Authors Posts by Stephanie McMillan

Stephanie McMillan


Paul Mann Custom Boats

Paul Mann Custom Boats

Paul Mann’s latest proves that determination, custom design and attention to detail blends a tournament fishing yacht with luxurious style and does so magnificently.

Walk into any marina and you’ll see a lot of white boats. There may be yachts, but if she’s there, you won’t miss the new Paul Mann 61-foot Jichi, a sportfisherman that draws attention with a striking color scheme of platinum and black accented with warm, polished teak.

She’s docked stern-to at the Cocoplum Yacht Club in Coral Gables, Florida. The rich, deep teak of the cockpit and mezzanine outlined by the faux teak toe rail and transom pulls eyes in before the gleaming upper deck and polished tower structure draw your attention upward. It’s easy to see this is one special boat.

First thoughts are of fishing. It’s impossible to miss the 47-foot outriggers, the abundance of rod holders and the Release Marine Rocket Launcher fighting chair in the cockpit. Clearly, the owner is an experienced tournament fisherman who enjoys the fight of billfish, but the meticulous styling says his good taste goes beyond sporting activities.

Inner Beauty

Paul Mann Custom Boats are recognized for their detailed woodwork, exceptional cabinetry, clean design, and unique detail that lends itself to the owner’s personality. “The overall design and look is me,” says builder/designer Paul Mann, “but the owner has his chance to come in and really express what he thinks he wants his boat to look like.”

The result is a smart, clean, contemporary, three-stateroom, three-head layout with megayacht appointments: cedar-lined hanging lockers, custom-built showers and sinks, Eurostyle flat panel doors and drawer fronts with push locks and concealed catches, carpeted cabins and bunk storage areas,  custom headboards and upholstery, marble countertops below with Ice Crystal Quartzite countertops in the galley, custom dinettes, and electric window screen shades.

A complete entertainment system with TVs in the salon and in each cabin include Fusion, Bose, JL, Apple, and Samsung equipment throughout. With the addition of the Miele induction cooktop and microwave in the galley, the interior of this sportfish is more yacht than fishing boat.

Exterior Strength

Speaking of fishing, during a tournament, it’s key to get out to the grounds fast, more like, first. Twin Caterpillar Acert C32s provide 1,925 horsepower each that comfortably get on it at 40 knots even when seas are rough. The 1,750-gallon fuel tanks can keep the boat on the run for extended periods.

The hull is built with a cold molded jig method and uses three layers of 3/8-inch Okoume plywood on the bottom and three diagonally-planked layers of ¼-inch Okoume on the hull, each with fiberglass and epoxy between each layer, which make the structure glassed inside and out. “All of our boats, Carolina boats especially, have a sharp entry and a modest exit as far as deadrise, and that’s what makes it stable,” explains Mann.

“The spray rails come up and turn down just a little bit, and that’s what helps take the water. Just that little bit cups the water and gets her to roll and turn like she’s on an axis. You can down-wheel it hard, and she’ll roll right around in just about her length and never kick out or blow out. …When we’re running, say thirty knots, she sits on top of her spray rails. The only thing in the water is the bottom; there’s no water from the spray rails. That’s when you feel like you’ve done your job, when you get her to run right on her bottom.”

Hull of a Time

Paul Mann Custom Boats have a hull design that incorporates a subtle convexity that allows the boat to run much harder and faster in a heavier sea.

The boat is controlled from the bridge deck as well as the tower helm. The bridge centerline helm places all the controls and instruments within arm’s reach and eyesight. Therefore, it requires minimal movement on the captain’s part when in the thick of the action. The 360-degree unobstructed view from both locations allows clear visibility to what’s going on in and around the boat. The tower helm is offset for a larger display that helps when exposed to weather.

Three Release Marine helm chairs with custom satin finish cushions provide comfort at the bridge helm equipped with the latest in electronic and mechanical technology, including Garmin multifunction displays and KVH satellite communications. A clear, acrylic panel protects the displays while instruments are protected in an overhead compartment that opens when in use.

An ingenious safety feature for the helm is the valve setup incorporated into the steering system. Also, if steering on the bridge fails, valves under the helm can be shut off. This keeps the system pressurized and allow steering from the tower and vice-versa; the same valve setup is installed under the tower helm.

