Thank goodness for autopilots. It was so dark at 0300 when we left the dock in Fort Pierce, Florida, and headed for the far side of the Gulf Stream, that the hours until dawn would have been spent staring at the compass alone with no external reference like a horizon. Time was, you wouldn’t even think of taking a mere 28-footer over a hundred miles offshore in search of big yellowfin tuna. Admittedly, even with the advanced construction technology and hull designs, you have to pick your 28-footer pretty carefully to pull off a trip like this one. I’m grateful the boat was a Pursuit – it’s mighty tough to find a better-built boat.
Top-end figures rarely have any basis in reality since offshore anglers all know how seldom they run their boats at top speed. The only time I was able to run flat-out on our tuna trip was back inside the inlet where we reached 52 mph at 5,500 rpm with twin Yamaha 225-hp Saltwater Series engines. However, the excellent Yamaha fuel-flow gauges indicated that optimum cruising speed offshore was 36 mph burning 25 gallons per hour (both engines) or 1 1/2 miles per gallon.
When running several hours out of sight of land in a small boat, the most crucial sensation any passenger should have is one of security. At no point during running, trolling, gaffing, drifting or moving about the boat did any of our four-man team feel the slightest discomfort or trepidation. The highest praise I can ever give any boat is that of predictable performance – surprises are no fun offshore. The 2870 filled that bill perfectly whether steaming down-sea, carving smoothly into head seas or hardly rolling in a beam-sea troll.
Live-bait trolling will require bumping one engine in and out of gear. If you believe that you need tons of turbulent water to attract fish, then this boat isn’t for you because normal trolling speeds provide little subsurface prop wash and less surface white water. However, if you feel that an efficient hull that doesn’t create tons of turbulence is a better way to go, this hull can’t be beat.
One crew slept on the forward seat en route to the fishing grounds while I wedged myself in next to the helm console. The radar constantly scanned beyond our vision to find telltale flocks of feeding birds. Once we reached the prime area, we managed dolphin and broke off a wahoo but couldn’t find a single tuna. What I did find, however, made the trip worthwhile. The Pursuit 2870 qualifies as pure fishing machine. Beam sea, head sea, 4- to 6-foot waves or gentle rollers – none of it matters to the 2870. It stays dry, stable and comfortable.
Since our trip, I have seen owners augment the rod storage aboard their 2870s by mounting vertical rod holders on the center-console sides with Velcro openings in the T-top canvas to accommodate the rod tips. Make no mistake, however, factory-supplied rod storage is quite adequate with space for 15 rods in and around the cockpit and more in the bow storage areas and bow seat boxes. You’ll also appreciate the broad expanse of surface to flush-mount electronics.
The 2870 accommodates several anglers in the stern with no shortage of work space. Plus, the transom contains an insulated and plumbed well that can serve as a fish box, bait well or bait cooler alongside a rigging station and sink for quick and easy rigging. Additionally, a large, in-deck fish box with a macerator and a standard-equipment leaning post with a big, recirculating live well assure that every fishing contingency will be covered.
The big-boat features don’t stop with fishing appointments. The large center console provides plenty of standing headroom inside to use the permanent toilet, as well as access to the back of the electronics.
The only change I’d make involves the one-piece stainless bow rail. It certainly does its job, but I’d rather see a lower-profile rail, perhaps inset into the gunwale to make bow-fishing easier.
Pursuit uses no woven-roving fiberglass at all, feeling that knitted and stitched glass offers greater multidirectional strength. The company also uses only vinylester resins that better deter blister-causing osmosis. Pursuit has enough faith in the 2870’s solid fiberglass bottom and balsa-core hull to offer a full five-year, transferable hull and deck warranty that even includes osmotic blistering.
Pursuit has a well-deserved reputation for making extremely sea-worthy offshore boats. The new 2870 will surely carry the tradition to greater heights and better fishing. I have difficulty imagining many other 28-footers that would have made such a long-range trip as comfortably or securely.