Bahama Boat Works steps it up with the Bahama Boat Works 41 that redefines what’s expected.
Confession: I take advantage of nearly any invitation to get out of the office and on the water, and invitations to sea trial a new boat on a sunny day are among those I prefer the most. I’ve enjoyed five-hour cruises on 130-foot yachts during which I’m served champagne and light bites, but I’ve equally appreciated 30-minute jaunts on RIBs with just a bottle of water.
Occasionally, when a sea trial has been less than pleasurable, it’s been due to the skipper pushing the boat beyond its design capabilities, especially while executing tight turns. So on a recent sea trial, I was already prepared for the stern to unpredictably hop or skid sideways across the waves when the skipper started doing donuts. But no matter how hard he pushed it, the Bahama Boat Works 41 ride was silky smooth and steady as she goes.
In 1994, Scott Henley, Bob Sparks, and several other partners founded Venture Marine and built more than 300 boats. In 2004, Henley and Sparks sold their stock and started Bahama Boat Works in Palm Beach, Florida, with their 31. More recently, Rob Thomson—a childhood friend of both Henley and Sparks—joined the team and applied his acquired industry marketing expertise. Introduced in 2008, the Bahama Boat Works 41 was a big step for the company, and it has paid off well. Indeed, the 80th hull will be released this month; on average a new mold is built every three weeks, many of which are for repeat owners.
In fact, Kricket was delivered earlier this year and is the second 41 for a Palm Beach, Florida-based couple. “We didn’t want to sell the first  but got an offer we couldn’t refuse. Building the second one allowed us to make some tweaks based on how we used our first. For example, we love to fish but also entertain. We took over 20 people on a Christmas cruise of lights and realized we needed more comfortable seating, so we incorporated that on our new one. We also carry a lot of rods and tackle for the variety of fishing here in South Florida, so together we created enough storage for 20 rods and associated tackle.
“I also wanted more natural light in the console so together we figured out how to incorporate skylights,” explains Kricket’s co-owner and primary skipper. “We enjoyed the true customization. Other center console manufacturers say they’re custom, but choosing the hull color isn’t custom. Coming up with an idea, and then Bob [Sparks] and his manufacturing team making it a reality is custom.”
From the boat owner’s home dock, salesman Jeff Kennet and I headed behind the Peanut Island to the Palm Beach Inlet, while Henley is in another customer’s Bahama Boat Works 41, China Time, to merge my sea trial with a photo shoot on a picture-perfect day. Kennet began with Venture Marine 1998 as a rigger and moved into sales before joining Bahama Boat Works. “The similarities between Venture and Bahama Boat Works are that they were built by the same people, but the similarities are only in looks and the way it’s assembled. Bahama Boat Works pays more attention to the details and finished products,” says Kennet, who will join a customer in The Bahamas for four weeks this summer to run his new 41. Just then, a repeat customer texts Kennet about his new 41 and its weekend performance: “Love the boat. It’s a weapon. Love the speed.”
Kennet’s next words are interrupted by Henley on the VHF, who tells him to run the boat east to west just off China Time’s bow for some good running shots. “Give her some air, too.” Kennet grins, and I get comfortable in the bench helm seat beside him. Five or six wide-open passes later, he is instructed to do a few donuts, and I prepare myself for the inevitable jolting skid sideways. It never comes.
“Do that again, but this time go over your wake a couple times,” I coax Kennet, who happily complies. Same sharp, consistent and confident carving—no skidding, no hopping, no jolting. Just silky-smooth turns. Nice.
Henley joins us on Kricket for the ride back. “We design our bottom with a 60-degree bow entry and a 24-degree deadrise, and longitudinal strakes that carry all the way to the back of the boat. So no matter what attitude the boat is, the stakes are always at work creating the lift and the easy planing from dead start to cruise to high speed,” explains Henley, and adds that the hull design began in 1989 from a boat called the K-Custom, which was modified into the Jupiter 31, then modified into the Venture 34, and eventually into the Bahama. The difference now is that all Bahamas are CNC computer drawn; one side is a mirror image of the other. “So our hydrodynamic and accuracy and tolerances from one side to the other of the boat are perfect.”
But the perfect design and continual improvement are only part of what keeps their customer base so loyal. “A few years ago we were in The Bahamas with Jeff, and another Bahama had an engine issue that needed a small part. Before we even had a chance to offer our help, Jeff called Scotty, who jumped in a plane (he’s a pilot), and brought the part over to the marina, fixed the engine and then hung out and had cocktails.
That level of pride and commitment is almost nonexistent nowadays,” says Kricket’s skipper, who explains that their relationship goes beyond what’s typical in other companies. “They’ve used our boats for sea trials, boat shows, demonstrations, whatever they need, and we know other Bahama boat owners do the same. It’s a tight-knit family, built on trust and mutual respect. We know we will always be friends and part of the Bahama family. What more could anyone ask for?”
Perhaps a Bahamas 46 or 51 that’s currently on the drawing board?
—By Liz Pasch, Southern Boating Magazine July 2016
LOA: 41′ 3″
Draft: Draft: 2′ 4″ (engines down); 1′ 11″ (engines up)
Weight: 9,500 lbs; weight with engines 15,000 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 580/65 gals.
Power: 4x Merc 350 Verado
Cruise/Top Speed: 38-40/62 mph
Range: 500+ miles @ cruise
MSRP: Price upon request
Bahama Boat Works, LLC
1525 53rd Street, Suite B
West Palm Beach, FL 33407