All the weather-forecasting tools our crew consulted called for the wind to lie down and the seas to subside. Even the best weather apps, it turns out, can be wrong.
When we pointed the Buddy Davis 42 CC out a southern New Jersey inlet in mid-September, we faced steady 20-knot winds and tightly stacked 4-foot swells with the occasional 6- to 8-footer rolling through. While the conditions proved less than ideal for fishing, they proved perfect for testing the big center console’s offshore mettle. How did it fare? The short answer: The Buddy Davis 42 Center Console passed with flying colors. There are many reasons why.
The man responsible for showing me the full capabilities of this 42 turned out to be Frank Crescitelli, a well-known captain in New York and New Jersey fishing circles. He planned to run about 14 miles offshore to fish some local lobster pots that had been holding plenty of mahi.
Before we left the dock, he found a giant school of juvenile menhaden and filled one of the twin 40-gallon transom livewells to capacity with a single throw of his cast net. We had all the bait we needed, and all the rods too; the 42 features six flush-mount holders in the gunwales and nine welded into the hardtop piping.
We filled the 156-gallon insulated fish boxes in the cockpit with ice to chill our anticipated catch — two additional insulated fish boxes reside in the sole at the bow. I also found an entertainment center/bait-prep station behind the helm leaning post, complete with the requisite tackle drawers.
With Crescitelli and his mate, Adam Friedman, loading everything we could possibly need into a 73-gallon in-sole box, lockable gunwale lockers and the console cabin, I knew we would not arrive at the pots undergunned. Gary Caputi, a fellow outdoor writer, joined us as we pulled away from the dock, Crescitelli deftly maneuvering out of the tight canal with the help of the Yamaha Helm Master joystick system.
With a higher-than-average 3.3-to-1 length-to-beam ratio and a sharp entry that tapers to a 24-degree deadrise at the transom, this 42 is designed to slice through waves. But there’s more to it than that. Frankly, it’s built like a brick you-know-what.
As soon as Crescitelli maneuvered us around the ragged breakers in the inlet, we started charging through swells that would have caused lesser builds to shudder and groan. The Buddy Davis felt solid throughout, mushing the waves and deflecting any spray with its wide Carolina bow flare.
As soon as we found our heading, Crescitelli buried the throttles for the quad F350s to find the sweet spot. We all noted that the deep-V hull performed better at faster speeds — settling into a comfortable rhythm at around 36 mph at 4,500 rpm. Despite the sporty conditions, we knew we’d have the lines in sooner rather than later. Once we found the line of lobster pots and set up a drift, Crescitelli revealed another surprise that turned out to be an offshore game changer.
If there’s a compromise to the carving-knife model of long, skinny boats with steep deadrise angles, it’s that they rock and roll on the drift. A boat like the Buddy Davis would be subject to snap-rolling while adrift in a beam sea. And before Crescitelli pressed a magic button on the helm, this proved true. Once the Seakeeper 5 gyro deployed, the boat ceased rocking and instead gently rose and fell with the rhythm of the swells.
Instead of constantly needing one crew member at the helm while we prepped to fish, we all could freely walk around the spacious cockpit and rig the rods without getting knocked about. Suddenly, the prospect of fishing for a few hours in heavy seas seemed like no big deal, and I knew I’d later return to the dock a lot fresher than I originally anticipated.
At $65,000, the Seakeeper is an expensive option, but if you’re serious about fishing outside the inlet and you have it in your budget, it is worth every penny.
On the Rod
Once rigged, we settled into a pattern of fishing the pots. Crescitelli set up a drift, and Caputi and I cast swimbaits around the buoy while Friedman chummed with handfuls of live and dead peanut bunker. Caputi wedged himself comfortably along the coaming bolsters in the bow, secure behind the high freeboard, while I did the same from the cockpit. We could have had a full crew casting at the same time without impeding one another, and indeed, Crescitelli and Friedman set up a few live-line rods in the holders between us.
Sure enough, on the third pot, we saw the unmistakable flashes of mahi patrolling beneath, and soon I saw a bend in one of the live-lined rods. I picked up the rod, closed the bail and reeled. Within seconds, we witnessed the phosphorescent glow of a breaching mahi.
With the skunk off the boat, we rerigged and soon found ourselves confronted with a double hookup on false albacore. As the fish sizzled line off our spinning reels, Caputi and I moved fore and aft without obstruction.
We both noted how the level deck made it easy to transition from bow to stern and back while fighting fish. Other boats we’ve tested feature a step up from the cockpit to the walkways around the console. But here, everything added up to easy fishing.
Well Built and Rigged
Taking the helm on the ride home, I again got the feel — this time from a captain’s perspective — for how well this boat handles rough seas. Once safely back inside the inlet, I put the boat through its performance paces.
The 42 planed in under six seconds, and while there was some bow rise, it didn’t compromise the view from the helm. The quadruple Yamaha F350s propelled the boat to 30 mph in just over 10 seconds en route to a 53.5 mph top end at 5,800 rpm, burning 131.4 gph for .41 mpg.
I should note that we tested the boat with 400 gallons of fuel, two full livewells and a full freshwater tank, a crew of four, and a full supply of gear and ice. We also dealt with that 20-knot wind. Under more optimal conditions and a lighter load, Yamaha recorded a top speed of 61.3 mph at 6,050 rpm.
The most efficient cruising speed occurred at 3,500 rpm and 30.5 mph, with the four F350s achieving 0.83 mpg. That equates to a cruising range of nearly 450 miles based on 90 percent capacity of the 600-gallon fuel tank.
While this boat will please the hardcore crowd, I should not discount its family-friendly amenities. The console hid a well-appointed cabin with a full galley and a dinette that seats four, a separate head with a shower and VacuFlush toilet, plus sleeping accommodations for two. Throw in the flip-down transom jump seats, the triple helm chairs and the lounges in front of the console and there are plenty of creature comforts. Oh yeah, the diesel generator and air conditioner come standard.