John martino, annapolis school of seamanship and annapolis yacht         management
The following review was written by John Martino and prepared by the marketing department of Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Mr. Martino is the founder and president of Annapolis Yacht Management and Annapolis School of Seamanship. He develops and teaches hands-on training courses for recreational boaters and professional mariners, and offers yacht delivery and onboard training services for powerboaters as well as sailors.
Bristol harbor boats 21 cc
Length 21'4"
Beam 8'5"
Draft 1'2"
Fuel capacity 85 gals
Maximum HP 200 hp
Price as Tested $43,700

It's not often that the founders of a boatbuilding company are naval architects and builders rolled into one strong team, but such is the case at Bristol Harbor Boats in Bristol, R.I. Classmates Greg Beers, Cory Wood, and Andrew Tyska graduated from the University of Michigan's department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and started a naval architecture firm in 1995. After working on commercial ferries, tank barges and mega yachts for various clients, they decided to design something for themselves. With two models currently in production (19- and 21-foot center-consoles), their company, Bristol Harbor Boats, is building a reputation in New England for high quality boats that sport traditional styling plus excellent performance and efficiency at a moderate price. That's an impressive combination.

Meeting with Beers and Wood in their office (Tyska was off that day), I was immediately taken by the framed blueprint of the HMS Lusitania on the wall. When Wood explained that they had done some work for a Discovery Channel special on the World War I sinking of the Lusitania, I knew right away that these guys are no lightweights in their profession. But what is even more impressive than their professional credentials is their thorough and detailed business plan. Before building a single boat, the partners worked out every aspect of the venture from where and how to build and assemble the hulls to delivery, pricing and future resale values of their product. What does all this mean to the buyer? To begin with, the owners of this company understand the importance of branding and have a keen awareness that the design of their business model is as important as the design of their boats. With this decidedly long term approach to their boatbuilding venture, Bristol Harbor Boats should not only retain their value, they may actually appreciate.

Design-wise, the Bristol Harbors have a classic look with a traditional sheer. Deep-V entry forward cuts into chop and waves, but her bottom flattens out to a modified-V aft with 17-degree deadrise at the transom to provide more efficient planing. Our test boat was the 21-foot model, equipped with a single 150-hp Honda four-stroke outboard mounted in a well aft. To drain the self-bailing cockpit, Bristol Harbor uses large freeing ports instead of the tiny scuppers you typically see. That means a large boarding wave should drain overboard quickly without swamping the boat.

The layout is simple and efficient. Two small transom seats on either side of the outboard well hold dry storage underneath. The console holds a head compartment (porta-potty). The leaning post has storage beneath and a stowable backrest. Forward, a built-in wrap-around bench provides comfortable seating even when the boat's on plane.

Under way, the Bristol Harbor 21 CC was smooth, quick and quiet. She got up on plane quickly and topped out around 35 knots. Despite my best efforts to trip her up, she carved tight turns at wide-open throttle without skidding. With her classic good looks and sea kindly maneuverability, this would be a fine boat for serious fishing or just cruising the harbor.