IN THEIR WORDS
You never really know a boat until you take it out and run it yourself. Of course, it’s crucial to read the surveys and the inspection reports, and to assess the builder’s background and the model’s reputation. But it’s what the boat does, compared to what you’d hoped it would do, that sometimes separates satisfaction from disappointment.
The moment the 433-pound blue marlin hit his line and the battle was on, Texas angler Anthony Luprete knew he’d bought the right boat. The scene was this year’s Poco Bueno tourney out of Port O’Connor, Texas, where passionate Gulf of Mexico billfish anglers annually get together for a weekend of catch-and-release competition. By the time Luprete and his crew boated the big blue (good for second place at the prestigious, invitation-only tournament) any doubts were dispelled.
“I knew after that weekend that the boat would fish well,” says the 38-year-old from Webster, Texas. “I’d gotten it right.”
The boat Luprete is talking about is his 1998 Bertram 36 Moppie, purchased for about $200,000 in 2002. Since that tournament, Luprete— co-owner of an industrial valve manufacturing company — and his fishing companions have caught enough blue marlin and sailfish with the Florida-built vessel to finish near the top in the Houston Big Game Fishing Club and Texas Legends tournaments, too. “This boat really does raise fish,” he says.
And that’s why Luprete bought it. He had “known about Moppies forever,” as he puts it. So when he started looking for a midsize express a few years ago, the Bertram already was on his mind. “I’d heard about how good they fished and about their seakeeping abilities,” he says. “I’d actually been on board two of them, and I liked the layout.”
Luprete also wanted a boat he could use with his wife, Kimberly Adele, and young daughter, Sabrina; the 36 Moppie’s cabin layout provided the required comforts. “I needed a boat that would fish offshore one weekend and cruise with the family on another,” he says. “This boat looked easy for a family of three to go out on. We could even spend the night. There was plenty of room, and the boat had everything we needed for that.”
Luprete found his prize on a Web site specializing in repossessed boats. The vessel was in Florida, and Luprete asked a friend nearby to look it over in person. “It’s shining-penny new,” came back the report. He then had it surveyed and finally went to see for himself. He found a turnkey boat, the twin 450-hp diesels barely used. “I was looking for a clean boat, late-model, low-mileage — this was it,” says Luprete.
There was one catch: The boat was the cruising model (Bertram offered a sportfishing model, too) and completely devoid of fishing gear. “Not even a rod holder,” says Luprete.
He looked at it as a clean slate, however, and began outfitting the boat for the kind of fishing he wanted to do. Off came the radar arch and canvas enclosure; up went a tower. Then came a fighting chair, double-spreader outriggers, a macerator for the in-sole fishbox. The wet bar was turned into a prep station and tackle center. “We’re slowly getting it set up for tournament fishing,” says Luprete. “We’ve had to make the most of the room we have, but I think we’ve got everything we need.”
Luprete now hopes to do a half-dozen Gulf tourneys a year, and he’s considering extending his range by trucking the Moppie to Florida for some Atlantic fishing, too. “My passion has always been billfishing,” he says. “And I have a lot of fun doing it.”
Especially with the right boat.
The Bertram 36 Moppie made its debut in 1996 and had a five-year production run, with slight interior modifications. The all-fiberglass modified-vee hull has an angled bow and sharp entry that widens to a plentiful 13-foot beam carried well aft to the cockpit. Standard on the sportfish version are a molded bait-prep station with sink and tackle center — set under the hardtop — and a transom door. There’s room for such options as a fighting chair, live well and fishboxes (in addition to the standard in-sole box.) The cruising model has an L-shaped lounge seat in place of the tackle center.
In both layouts, it’s a step up to the raised bridge deck, which opens hydraulically to access the twin diesels. The helm, to starboard, has a captain’s chair and destroyer wheel, and the bridge deck is protected by a wraparound windscreen. Instruments are housed in a black-background dashboard pod. While the cruising layout has a radar arch, the fishing boat is invariably outfitted with a tower (providing a hardtop for the lower helm station) with controls and electronics.
The 36 Moppie’s 13-foot beam and raised bridge deck design translate into plenty of room below. The head compartment is to port, with a separate shower and sink. The modest galley (stove, microwave and refrigerator) is to starboard, and there’s seating on both sides of the cabin. The offset queen-size berth forward can be closed off with a privacy curtain. Various wood-trimmed interiors were offered, maple among the most popular.
The Bertram 36 Moppie is easily found up and down the East Coast, and several in Europe turned up on popular used-boat Internet sites. A 10-year-old Moppie can fetch as much as $250,000, and well-equipped late models exceed $350,000. Here are a few examples. A 1996 Moppie, powered by twin 420-hp diesels, was for sale in Delaware for $249,000. It included a tower with controls and electronics, spreader lights and a canvas top. The cockpit had a fighting chair to go with a full tackle center, transom door and fishbox, and in-sole fishbox. A 1997 model in Florida with twin diesels was priced at $250,000, equipped with a tower with controls, outriggers, tackle center, in-deck and transom fishboxes, 30-gallon live well and bait freezer. A “very clean” 1998 model in New Jersey with twin 400-hp diesels was listed at $299,000, and included air conditioning, a complete galley, stereo system, tower with upper controls, outriggers, multiple fishboxes, bait freezer, transom live well, and a tackle center with sink. A 2000 model in Florida was listed at $359,000, with twin 450-hp diesels and all the appropriate fishing gear, as well as air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and the cabin finished in light ash.
The Bertram Yacht name has been synonymous with high-quality fishing and cruising boats for more than 40 years. The company was founded in 1961 by world-class sailor and powerboater Dick Bertram, and its first offering was a 31-footer that literally changed the way America took to the water. The Bertram 31 flybridge cruiser, riding designer Ray Hunt’s then-radical deep-vee hull, became an instant hit and has since attained legend status. Over the following decades, the Bertram lineup expanded to include flybridge, express and convertible fishing boats and motoryachts up to 60 feet or more.
Building high-end boats, Bertram gained a solid reputation the world over while setting standards for construction, comfort and performance. Other notable models include the 58 Motor Yacht, the 54 Convertible, the 46 and 42 Convertible, the 35 Convertible and the most popular Bertram of all, the 28 Flybridge Cruiser.
The Moppie name (derived from Bertram’s wife’s nickname) has been used over the years to designate an express-style boat. Moppie models have included 28-, 30-, 36-, 43- and 46-footers. All have been discontinued, but the Moppie spirit may be said to live on in the new Bertram 360 express.
LOA: 35 feet, 10 inches
BEAM: 13 feet
DRAFT: 3 feet, 8 inches
WEIGHT: 19,000 pounds
HULL TYPE: modified-vee
TANKAGE: 400 gallons fuel,75 gallons water
PROPULSION: twin diesels
BUILDER: Bertram Yacht, Miami.
PHONE: (305) 633-8011.