September 11th 2017. By Lenny Rudow.

Bertram 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser

Few boats deserve the title “classic” as much as the Bertram 31 Flybridge.

In 1961 the first Bertram 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser premiered at the New York Boat Show. Little did anyone know at the time that this boat was destined to become a bona fide legend among sportfishing boats.

The original Bertram 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser, now around for well over six decades, is one of the most well-known and recognizable fishing boats on the face of the planet.

The original Bertram 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser, now around for well over six decades, is one of the most well-known and recognizable fishing boats on the face of the planet.

With a hull based on the original Ray Hunt designed deep-V hull, the first to carry its deadrise all the way to the boat’s transom while also incorporating longitudinal strakes to add lift and divert spray, the 31 ran far more smoothly through rough seas than the common boat of its time. For offshore anglers, this meant a faster, more comfortable cruise and thus longer runs to new fishing grounds became possible. By today’s standards, of course, the 20 to 22 knot cruise these boats boasted isn’t exactly impressive. But at the time, being able to run at these speeds in rough conditions back then was quite unusual.

And that was in the Bertram 31’s first life.

The 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser was so well-built that long after the powerplants initially installed in these boats began failing, the rest of the boat was still in prime condition. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s this spawned an entire new generation of Bertram 31’s, repowered and refitted to be like new. Since engine technology had advanced significantly, the next-generation 31’s often had significantly faster cruising speeds and increased range.

As a result, today’s brokerage market has an eclectic mix of “old” and “new” Bertram 31’s. You can find many 70’s or 80’s vintage hulls that look like new boats (the 31 was produced through 1986), and are powered by twin diesels with low hours. Cruising speeds in the mid to upper 20’s are common. These new-ish boats can cost well over $100,000 despite their age, while boats of a similar vintage that haven’t been recently repowered and refitted may go for as little as one quarter the cost.

A fully refitted and repowered Bertram 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser, like this one currently listed in Morehead City, NC, is essentially like a new boat—and brings a commensurate price.

A fully refitted and repowered Bertram 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser, like this one currently listed in Morehead City, NC, is essentially like a new boat—and brings a commensurate price.

As to fishing accouterments, each 31 can be quite different. The boat wasn’t originally built with livewells, but some have been added to the boat’s transom or may be found free-standing in the center of the cockpit. Fighting chairs and/or stations, rodracks, outriggers, and similar accessories will vary from boat to boat. One thing all models do share in common is the raised motor boxes in the cockpit, some of which have been fitted with cushions to add aft-facing seating. There is also a mix of ladders and step-ups to the small flybridge, with ladders being considered much easier to use and a significant advantage over the steps. One thing lacking in most 31’s, even those which have had recent refits, are integrated fishboxes. As a result, most anglers will find it necessary to carry a large cooler on deck.

The cabin interior will also vary radically from boat to boat, and again, how recently it was refitted is likely to have a huge impact on pricing. The 31 Flybridge Sportfish had a small saloon with a convertible dinette and galley, plus a V-berth below and a stand-up head compartment.

This beautiful 31 currently listed in Ocean City, MD, is like new both inside and out.

This beautiful 31 currently listed in Ocean City, MD, is like new both inside and out.

When it comes to buying a classic, boats just don’t get more immortal than the Bertram 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser. And since they were built for such a long stretch, there are models of all different prices and conditions on the brokerage market today. You can find originals that are in need of a refit for less than the cost of an inexpensive new cars, or models that are essentially brand new boat that cost as much as some homes. That means that if the Bertram 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser catches your eye, no matter what your budget may be you can become an owner of this classic.

See Bertram 31 Flybridge Sport Cruiser listings.



Lenny Rudow
Lenny Rudow is Senior Editor for Boats Group, including boats.com and YachtWorld. With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, he has contributed to publications including Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.


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