From The Helm: 2003 Maritime Skiff 2090

Maritime Skiff 20
2011 Mercury 115 Four Stroke, LOA: 20’ 6”, Beam: 7’7”, Draft: 12”, Top Speed: 30 knots

Over the years, I’ve owned and operated a fleet of boats, including some of the most reliable names in the boat building business:  SeaCraft, Contender, Grady White and Parker. While all the boats have their benefits and drawbacks, without a doubt, the Maritime has been the most versatile and most frequently used of that fleet.

These days I use it in primarily in May, June and July on both the mud-flats of Jamaica Bay, New York  as well as the white-sand flats of Fire Island, while using the Contender for just about everything else. My second-in-command, Capt. Danny Reich, puts a ton of hours on the Maritime while chasing birds and fishing structure. Years ago, I’d even take this boat 20 to 30 miles out to sea to chase tuna, which is pretty amazing given the fact that it carries only 26 gallons of fuel. Believe it or not, the Maritime has about a 150-mile range. Simply put, the boat can do an awful lot. In fact, it was the first boat I ever owned that I thought it was worth repowering rather than starting anew.

My 2090 is a simple, beamy, rolled-edge skiff built on the concept of simple, low horsepower, fuel efficient design while having exceptional sea-keeping capabilities. The unique hull design gives the boat the ability to plane at the low speed of 10 knots, so instead of pushing through the water like a traditional hull, which requires more effort and burns more fuel, you can ride above the water at relatively low speeds. Such a design makes the boat very easy to power. I get plenty of speed from my 115hp 4-stroke Mercury and as mentioned, the range is unbelievable. I can cruise at 27 miles-per-hour while getting 5.6 miles per gallon and only burning 4.8 gallons per hour. Unsurprisingly, that very same design also causes it to pound a quite a bit in a chop, but then again, all skiffs will pound in those conditions.

Regardless of some inevitable discomfort in sporty seas, the boat is unquestionably sturdy. I ought to know by now after the extreme abuse we’ve given it. The guts of my 2090 consist of a fiberglass grid system bonded to the hull, giving it strength and rigidity. It also has a solid, composite-cored transom, the design of which has never experienced a failure since the first Maritime was built. The hull is fully-foamed for flotation and is literally unsinkable. I’ve felt perfectly safe in just about any weather conditions I’ve been in, especially considering the Maritime’s ability to quickly self bail after taking the rare green water over the bow. I say rare because the skiff’s round bow design, extreme flare and wide reverse chines make the boat exceptionally dry. It is very hard to put the bow under water.

I believe this boat to be the driest and maybe even the strongest skiff on the market, and in my opinion, the most seaworthy. But that’s not why I originally decided on Maritime. I chose the 2090 because it is a basic, uncomplicated, rolled-edge skiff with self-bailing cockpits and a lot of interior space. The truth is there was something I didn’t like about the layout of every other skiff and bay-boat on the market. After 15 years of fishing Jamaica Bay, I knew exactly how I wanted my next boat set up and the only way to get what I wanted was to set it up myself.

Maritime offers a ton of options. Because the great majority of my clients fly fish, I chose the bow combing to keep the fly line in the boat on windy days. The combing also allowed me to install pop-up cleats, avoiding the frequent fly-line snags that regular cleats create. Working my way back, I chose the 32-inch console with the grab rail and Plexiglas windshield instead of the 24-inch one. While generally one wants a low-profile console in a fly-fishing boat, if you are a guide, it doesn’t really help. The premise is that such low-profile consoles allow fly-fishers to cast over the boat without snagging on the console. Of course, if there is a guide behind a smaller console, you’ll likely snag him or her instead! I always discourage casting over the boat for that very reason. Yet the primary reason I choose the larger console is that a lot of the year’s best fishing tends to be in less-optimal conditions, and both Danny and I prefer to have some shelter when running 30 knots to the next pod of busting false albacore.

I had custom leaning post made by Atlantic Towers. I wanted to be able to securely stand on top of my leaning post so that I could operate the trolling motor from a high vantage point while at the same time allowing two anglers to fish. Thus the leaning post consists of a large (approximately 24- by 32-inch) piece of starboard, mounted on aluminum supports just aft of the leaning post pad. I also had a 36-inch rail mounted on the back of the starboard so I would have something to hold onto during the unfortunate but frequent bad-mannered boat wakes. Speaking of rails, I had an identical 36-inch belly-rail installed on the bow so that an angler has something secure to hold onto not only for such boat wakes but while running-and-gunning.

Moving aft, Maritime offers a 57-inch-long, full width, stern casting platform. Because of the extra length of my leaning post platform, I needed something smaller, so I had a 40-inch stern platform made out of marine grade ¾-inch plywood and fiberglass. This was considerably cheaper than the Maritime version and the benefit of getting it made to spec made the decision a no-brainer. Yet, going into my 8th season with the boat, the plywood is beginning to rot out. I’ll likely need to replace it this winter. In hind-sight, an all-glass platform would have been the better way to go.

