By Donald Wittkowski
It sleeps six, comes with a full kitchen and will give you some stunning views of the ocean.
The price tag is about $2 million.
No, this isn’t a posh beachfront mansion.
Actually, it is a new lobster boat that represents the latest addition to the Sea Isle City-based commercial fleet owned by a local family that has been in the fishing industry for 50 years.
Eric Burcaw Sr. and his sons, Eric Jr., and Kevin, picked up the 72-foot boat this week from its manufacturer in Beaufort, N.C., and sailed up the coast to bring it home to Sea Isle on Thursday.
They have decided to call it the Two Dukes, in honor of the 30-year-old lobster boat that it is replacing and had the same name. The new boat, painted royal blue, is going through the final tweaks with its electronics and engines before it is expected to make its first lobster-hunting trip off the New Jersey coast on Sunday or Monday.
“We have upgraded everything,” said Eric Burcaw Sr., comparing the new Two Dukes to its smaller predecessor. “This new boat will last, 40, 50 or even 60 years if you take care of it.”
The captain of the new boat will be Burcaw’s 25-year-old son, Eric Jr. Both men explained that the new vessel represents a major improvement over the old boat in terms of its engines, generators, electronics and capacity to carry lobsters and crabs back to port.
“We now have two engines and two generators, so we have a backup for everything. Previously, we only had one engine and one generator,” Eric Burcaw Jr. said. “We can also hold a lot more product. Now, we can carry 35,000 pounds of product, compared to 15,000 pounds with the old boat.”
The old Two Dukes, meanwhile, has been sold to a commercial fishing outfit in Massachusetts. The price was not disclosed.
The new boat has a 10,000-gallon tank filled with chilled water to carry the live catch. More lobsters and crabs in the hold translates to more money for the Burcaws’ company, known as Capt. Eric Inc. On average, the company is paid $6 per pound for lobsters, Eric Burcaw Sr. said.
The Burcaws made headlines in the past two weeks for a lobster that they caught but didn’t sell. They plucked an unusual blue lobster out of the water about 85 miles off the New Jersey coast on Oct. 23.
Wanting to save the rare crustacean – on average, only one in every two million lobsters is blue – they ended up donating it this week to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden.
The Burcaws hunt for lobsters during four-day fishing trips that take them 85 to 100 miles off the coast. Their new lobster boat provides the comforts that are needed by the crew during extended stays at sea.
There are six bunk beds in three separate sleeping areas. The boat also has a full kitchen consisting of a refrigerator, sink, stove, microwave oven and cabinets.
Lobster-fishing is done by the Burcaws year-round, so the new, bigger boat will provide more safety in the rough seas produced by the Jersey Shore’s notorious storms.
“It gets pretty nasty out there sometimes,” Eric Burcaw Jr. said. “Sometimes, the wind blows 30 to 40 miles an hour. The waves can be as high as 15 feet.”
The Burcaws come from a line of commercial lobstermen and fishermen headed by 83-year-old Bob Burcaw, known locally as “Capt. Bob.” Back in 1965, Bob Burcaw acquired 150 feet of waterfront property along the lagoon in Sea Isle’s historic Fish Alley district.
The same property is where the Burcaws continue to dock their boats more than 50 years later. The elder Burcaw, now retired, recalled that he bought his first steel-hulled commercial fishing boat in 1975.
The new $2 million lobster boat is light years ahead of that first vessel purchased by Bob Burcaw. Joining his grandson, Eric Jr., on the new boat for some photos Friday, the elder Burcaw marveled over the modern vessel.
“I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “I’m very happy for my family.”