The Bayliss 77 is the one-of-a-kind result of a custom builder’s expertise combined with fulfilling the dreams of the owners.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler
While the ideas of renowned physicist Albert Einstein changed the world, he was never, to my knowledge, a sportfishing enthusiast. However, he did have a thought that just might explain, in relative terms that is, just how John Bayliss achieved a remarkable accomplishment with the launch of hull #18, and the latest boat to bear his name, the 77-foot Clean Sweep.
Einstein’s quote goes like this: “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
Bayliss learned his boat building craft with roots anchored deep in that special enclave of Carolina boat builders. “For me, growing up in that environment, it was always fishing first,” he said as we discussed his early days on the water and his eventual graduation, with honors, from ‘Oregon Inlet University.’ “And that’s what I bring to each and every boat I build.”
It wasn’t until mid-2001, when he was asked to offer some insight into a build, that Bayliss decided it was time to do something on his own. “I had a lot of ideas in my head and ran things up the flagpole with a couple of friends.” By Christmas week of that year, ground was broken for the shop. Eighteen boats later, the Bayliss brand has become a formidable force in the rarified air of custom-built, hard-core sportfishing machines.
He and I first crossed paths at the 1998 Mid Atlantic 500 and on the day I was part of the invited crew, we had 11 knockdowns. I distinctly remember his drive and determination in doing his best to make the day as successful as could be. Many years later, as I stepped aboard Clean Sweep in Key West, Florida, it was quite obvious that both his passion for fishing and his own style of boat building skills have complimented each other and resulted in something really special.
“Everything is important aboard my boats. From the top of the tower to the bilges, nothing gets less attention just because it can’t be seen,” he said proudly and again, laced with that same determination and force of nature he brought to all those years of competitive fishing.
As I like to start ‘at the bottom’ when reviewing a boat, knowing that if things are taken care of here the rest will follow suit, I entered the machinery space via a large hatch on the cockpit’s centerline where a set of steps allows easy access without any serpentine contortions.
Brightly lit with high-gloss refrigerator white finishes on all the big iron and its requisite equipment, including a pair of 30-kW Northern Lights gensets as well as the bulkheads and overhead, the fully air conditioned and wired for sound engine room offers complete access to any piece of equipment. It’s the kind of space that is easy to get to and has the workroom that eliminates the backache out of doing regular maintenance projects. “Makes it a pleasure to work down here what with the a/c and some music,” remarked Capt. Gerry Keene, Clean Sweep’s skipper and a 13-year veteran with these owners, having been with them on their previous 68-foot Bayliss boat, hull #8, as well.
Fully forward and through a door is the pump room with all water and air conditioning systems, and their redundant back ups, to port and starboard respectively. As with the engine room, there is great working space in here as well.
As you would expect, the as-good-as-it-gets business end of Clean Sweep is her 200 square foot cockpit. It is replete with mezzanine, fish boxes, live well, chillers, individually controlled refrigerator/freezers, cold drink compartment, tackle storage, amazingly detailed and expertly finished teak cover boards and deck, a beautiful fighting chair, actuated under-gunwale storage cabinets, and just about anything a tourney-ready, serious—in this case, very serious—sportfishing yacht would need to get the job done.
Clean Sweep’s striking ice-blue hull and gleaming white house, with teak toe rail, and dramatic hull form and balanced Carolina profile was merely a prelude of what would await within. “Her owners are big time fishing people and have a shared vision on how they want to use their boat,” said Capt. Gerry as we toured Clean Sweep’s stunning interior.
Without mincing words, breathtaking is the only way to describe both the décor and the exacting attention to detail and craftsmanship that went into creating the interior space.
Clean Sweep presents a four stateroom, four head layout, all accessed through the expansive main salon, itself offering a fully found galley to port and dining area to starboard. What is so outstanding about the interior work found throughout is, of course, the extraordinary fit and finish that immediately catches the eye and how all the wood grain veneers match due to have actually been hewn from one log. And then there are those leather finish granite countertops, whose very special composition blends perfectly with the teak and holly sole and the rest of her striking interior.