On the transom I have a 36-inch poling platform made by Seamount. The platform was built to spec for my boat, but it came in a complete kit that allowed me to install it myself. There were two very large benefits here. The first is that I didn’t need to leave the boat with a welder for an undetermined amount of time, but the second and most important is that this polling platform is easily taken off by removing four bolts that secure the stanchions to the transom. My intention was to install the platform in the spring and then remove it in the fall when we started chasing false albacore. I have yet to remove it however, as it doesn’t get in the way like I expected it would.

Along the gunnels and up to the bow combing I have three push-pole brackets made by Skinnyanglersgear.com. This holds a 23-foot push-pole made by Carbon Marine. This push pole is light, exceptionally rigid and tough, allowing me to pole all day without getting exhausted.

Now let’s talk about power. I recently repowered the skiff with a Mercury 115 horsepower 4-stroke. The motor is about 20% faster, 10% more fuel efficient and 50% quieter than the 2-stroke I had on there before. It is without a doubt the quietest motor I’ve ever run. Most modern 4-strokes are of course quieter than the old 2-strokes, but I can’t even tell this motor is running, as demonstrated by a recently stripped starting motor worm gear – a result of trying to start it while it’s already running. But it’s not the quietly running motor itself that I’ve been increasingly impressed with, it’s the engaging and disengaging of the forward and reverse gears that’s extraordinary. That “clunk” you’ll both hear and feel on other engines simply doesn’t exist with the Mercury. And really, that clunk is what spooks fish in shallow water. After installing this motor, I quickly realized that I didn’t need the Lenco Troll-N-Tab electric trolling motors I had mounted on my stern, which added significant weight and sometimes prevented my scuppers from working correctly.

Still, I did need a trolling motor to fish those sand flats where the current is too swift or the edges too deep to pole. So, I invested in a 24-volt Motorguide Wireless W75 SW with a 60-inch shaft. The wireless feature allows me to stand on the leaning post platform and operate the bow-mounted electric motor with a handheld remote that I can clip on my belt.

At 75-pounds of thrust, this trolling motor has a crazy amount of power. If there’s no warning, at full power it can certainly knock an angler off his feet. At mid to low power, it is virtually silent. The 60-inch shaft allows me to adjust the depth depending on the depth I’m fish and power I’m using. In other words if I need a lot of power to stem or make way in a stiff current, I’ll adjust it so the prop is lower in the water column to avoid cavitation. If I’m in a foot and a half of water, I’ll need to raise the motor to avoid hitting the bottom.

The trolling motor is powered by two 12-volt batteries connected in series so I get the full 24-volts out of the system. Both batteries are in the bow compartment, each mounted on the opposite side to allow room for storage. I can easily get a full 8-hour day out of the batteries in just about any situation. The charger for the batteries is located in the center console and the wiring goes down the hull tube then back around the rub rail and up to the bow compartment.

Because the trolling motor mount didn’t fit flush on the bow combing, the good folks at Atlantic Service in Rockaway mounted a piece of flat ¼-inch aluminum to fit, which extends slightly over the gunnel but not enough to cause any problem. The trolling motor can be easily removed by simply unplugging it and unscrewing the T-bolt that secures it to the mount. I usually take it off for good beginning in late August/early September when the flats fishing dies and the albies show up. After all, you certainly don’t want your fly line getting tangled in the trolling motor while there are albies busting all around the boat.

Because the 2090 is so bare bones, storage can be a problem. There is ample room up in the bow compartment, but because of the trolling motor batteries, an anchor, tackle and other miscellaneous items that need to be locked up, I needed a place to store life-jackets. That was actually easier to figure out than I thought. I simply installed an 18×20” inspection hatch in the middle of the stern casting platform and had a fiberglass guy make me a compartment. Any other miscellaneous items are stored in two Tupperware containers, one in the port and one in the starboard under the rear deck.

Lastly, I suppose we should cover rod storage. On the front of the console, above the seat, I have a 6-rod vertical polypropylene rack that takes care of any spinning rods I should have on board. For fly rod storage I use the Trac-A-Rod storage system with the one track-mounted on each side of the boat at the amidships stringer and one on each side at the stringer just aft of that. Under the stern platform on each side of the boat I have two pieces of ¾-inch starboard cut to fit snugly against the gunnels, about a foot in-between each other, with three 3-inch diameter PVC running between them. I simply slide the tips of the fly rods into the PVC, put the butts of the rods in the Track-a-Rod rings and clip it down into the rod clips. This system holds 6 rods securely even in bumpy seas. On each side of the console grab rail I have an I-Fly PVC rod holder for quick access during run and gun scenarios.

In short, my Maritime 2090 might not look like much, but is probably the “fishiest” boat I’ve ever owned. It’s certainly seen its share of fly/light-tackle caught bass in the 40-plus-inch range. Not only is it fuel efficient and dry, but it tracks and fishes well in very shallow water and it’s exceptionally strong, safe and reliable in sloppy conditions. It’s not terribly fast nor does it cut though chop like my Contender, and it’s not as light and nimble as high-end flats skiff. But it is a versatile, hardcore, no frills fishing machine. I am just as comfortable poling in a foot-and-a-half white-sand flat off of Fire Island as I am chasing birds off of Breezy Point in a 20-knot breeze. It’s really a great boat for what we do, and it fits in well with our light-tackle philosophy, which is doing more with less, and using small boats and light gear to target big fish.

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