The bridge deck has two lounges forward of the helm that provide plenty of room for guests or the family to enjoy the open air and 360-degree views. Additionally, the area also provides lots of storage space for gear and rods. In front of the console, a cushioned seat conveniently houses a custom-built freezer.

The bridge is protected from the elements with a hardtop and removable front and side panels.

The Trenches

The cockpit is the heart of fishing on Jichi. The equipment is configured for any style of fishing: Livewell systems are set up very specifically and rod holder systems are strategically placed. “Dredges and chains and teaser systems are set up very high-tech and easy for the captain to operate,” says Mann and adds that the tower and everything put in the tower was made to do certain types of fishing. The boat is set up to adjust from dredge fishing to kite fishing to trolling.

Custom-built pressurized livewells have quick-connect fittings. This means the tanks can be removed when trolling or entertaining. Adjusting the pressure of raw water pumped from the sea chest protects the bait. “Too much pressure can descale your bait, deoxidize them, [and make them] all look bad,” says Jichi skipper Capt. Hanibal Moya. “The bait when you’re kite fishing is what makes a difference from the guy fishing next to you. Your bait is everything when you live fish; it’s the difference from first to fifth [in a tournament].”

When it’s time to empty the wells or if seawater swamps the rail on back down, two three-inch and two two-inch drains quickly discharge the water from the cockpit.

A custom fish box with stainless steel liner along with Dometic freezers and refrigerator built into the mezzanine keep fish fresh and drinks cold. Four electric reel outlets under the washboards and six Release Marine heavy-duty, 30-degree rod holders with liners add to this yacht’s fishing arsenal.

Keep it Cool

In the heat of the battle, air conditioning keeps crew cool. Hidden slots built in the back bulkhead cool the cushions and provide a refreshing breeze. Mann tested overhead and corner chines for air-conditioning vents. Hence, he designed a slot system that provides direct cold air without seeing a grill. “I want you to feel the air conditioning, and I want you to have to find where it’s coming from,” he says.

Started from the bottom now we here

Paul Mann built his first yacht when he was 26 years old, a 52-footer. “ I’ve grown up around the original builders in our area that founded the Carolina boats,” he says. “I was very lucky in my life to have grown up in a fishing era and a boat building era in an area that went from building charter boats and boats to make a living on to yachts that fish.”

Mann started at the bottom, but celebrates 30 years in business in 2018. He’s learned to be consistent in the face of continuing change. By the looks of it, Mann has adapted to new materials, new electronics, and new processes. But he consistently builds magnificent fishing yachts that provide superior performance.


LOA: 61′
Beam: 18′
Draft: 5’6″
Displacement: 78,000 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 1,750/275 gals.
Power: 2x Caterpillar Acert C32 1925-hp
Cruise/Top Speed: 38/45 knots
Price: Inquire


Paul Mann Custom Boats
(252) 473-1716

By Steve Davis, Southern Boating June 2018

Sportfish or Center Console?

An image of a center console rigged for fishing. Is this a sportfish or center console?

When it comes down to it, the real question remains: Sportfish or Center Console?

There is certainly no shortage of offshore fishing boats suited for bluewater missions. But a notable change over the last few years is the number of larger, outboard-powered center consoles that now compete on the fishing grounds with similar-sized convertibles, which, in the past, were the benchmark for many boat owners. So which is king? Sportfish or Center Console?

The Convertible

A convertible with a flybridge command station, sizeable cockpit, and mezzanine, spreader supported outriggers, and available tuna tower covers all the bases a serious angler could possibly need. The flybridge offers unobstructed visibility for spotting tailing fish, slicks, rips, bird activity, and protection for navigating in all weather conditions, and there’s ample room for electronics. A centerline helm often has flanking lounges that conceal rod stowage below. Visibility to the cockpit is good for watching baits in the wash, beneath the kites and monitoring angler action below.

Which is king? Sportfish or center console?
This sportfish has decidedly more space than a center console.

In the cockpit, there’s a bait rigging station, a freezer, tackle stowage, an ice chest, a livewell, below deck fish boxes, and a transom door. If the livewell is built into the transom, it also can serve as another fish box or rigged as a reservoir for live bait tuna tubes. A fishing chair or a rocket launcher adds more to the arsenal, and square footage allows the angler to fight his fish from the transom, while the crew has total access for landing or releasing the catch.

