NPR police to make waves
By Carl Orth | Suncoast NewsODESSA - New Port Richey Police Department will launch a new area of local law enforcement soon, thanks to a custom boat manufacturer in Odessa.
Published: August 8, 2012
Published: August 8, 2012
Bonefish Boatworks could deliver the new patrol boat to police as soon as this week, owner Ronald D. Cook said.
Crews have placed highest priority on the project that started about three to four weeks ago, Cook said. He wants police to have time to familiarize themselves with the boat before they deploy the vessel for mutual aid during the Republican National Convention in Tampa Aug. 27-30.
Built from scratch, the 22-foot Hill Tide craft will replace the police department's 25-year-old Aquasport Osprey.
Police Chief James Steffens said he wants to increase patrols of area waterways once the modern boat is available.
Police department forfeiture funds taken from "drug dealers" are paying for the vessel, Steffens emphasized. No taxpayer money was used.
A fully decked-out Hill Tide craft ordinarily could cost $40,000 to $45,000 with a new engine, Cook said.
Bonefish cut a very good deal for about half the money to stay within the police department budget, Cook said. Also, the engine from the existing patrol boat was in good condition, so it was transferred to the new craft to curb costs.
Custom construction is not unlike baking a cake, Cook observed. The molds for fiberglass parts are much like cake pans.
"We don't skimp" on construction quality, Cook commented Thursday. "We use nothing but stitched-mat fiberglass in our boats."
The higher grade of fiberglass will make the patrol boat much lighter and stronger, Cook explained. The 140-horsepower engine thus can push the 1,300-pound vessel very swiftly along waterways. The boat also will be capable of floating in as little as 12 inches of water.
Cook and his Bonefish crews could not resist adding extra features.
A collapsible T-top will mean police officers can navigate under low bridges. A premium, powder coating was added to the heavy-duty top to make it last longer against the elements.
Crews also lavished attention on the public-address system, siren and a "ton" of LED running lights. The electric-blue shade of paint on the sides of the boat even matches the color scheme of the police department's squad cars.
"We have a lot of pride in our community," Cook said Thursday about seeking the patrol boat bid.
"It serves a dual purpose," Cook added about promotional prestige for the company.
After a tough year during the recession, Bonefish could rebound with its best year in 2012, Cook said. The niche boat builder could wind up creating some 14 custom boats.
Cook hopes to build up the trade to about 50 boats a year. The company employs 10 people from its 10,000-square-foot Gunn Highway warehouse.
The Bonefish firm specializes in premium flat and bay water fishing boats from about 14 feet long to 42 feet long with myriad options. The firm also builds kayaks.
Cook, an attorney based in Odessa, bought the manufacturer in June 2011, and then soon added Sabalo Boats — which concentrates on saltwater fishing boats — and metal fabricator Artistic Metalworx.
"You have to be passionate about boat building," Cook said about the highly competitive industry.
Cook "has been fantastic with working with us," Steffens said about the project.
Cpl. William Phillips and Master Patrol Officer Justin Case are spearheading the project for the police department.
The police chief pledged that the "public can expect a very proactive, visible presence on our river and waterways, particularly on the weekends and during special events."
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