secure the second station. “I used a high-pressure assist piston to raise and lower it,” Stephen said. “It’s simple and takes less than one minute to secure. The second station is a great option. It makes it a better fishing boat and, even if you don’t fish, it’s a nice place to be.”
Extra-large, 120-gallon and 78-gallon fish holding boxes are at the bow and stern respectively. Centered across the transom is a 40-gallon live well flanked by coolers or the optional thermostat controlled refrigerator and freezer.
Exclusive to the 355T is the ability to lock up to 18 50-pound rods and reels plus additional smaller rigs. “It really saves lugging gear on and off the boat,” Stephen noted.
The head touts a china toilet bowl with macerator and holding tank. The stylish clear-glass, fresh water sink sits on the granite counter top and the storage compartments are cedar-lined with teak accents.
Engine power is customized for each buyer with a choice of Yamaha, Honda or Mercury outboards. Combinations totaling 900 to 1050 hp are not uncommon. At 1050 hp, the boat does 60 mph at full throttle and consumes 100 gallons of fuel per hour. Dougherty made sure this model has extended fuel capacity.
“You have all the horsepower so you don’t have to run the engines at full throttle,” Stephen said. “But the extra power is nice when a captain says, ‘Let’s fish 10 more minutes to see if we can catch a bigger one,’ which turns into 30 minutes and there is a need to get back to base quickly for a weigh-in.”
Dealers for Everglades Boats were introduced to the 355T during their annual meeting at the Edgewater, Fla. headquarters. After reviewing the spec sheet and going on sea trials, the rousing consensus was, “This is what we’ve been looking for,” according to Stephen. The 355T will be at many of the upcoming boat shows including Annapolis, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.
“The dealers called it a home run” he said. “Dad and I couldn’t agree more.”
Plans are underway for a 40-foot “plus” boat, the largest in their fleet.
“A bigger boat takes a year of design work before we get started. We will begin sometime next year, but dad has already drawn the basic hull design,” said Stephen, who fishes as often as he can and brings all of his life experiences to the design room.
“We don’t do something unless we can do it better than anyone else,” he said.
Kathy Enzerink is a freelance writer and publisher of children’s coloring books. She and her husband Gerry are transitioning from a ‘blow boat’ to a ‘slow boat’ in Oriental, N.C.. She may be reached at [email protected].