After hours, the convertible typically offers a full-featured, air-conditioned salon with entertainment systems. Nearby, a dinette and an adjacent galley—with refrigeration and other appliances powered with an auxiliary generator—makes the boat totally self-sufficient underway and at the dock.

Below, a private and self-contained head with a shower complements overnight accommodations in the staterooms. If the weather turns sour and your fishing plans change, the convertible gives you the opportunity to spend the day aboard the boat enjoying these amenities. Similarly, with its accommodations, the convertible serves as a moveable vacation home for the family that wants to both fish and cruise.

Years ago, the convertible was the step up for boat owners wanting the next best big thing. But it also meant learning more about maintenance and internal ship systems such as running gear and diesel engines, and understanding how an inboard boat handles differently from one with outboards.

The Center Console

Meanwhile, center console builders are not anchored down by their designs. The center console first appeared in the early 1960s as a simple and practical fishing boat. It was a design not unlike a Swiss army knife that could pull off just about any type of inshore fishing assignment. As the style grew in size, more creature comforts such as T-tops and small heads in the console became the norm.

Which is king? Sportfish or center console?But nothing changed the complexion of the center console as much as the explosive growth of fuel-efficient outboard motors that exceed the 500-horsepower mark. Coupled with two, three, four, or even five outboards with available joystick controls, the operator enjoys fingertip ease maneuverability on center consoles exceeding 50 feet in length.

With design cues from convertible boat manufacturers, today’s center consoles are equipped with features for fishing and cruising. The appeal is broad. Everyone from tournament anglers to their families can appreciate a center console. First and foremost, multiple engine packages deliver heady cruising speeds in the 30- and 40-knot range. Some boats can blaze across the water at better than 50 knots. On the days you can utilize all this speed, an operator can be the first one to hit prime territory and stay there longer when the fish are still chewing.

The intrinsic beauty of the center console layout is the use of space. Working lines all around the boat and dunking live baits from kites are reasons why crews on big center consoles often win release tournaments. A midship-located helm station provides protection for the operator and generally good visibility. On acceleration, bow rise is mitigated with engine trim until the boat is up on plane.

Larger boats also benefit with a tower helm above the hardtop. Windshield design varies from a wraparound plex or acrylic screen to an anodized or powder-coated frame. Get more protection against wind, spray, and rain with a clear vinyl enclosure. Engine instrumentation and multi-function display electronics fit neatly in the dash. Drink holders, stowage bins and aptly placed grab rails are a nice touch. There is more overhead stowage when the boat has a T-top.

Most center consoles have two or three seats or a leaning post. But sea conditions and speed over the water will determine whether you are sitting or standing when underway. Handholds are important in any case.

Inside the console of larger models, there is room for amenities. That could be a head compartment, a refrigerator, a cooktop, or a convertible dinette for a berth that’s cozy for two. Some smaller-sized center consoles are configured with lower compartments. However, space is better suited for stowing fishing rods and safety gear.

Abaft the seats is where the center console boat builder shows its expertise. There’s stowage for fishing tackle, a drink cooler, rod holders, and similar gear. This is a good location for a Seakeeper gyro stabilizer, space permitting, so consider other stowage and fish box areas. Some builders offer galley features in the cockpit, such as a freshwater sink, electric grill, and a refrigerator. If so, you will need a generator and a water tank to operate these items underway.

The stern is obstructed by outboards. This means fishing off the side. Considering you have the rest of the boat to walk around, it is hardly an issue. When you have multiple hook-ups, it can be an advantage in quick releases and tossing over fresh baits to a lit-up school of sails. Some center consoles have a small door to the swim platform and the engine mechanical. Others have a side door, often preferred when diving and swimming.

In the End

Both convertible and center console boats are adaptable, and each serves as an excellent platform for fishing. Center consoles without a lower compartment don’t offer a place to get out of the weather. Nor all of the amenities typically found aboard a convertible. However, they provide anglers space all around the boat. They can also be less expensive to maintain. And you can go home with you on a trailer at the end of the day to eliminate dockage costs. The key to choosing is to be sure you know how you plan to use the boat. So you tell us: what’ll it be? Sportfish or Center Console

By Peter Frederiksen, Southern Boating June 2018

Ranger Tugs and a Snowboaters Paradise

Snowboaters take their Ranger Tug through the Mountains

Follow Jim and Lisa Favors as they cruise in their Ranger Tugs and live in a snowboaters paradise.

