Need we say more? The Bertram 31 is perhaps the quintessential classic sportfish boat. However we will, definately say more. You’ve surely been there, but the definitive source on the great 31 is Bertram31.com, which has everything you need to know and more about these great boats. However, here is a little bit of background about the famous hull that started with the original Moppie and has a fanatical following to this day…
The brainchild of Richard Bertram, the Bertram 31 is probably the most famous motorboat design of the modern world. While several versions of the Bertram 31 now exist, having undergone extensive changes, the original 1960 design in many ways plotted the course of later powerboats. Richard Bertram’s initial version, designed by C. Raymond Hunt, was created specifically to compete in the 1960 Miami-Nassau powerboat race. This prototype version, dubbed Moppie, in honor of Bertram’s wife, featured a revolutionary deep-vee design, wooden hull (which was changed to fiberglass in the later commercial models), and larger engines than many of its competitors. In response to the great degree of interest surrounding his boat, Bertram began producing this model commercially the following year, in 1961, as a boat as well suited for fishing as for powerboat racing. The Bertram 31 was produced for 25 years, until 1986, and had over 500 revisions during this time, as well as spawning sundry versions of the original model. The Bertram 31 has retained its fame as one of the greatest sport fishing boats ever built, largely due to its elegant, yet simple design, and durability in any type of condition. Additionally, these boats are renowned as being easy to maintain, with any components being quite simple to get to. The many virtues of the Bertram 31 created its popularity, and this fame is evidenced by these boats growing in value over time, with some selling for over $200,000.
Bertram’s initial boat, Moppie, competed in the 1960 Miami-Nassau race, under difficult conditions of 30 knot winds and 8 to 12 foot waves. The 30-foot Moppie was able to win the race, securing a record-breaking victory of 8 hours, whereas the second place boat took 10 hours to cross the finish line. Bertram decided to revise the design for the 1961 race, swapping the wood hull out for a more modern fiberglass one, increasing the size from 30 to 31 feet, and again was able to secure a victory in the newly dubbed Glass Moppie. Bertram contends that he did not initially create the boat with the intention of marketing it commercially, but only did so in response to a huge degree of consumer interest following the two races. His company, Bertram Yacht Inc., made its debut with the Bertram 31 at the New York National Boat Show.
Bertram began producing his boats in a rented warehouse, and the first Bertram 31 models used the same mold that had cast Glass Moppie. Bertram utilized his experience in subsequent races in order to further refine the design, prompting the creation of new molds over the years. Bertram was also able to introduce variations to suit different customers; the Fly Bridge Cruiser contained an aft bulkhead that the original Sportfisherman lacked, and express cruiser and hardtop models were eventually introduced. Over 1,800 Bertram 31 models were produced by the company. While it had been marketed at first as a daytime fishing boat, this model’s unique design has attracted the attention of boat lovers everywhere, and earned it a respect seen with few other boats.
General Specs and Model Variations
While the various permutations of the Bertram 31 contain some aesthetic differences, they do share the same basic specifications:
• Length: 30′ 7″
• Beam: 11′ 2″
• Draft: 3′ 1″
• Fuel Capacity: 175 gallons (until 1968), 222 gallons (after 1968)
The weights of the different Bertram 31s could vary greatly, from 10,000 lbs to 12,000 lbs, making it an extremely light boat, and quite fast when equipped with 4 and 6 cylinder modern diesel engines. Due to the differences in weight and engines, Bertram 31s have different speeds, often ranging from 16 to 22 knots under the right conditions, and when equipped with the original diesel engines. However, the 330 horsepower Mercruiser engines that were later added, and which powered the majority of the Bertram 31s constructed, had a top speed of 32 knots, with an average cruising speed of around 23 knots. The cockpit deck of the Bertram 31 is 14′, but with a shallow cockpit depth, and the cabin can comfortably seat four, although this leaves little room for storage. Additionally, the boat has a low center of gravity, and luxury modifications were meant to be left up to the owner to add, meaning that generators, air conditioners, and fishboxes are not standard issue.
There are several variations of the Bertram 31 that have been produced over the years, and these models include:
• Sportfisherman (SF): This is the original model created by Bertram and Hunt. It features a cabin with a bridge, but lacks an aft cabin bulkhead.
• Fly Bridge Cruiser (FBC): This variation of the original model is similar to the Sportfisherman, but adds the aft cabin bulkhead not present in the SF. This was the main model of the Bertram 31 that was produced, with over 1,000 models made throughout the years.
• Bahia Mar: This model of the Bertram 31 features a small trunk cabin, and other design modifications such as a small windscreen and a slightly elevated helm have been included.
• Express: This model has a large operable windscreen, a raised helm amidship, and a full cabin.
• Sedan: This compact model does not have a bridge, but does have an open cabin, similar to the SF model, and inside controls.
• Moppie: The original Bertram 31 had a forward windscreen and was totally open. Of course, this prototype was never produced for consumers.
In addition to the 1,800 Bertram 31s that had been produced up until 1983, Bertram Yacht Inc. decided in 1986 to produce 23 more boats, appropriately dubbed the Silver Anniversary Edition in honor of the company’s 25th year of producing these beloved watercraft. These special edition Bertram 31s featured custom hull stripping and luxurious oak interiors, adding a touch of elegance to the wonderfully spartan design of the original model.