LOA: 31’5” Beam: 11’2” Draft: 3’6” Displ.: 12,000 lbs. Fuel: 200 gals. Water: 35 gals. Power: (1) 330- to 400-hp diesel
Doug Douty was a pontoon boat guy. The Fair Haven, New Jersey, businessman (he owns The Lusty Lobster seafood market in Highlands) grew up on the local waters of the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers. “I was out on boats as soon as I knew where the water was,” Douty says. “At one point, I had a 13-foot Boston Whaler and I was out enjoying the river at all times of the day and night, running around, waterskiing, just having fun.”
After a boatless period, he bought a series of pontoon boats well-suited to the rivers he grew up on. “They were fun boats for the family,” says Douty, who has a wife and three children. “I had a full barbecue grill on all of them, and we’d turn the motor off and go with the tide or raft up on weekends.”
All the while, there were bigger boats heading past the rivers, into Sandy Hook Bay and out to the Atlantic Ocean. A couple of years ago, Douty felt the urge to get out past the rivers, too. “I wanted a bigger boat, something with an enclosed cabin, a V-berth and a bathroom,” he says. “I thought we could get out more, go farther, maybe extend our season past the summer a little.”
As it turned out, Douty had a boating friend looking to move up. The boat the friend was trying to sell was a 2002 Eastern 31 Casco Bay, built in Milton, New Hampshire. With a Cummins diesel, it was around $60,000. Douty bought it in 2018. “It was neat and clean, obviously well-cared for,” he says. “The helm is well protected, and it has a keel, which was something I wanted. There’s not a ton of brightwork, but there is some trim on deck and some nice woodwork down below. And, I like the Downeast, traditional look.”
Douty has had the Eastern for two seasons now and is still finding his confidence in coastal cruising, after so many years spent boating on the rivers. “The most I’ve done is to go up to New York Harbor, and that was quite a trip,” he says. “There’s a definite learning curve for me, and I’m learning as I go. I have good mentors, and I like to have them on board.”
A bow thruster added after the boat’s purchase has made docking easier, and the 330-hp Cummins diesel has proved reliable, delivering a 12- to 14-knot cruise speed at around 2200 rpm. Top speed is just over 17 knots, at 2800 rpm. “I haven’t done any long-haul cruises yet, so I’m still working on real fuel use figures,” he says.
The Eastern also can play the same role as the pontoon boat, giving Douty the chance to get out after work for an hour-long cruise, pick somebody up at the dock and then take a little ride. “It’s a simple boat to operate, easy to keep clean,” he says, “and it’s getting on the water that’s the important thing.”
Douty keeps the boat in Sea Bright, New Jersey, where he’s getting ideas for future cruises from others at the dock. “Some of the other boaters I know do an overnight trip up the Hudson River with their family, or they go out to Long Island Sound,” he says. “I’d like to do some of that in the future—just go a little bit farther and farther.”
With its long, sweeping sheer, flared clipper bow and pilothouse, the Eastern 31 Casco Bay has a traditional, Downeast look. It’s the work of designer Royal Lowell, who was known for lobster boats in Maine. The Casco Bay’s fiberglass hull has been modified for modern tastes with hard chines that add speed and stability, and the boat cruises at 16 to 18 knots with a 370- to 400-hp diesel.
The builder offers workboat, sportfisherman or lobster yacht finishes, and the basic layout includes a forepeak V-berth with an enclosed head and separate shower. The pilothouse (with a triple-pane windshield) has helm and companion seats, and a dinette that converts to a berth. The galley has a two-burner propane stove, sink and refrigerator. Options include Awlgrip paint, air conditioning with a 3.5-kW genset, a transom door, a molded swim platform and a 4-hp bow thruster. A flybridge is also available, along with 380- and 400-hp diesel Yanmar diesel upgrades.
Eastern Boats has been around since 1981, beginning with an 18-foot runabout designed by Royal Lowell, who was known for Maine workboats. A 22-footer came along soon after, followed by a 27-foot Lowell design built as a center console or lobster boat. Located today in Milton, New Hampshire, Eastern Boats builds a fleet of open and cabin boats, including a 27 Tournament fishing craft.
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue.