The Nassau 3204 Sportfish isn’t the first resurrection we’ve seen of the classic Bertram 31 hull, but it’s definitely the latest and it might just be the greatest. Anyone who’s spent time aboard a Bertram 31 knows why this hull has always been so attractive: the 24-degree deep-V deadrise chomps through waves without pounding or thumping, and it’s one of the smoothest-riding monohull designs ever to hit the water.
But each and every one of those 1,800 old Bertrams all have one problem in common: they’re old. Wish you could find a new one? The Nassau, built by custom boatbuilder Brightside Marine, is the next best thing—maybe better.
Layout and Accommodations
Instead of enclosing the entire cabin under the flybridge, Nassau decided to leave most of the space open, without so much as a bulkhead to block the ocean breeze. Step down from the cockpit and there’s an open-air galley with an under-counter 12-V Norcold reefer to starboard, and a convertible dinette to port. The only enclosed area of the boat is the V-berth, which is small and Spartan but efficient and easy to clean, with just cushions, lights, and stowage compartments. Nassau says it’ll sleep three, but if I were one of the guys crashing in this berth, the third dude would be stretching out on the dinette. Day-boaters will love this design; weekenders with a family, not so much.
As on the old Bertrams there’s a pair of motor boxes (check out those beefy, oversized, stainless-steel hinges) between the cabin and the fish-fighting arena. But unlike the vintage classics, beneath the boxes you’ll discover a pair of 315-hp Yanmar diesels. Since the Nassau has a 315-gallon fuel capacity and the Yanmars burn literally half as much as the gasoline engines found in many originals, range has been extended well beyond the old Bertram models (which held either 170 or 222 gallons).
Extended range isn’t the only thing anglers will like about the Nassau. These boats have removable livewells at the transom, a rigging area with a sink and cutting board, a pair of enclosed rod lockers, and fresh and raw water washdowns. Four gunwale rodholders come standard, and a hinged transom door is optional. You’re a chummer, not a troller? Then you’ll also like the bow anchor locker compartment, which is partitioned off from the cabin and capped off with a Bomar freefall windlass and an anchor pulpit with roller.
On any boat there are details that can be improved. The Nassau I looked at had one of those cheap snap-spring struts on the hatch. In my experience these things break in no time, and this one was already busted. The rep told me these would be replaced on future models. The boat I saw also didn’t have fishboxes, but the same Nassau rep told me that a pair of 6’6” insulated boxes can be integrated into the cockpit, under the existing deck hatches, if a prospective buyer so desires. The bridge is also rather tiny, and sports a single centered Garelick helm chair — but you’re bound to have a mini-bridge on a boat this small, no matter how you design it.
Performance is another aspect of the Nassau that’s far removed from the Bertrams of yesteryear. Modern construction methods allowed the builder to shave a whopping 3,200 pounds off the original weight, which is nearly a third of the boat’s overall heft. Credit goes to Baltec balsa-core construction, which maintains excellent strength without mass quantities of glass and resin. Combine that weight savings with the 315-hp Yanmars and, according to Nassau, the 3204 will break 40 mph. The only time an original Bertram 31 ever made that kind of speed was when it was being trucked down the highway. The excessive wetness of the old Bertrams is also alleviated a bit with the reduced weight, since the boat sits higher in the water.
Other Boats to Consider
The only other way to enjoy the original deep-V Bertram design in a new boat is to buy an old 31 and re-build it (Cabrera Yachts builds refitting kits), or buy one that’s already been ripped apart and put back together again. Or, of course, you could consider rebuilding an old competitor like a Blackfin 31. But if you want an all-new and improved version, the Nassau 3204 is the boat you’ll want to check out.
For more information, visit the Nassau 3204 website.
Lenny Rudow has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades and has authored five books. He runs his own web site at HookedOnFishingBoats.com and writes weekly for Boats.com reviewing new models and covering marine electronics.