By admin ~ February 3rd, 2012. Filed under: New Boats.
A New Standard
Has Been Set
By L.J. Wallace, Jr.
It’s often been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. When you first meet Larry Bonadeo, you can’t help but be struck by the intensity of his eyes—bright aquamarine, providing a portal to the inner being of a man with an uncompromising passion about building the finest boats possible, anywhere and everywhere… a pretty ambitious goal when you set up shop in Stuart, Florida, one of the world’s premiere custom boat-building towns. The Bonadeo company motto is pretty straight-forward: “Built by owners for owners, when only quality counts.”
Originally from Michigan, Larry sold his successful construction business in 1998 to pursue his love for boats and fishing, which he did from both U.S. coasts and the Bahamas. He owned a series of custom sportfishing boats and when he commissioned the construction of his 63-footer, he also signed on as a worker in the plant to start fine-tuning his boat-building skills. During this same time period, he acquired his 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard license. It’s that combination of complementary talentsunderstanding the design, construction and use of a sportfishing boatthat allows Bonadeo to produce such exemplary vessels.
When Larry later decided that he wanted a smaller boat built to yacht-quality standards, he couldn’t find one, so he did what any successful businessman does when he can’t find what he wants “off the shelf”: he decided to build one himself. The boat, a 31-footer, proved so successful and generated so much admiration and interest that in short order it established the family-owned and operated Bonadeo Boatworks. After a double-handful of launches in the lower-to-mid 30-foot range, late last year the Bonadeo 368 Walk Around was splashed. Or, given this boat’s pedigree, should I say it was introduced to the liquid elements the way a princess is properly christened. And like a true princess, from any angle on her trailer or in the water, this boat is gorgeous and turns heads.
The day of our sea trial around the St. Lucie River, aircraft from the Stuart Air Show were rampaging all around the skies, streaming smoke as they barrel-rolled and it seemed almost as if it was a celebration and tribute to this newest mini-yacht. With Larry’s son and V.P. of Operations, Tony, at the helm, we idled up the waterway as Larry took me below to show off his latest creation. More on that later. Back topside, Tony offered the obligatory “Ready?”, goosed the throttles and a tutorial in uncompromising boat design and
Draft: 23″ (est.)
Fuel: 324 Gallons
Water: 50 Gallons
Holding Tank: 6 Gallons (est.)
Power: Max 900-hp
Cruise: 47 MPH
Top End: 56/60 MPH
Displacement: 12,900 lbs. (est.) full
load wet, triple Verado 300
performance commenced. The triple 300-horsepower Mercury Verados (color-coordinated with the hull, of course) growled and with hardly a bit of bow rise, the 368 leapt up on plane in scant seconds. Easing back on the sticks a bit, Tony started cranking the wheel over, harder and harder, as our circular path became increasingly tighter until we were whirlpooling around in less than three boat lengths. But even more fascinating, you couldn’t feel a bit of slip. It felt as though the hull was glued to the water and with just the right center of gravity and the boat’s degree of heel into the turn, there was none of that feeling of being thrown sideways.
The Saturday we were out there was a stiff and steady 15+ knot wind out of the northeast. As we approached the inlet, I could see four- to six-foot rollers barreling in between the stone jetties. I said, “Oh, we don’t have to run outside and get her all dirtied-up,” and Tony replied, “No, but I want to show you something.”
At the very mouth of the jetties he turned the boat beam-to into the incoming seas and there we waited for the next big set to roll by. As the waves approached, I grabbed a firm hold on the T-top upright, expecting that lunge/snap effect as the boat rose over the first crest and started sliding down into the trough. But no such thing happened. We just sort of… rocked a little. It reminded me of the way world-class hurdlers adeptly clear each barricade—they don’t really jump over it; instead they just spread their legs wide enough to stride over the barricade as their shoulders stay at almost the same height between or when jumping the hurdles. I looked over at Larry who hadn’t bothered grabbing a handhold and, like the Cheshire Cat, grinned in my direction.
“What the heck do you call that hull design,” I demanded, to which Larry replied, “Oh, we haven’t named it yet, but it would have to be pretty long.” The hull has no lifting strakes. The bottom begins with the keel, moves into a convex shape and then transitions to concave toward the chines. “It works like the wing of an airplane, creating lifting pressure from the center,” Tony explained. “You end up with a sound, deep-V feeling boat when it’s running, but at low speeds and when stationary, it’s stable like a flat-bottom boat.”
Bonadeo boats are constructed with a cold-molded vacuum bagged process, utilizing Vinyl Ester and Epoxy Resins, Kevlar, Carbon Fiber, Biaxial Fiberglass and Composite Cores. Each boat is built by hand one at a time starting with conceptual ideas from the prospective owner, through finalization with the naval engineer/designer. From that point the construction process begins.
After having me peek up under the gunwales where the workmanship and finish was seamlessly flawless, Tony explained, “When it’s all put together, it’s a totally monolithic boat with everything fiberglassed in place for a solid, but very light, one-piece structure.”
The topside overall layout is fairly standard and this boat sports a complete arsenal of angling systems and equipment, while extra touches and absolute attention to detail abound, too numerous to detail here. Everything seems to flow—nowhere do you encounter a feeling of being cramped or, “I wouldn’t have put that there,” as you move around. One standout in that respect is the expansive sun pad located directly in front of the helm. Yes, these boats are built with the serious fisherman in mind first, but even without outriggers—or as a tender to a larger yacht—it would hardly be a misemployment to choose this Bonadeo.
A contoured door on the starboard side of the helm pod swings forward, providing access down below. There you find the head, sink (with Corian countertop), Vitrifrigo stainless refrigerator/freezer, an exotic hard wood interior of book-matched open grain lacewood trimmed in Sapele hardwood, and durable and low maintenance Amtico flooring… not to mention a separate mechanical/pump room (with ABYC – American Boat and Yacht Council – Certified Electrical Panels with spark suppression) that’s pre-wired and exhaust plumbed for a future generator and fuel tank, should the owner desire. Oh yeah, and there’s the queen berth complete with an LCD/LED TV, and 6 inches and 5 feet of headroom. Did I mention this is all down below… on a 37-foot center console?!
One of the great pleasures of my job is getting to meet the people who build—and to learn about—the incredible boats I’d otherwise hardly have the chance to climb aboard, much less be offered the opportunity to run. The Bonadeo 368 is most certainly in that category.