It seems like every time I go fishing, I'm always hoping for good weather. But not this trip. In anticipation of putting Jupiter's new 39 Express through its paces chasing yellowfin and blackfin tuna on North Carolina's Outer Banks, I settled into bed hoping the weather would freshen a little. Unfortunately, we got a little more than I bargained for. Our crew awoke the next morning to an unpredicted 15- to 20-knot wind buffeting the trees and shutters of our condo at Pirate's Cove Marina.
In the predawn hours, Carolina skipper Chris Pope navigated the intricate web of channels and oyster bars leading to the Atlantic Ocean through one of the East Coast's most challenging passes, Oregon Inlet. With wind stacked against an incoming tide, we were greeted with just the type of conditions necessary to find out what this boat would do.
Once on plane, all it took was a little downward adjustment of the trim tabs and a little lift on the engines, and Pope had the boat cruising smoothly through 3- to 5-footers. Our crew - Jupiter's Todd Albrecht, SWS publisher Dave Morel, Peter Harper and myself - settled in for what proved to be a comfortable 55-mile ride thanks to the 39's 38-foot-7-inch overall length, 18-degree deadrise and 18,500-pound hull weight. Contrary to what one might think of such a solidly built boat, the 39 remains very responsive to trim adjustments, handling like a fine sports car.
One of the hallmarks of the 39 Express - and the whole Jupiter family - is a solid foundation from the keel up. Wood-free composite construction, a solid fiberglass bottom, ceramic core transom and uni-grid fiberglass stringer system give the 39EX enough muscle to bend just about any sea state to its will for open-water crossings. Added hull rigidity is the result of a mechanically fastened and chemically bonded connection between deck, liner and hull.
Our test boat was rigged with triple Yamaha F350 outboards and held 400 gallons of fuel. The production version now holds 420 gallons of fuel with an optional extra 80 gallons available - putting just about any weekend destination within reach. Fully loaded for a day of tuna fishing, the boat cruised at 40 mph at 4,500 rpm burning 48.6 gallons per hour. At 6,000 rpm, the boat hit 55 mph with a burn rate of 101.2 gph.
For serious offshore fishermen, the heart of the Jupiter 39 is in the working area - the cockpit. Standard features include a pair of 120-gallon insulated fish boxes with macerators. The top-loading cooler/freezer is perfect for keeping frozen ballyhoo, chum or other fishy offerings on extended trips. It's within easy reach of a spacious rigging station, saltwater wash down, tackle cabinet and cockpit sink complete with a hot and cold freshwater shower. If you enjoy snorkeling or diving, or you need to bring a big fish aboard, a large transom door and gate on the port side makes for easy access. A wide and roomy integrated transom serves as a comfortable jumping-off point, with a boarding ladder and grab rail.
While you have everything abovedecks for fishing, day cruising or diving, heading to the bridge deck you really start appreciating Jupiter's attention to detail and comfort - starting with a U-shaped lounge that houses a rod or storage locker and could easily double as a berth in warmer climes. You'll also find a bar unit and ice maker and bottle/glass storage just behind the power-sliding helm seat. An integrated nonskid footrest at the helm ensures the captain is as comfortable as the crew. The ergonomic design is well thought out, with plenty of room for a pair of large, flat-screen electronics suites, gauges and other instruments.
Jupiter has a well-earned reputation for producing solid fishing products with yacht-quality finish work and interiors; the 39 Express builds on that tradition of excellence. Down below, the interior cabin and galley are outfitted with custom exotic-wood cabinets and feature a dinette seating area, designer galley cook top, microwave oven, sink, refrigerator and freezer. For longer trips, the cabin features forward and mid berths, an AM/FM/CD system and flat-panel TV with a DVD player. The climate belowdecks is controlled by a self-contained 110V/16,000 BTU air conditioner featuring reverse cycle heat. Heating and cooling may be expanded to the bridge deck - an option that was well received in the early sub-40-degree morning of our adventure. The test boat had a 7.3 kW gas generator to power all the creature comforts and an optional 8 kW diesel model is available. With more than 1,000 hp on the transom, anglers will appreciate the ease of control afforded by the standard hydraulic power-assist steering, electronic binnacle controls and bow thruster.
Few boats make the transition well from serious blue-water-fishing machine to comfortable island cruiser. But if you are looking for something that will get you to and from the fishing grounds in comfort and style, but also serve as a home-away-from-home on extended trips, the Jupiter 39 Express is at the top of its class.
Jupiter 39 Express
MAX HP......1,050 hp
w/ triple 350 hp Yamaha four-strokes
Jupiter Marine ? 941.729.5000 ? www.jupitermarine.com