The spacious master is located forward and among its many noticeable features, has above the berth’s headboard, a wood carving done meticulously by hand in relief form and fashioned from a single piece of lumber. And whether here, in the starboard crew stateroom, the VIP to port, or the captain’s quarters aft, there is more than ample storage room for all the necessary items required for staying away from the home port for extended periods of time. “We are based in Corpus Christi, Texas,” commented Capt. Gerry. “But I doubt we are going to see much of it. This is a purpose built boat and these owners like to go.”
Topsides is accessed by a starboard ladder and once up here, the centerline console offers a commanding 360° view. For guests, there is wrap-around seating forward easily accommodating 12-14 people with a table that doubles as a freezer. Additional freezer and drink compartments are located forward of the console and there are actuated storage boxes to either side.
For the skipper, there are a pair Garmin Black Box GPS systems, 25-kw Furuno radar, night vision, Chirp transducer, Furuno sonar, Simrad autopilot, 4 KEP 19” monitors, aft hard-top mounted 8” Garmin screen, Furuno sounder, Garmin sounder, KVH SAT phone and TV, Carlisle & Finch spotlight, KVH compass card, redundant Garmin tower electronics package—yes, that awesome Palm Beach Tower is fully functional—and more. And the hatch leading up to the bridge closes for safety.
Clean Sweep is a cold molded boat, built with exacting precision from the jig right up through her flawlessly finished hull and topsides. “From hull #1, which was a simple 12-cylinder, no-frills fishing machine, to this one here, with her twin 2,600-hp MTU diesel engines and all the many technological improvements through the years, you can track any boat builder’s career. And it goes beyond size,” commented Bayliss as we discussed the way he builds his boats. “Our goal is to always make them better.”
Matching the ride to the boat’s weight, size, range, and speed, Bayliss, along with renowned marine architect Robert Ullberg, gave Clean Sweep’s bottom around 24° – 25° around the forward bulkhead with a little more deadrise aft. “It’s walking a fine line but every boat is a compromise. We like the great head sea performance with plenty of buoyancy forward and the ability to not get squirrely on the captain in a big following sea,” said Bayliss.
With 30 months of build time and some 68,145 man-hours involved, the final product is a true labor of love, vision, dedication, and the combined efforts of a team of expert craftspeople. “The pre-construction time is as important as the build itself,” said Bayliss. “During that process, and among many other questions, we nail down the following: Where do you expect to travel? How do you plan to use your boat? What features are most important to you?”
Out on the water, Clean Sweep lived up to everything one would expect from her DNA. My day found the waters off of Key West mostly calm with just a hint of breeze sweeping landward and as we headed out to sea, I noted she got up on plane at 1500 rpm and with a 22-knot turn of speed. When we bumped her up to 1900 she responded by delivering 34+ knots. And adding a mere 100-rpm, we settled into a very comfortable 36 knots. She responded extremely quick to helm commands, cut exciting turns, banking and holding rpm as she did so, backed down quickly, and settled into tracking straight and true on our way back to the dock.
OFF TO FARAWAY PLACES
The Bayliss 77 is a boat that needs to be seen up close and personal to really appreciate everything that went into making her. Clean Sweep would be in Key West one more day as her rightfully proud owners were due in the following morning and then it would be off to fish the Caribbean side of Central America before transiting the Canal to Costa Rica. And then? Well with a boat like this one, that’s as it should be.
If a custom built, one-of-a-kind sportfishing boat is in your means, you owe it to yourself to check out what Bayliss Boatworks has to offer. You will not be disappointed.
Weight: 125,000 lbs (dry)
Fuel: 2,800 gal
Water: 450 gal
Power: 2 x M94 2,600-hp MTU
RPM GPH SPEED/KTS
1500 96.5 24.8
1700 123.5 29.2
1900 155.5 34.2
2150 191.0 38.5
2450 252.5 43.4
For more information, please contact Bayliss Boatworks (252) 473-9797; baylissboatworks.com