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I was quite surprised when I first looked at the plans of Sport Fishing Boats Co.'s 24-foot Striker and saw that she was made of steel. Ordinarily, steel construction in a boat so small would make her too heavy for good performance. If, on the other hand, her plating were too thin, it might buckle and rust through.
It was with some reservation, therefore, that I traveled to Freeport, Long Island to try out Striker. However, I wanted to test her for two reasons. From her plans I knew she would be an interesting-looking boat. Secondly I know her designer, Philip Bolger of Gloucester, Mass., to be one of the finest architects of small sport-fishing boats, and I felt if Bolger had chosen steel, he must have had good reasons. Striker might be something special.
At rest off the dock at Freeport she was even more appealing than her plans had suggested. She had a perky sheer extending from a high bow to a low fish-handling stern, a nicely blending trunk cabin and a rakish flying bridge. Her steel construction wasn't immediately apparent, since the top-sides were smooth with welding joints almost indiscernible and no rust anywhere although she had been in water and uncovered for four months.
Upon stepping aboard, the practical features of Striker's design were apparent. The roomy, self-bailing cockpit was ideal for fishing, with low freeboard to prevent interference with the rod and to make it easy to pull a big fish aboard. Rod holders were built into the gunwales. The fishing chair was located in the after part of the cockpit so that the coaming on all sides was just the right distance for foot bracing. The steel mast doubled as an air exhaust from the engine room and as a king post for landing a heavy fish.
The cabin was simple—designed less for cruising than for shelter. There were, however, two full-length berths, a head, a minimum galley and full headroom in the afterpart.
A glimpse into the engine room beneath the flying bridge deck revealed plenty of room and such quality features as Monel gas tanks and rubber mounting. I was most interested, however, in seeing the deep bilge formed by the hollow box keel—an unusual design feature sure to affect performance.
At the dock Striker was passing her examination with flying colors. But her performance under way would be the acid test. Anxious to see how she would behave, we—Herb Phillips, co-owner of Sports Fishing Boats, and I—eased out of her slip.
In gear at idling speed, she moved ahead at a perfect pace for dead-slow trolling, her broad stern and heavy steel plates holding her speed down in spite of the power of her 155 hp Nordberg engine. Her maneuverability was amazing. With full rudder she turned almost in her own length.
Standing on her flying bridge as we headed toward more open water, it was hard for me to realize I was in a boat as small as 24 feet. The five-foot-long bridge deck was a couple of feet above the water line, affording 360� visibility and making it easy to spot fish or shoals. The bulwarks around the forward deck, besides offering protection against slipping overboard while handling the anchor, heightened my impression of being on a larger boat. She had a feeling of weight and solidity not unlike a work boat dressed up to be a yacht. But the most pertinent question was still unanswered: Could this bulk become alive when urged?
We were now in open water and gave her full power. She didn't leap ahead, but rose up gradually, gained speed steadily until we were doing over 20 mph. Stripped of all gear, Striker has reached 27 mph. Far more important than her stripped speed, however, was the fact that now, loaded with gear, we were planing high and easy.