Carl Herndon worked with Bertram Yachts in the 1960s when the Bertram 31, with its radical deep-V hull design, was changing the face of small-craft design. By the ’70s, Herndon had design ideas of his own, and in 1973 he left Bertram to start his own company, Blackfin Yacht Corp., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His plan was to improve on the deep-V hull, and he tapped designer Carl Jannace to help him achieve that goal.
The result was a 29-footer with a deep-V hull featuring wide strakes and chines for added lift, plus a sharp entry that quickly transitioned toward the 21- to 22-degree transom deadrise. With its low freeboard and low center of gravity, this first Blackfin earned a reputation for its dry ride and solid performance in a head sea.
That boat was followed by the Blackfin 33 Combi, which debuted in 1993. It, too, ran on an offshore hull with rugged, weather-taming capabilities. It was a serious fishing machine for serious anglers.
Updated in 1996 and 1998, the 33 Combi was built on a solid fiberglass hull with cored topsides and decking. Diesel power was favored (though some early Blackfins were gas-powered), and twin 430-hp Volvo powerplants gave the approximately 20,000-pound boat a 20- to 25-knot cruising speed. Fuel capacity was a hefty 340 gallons.
The bridgedeck had a centerline helm station under a hardtop, with lounge seating opposite. Down below, the boat slept four in an open layout, using a V-berth forward and a convertible dinette aft. The compact galley came with a two-burner stove, microwave oven and refrigerator. An enclosed head completed the layout.
It had cruising features, but the Blackfin 33 Combi was made for fishing. The large cockpit had the necessary gear, including insulated fish/storage boxes, a raw-water washdown, a transom door and gate, a livewell, a tackle center and rod holders mounted in the gunwales.
The 33 Combi was re-designed after the 1998 season, emerging as the Blackfin 332. The boat is still built today by Blackfin Yachts in Willston, Florida.
This article was originally published in the July 2021 issue.