Little Boat, Enormous Field Test
While doing an inshore review of the Ultraskiff 360 with the inventor and owner, Jeff Lizzio, Jeff stated how well his little skiff could do in big water. I, being the skeptic that I am, immediately raise the B.S. Flag. Five days later, Jeff, being a man of his word, took me to task and somehow the planets aligned and the “field test” was a go.
The trip could not have taken place without the help of many people. Tim Salisbury, the owner of the Baby Seanut, a 38', custom designed Fountain TE with 3 300 G2 motors that was used as the mother ship. His boat is a sight to behold and he was an integral part of the team. All he asked in return was that he be recognized as having the prettiest boat (true), the biggest fish (no comment), and the most fish (no comment). Without Tim and his crew, this extreme adventure could not have taken place. Nevin Davis was a huge asset to this project, his coordination, photography, and drone operations made this plan come together.
The morning of this adventure, the weather Gods looked down upon us, it was perfect conditions. The crew loaded the Baby Seanut with two skiffs and all the accessories. Everywhere I looked, equipment was being loaded and tested. The skiffs fit perfectly, all drone testing had been completed and seven of us boarded and we were on our way. As we went under the Skyway bridge heading out, I realized just how fast and comfortable Tim's boat was. The destination was thirty miles or so offshore. Our plan was to do a little fishing and a lot of field testing. A little fishing is more or less an oxymoron for me, but I stayed on point.
The numbers we had were by no means “top secret”, when we reached our first destination it looked like a boat yard. This was pretty much the same with all the numbers we had. Everyone who wanted to fish out of the Ultraskiff 360 got a chance. When my turn came, it was amazing. I put some distance between myself and the mother ship and using the depth finder mounted to the skiff found some bottom structure. All I could manage to pull up was a Red Grouper, but they were out of season and this was not the real reason for the trip. The solitude and freedom fishing 30 miles out in this little boat was remarkable.
Now it was time to “put up or shut up”. Jeff ,(the President of Ultraskiff 360) and Chris (Ultraskiff team member), were in place. The plan was for Tim (boat owner) to perform passes as close and as safely possible by the skiffs at different speeds. With the Go Pros mounted and the drone overhead it was “game time”.
The first pass was not at full speed, but we were going pretty fast. I was so ready to watch one or both skiffs tip and the guys go in the “drink”. It didn't happen, these little boats rolled over the wake like it was nothing. The second pass was faster and the same result. Me being me, a story teller, I asked Tim to speed up and get a little closer. I certainly didn't want anyone getting hurt, but there was a “gentleman’s” bet and a story involved. To my dismay and Jeff's pleasure the skiffs glided right over the biggest wake the boat could safely make. We also circled the skiff at high speed making as much chop as possible, still no one came close to tipping.
The field test was a complete success. Jeff boarded the mother ship with an ear to ear smile. He explained: "The wide flare is positioned at the half-way point between the bottom and the top of gunwales, creating a lower lip that the wave or swell can push up on as it hits the boat allowing the boat to safely get over without incident". I understood exactly what he was saying to me, it was the big “I told you so”, in a polite fashion.
It was an absolutely amazing trip, everyone on the “Baby Seanut” knew their jobs and did them without a hitch.. I have never done anything like this before and may never again, a once in a lifetime field test. Not only did the Ultra Skiff 360 perform flawlessly, I got to fish, meet great people and witness the little boat with an enormous field test!