The offshore forecast in South Florida called for 6- to 7-foot seas, northeast winds to 25 knots and scattered showers — not exactly ideal fishing conditions.
“At least you’ll see how well this boat handles big seas,” said Bill Cordes, director of sales and marketing for Invincible Boats, as we met at Two Georges Marina in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Joining us for the trip were Capt. Chip Sheehan, mate Mike Risely and Invincible’s marketing specialist, Karim Sabet.
The 39 complements four other Invincible offshore models ranging from 33 to 42 feet in length; each is built to order and all feature stepped hulls.
Before getting underway, we transferred live bait from pens at Sheehan’s dock to the 62-gallon pressurized transom livewell on the 39. We could have also used the 78-gallon livewell under the aft-cockpit sole, but the transom well proved more than sufficient for the 24 goggle-eyes and 36 threadfin herring.
The captain fired up the triple Yamaha F350 outboards and headed toward the Boynton Inlet — among the most infamous inlets along Florida’s east coast.
Crashing 10-foot waves and a ripping outbound tide had turned the narrow opening to a hellish, roaring cauldron. The 39 accelerated with authority up the face of each breaker and landed smoothly on the backside, then quickly met the next roller with its flaring bow.
Within 30 seconds, we had cleared the wash and were making our way offshore. The 39 rides on a Michael Peters-designed, patented hull, which creates a cushion of air to smooth the ride, improve efficiency and boost speed.
While some stepped hulls require substantial velocity to reach planing speeds and realize the benefits of the steps, the Invincible planed at speeds as low as 20 mph and 2,500 rpm, which proved an important advantage in the rough water. Instead of slogging along, we cruised comfortably, easily bridging the steep, tightly spaced seas.
Adding to the comfort level are firmly padded, contoured three-across helm seats, and three-across aft-facing seats (under which lies an insulated cooler). The backrest for this seating module has a fairly low profile with rounded corners to improve visibility for the captain when glancing aft to check lines.
Twin Garmin 8212 -multifunction displays filled the helm panel, offering control and viewing of the Garmin 6 kW 4-foot open-array radar and 2 kW CHIRP sonar, as well as the GPS/chart plotter. Invincible installs a shoot-through transducer ahead of the forward step to eliminate any interference from aeration.
The 39’s optional hardtop features backing plates for installing outriggers, antennas and radar. Thick-wall schedule-80 aluminum quadruples the strength of welded joints over conventional schedule 40 aluminum for the hardtop frame.
Built to Fish
We ran about a mile off the beach. As we shut down, Cordes deployed a drogue from the bow as Sheehan and Risely deployed kites, and sent out three lines on each to present goggle-eyes for mahimahi and sailfish. As we drifted with the bow to the seas, the 39 remained stable enough so I could explore the interior features.
Invincible has built a reputation for impeccable fit and finish, and you can see it in the quality of elements such as hatches that fit snuggly with rubber seals and guttered frames to prevent water from seeping in.
A single-level sole eliminates tripping hazards as you battle a fish along the side. The deck angles slightly upward as you go forward, making it easy to work a fish around the bow. Coaming bolsters encircle the interior to protect your knees and thighs. A recessed bow rail and stainless-steel pullup cleats eliminate snags.
A beefy dive door with a telescoping boarding ladder on the port side offers safer boarding on floating docks, the ability to pull aboard a big fish, and an easy way to climb back in after a dip.
Underpinning the deck is a molded structural grid of bulkheads and stringers bonded to the liner using Weld-On. The deck and liner are also bonded using a superstrong methacrylate adhesive.
My inspection was cut short by a double hookup on mahimahi. The spacious aft cockpit offered plenty of fishing room as Cordes and Sheehan battled the acrobatic fish. With the livewell in the center of the transom, alcoves on either side also allow you to safely brace yourself in each corner.
Sabet gaffed each mahi which, after a few photos, went directly on ice in the port fish locker, one of two such in-sole compartments in the aft cockpit. Below the forward deck are four other below-deck compartments, including a 160-gallon fish box. A factory option converts this to a massive livewell. You can also order a coffin box for the forward cockpit.
As the captain reset the lines, winds accelerated so strongly that the drag in one of the electric kite reels failed and the kite went down, breaking its tether in the process. Fortunately, Sheehan brought a backup reel and kite, and we were soon in business.
“It’s days like this that test your equipment,” said Cordes.
After an hour with no bites, we cruised about 5 miles up the coast. I noticed that the 39 ran nicely at around 3,500 rpm and about 40 mph with the 6-foot rolling waves on the starboard beam. Maneuvering the Invincible 39 was made easy thanks to the U-Flex power-assist hydraulic steering. We took relatively little spray. What little water hit the deck quickly drained through a pair of newly designed side scuppers, which also prevents seas from back-flushing onto the deck when reversing hard.
Crew members found plenty of places to sit during the run, including a pair of seats that folds out from the transom bulkhead on the each side of the livewell, in addition to contoured seating for two forward of the console. The 39 also sports a pair of benches that folds out from the forward gunwales.
As we arrived at our new spot off Lake Worth Pier, I retrieved the stowed kites from the step-down compartment inside the console. With a companionway on the port side, the console offers 6½ feet of clearance, and features a permanent marine head, sink, and freshwater faucet/shower.
About 15 minutes after we set lines, a sail bit but didn’t stick. About 45 minutes later, a pair of sailfish attacked the spread as we were idling out to deeper water, and Risely hooked one of them. The 360 degrees of deck access and wide walkways allowed him to easily follow the fish as it streaked along the portside toward the bow. He then fought it back toward the starboard side for release.
After that excitement, the crew voted to fish a bit longer, and the choice paid off with two more mahi, but then it was time to run back to the dreaded inlet. As we got closer, the opening looked even more threatening. Capt. Sheehan timed the waves perfectly, following a big roller with the engines revving at around 4,000 rpm and trimmed out a bit. The bow refused to dip. If I had any doubts about the down-sea performance of this stepped hull, they were quickly dispelled.
This boat also runs superbly in smooth water, as I discovered earlier in the year while testing the 39 on Florida’s Biscayne Bay. My 0-to-30 mph acceleration time averaged 7 seconds, with a time to plane of 4.3 seconds. I recorded a blistering top speed of 72.2 mph at 6,000 rpm, where the triple Yamaha V-8s burned 98.7 gallons per hour for .73 mpg. That speed is even more impressive when you consider that the 39 was carrying 340 gallons of fuel, 30 gallons of water and three adult males.
With the 25-inch-pitch -propellers, the best mpg came at 3,000 rpm and 31 mph, with a burn rate of 24 gph for 1.29 mpg and a maximum range of 709.5 miles, based on the 550-gallon fuel capacity.
The Invincible 39 Open Fisherman combines great performance with outstanding seakeeping, solid construction, comfort, great angling features, and enviable fit and finish. This fishing machine will keep you and your crew safe and secure in the worst of times, and pamper everyone in the best of times.