Egg Harbor 52: No ordinary seaman. 

HARD-CORE ANGLERS KNOW THE value of a large, wide-open cockpit. But on many boats - even those in the 50' range - you run out of cockpit space before you run out of anglers. Mount fighting chairs on the deck and there might be enough room left for five or six people to drop lines at any given time. And what if you spot breaking fish? With outriggers looming overhead, only three or four of these fishermen will have the overhead clearance to cast at will without snagging a cable or another fisherman.

So why do some big sportfishing machines have less fishing room than a 28' to 30' center console? Because while the center console offers almost 100-percent fishability, the big battlewagons utilize as little as 10 to 15 percent of the waterline length for open cockpit space. The rest of the boat is often dedicated to the salon, galley and staterooms. Wouldn't it be aggravating to spend big bucks on a fishboat, only to see a boat half the size fishing more lines? If you don't want to have your fishability upstaged, take a look at Egg Harbor's new offering, the 52' Golden Egg.

WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM.

The 52' Egg doesn't sacrifice cockpit space for cabin space. The cockpit is more than 12' long - almost 25 percent of the boat's waterline length - and it's 12'9" wide. Even with outriggers hanging overhead, as many as a half-dozen anglers can throw their offerings to breaking blues or boiling bonito at the same time. If bottom fishing is your game, you could easily accommodate a parry of 12 deep-water jiggers. And when you catch the new world-record grouper, there's even room for a cartwheel or two.

The bunks are as beautiful as the billfish you'll catch from this Egg. Top speed: 40 mph.

There's more to love about this cockpit, too. Check out the prolific tackle stowage drawers, for instance. Three sit under the standard cockpit freezer and four more slide out from under the bait prep station. Both fishboxes under the deck are fitted with macerators, there's a recirculating livewell in the transom and coaming pads line the cockpit. Another nice touch is the electric shorepower cable winder. Before you leave the dock, just press a button and it winds the cord out of the way. No muss, no fuss and no clutter to trip over.

While I hate to nitpick, there is one improvement needed to make the Egg's cockpit the ultimate fishing platform: I'd like to see the cockpit's side stowage compartments lengthened. They're not long enough to hold rods, which means you'll have to stow the sticks in the cabin, or overhead in a set of rocket launchers (a $1,000 option) where they'll be exposed to the salt air and spray.

TOURNAMENT TIME.

Off the dock, the Egg performs like a champ: It's steady while drifting in a beam-sea, thanks to seven degrees of transom deadrise. But don't believe that the nearly flat stern will make for a pounding ride. A strong Carolina flair and 68-degree entry punch through the rough stuff. Another benefit of the low deadrise is speed. The Egg planes quickly and at WOT we hit 40 mph - mighty impressive for a 52,000-lb. boat carrying 450 gallons of fuel and 175 gallons of water.

Handling is also top-notch for a boat this size. To prove the point, Doug Buchheit, of Stuart Cay Marina in Stuart, Florida, piloted our test boat into a channel barely as wide as the boat's LOA - then neatly spun it around and drove us back out. With this maneuverability, fast speed and rough water capability, the Egg becomes a contender for serious tournament anglers.

The only problem I noticed while driving the Egg is its tendency to overreact when put into gear at idle speed. Push the throttles forward and massive 30" by 39" props blow water out from under the stern, sucking it down as the boat lurches forward. If anyone's not holding on when you maneuver, they could end up on their butt. My radar gun showed the Egg running at 8 mph while at idle; that's too fast to slowtroll for fish like stripers. For safety's sake and fishing versatility, I'd consider trolling valves, a $7,350 option, a must-have on this boat.

From the cockpit it's a short climb down into the engine room. There's plenty of room around the big MTU powerplants, enough to provide 360-degree access. It's well finished, well lit and well ventilated.

It's tough to find an unfinished surface, even among the few crevices and joints in the engine room, which is indicative of how Egg Harbor is building its boats these days; taking a unitized approach, minimizing seams and joints. For example, the cockpit, deck, bow pulpit and several bulkheads are all a single handlaid section of fiberglass. Since there are fewer joints, there's less chance of cracks and leakage if the boat runs into rough weather or is grounded.

ANGLING ABODE.

The door to the Egg's cabin is no air-leaking, flimsy fiberglass flap: It's an inch thick, seals well and is heavy enough to take a beating. Interior doors are built just as heavily, but with eye-pleasing teak. Just inside the outer door, to port, there's a cabinet housing the a.c./d.c. panel. I like the way Egg Harbor puts it within reach of the doorway; it can be accessed from the cockpit without walking into the salon. If you get chum or fish blood on your shoes, then need to get to the breakers fast, you can do it without tracking a mess on the salon carpet.

Two other thoughtful features in the salon warrant attention. A teak grabrail mounted on the overhead runs the length of the cabin. That means you'll never lack something to grab in a seaway. Also, the stairway railing is lighted from underneath, so it's easy to find even in the dark.

In the galley you'll discover all the goodies you'd expect on a 52' sportfishing boat: a microwave/convection oven, three-burner stove, dual refrigerators and a teak and holly sole. There's even a garbage disposal under the sink, but what sets this galley apart from the norm is the Avonite countertop/bar running from the starboard side to the middle of the cabin. It's 6'4" long and 2'8" wide; that's large enough for the cook to prepare freshly caught tuna for dinner.

There's another real eye-catcher in the master stateroom's head. It houses a full bath - not the usual boxy shower stall. In the stateroom itself, there's a walk-around, queen-sized berth, a cedarlined hanging locker and a private head. The forward stateroom also has its own head, with the usual stall shower. To port there's a third stateroom with bunk-berths for the kids or a crew.

Compare the 52' Golden Egg with the Hatteras 50' convertible. With 720-hp Detroit Diesels the Hatteras lists at $870,200. With 742-hp MTU engines, the Egg goes for a competitive $864,165. The Egg's cockpit has more fishing room - 157 square feet versus 135 square feet - while the Hatteras offers a cleaner finish and the company's rock-solid reputation.

Is the 52 Golden Egg the right boat for you? There's only one way to find out: Grab a friend and a few fishing rods and take the 52 for a spin. Heck, grab a dozen friends. Don't worry- there'll be enough room for everyone to drop a line off the side.