A dark gray boat with four Seven Marine 627 outboards was backed into a corner slip. I stopped, did a double take and slowly walked around the large hull, looking for a name on the unfamiliar center console with a fully enclosed helm. Then I noticed a number of other people doing the same. The boat looked like it belonged to the military, but on closer inspection, the metallic paint job and matching performance engines made it seem more luxurious than institutional. That’s when the convivial Hunter James gestured for me to come aboard.
James, or Hunt as he’s called, is the owner of Gulfstream Yachts in Tampa, Florida, and he told me this was the prototype hull he built for himself, a boat designed to remedy the flaws he found on other center consoles. An avid fisherman and diver, James related that his wife and guests enjoyed a boat that allowed them to be active by day, but they hated getting wet by passing showers when they were dressed nicely and on their way to dinner in the evening. James wanted a boat that offered room to fish and stay active, but he also wanted protection from the elements at the helm and a comfortable cabin. Having built other sportfish boats and center consoles over the past 10 years under the Gulfstream name, James incorporated all the features he wanted into this boat, the Gulfstream Yachts 52, which was causing more than a few jaws to drop.
Ideal for fishing, the Gulfstream has a deep-V hull and deep freeboard, along with a wide, nonskid-covered gunwale and bow, where anglers can step up to reel in a catch. The deck is single level from bow to stern. The open bow provides ample room for fishing but also has a three-person sunpad covered with Stamskin One marine upholstery. This Swiss-made, silicone-elastomer-coated jersey material is used throughout for durable stain, UV and heat resistance. Fishing features on the 52 include two 56-gallon livewells, five insulated fishboxes, four rod holders and a polished Pompanette rocket launcher designed by Murray SportFishing. While the rocket launcher accommodates large rods, it also features a reverse contour for an optional fighting chair or backrest. A built-in magnetic tray holds hooks and tools in place.
Things get interesting inside the cabin. As the sliding door closes, the interior—with its 360-degree views—feels like the deck of a starship. There’s a massive windshield and huge rectangular windows line either side of the salon, with just enough supports between the windows to provide strength for the substantial roof without sacrificing views. Only the sliding side door and back window open, but a ventilated windshield might be offered in the future.
Steps descend from the salon to a no-frills accommodations level with a king berth (or optional twins), plus storage and access to the water tanks. A table that converts to a berth can be added in this space, too. According to James, extra cushions can be added to the salon to create a queen berth, which is a nice option to have. But for the most part, the overnight acccommodations are straightforward.
I certainly would appreciate this type of protection in a squall or while crossing the Gulf Stream. In the end, it was a good day in rough water, and that’s what boating under cover is all about. —Marilyn DeMartini
IGulfstream Yachts, 813-820-6100; gulfstreamyachts.com
Displ. (approx.): 30,000 lbs.
Fuel: 1,000 gal.
Water: 100 gal.
Test Power: 4/627-hp Seven Marine outboards
Optional Power: 5/627-hp Seven Marine outboards