There can be a certain trajectory to boat ownership. You start out small, work your way up to ever larger boats and then reach a point where smaller might be better. You start thinking about a handy boat that’s easier to run, one that doesn’t require the maintenance and care of a big boat. It should be good for a sunset cruise or cocktails at the dock, perhaps a fishing trip or a weekend getaway. And, of course, it has to look good.
As far as Jay and Anne Marie Borneman are concerned, the Patriot 29 from Mathews Bros., the Denton, Maryland, builder, fits the bill. The Bornemans, who are from Oxford, Maryland, bought a 2004 model in late summer last year. The boat had been owner-maintained, was in good shape, and Jay and Anne say the price was “very fair.” (Recent listings for similar boats were priced about $150,000). During the winter the boat was given a complete going-over at the Mathews Bros. facility. When the Bornemans took delivery this past spring, the boat was in Bristol condition.
The 29-foot, single-engine Chesapeake-style powerboat is a departure from the Borne-mans’ previous vessel, a 52-foot DeFever pilothouse trawler, a “sweet boat,” Jay says. “We did a lot of cruising around Chesapeake Bay,” he says. “We liked to go long and slow. Oxford is our No. 1 place, but we spent a lot of time at Swan Creek, Rock Hall, the Solomons, the Tides Inn on the Rappahannock — name a spot, we’ve probably been there.”
SPECIFICATIONS LOA: 31 feet BEAM: 9 feet, 2 inches DRAFT: 2 feet, 6 inches WEIGHT: 7,500 pounds HULL TYPE: modified-vee PROPULSION: single diesel TANKAGE: 94 gallons fuel, 20 gallons water BUILDER: Mathews Bros., Denton, Maryland, (410) 479-9720. mathewsboats.com
But the big trawler had its drawbacks. “To get the 52 out, it took an hour to get it ready,” Borneman says. “It was a complex piece of equipment that required a lot of attention. And when it wasn’t getting used a lot, things tended to spontaneously break.”
The Bornemans went to the used-boat market, looking for “something classic, beautiful,” as Jay puts it. The Mathews Bros. boats were an obvious choice. “There are more Mathews per capita here in Oxford than just about anywhere else,” Borneman says. “It’s the official boat. Two of my neighbors have them, and I loved them.”
With the help of owner Pete Mathews, the Bornemans found a boat for sale in Annapolis, Maryland. “We took a look at it and thought this might be it,” Borneman says. The test run was the clincher. “It was blowing 10 to 12 knots with choppy, disorganized 2-foot seas — a messy day,” he recalls. “But the boat was great — dry and stable.”
That’s what comes of having a hull designed for Chesapeake Bay waters, he says. “It’s not dramatically different from the boats the guys are using to crab 300 days a year,” says Borneman. “It’s heavy for its size, so with a big diesel and the bow thruster, it’s a very workable boat.”
Power comes from a single 315-hp Yanmar. “Running 1,200 rpm gets you 8 knots,” says Borneman. “At 1,500 it climbs to 12 to 15 knots. I haven’t pushed it much beyond that. When you come out of an 8-knot trawler, 15 knots feels like you’re airborne.”
Cabin comforts include a V-berth, a standup head and a small galley. “We don’t plan to use it as an overnighter, although you could easily sleep aboard,” Borneman says. “The cabin actually has a lot of interior volume.”
The winter refit was intended to bring the 11-year-old boat into like-new condition. The interior contains just the basics — no refrigerator, no air conditioning, as few systems as possible. “We wanted a dayboat — what we didn’t want was to have to deal with a lot of equipment issues,” says Borneman. Instead he added some cabin vents and handholds and redid the canvas. The engine was refurbished, the helm seats were replaced, and a second depth sounder was added.
“Like magic, it appeared this spring and it’s perfect,” says Borneman. “Pete’s team will continue to maintain it, wash it down and keep up with the brightwork.”
The Patriot 29 has been called a runabout with attitude. “It is like a classic 1970s Mercedes-Benz — it is just gorgeous,” Borneman says. “And the thought processes that Pete put into this boat were perfect. She’s a stable, dry boat that is easy to drive. We came out of a 52 DeFever that weighed 38 tons with twins and thrusters. The Patriot is every bit as easy to maneuver and draws a lot less water, important on Island Creek.
“It is a classic design that will never be eclipsed,” he adds. “The Patriot 29 perfectly fits where we are right now.”
The Patriot 29 draws on the working craft of Chesapeake Bay for its hull design and traditional look. The boat rides a modified-vee hull and is powered by a single diesel. The profile shows a clipper-style bow with some flare, a straight sheer and a long, open cockpit that can do double duty as a fishing platform or entertainment center.
The wheelhouse is swept back, and eyebrow trim accents the trunk cabin. The cockpit has plenty of space and an aft seat. The hardtop wheelhouse offers good protection from weather and sun. The helm is to starboard, equipped with side-by-side seats and a dash for instruments behind a large two-panel windshield. Handholds and a bow rail help make deck work safer.
Below deck, there’s a standard V-berth forward with a small dayboat-style galley. The enclosed head compartment comes with an electric marine head and sink. There’s also a pressure cold-water system for both. Interiors are semicustom, featuring finished cherry joinery and teak-and-holly cabin soles.
Mathews Bros. has long been known for its contemporary versions of Chesapeake workboat designs. The Patriot 29 was offered as a combination dayboat and weekend cruiser, following on the heels of the builder’s Blackwater 29. Other Mathews Bros. boats include the Classic Bay Cruiser (22 feet), the Mathews 40 and the Patriot 29 II, a shallow-draft, high-speed version of the original 29. Mathews Bros. also builds the Hampton one-design racing sailboat. Prices for the Patriot 29 on the used market are about $150,000 and up.
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue.