Ron Gallagher’s Jersey Cape 36 is a tournament-topping, marlin- catching machine, and he’s not afraid to use it. “My greatest love is fishing the canyons offshore—the Hudson to the Washington canyons—from June to September each year,” says Gallagher, 62, who lives in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and boats out of Ocean City, New Jersey. “Lisa Marie primarily targets billfish with a regular crew of three or four friends and family, including my youngest son, Ryan. We make about a dozen trips each summer.”
Two local competitions he’ll attend include the Ocean City Marlin and Tuna Club Overnight Billfish Tournament and the Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational. “Lisa Marie has consistently placed in the top three boats for the Release Award at the Ocean City Marlin and Tuna Club for the past eight years,” says Gallagher, who is the club’s commodore. But there’s one fishing trip he makes each year that’s more special than the rest.
“I grew up spending summers in Wildwood, New Jersey,” Gallagher says. “My grandfather and uncle would take me fishing in the back bays of Wildwood and off the coast of Cape May for flounder. My uncle is now 95 years old and legally blind but, amazingly, he still continues to accompany me on a yearly flounder trip. He talks about the plans for our trip all year long and looks forward to spending a day on the water.”
The fishing trip, says Gallagher, is “my way of thanking him for introducing me to the life I love. He taught me how to catch minnows at a bulkhead near my grandparents’ home, crab the local creeks and the back bays, and make the 60-mile run to the canyons for marlin and tuna.”
The 2008 Jersey Cape Devil 36 Express is his most recent boat. Gallagher—who is the owner of McCaffrey Associates, a wire and cable firm in Burlington, New Jersey—bought the boat in 2014, paying around $375,000 for the six-year old model. It replaced a well-used, 28-foot center console. “I felt I needed to move to a larger boat that would allow me to continue to do what I love,” Gallagher says. “I didn’t want to feel so fatigued after our 18-hour trips.”
Choosing a Jersey Cape wasn’t hard for Gallagher. The company’s tagline is “Carolina flare with Jersey attitude,” and he has always admired the legendary boatbuilders of the Carolinas, such as Spencer, Jarrett Bay, Buddy Davis and Scarborough.
Trading up from a 7,000-pound center console—with the majority of the weight hanging off the transom—to a 24,000-pound express with two diesels under the deck has paid off, Gallagher says. “Lisa Marie is a billfish-raising machine that’s very nimble when backing down.” Gallagher and his crew have had numerous multiple-release days, including one in the summer of 2016 when they released 11 of 14 white marlin that came into the spread.
Lisa Marie is powered by twin 600-hp Cummins QSC8.3 engines. Cruising speed is around 30 knots, with a top end of 34 knots. “Fuel use is about 35 to 38 gallons per hour, depending on how we push her,” Gallagher says. “Tab her down a bit and back off the throttles when it kicks up, and she will run through the rough water. She’s a very good head-sea and following-sea boat.”
With overnight amenities, Jersey Cape makes a good cruiser, too. “My wife and I do plan to make a cruise down the coast, up the Delaware Bay and through the C&D Canal to the Chesapeake Bay and St. Michaels, [Maryland], this fall,” Gallagher says. Florida also beckons, for the winter sailfish season.
“My boat has proven to be the perfect choice for me, my family and crew,” Gallagher says. “And there’s the added benefit of owning a boat that was built within a 30-minute drive of my summer home. I could not be prouder and more pleased to be the owner of a Jersey Cape.”
The Jersey Cape Devil 36 Express combines a Carolina look with no-nonsense, tournament-quality fishability. Standard fishing equipment in the semicustom boat includes in-deck, macerated fishboxes with drain systems, a molded-in bait prep area with a sink and gunwale rod holders. Options include a hardtop and/or a tuna tower, outriggers, a bait freezer and air conditioning at the helm. There’s also a standard cockpit deck plate for mounting a fighting chair. The modified-V fiberglass hull shows a moderate bow flare and a broken Carolina sheer. The helm is on the bridgedeck, mounted on centerline with a molded fiberglass station with controls and instrumentation. There’s a wraparound windscreen. Down below, the Devil 36 Express has a dinette with a high-low table that converts to a berth. Galley gear includes a ceramic cooktop and a refrigerator/freezer. A settee on the starboard side converts to upper and lower berths. The enclosed head compartment includes a vanity, sink and shower.
Wayne and Genine Puglise, owners of Jersey Cape Yachts, build their semi-custom boats in Lower Bank, New Jersey. The Jersey Cape line includes the 31-foot Little Devil as well as 40- and 44-foot Sport Yachts, the Devil 45 and a 47-foot Express, and others.
This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue.