Bob Dougherty has been designing and building boats for more than 55 of his 83 years. His beloved 24-footer, customized to commemorate his accomplishments, was recently unveiled as the Limited Edition Bob Dougherty Signature Series 243CC by Everglades Boats. It makes its public debut at the United States Powerboat Show October 3-6 in Annapolis.
“We planned to design a commemorative boat a few years ago,” said Dougherty, “but it just didn’t happen. I think this one came out very nice.”
First introduced in 2004, the V-bottom 243CC is by far the most popular boat in the Everglades fleet, according to Bryan Harris, Vice President-Sales and Marketing.
“We’re known for fine luxury family fishing boats,” said Harris. “This design basically put Everglades on the map.”
As standard fare, the Dougherty Signature Series is outfitted with solid camel upholstery, underwater lights, a premium JL Audio System, white Yamaha outboard engines, a nine-gallon freshwater tank and Garmin electronics. The “dressed up” dash, inspired by high-end automobiles, has a hull number plate, wood accents and a solid wood steering wheel. The hull is painted a custom Awlgrip metal blue.
“We wanted to make this collectible, so it is limited to fifty boats “ said Harris. “Bob has a huge following and it is time to honor and pay tribute to him.”
Competition among Everglades Boats dealers for the Dougherty boat was quick and decisive at their annual meeting in July. “One of our dealers arrived a day early and I showed him the boat,” said Harris. “He bought it on the spot.” Walter George, owner of Annapolis Boat Sales, personally purchased Hull #1 and will have it on display during the Annapolis Boat Show.
Considered a sturdy hybrid boat, the Everglades 243CC can handily make the run from Palm Beach to the Bahamas, travel up and down the ICW and in the shallows with 15 inches of water according to Harris. Popular as a tender to luxury yachts, it is also sold around the country for use in lakes and on the Gulf and West Coast.
“I took the 20-foot bay boat and added four feet and twisted the bottom,” said Dougherty. “At most speeds, it quickly gets on plane and stays on plane. It’s the best selling boat we have and I’m glad I built it.”
Graduating from Boston Teachers College, now part of the University of Massachusetts, Dougherty earned a degree to teach what he knew best, Industrial Arts.
“Bitten by the romance of fiberglass,” he started making and selling water skis and small boats made from the new material in 1958. Dougherty left teaching and went to work as Chief Engineer for Dick Fisher in 1960, who with Bob Pierce, built the Boston Whaler boat.
Bob Dougherty is still synonymous with the Boston Whaler to many in the industry. To others he is known as a pioneer working with fiberglass and revolutionizing boat building with his Rapid Molded Core Assembly Process (RAMCAP) invention. The RAMCAP process allows fiberglass skins to be assembled around pre-molded foam, unlike the traditional process of injecting the foam core between the hull and deck.
“We don’t build sinkable boats,” said Dougherty.
As Founder, Owner and CEO of the family-owned business, Dougherty comes to the shop every day, ready to put his sharpened pencils to work. He continues to design, redesign and invent.
“The 243 is a unique boat with lots of sweet spots,” said Dougherty. “I love that boat.”