David Lavine was perfectly happy with his 40-foot cruiser. It was comfortable. It was sporty. His wife and children liked spending time aboard. Then came the day of the “great escape.” Living on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Lavine enjoyed wetting a fishing line for striped bass now and again. Even though the cruiser was far from being a fishing boat, he made do and went out for occasional single-handed fishing trips. He was on such a journey one day in 2013. “I had been fishing all day without a single bite,” he says. “Then, finally, it happened. My rod doubled over, and I knew I had a nice striper on the line. I fought the fish to the boat, then stepped down to the swim platform to land it.” That’s not as easy as it sounds. The vessel had three levels at the stern: the cockpit, a big step and then the swim platform. “I finally got the fish into the net and climbed back up into the cockpit,” he says. “It was beautiful, a really nice catch that would make a great dinner.”
But because the yacht wasn’t a fishing boat, it didn’t have fish boxes. Lavine had a cooler bag in the cabin, but he was not about to drag a slimy, bleeding striped bass through the interior.
“I had to set everything down to go get the bag,” he says. “The fish flipped out and spit the hook at the same time. While I scrambled after it, my dinner then flipped down the step, onto the swim platform and, before I could grab it, back into the Chesapeake Bay.”
At that moment, Lavine decided he was going to buy a fishing boat.
He’d been offshore fishing aboard charter boats, so he knew what serious fishing machines could do, but he had other considerations as well.
“I still needed a boat my wife and family would enjoy, and they don’t really like fishing the way I do,” he says. “The boat needed to be comfortable. And I wanted it to be fast.”
Lavine chose an Intrepid 430 Sport Yacht, which has a cabin and bridge deck for cruising and an open cockpit for fishing. Propelled by triple Yamaha F350 outboards, the stepped-hull boat can cruise in the upper 30-knot range and push the 50-knot mark at her top-end.
“I probably drove the people at Intrepid crazy,” says Lavine, who visited the factory in Florida three times during the build. “Then I decided that instead of just taking delivery of the boat, I’d use it as an opportunity and turn it into an experience. Bringing the boat up to Maryland from Florida was a chance to do something — to do many things — I’d never tried before.”
While waiting for the boat’s completion through the winter months, he researched offshore fishing gear. He went to fishing expos and spoke with local experts. He dreamed of catching the big, bluewater pelagics.
Once his Intrepid was ready for delivery, he invited friends on each leg of the Florida-to-Maryland itinerary. His first run was to Bimini for some bottomfishing. Then he cruised up to Cape Canaveral, Florida, and from there to the Carolinas, and eventually to his home waters.
“Something went wrong every part of the journey,” he says, unable to stifle a laugh. “The very first trip out of Dania, everyone on board was getting sick, so we decided to go in, but the anchor got stuck. I tried lifting it using an anchor ball and instead ripped a stanchion off the boat and lost the anchor.”
Lavine says he could make a boater cry, telling the tales of all the problems he’s had as a guy just trying to figure things out. But despite the trials, he caught marlin, tuna and mahimahi — fish that many people never see in their lifetime, much less catch on their own boat during their initial attempts at offshore fishing.
During the three seasons that he’s owned Forever Young, Lavine has put more than 550 hours on the engines (the average boater adds about 60 to 80 hours per year). And he never, ever loses that smile, which seems quite appropriate, since he’s an orthodontist.
I spent two days aboard with him during an overnight offshore fishing trip. The runs were long and the fishing was slow, and yet it was one of the most enjoyable trips I can remember, in no small part because of his ever-positive attitude.
“As I get older, I find I’m willing to invest more in experiences than in things,” he says. “I didn’t buy a fishing boat to own a boat. I bought it for the experiences. And the offshore fishing experience is a completely new kind of adventure.”