Top athletes aren’t just born but honed, developing innate skill through hours of practice. The surfer carving a perfect wave, a diver executing miraculous turns, even the winning bait spread would not exist with out days of training, repetitive workouts and great coaching. For a boat, being built with good bones is a leading advantage, but maintaining, updating and upgrading is what keeps it there. Starting with a brand new boat may seem the ideal for some, but with a good eye and a talented service operation, a favored classic can make a winning comeback.

When her new owners and captain found the 1995 53’ Ricky Scarborough at Bluewater Yacht Sales in Hampton, she needed to get back in shape to take on the fishing circuit of Ocean City, Chub Cay and Jupiter. Her first stop at the Bluewater Yacht Yard right next door involved a thorough check-up and repair of all systems, from safety and seaworthiness through electrical, water and power. New cushions and curtains, air-conditioning and electronics—crucial elements and a few creature comforts were repaired or replaced and brought up to standard. Covering the basics and re-setting a strong foundation would be the first step in building a winning fishing platform, as well as time for Captain Joel McLeod to get a feel for Bluewater’s capabilities.

Getting Acquainted

What he found was a thorough understanding of marine systems that allowed for a prioritization within the scope of work. A meticulous attention to detail found and fixed faults before they became “issues.” True craftsmanship showed in the efforts of minor repairs and set a tone for what could be. “When we first got there, the boat needed a lot, but we also had plans for improvements, not just repair,” Joel explained. As a professional captain, he had put in his time on the water as well as the yard and knew the importance of a strong service crew on the team. “We’ve been in all the major yards in Florida before, but Bluewater proved they had an edge.” He described that they delivered quality work and had better pricing. But it wasn’t just that—“it’s a good group of guys—when we have to be there awhile, it makes a difference to have people I consider friends to work with—it’s not just pricing.” Confident in the craftsmanship and technical knowledge, he found his next challenge would be meeting a demanding schedule and still bringing out the best in Maverick—but now they had the support to pull it off.

Long Term Planning

“The genius in how Joel worked out the plan for the Maverick was in recognizing it didn’t have to happen all at once,” recounts Yard Manager Craig Messick. “As I recall, the owners were hoping to fish the Ocean City tournament, but still had some fairly big projects on the table. We were able to get the boat repaired and rigged to fish and also get the more complex projects on the schedule for their return. Good communication on both sides made that work.” From Ocean City and back to Hampton, the next project needed to fit into a timetable that would get the boat on to the Bahamas by Thanksgiving.

With that goal in mind the yard’s focus was to install a new generator and much of the plumbing. In addition to the continuation of minor repairs, new wheels from Wildcat were mounted, spares secured safely, new heads, freshwater tank and systems and the generator installation all took place in time for Maverick to move south. But she would be back in March for much more.

Upon Maverick’s return back up the coast in spring, big plans were in the works for the time at Bluewater. Before she left this time around, her cockpit would be transformed. First on the to-do list was the modification of the tackle center to mezzanine seating with some custom options—an in-demand retrofit for which Bluewater is well practiced. A custom Cruisair freezer and insulated boxes added function as well as style and comfort. With plans to redo the rest of the cockpit, it was a good time to increase the fuel capacity, and after cutting open the floor an auxiliary fuel tank was installed. The addition of a custom teak sole and covering boards with the yard’s signature rounded coaming set her looks apart while enhancing the cockpit’s primary purpose—to fish. With the latest round of upgrades complete, Maverick raced to the Ocean City fishing grounds with plans to return by fall.

Cockpit Transformation

Not Feeling the Keel

The fall plan would be just as dramatic a transformation—only with much of the drama hidden from view. In addition to removing and repainting the black mask for an updated look, Captain Joel had plans to remove a bigger piece of the original boat.

After much discussion and debate with other captains, he decided on a gamble that he believed would pay off for Maverick. Although there were skeptics, Bluewater removed the substantial keel from the hull and completely changed the way Maverick worked in the water. “I had really studied the idea and spoke with a lot of the guys, the potential benefits were a strong argument and we went for it.” According to the results, the gamble paid off. Maverick not only picked up two knots in speed, but also increased her fuel efficiency and improved both the ride and handling. “She is a completely different boat now and we couldn’t be happier.”

Earle Hall notes, “from basic maintenance up to major project upgrades, a solid working relationship with a reputable yard can make the difference between good days and bad days when you get back on the water.” For boats that work hard and fish hard, it’s necessary. Having the right coach and support team can truly be priceless. With an open checkbook to take care of the boat, it is a high compliment that Joel runs Maverick past many other yards to keep coming back to Bluewater.