Building a monster-sized catamaran is no small task, and very few boat builders are capable or qualified to tackle such a build. However, BRIX makes the job look easy. Pre-build elements include the design/draft phase, where the BRIX designer/drafter creates 2D and 3D modeling of the vessel, parts, and components, including marine systems, weight studies, and overall plan review. From there the build starts like a jigsaw puzzle, with marine-grade aluminum cut to perfection by a BRIX CNC operator. It’s then systematically assembled and Metal Inert Gas (MIG) and/or Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welded by BRIX aluminum fabricators and certified welders, with painstaking quality assurance at every step in the process.
When building a catamaran, the hull and the house are built separately and then strategically joined together. To keep Captain Dan in the loop, BRIX sent weekly pictorial updates every Friday, so no matter how busy Dan and Sarah were, they were kept in the loop. From a timeline perspective, the F/V Double Down’s hull and pilot house were mated in August of 2021, some five months and thousands of man-hours after “breaking ground.” The dream that started with a napkin and crayon started to look like reality! “We’ve been anxiously waiting for this,” exclaims Captain Dan. “It’s so exciting to see the boat come together with a company [BRIX] that continues to show the most outstanding professionalism.”
The F/V Double Down is design-built and truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. The 50-foot by 18-foot footprint creates copious tactical deck space that includes a 30- to 36-inch full walkaround cabin and a fishing dance floor that’s a whopping 12 feet by 18 feet, making angling easy and enjoyable. To create a unique and pleasurable space, the boat’s bow includes a full lounge, complete with an 11-foot cushioned couch with functional coffee-type tables with built-in drink holders. Imagine the wind in your face, a drink in your hand, and a buttery smooth return trip after two days of epic offshore angling…I can!
“Wow!” That’s almost everyone’s response when they see 1,700 HP hanging off the F/V Double Down. Captain Dan’s goal is to get his anglers to the fishing grounds and back as fast as possible, while offering a comfortable and safe ride. The 50’ by 18’ BRIX Marine F/V Double Down will be up to the task.
One of Captain Dan’s design changes included a 5-foot rear overhanging roof. This simple design element creates additional dry deck space and allows anglers to monitor and fish their rods while getting some protection from the elements. “And it looks sexy as hell,” according to Dan. Speaking of good looks, the F/V Double Down is wrapped with Kryptek marine-grade vinyl in the Wraith pattern, and although the Wraith pattern is a camouflage, there’s no doubt the F/V Double Down will stand out in the Homer Harbor.
The F/V Double Down was specifically designed to double your limits, and with that in mind, not only does the boat boast quadruple 425 HP Yamaha outboards with Yamaha Helm Master EX next-generation boat controls, but the boat also holds 800 gallons of fuel to get you to and from any and all the fishing grounds possible. To store and preserve your catch, the boat holds ⅓ ton of ice in its insulated fish lockers. And because fishing can be dirty work, the F/V Double Down not only has a marine head, but it also includes a freshwater shower. With this feature, I might even get my wife to go!
The F/V Double Down is configured with eight private bunks, which include locker space, light, fan, and USB power. The bunk rooms are also insulated for both warmth and sound deadening.
For overnight relaxation, the F/V Double Down comfortably sleeps 12 adults and includes 8 private bunks with memory-foam mattresses, lockers, fans, and USB power. The boat is also equipped with two queen beds in the pilot house, and the dinette is also sleep-capable. The pilot house and bunk rooms are insulted for both warmth and sound, and the space is heated with a 54K radiant heater. For your peace of mind, the ballast room (fuel storage) is protected with a fire-protection system. Although sleeping is important, Big Dan will be the first to point out that the most successful anglers, and the biggest catches, usually occur at night, when some choose to catch a catnap.
When departing on an overnight fishing adventure, creature comforts are important and so are your meals. The F/V Double Down features a full kitchen with refrigerator and provides catered, home-cooked meals. Anglers can expect a sandwich-style lunch as to not interfere with a hot bite, and dinners are home cooked and include yummy dessert. A hearty breakfast with signature cinnamon rolls kicks off the morning, and virtually every client will attest that you won’t go hungry, unless you refuse to put the rod down!
Speaking of rods and reels, Big Dan’s Fishing Charters is part of “Team Rainshadow,” utilizing custom-built rods crafted on Batson Enterprises’ Rainshadow blanks. Sitting down with the experts at Batson/Team Rainshadow, collectively they came up with a great plan for Dan’s Alaska-specific fishing applications, and now Big Dan’s fishing rods are built to the collaboration’s specifications which include being spiral-wrapped to reduce reel roll when fighting big fish: 6-foot rods are used for halibut fishing, 7-footers for jigging, and 10- and 11½-foot rods when fishing with downriggers. Interestingly, the spiral-wrapped downrigger rods are built specifically as port or starboard rods and spiral-wrapped accordingly. Big Dan’s also exclusively utilizes Avet Reels, known for their smooth action and powerful drags. When fishing offshore for the potential fish of your lifetime, quality tackle and gear can make or break the success of the trip, and for this reason Big Dan’s Fishing Charters only fishes the best gear possible.
There’s nothing better than drone footage showcasing the bird’s-eye view of a newly commissioned fishing vessel. The F/V Double Down will make Homer its official home base.
Captain Big Dan Spies is recognized as a fish-catching dude, and always goes the extra mile to get his clients into fish. Even with this type of reputation, he stepped up to the plate by selecting state-of-the-art Garmin electronics including the Panoptix LiveScope Plus system that allows you to see below the water with stunning real-time imagery.
“Dan and Sarah were great clients to work with,” shares Charlie Crane, Director of Sales and Marketing at BRIX Marine. “Their experience building a custom boat a few years prior gave them the experience and insight required for building a highly custom boat. There were a lot of revisions before signing the contract, which led to the beautiful F/V Double Down!”
If you want to be first to the fishing grounds in one of the most comfortable charter boats in the Homer fleet, look no further than the BRIX F/V Double Down, owned and operated by Big Dan’s Fishing Charters. Hardcore anglers chasing big fish and big dreams are well served accessing the most remote, untouched, and fish-concentrated areas of Alaska, and experiencing the overnight multi-species adventure not only doubles your time on the water, but also doubles your limit potential, and more than doubles the memories you’ll make and share. For more information go to: BigDansFishing.com.
Troy Buzalsky is the Boats columnist for Fish Alaska magazine, and when not writing about boats he can likely be found chasing fish in the Pacific Northwest and the 49th state and writing about those adventures. Troy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org