Like many boaters before him, Chris Andalaro has been following a natural progression of vessels over the years, moving from skiffs to runabouts as a youth to overnighters and cruisers as an adult. Each was the ultimate boat, the best boat for its time, says the Pawcatuck, Conn., native.
“I had a 12-foot Elgin runabout with a 7.5-hp Mercury outboard that we used to go snapper-blue fishing and crabbing in, and for just going to the beach,” he says. “In the spring, summer and fall we [he and his friends] were on our boats.”
When he was 17, his parents bought a 25-foot Sportcraft with twin 150-hp outboards, which was used for family outings and fishing for fluke and stripers. Eight years ago he and his wife, Kara, bought a 37-foot cabin boat. With that boat, the couple developed a love for dock life: pier-side entertaining and overnighting. With his current vessel, the 36-year-old manufacturing vice president, who now hails from Westerly, R.I., has another “best boat” on his hands. It’s a 1975 Striker 44, an aluminum-hulled, diesel-powered, offshore fishing machine designed by Tom deGroot and built by Herb Phillips’ Striker Yachts in Europe. Price was around $100,000.
To find it, Andalaro first armed himself with certain size, weight, power and performance parameters, then tapped the used-boat market, both for the prices and the variety of available vessels. “Cost being an issue, I knew we would have to look at older boats to satisfy my requirements,” he says. And, sure enough, he found one. “While searching the Web, I stumbled across a 44 Striker in Lewes, Del. The boat fit the bill.”
But Andalaro didn’t just buy the boat; he’s restored it to his idea of perfection. “It was a four-year refit, with no expense spared,” he says. “This vessel was stripped to its hull, and all electrical, plumbing, woodwork, décor and mechanical equipment replaced with new.”
A serious fishing boat needs serious fishing gear, and Andalaro has just about everything an angler could want: triple spreader outriggers (with a center rigger), fighting chair, custom tackle center with hot and cold water, a sink, and an icemaker. Rod holders, a custom tuna door (used by the family dog to get on and off the boat), a custom flybridge ladder, cockpit coaming and a sun shade complete the layout.
A new flybridge enclosure protects an impressive array of electronics that includes a multifunction GPS, 48-nautical-mile radar, depth/fishfinder with radar overlay, color GPS/plotter, color depth sounder with water temperature, an autopilot/fluxgate compass unit with GPS interface, and a pair of VHF radios, each with DSC and GPS.
“The bridge was redone with Northeast canyon fishing in mind,” says Andalaro. “All systems have redundancy to ensure a successful and safe trip.”
Power for the 30,000-pound sportfishing boat is a pair of recently rebuilt 400-hp Cummins diesels with just 100 hours on them. Cruising speed is around 18 to 20 mph, using around 35 gallons an hour, says Andalaro. Fuel capacity is 700 gallon, and top end is 22 to 23 mph.
Amenities abound inside the boat, as well. The saloon has a teak entertainment center with a 27-inch flat-screen television and surround-sound system, as well as a down-feather couch. The galley was designed for serious cooking, Andalaro says, and appliances include a three-burner electric stove and oven, dual-voltage refrigerator, built-in microwave and an icemaker. All drawers and cabinetry are teak.
Without a doubt, Andalaro has put a lot of “sweat equity” in the boat. “More than I expected,” the owner confesses. But behind all the gear and the changes beats the heart of a real boat.
“The Striker 44 was designed and built for fishermen,” he says. “It was made to go out and fish the canyons, and it does. It rides well, it’s very comfortable, and it has everything in it that we want. It’s just a great boat.”
The 1975 Striker 44 has a classic sportfisherman profile. The bow is sharply angled and the foredeck long and wide, ending in a short, swept-back cabin with wraparound windshield and topped by a flybridge. The sheer slopes only slightly as it extends aft, dropping suddenly to a low, open cockpit that takes full advantage of the boat’s almost-16-foot beam.
The flybridge steering station is on centerline, with companion pedestal seating. The molded instrument console has room for engine controls and gauges, as well as electronics. There’s also a large overhead electronics box.
The cockpit has ample deck space, surrounded by wide coamings with rod holders. There’s a tackle/bait center forward (with storage, sink and water) against the cabin bulkhead, under the custom cockpit shade. There’s a fighting chair that can be removed for a cocktail table at day’s end, and a set of outriggers. The 44 sleeps four in an unusual two-stateroom, bilevel layout, with the large, welllit saloon up and the galley and staterooms down. The forward stateroom is laid out with a standard V-berth. On Andalaro’s boat, the master stateroom is amidships, to port, with a double berth placed athwartships. The shared head compartment, to port, has a marine head and a separate stall shower. The galley-down, to starboard, has overhead and under-counter storage, as well as room for the stove/oven, refrigerator and microwave, with ample counter space.
The Striker 44 was in production from 1968 to 1975, and models can readily be found on the used-boat market — around the United States, as well as in international fishing hot spots in Mexico and South America. The boats aren’t inexpensive, however, with 30-year-old models still commanding six figures. But many have been well cared for and frequently updated with new power and fishing equipment.
An older Striker 44, “clean and ready to fish,” was for sale in Hawaii for $85,000, powered by recently overhauled twin 220-hp diesels. Fishing gear includes a fighting chair and 700-gallon fishbox. A 1970 model in Montauk, N.Y., powered by twin 400-hp diesels with 200 hours, was selling for $129,000. Features include outriggers, spreader lights, teak covering boards, and a closed-over windshield. A 1974 boat in Florida, priced at $139,000, has recent upgrades by Strike Yachts. Among the additions are a half-tower with a new helm station, tackle center, outriggers, and a custom interior. At the upper end, a 1972 Striker 44, equipped with new 465-hp diesels, was listed at $249,000. The boat’s been rewired and repainted, and the electronics package includes a GPS/plotter, 36- nautical-mile radar, autopilot and depth/fishfinder.
Steve Knauth is a contributing writer for Soundings Magazine. This article originally appeared in the July 2007 issue.