It’s no secret that as soon as it gets cold up north, Florida gets busy. Excluding tourists on vacation, nearly one million temporary residents flock to Florida in winter and then leave in the spring. These winter residents are commonly referred to as “snowbirds.”And because there’s no better way to enjoy Florida than by boat, many of them are snowboaters too.

Michigan-based Jim and Lisa Favors discovered a unique way to enjoy their retirement, including winter snowboaters adventures in Florida. They got a taste of southern waters when they completed the Great Loop on a 42-foot powerboat. They’ve found their way back year after year.

They traded in their 42 for a trailerable trawler built by Ranger Tugs that completely changed the way they boat. With the versatility of being able to trailer the boat on the highway, they could explore new and different boating areas. When they took delivery of their first Ranger Tugs, an R27 named Kismet, at the factory in Washington State so they took the first cruise around Puget Sound.

On their way south that winter, they got to explore interesting inland boating areas that many cruisers never see, including Flaming Gorge on the Green River, Lake Powell, and the Tennessee River. Along the Arizona/Utah border, Lake Powell was formed when the Glen Canyon Dam was built in 1963 on the Colorado River. This immense inland lake at an elevation of 3,700 feet is over 150 miles long and has more than 1,500 miles of shoreline that includes many picturesque coves and anchorages. When they couldn’t find appropriate lakes or rivers along the way, the Favors used their boat in campgrounds, or “boaterhoming.”

Snowboaters Paradise

With the boat back in saltwater on the Alabama/Florida border, they cruised their R27 along the panhandle, around both coasts of Florida and across Lake Okeechobee. After spending the winter in Florida, they packed their boat onto the trailer and headed to Michigan. Summer cruising in the Great Lakes can be spectacular with destinations such as Door County, Wisconsin and the Thousand Islands of Canada. Being able to transport the boat on the trailer allowed them to cruise vastly different areas depending on the season and where they wanted to go next.

After the Favors cruised areas that take many a lifetime to accomplish—the Great Loop, Canada, Key West, the Pacific, Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico—“two-foot-itis” set in and a bigger boat beckoned. Jim and Lisa commissioned a new Ranger Tugs R29S in 2017 and like the original Kismet, the R29 is trailerable and provides the flexibility they relish, but delivers more power, better accommodations and fresh modern styling. “The Volvo Penta D4 300 engine works with authority,” says Favor.

“When we move the boat during docking, cruising, or close-quarters maneuvering, there is no hesitation. While cruising, on the hook or at the dock, we have an unobstructed panoramic view of our surroundings. The seamless integration between the salon and cockpit provides better continuity for us and our guests.”

They took delivery of their new boat at the factory outside of Seattle and, once again, cruised the Puget Sound, The San Juan Islands, and into Canada. A stop in September at the Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats rendezvous in Roche Harbor, Washington, brought them together with 400 fellow boaters, and their new boat shined among the 150- plus Ranger Tugs.

This past winter, the Favors dropped their boat in the water at Legacy Harbor in Ft. Myers, Florida, and stored their truck and trailer. The snowboaters like this marina because it’s an easy walk into town and there are lots of activities. They’ve made friends from all over the country, and in Florida, they often cross paths with fellow boaters.

All About Balance

Additionally, the Favors balance time between marinas with friends and enjoy shoreside amenities as well as quieter, remote anchorages and parks. That’s where they can be alone on their boat to appreciate nature’s beauty. Their first Florida excursion on the new boat was to Punta Gorda for a Ranger/Cutwater rendezvous. Thirty other boats like theirs joined the festivites. At the rendezvous, fellow snowboaters gathered with native Floridians to enjoy the sunshine and boating. Some live on their boats and others have condos or houses and use their boats for excursions.

After showing off their new boat at the rendezvous, the Favors headed for more peaceful surroundings. Cayo Costa State Park, a barrier island near Sanibel, is a great place to explore, hike and enjoy windswept beaches. Another spot the Favors enjoy is Lover’s Key, where there is a long sandy beach to play on. The anchorage provides views of spectacular sunsets over the gulf.