Jim Bayne’s 56-foot Paul Mann, Sniper, used to be a plain Jane. When Bayne had the boat built in 1998, it didn’t have any bells or whistles. It was built for one purpose: to fish.
That was until one of Bayne’s buddies — a craftsman and “very much an idea guy,” according to Bayne — began suggesting improvements. Every year for the past decade, they’ve undertaken a project: a new teak deck, retrofitting the mezzanine, adding an ice machine and new electronics. This year it might be a watermaker.
Just about the only things that haven’t been retrofitted are the two support pipes that run from the main deck to the flybridge. Friends have tried to convince Bayne to get rid of them, but he refuses. “That’s the only thing left that’s really old school,” he says with a hint of pride.
Bayne, who lives in Poquoson, Virginia, and speaks with a warm Southern drawl, fishes around Virginia Beach. He has run the boat to Venezuela twice and Bermuda three times. Her engines have 12,000 hours on them. These days, Sniper is mostly a tournament boat. Bayne and a rotating group of 11 friends fish five to six tourneys a year, including the White Marlin Open and Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament.
Bayne’s daughters, who grew up with the boat, are 25 and 33. He says his younger daughter enjoys fishing, and his older daughter likes the tournament parties.
Bayne fishes for fun with a different group of friends. He chases tuna in the spring and marlin during summer, but says he cares less about the species than just being on the water. “If we get to go fishing, I’m fine with it,” he says. He remembers a recent two-day trip where the group caught and released 28 white marlin, two blue marlin and a swordfish.
Sniper winters in Bayne’s backyard. Asked if he has plans for a new boat anytime soon, he is quick to say, “No, no, no. There’s a lot of my heart on that boat.”
Jim Bayne has lived in Poquoson, Virginia, for 30 years. Sniper is his third custom Carolina boat. He is looking forward to fishing with his first grandchild, who will be born in the summer.