To most yachtsmen the extraordinarily complex craft pictured on these pages may suggest a hybrid between a fine cruiser and a sea-going Erector set. In a way, she is just that. For it is doubtful if any 40-foot boat has ever gone to sea draped with more poles, wheels and gadgets than W. Harry Peters' Lazy Bones III. But on Lazy Bones III every line and gadget has a purpose, every pole and protrusion was painstakingly designed and machined to get one final result—a boat that would be perfect for spotting, baiting, fighting, and boating salt-water game fish anywhere and in any weather. Although Lazy Bones III was launched only three years ago, she has already proved herself as close to perfection as any fishing boat in the world today. Among the many giant trophies which have been hauled through her unique transom door are a 401-pound swordfish, a 604-pound blue marlin, and a 727-pound blue-fin tuna. A 656-pound mako shark has been hoisted up her gin pole, and from her side dozens of exhausted white marlin, sailfish and lesser game fish have been released to fight again. Already, Lazy Bones III has won both the Bimini Big Game Fishing Club Tuna Tournament and twice the Montauk Yacht Club Decathlon, the latter a demanding, summer-long competition for all types of game fish and all classifications of tackle.
Unique as she is, however, Lazy Bones III was no builder's brain storm. She is the end product of the knowledge and ideas gathered over forty years of marine design by John Rybovich & Sons, West Palm Beach, Florida, specialists in building outstanding sport fishing boats for outstanding sport fishermen. Yet 44-year-old Johnny Rybovich, head of the company his father founded and a fine angler himself, readily admits that the keel of Lazy Bones III might never have been laid if W. Harry Peters of Hackensack, New Jersey, her owner, were not the kind of a man who knew what he wanted and persisted until he got it.
In his 50s, Peters is a hard-muscled, squarely built man with a prodigious share of deep-water determination. His face is weathered, his hands are broad and strong. After seeing him, it is no surprise to learn that two summers ago he fought a giant tuna for nine hours and was still battling when the fish finally broke off.
Even in his dry land headquarters at W. H. Peters, Inc. of Hackensack, distributors for Cadillac and Pontiac in Bergen County, Peters is surrounded by symbols of his attachment to salt water. The hood of his Cadillac convertible sparkles with a chrome-plated miniature blue marlin. Silver-mounted marlin bills and paintings of the 11 boats he owned before Lazy Bones III line his office walls. An enormous blue marlin tail hangs over his desk. A sail-fish bill serves as letter opener, and under the table is a cardboard carton of leader wire slated to join the $11,000 aggregation of angling tackle already aboard Lazy Bones.
In short, everything about Peters suggests the deep water man, and yet until 1945 he had never wet a line in salt water. Before that he was dedicated to the delicate art of fly-fishing for trout on New York's Beaverkill. Then one day he joined a tuna fishing expedition out of Beach Haven, N.J. "I never went back to fresh water," Peters said. "I liked the big fish—I still do. I like the way they bounce you around in the fighting chair. Yes, the swordfish is the hardest fish to bait and hook, but the seven I've caught have all come up dead. Take blue marlin—they'll fight you right up to the transom."
But if Harry Peters had found happiness chasing big game fish, he was unhappy with the boats he did the chasing in. In his first boat, which he bought in 1945, he hooked a tuna off Watch Hill, Rhode Island, and the fighting chair fell apart with Peters in it. Ten more boats followed in fewer years. They were either too small, too wet, too slow, too clumsy or too something for a perfectionist like Peters. Finally, when the 11th boat was not up to snuff either, Peters decided that since no one else could satisfy him, Rybovich, a man he was hearing more and more about, must be able to build the perfect sport fisherman.
In 1951 he got hold of Johnny Rybovich and outlined his conception of a boat to him. Rybovich, a plain talker himself, said he would not build it. At that time he and his two younger brothers, Thomas and Emil, were producing a line of 36-foot sport fishing boats that were considered the finest afloat. Peters, however, was asking for a craft with all the Rybovich angling aids—but one that was bigger, faster and roomier than anything Rybovich had yet built. Logically enough, Johnny Rybovich saw no reason to change a very successful policy.
For three years Peters bombarded Rybovich with letters and phone calls, punctuated by personal visits. Finally Johnny relented, and in May of 1954 the construction of Lazy Bones III began. Peters, however, almost missed the November 1954 launching. On August 31 he was again off Rhode Island, when Hurricane Carol blew in and demolished or sank 25 of the 80 boats participating in the U.S. Atlantic Tuna tournament. "We rode it out with a hole in the boat," he recalls, "but all I could think of while we were doing it was why the hell didn't Johnny say he'd build Lazy Bones III sooner."
Shortly after Lazy Bones III slipped down the ways at West Palm Beach, Rybovich & Sons felt they really had achieved a fisherman's tour de force. Although she is four feet longer, and therefore much roomier, than the sleek Rybovich 36-footers past or present, Lazy Bones III can do anything they can do as well if not better. Her hull design, for example, particularly the deep V at her forefoot, makes her an unusually stable sea boat. At the same time, she is fast. From a dead-in-the-water start her 225-hp V-8 Chrysler engines will boost her to a top speed of 24 knots in only 15 seconds.
Lazy Bones III's 100 square feet of self-bailing cockpit is clear of any obstruction which might foul a fishing line or interfere with the crew's handling of a fish ready for the gaff. A Rybovich-designed fighting chair is the cockpit's only prominent fixture, and it has every adjustment (see drawing) to fit a man who may have to spend several hours struggling with a fish four or five times heavier than he is. While the angler is struggling, Captain Jack Pierpont and Mate Don Pearsall can follow every phase of the action from one of Lazy Bones III's three complete sets of controls and maneuver the boat to checkmate any move the fish might make.