Cruise the High Seas in One of These Florida-Made Five-Star Fishing Boats
Fort Pierce, with its deep-rooted angling culture, has a community of boat builders turning out coveted, world-class watercraft.
The true beauty of a fine sport-fishing boat lies not only in the horsepower propelling it through the water, or the state-of-the-art fish-finding radar flashing at the helm, but in the regal lines and curves of its silhouette as it glides back into the marina at sunset, proud and full of fish from a successful day on the Atlantic. What might surprise many boaters though, is that the art and the architecture of some of the industry’s most beautiful beasts springs straight from the minds of local boat builders in Fort Pierce, where a deep-rooted angling culture drives a collection of manufacturers with regional, national and international appeal. Institutions like Maverick Boat Group, Twin Vee PowerCats, Bluewater Sportfishing Boats and Pursuit Boats solidify Fort Pierce and St. Lucie County as a premier destination for avid anglers and leisure boaters alike.
Every Pursuit boat starts out as just a bale of resin and is carefully crafted all the way down the assembly line inside the Fort Pierce facilities. Pursuit, a coveted vessel for anglers, has been manufacturing luxury fishing boats since 1983. In 2020, the company doubled its manufacturing capabilities in order to keep up with demand. Today, Pursuit occupies nearly 400,000 square feet spread across the two factories, where its center-console boats, dual-console boats, offshore boats and sport boats take shape.
Pursuit’s largest model, the S 428, stretches nearly 44 feet and is the flagship of the brand’s center-console sport boat series. Striking a balance between both form and function, the vessel features extra rod holders, large fish boxes, ample tackle storage, generous bait prep areas, oversized fridge and freezer boxes and convertible seats to create more space.
While Pursuit’s performance is undeniable, the boat’s style on the water commands attention, with its sleek, clean design. Rules permitting, Pursuit typically invites those lucky enough to buy one for a tour of the facility to see how the magic is made—and to sign the hull of their own unfinished boat.
Maverick Boat Group
Maverick Boat Group has a strong fishing heritage in Fort Pierce. “Our founder was an expert angler who really understood other anglers and fisheries, and obviously Florida has some of the best fisheries in the world,” says Charlie Johnson of Maverick Boat Group. Pull up to any sandbar, and you’re bound to see one of the brand’s Maverick or Hewes fishing boats, Pathfinder bay boats or Cobia center- or dual-consoles.
With two facilities in Fort Pierce—including one brand-new 126,000-square-foot warehouse near the airport—the company employs about 540 team members. While a majority of their inventory is sold domestically, where demand is the highest, Mavericks traverse international waters from Puerto Rico to Australia to South Africa.
Maverick also offers potential buyers an up-close look at production. “We host people who are considering the brand, people interested in the manufacturing process, and then we have people that actually come to see their boat while it’s in production,” Johnson says.
Twin Vee Powercats
Made with the tricky-to-navigate Florida waterways in mind, Twin Vee catamarans can pass through shallow estuaries and the Intracoastal, consuming minimal fuel along the way thanks to their twin-hull design. The company’s efficiency will only continue to improve with the launch of its first electric model, currently in development in Fort Pierce. “Right now for boating, it’s kind of like how electric was about 10 years ago for vehicles,” says Frank Smith of Twin Vee PowerCats.
The center- and dual-console PowerCats are designed for both fishing and fun. The 400 GFX model is Twin Vee’s largest offshore PowerCat, measuring in at 40 feet and featuring a tackle station with a cooler, fish boxes, three live wells and underwater LED lights.
Not only are the boats fast (upward of 1,400 horsepower), but so is the company’s growth. At a warehouse located in the southern part of Fort Pierce, the company employs about 140 team members, 60 of which just came on board in the last six months.
Bluewater Sportfishing Boats
While Bluewater’s No. 1 priority is maintaining its anglers-first approach, sometimes a boat’s leisure versatility is what hooks an owner. “Our seating is removable, so our clients can have a family-fun boat for Sunday sandbar trips while still being able to remove the seating and get out and do some hardcore fishing,” says Paul Skilowitz, owner of Bluewater Sportfishing Boats.
With both inshore models for fishing the Indian River Lagoon and offshore models for going miles off the coast, Bluewater boats can measure upward of 36 feet in length. The largest tournament-sized 355 E model features a large cockpit, extra storage for tackle and rods and a concealed area below deck for cast nets.
Bluewater’s center-console fishing boats offer complete customization to suit each customer’s needs. Bespoke boat designs are executed by a modest team of 24 at Bluewater’s facility near the Treasure Coast International Airport. Want to see how a Bluewater boat is made? Walk the boatyard if you’re considering making a purchase. “During the visit we have the opportunity to discuss the options and features the customer would like to have built into their new Bluewater,” Skilowitz says.
A seafarer’s guide to St. Lucie & Fort Pierce
Bring or Borrow a Boat
Fort Pierce has plenty of marinas where boaters can load up on fuel before spending a day out on the water, plus boat ramps are free for all visitors. Don’t have a boat? Treasure Coast Boat Rentals will set you up with a daily rental, or for members of Freedom Boat Club, Fort Pierce City Marina is home to a huge fleet of vessels.
Slip & Stay
A number of hotels in Fort Pierce include the amenity of a boat slip with overnight accommodations including the Hutchinson Island Plaza Hotel & Suites, Dockside Marina & Resort and Indian River Lagoon Waterfront Cottages. Causeway Cove Marina doubles as an RV resort with a boat facility for travelers towing their vessel.
Dock & Dine
So many waterfront restaurants in Fort Pierce allow boaters to pull up, grab a slip and step off for a bite to eat, with everything from laid-back fish shacks to happening sushi spots. A few favorites include 12A Buoy, Cobb’s Landing, Harborcove Seafood Bar Grill and Sushi, Little Jim Bait & Tackle, On the Edge Bar and Grill and Crabby’s Dockside. Some eateries even allow customers to bring their own fish for a catch-and-cook experience—but be sure to call first to confirm. For a picturesque place to enjoy a picnic, try one of the small islands in the Indian River Lagoon and Intracoastal Waterway, with many offering an inviting spot to anchor and fire up one of the public grills. And Sandbar Sunday at the Fort Pierce Inlet (known by locals as The Cove) never disappoints.
To book your boating adventure, go to visitstlucie.com.