Lazy Bones III. Prior to the Tuna tower Being added
Originally built in 1954, by Rybovich & Sons Boat Works, for a Hackensack Cadillac & Pontiac distributor and avid angler named W. Harry Peters, the 40′ ‘Lazy Bones III. (the #15 Rybovich hull built) was a one of a kind fishing machine. It was constructed with every imaginable gadget available to serious fishermen of the day. As W. Harry described it; the Lazy Bones III. was painstakingly designed, custom constructed, specifically machined and outfitted, with the final result — a boat that would be perfect for spotting, baiting, fighting, and boating salt water big game fish anywhere, and in any weather conditions. In her day, the Lazy Bones III. proved herself as close to perfection as any fishing boat afloat. The boat was one of the first boats with a tuna door in the transom which allowed for big fish to come aboard without the use of the standard gin pole, which she also sported on her PORT side.
In her first three years on the water, the Lazy Bones III had welcomed a 604 lb. Blue marlin, a 772 lb. Giant blue fin tuna, and a 656 lb. Mako shark aboard her cockpit. W. Harry won the Bimini Big Game Fishing Club Tournament once and the Montauk Yacht Club Decathlon twice with his new boat in that same period. He was also the top angler in a grueling summer long competition for all types of game fish in all salt water classifications aboard her.
Peters in his early 50’s at the time, was serious about offshore fishing. The hood of his personal Cadillac sported a chrome plated miniature Blue Marlin as a hood ornament. His offices in Hackensack displayed silver capped blue marlin bills on the walls, and paintings of all of his 11 sport fishing boats he had previously owned and fished. A sailfish bill served as his letter opener. Needless to say. W. Harry knew boats, he knew big game fishing, and he knew what he wanted from his new Rybovich boat the Lazy Bones III.
W. Harry had the scares of failure to remind him of the need for a top quality fishing machine if you want to consistently catch the giants of the deep. In his first boat, which he bought in 1945, he hooked a giant blue fin off Watch Hill, Rhode Island, only to have the fighting chair fall apart with Peters in it. There were ten other boats that followed, and they all were either; too wet, too small, too slow, too clumsy, or too something, for a perfectionist, competitive angler like W. Harry Peters.
In 1951, Peter’s met Johnny Rybovich (John Jr.), and outlined his ideas of the “perfect” offshore sport fishing boat. Rybovich declined building the boat. The 36 foot boats the Rybovich family were then building had no rivals, and were considered the finest fishing boats afloat. W. Harry was wanting a bigger, faster, and more roomy day boat, which would require Rybovich to make major changes from their proven successful boat building processes. Peters even wanted some critical hull design changes to add speed and what he thought would be improved fish fighting performance.
It took three years of persistence, a bombardment of calls by W. Harry, punctuated by personal visits to the Rybovich boat yard in West Palm Beach, to finally convince Johnny to relent and agree to build the Lazy Bones III. In May 1954, the keel was laid on Peter’s new boat. Peters, however, almost missed the November 1954 launching of the boat. On August 31 he was again off Rhode Island, when Hurricane Carol blew in and demolished or sank 25 of the 80 boats participating in the U.S. Atlantic Tuna tournament. “We rode it out with a hole in the boat,” he recalls, “but all I could think of while we were doing it was why the hell didn’t Johnny say he’d build Lazy Bones III sooner.”
Powered with twin 225 HP. Chrysler Crusader Engines, the boat would go from zero to over 24 knots in only 15 seconds. This hole shot speed was critical in chasing down big fish when the heat was on. The 100 square feet of self bailing cockpit space made a great platform to fight really big fish. A state of the art Rybovich fighting chair was the only prominent fixture and the chair had every new feature to fit a man or woman who may have to spend several hours fighting a fish four or five times larger than the angler in the chair
The Lazy Bones III. after its launch was fitted with a new cutting edge 24′ high Aluminum Tuna Tower, which was a striking Rybovich innovation designed specifically for the Bimini and Cat Cay tuna fishermen who had difficulty spotting the schools of fish pushing through the Bahamas from the bridges of their boats. As these great fish migrated northward across the shallow Great Bahama Banks, the tuna tower was born in the early 50’s, and rapidly replace the previous Crow’s Nest.
The Lazy Bones III. was the first sportfishing boat to have three complete sets of controls from which to operate the boat. One set was in the Tower, the second set was the primary controls on the bridge, and a third set was located in the cockpit, where the boat could be maneuvered by the crew while fighting a fish in close proximity.
Needless to say, not only was Peter’s pleased about his new prize, the bulding of the Lazy Bones changed how the the Rybovich Boat Works looked at boat building forever. Within three years of the launch of Lazy Bones II. the Rybovich yard built eight sister models, each selling in excess of $70,000.00 for the bare boat.
I had the great privilege to fish the #15 hull in 1971 & 1972, when she was owned by George Rich III. and was called the “Moon River”. With my brother Doug as Captain, we fished numerous sailfish, blue marlin, and giant blue fin tuna tournaments in south Florida and the Bahamas. We were top boat in the 1972 Master’s Sailfish Tournament out of Palm Beach, with the “Moon River”. Our boss Mr. Rich won top angler wards that same year. Of course in the Master’s, he was not allowed to fish his own boat.
The Moon River was fast, maneuvered with ease, and was a sturdy fishing platform even in 10 to 12 foot seas. She raised a lot of fish, and the tower made her a competitive Tuna fishing boat at tuna time in Bimini and Cat Cay.
The “Moon River” was great fishing machine and I owe a huge amount of gratitude to W. Harry Peter’s, with his vast fishing expertise and persistence, and to John Ryboviuch Jr, with his relenting willingness to build her as the “perfect” sportfishing boat of her day.
Unfortunately, hull #15, known at the time, as the Lady Iris was destroyed by fire off New Jersey in 1985.
Special note: I proposed to my wife of 41+ years aboard the “Moon River” in West End Grand Bahama in 1971.
Thank you W. Harry Peters and John Rybovich Jr.
Captain Mickey Oliphant
The “Moon River” (1971) as I remember her! One Great Fishing Boat