A Profile of Dug Stowe's 31
I had always admired the lines of the Bertram 31, however a neighbor of mine purchased one in the early 90’s and did a full on renovation. One day while doing some daydreaming, it occurred to me the immense possibilities this presented. And my father, who of course is all knowing, had said to me many years before that he would only ever want to own two brands of big boat, Striker or Bertram. Everything lined up, when I purchased Alchemy on a blustery fall day in 1997 and delivered her from Swansea, MA to Mystic, CT with a bunch of friends and family. Little did I comprehend the odyssey and adventures I was to enjoy in the years to follow.
Alchemy was in tough shape and in hindsight I am amazed we made it home with no major mechanical breakdowns. She ran well, and gave me my first indications of her sea keeping abilities on that first day as the spray flew and the Chrysler 438’s screamed. We did get her home, tied her up in my parents slip, and it wasn’t long after that that she was on the hard, gutted to the firewall down to the bare hull and a good deal of the interior as well. It became a project that many of my friends participated in and I called it phase one. We replaced all the sub deck stringers, and installed a hand made teak deck which we fabricated ourselves. We installed the first of two towers and pulled the engines to go through them during the winter, and paint to make them as pretty as the rest of the boat. That was my intention at least.
As the years passed I continued to work on projects every winter, which included multiple repowers before purchasing new Yanmar diesels which provide a 23 knot cruise at 11 gph all day long, as well as an endless amount of other things that one would tackle with a boat that was the same age as I. She was born in 1969. Phase 2 was the repower as that involved a significant amount of work! But she was re-wired, re-plumbed, re-chromed and by now I would say there is not a screw on board I have not touched. During all this she was used a lot during our short New England summers, and we cruised from Martha’s Vineyard to Montauk, Block Island and everything in between. I and a group of other Bertram 31 crazies started the Bertram rendezvous up here in New England which at its zenith had 30 plus B31’s and well over 150 people for dinner at the Montauk Yacht Club. And we fished. Boy did we fish! We caught tuna by the cooler full, mahi, and even a blue marlin south of the Vineyard! This boat has been so much fun. And she raises fish. But more than anything else she has given me community that is a wondrous one. Owning a Bertram can be like joining a family. You have friends and stories the world over! Everyone stops and talks at any dock you pull up too. It is totally amazing.
This summer is the fulfillment of phase 3. Alchemy has been undergoing a real renovation for the past two years. After much thought about how I boat, and what my dreams for the future are, I realized that I already own the boat that I loved, and I wanted to keep her for many more years. I wanted to continue the adventure. And during this time in the shed I realized even more that it was the right boat to share with my newborn daughter. But after 46 years, she needed the touch of professionals and it was beyond my abilities. So tomorrow I pick her up in Newport, RI after 2 years in the hands of Brewer Street Boatworks. Their owner owns another B31 (yes, I met him at a rendezvous, many years ago!) and cares for many other Bertrams. They are Bertram people.
I pick her up to bring home and enjoy the rest of the summer this year and many more to come. I cannot wait to have my family and my friends back on board. We will catch a lot more fish. We will see many more sunsets together. We will drink one too many in the shelter of a clear anchorage. My daughter will learn how to enjoy life on the water, catch fish, and cleat a line. We will head out in to weather that is a bit worse than we thought, and we will not worry too much about it because I know the boat can handle more than I can at this point. Because I run a Bertram 31. An old girl who has become one of my best friends and a trusted companion. We’ve been through a lot together and we have created experiences with those around me that I shall treasure forever. Thank you Ray Hunt and Dick Bertram for doing what you did. There is no boat, nor any community like that of Bertram.