Ben Zdan’s purpose-built lobster and stone crab boat was built in 1973 in Marathon, Fla., way before its current skipper was born.

Zdan, 31, acquired it five years ago from a fellow commercial fisherman who was getting out of the business and kept its name because he felt it would be bad luck to change it.

Zdan performed such painstaking renovations on the fiberglass 48-footer that it could pass for new. New deck, gunwales, wheelhouse, hydraulic systems, AC-cooled cabin, and two-year-old diesel engine.

He fishes 6,000 stone crab traps and 2,500 lobster traps from summer through spring in waters deep and shallow from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico west to the remote Dry Tortugas, enabled by a tunnel hull that drafts only three feet.

Zdan began his career as a charter boat captain, running a 52-foot Viking sport fisher for a Middle Keys couple who decided to get into commercial trapping and then made him a partner. Zdan has a free hand in running the business.

“I’ve been fishing down here my whole life,” Zdan said. “Lobster and stone crab, that’s all I do.”

Boat Specifications

BUILDER: Gary Rentz YEAR BUILT: 1973 FISHERIES: Lobster, stone crab HULL CONSTRUCTION: Fiberglass LENGTH: 48 feet BEAM: 14 feet DRAFT: 3 feet CREW CAPACITY: 4 TONNAGE: 34 gross tons MAIN PROPULSION: Caterpillar, 1,000 hp  GEARBOX: ZF 2:1 transmission GENERATOR: Phason 8-kW PROPELLER: Nibral 36" x 36" SHAFT: Stainless 2 3/4" DECK CAPACITY: 800 stone crab traps; 300 lobster traps FRESHWATER CAPACITY: 100 gallons FUEL CAPACITY: 1,000 gallons CRUISING SPEED: 18 knots FUEL CONSUMPTION: 24 gallons per hour (cruising speed) ELECTRONICS: Garmin 212 GPS; Nobeltec XO computer (seafloor mapping); Simrad ES70 depth finder; two Icom VHF radios; Furuno Navnet radar; two Cruisair AC units

Sue Cocking spent more than 20 years as the outdoors writer at the Miami Herald, covering everything from commercial and recreational fishing to powerboat racing and scuba diving. She once worked as a light-tackle charter boat fishing captain in Key West and had an 18-year career in radio news broadcasting. She lives in Sebastian, Fla.

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