Tom Kane has bought and sold a fleet’s worth of small boats through the years — in fact, his wife, Michaela, counts a dozen. But there’s one builder he keeps coming back to.
“My favorite boats have always been the Rampages,” says the 41-year-old Narragansett, R.I., resident, a police detective in nearby Providence. “I remember the first one I saw at Kenport Marina. It was a Rampage 24 Express that had all the bells and whistles on it. I remember thinking how nice the boat’s lines were, and it looked impressive in the water.”
He went on to buy a 1984 Rampage 24 Express and later a 28-foot Rampage, which he refitted in 2002. So when Kane started looking for a boat to replace his 1993 Luhrs 25 Tournament last summer, Rampage naturally came to mind. “I had run the Luhrs for the season and completely enjoyed it but knew that I wanted something with more creature comforts, something in the 30-foot range,” Kane says. “Also, I wanted a very stable boat with a wide beam, a large open cockpit for fishing, and it had to have good diesel power and be under $40,000.”
After looking for about a month he found what he wanted in a 1987 Rampage 31 Sportfisherman, which he bought last fall and used a fair amount. After a winter refit, Kane plans to have this latest Rampage up and running this season.
“My decision to purchase another Rampage was really based on past experience, having previously been on a 31,” he says. “Over the years I was fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time on my wife’s cousin’s 1989 Rampage 31.”
That included a memorable run from West Palm Beach, Fla., to the Bahamas. “It was fantastic,” Kane recalls. “Having spent so much time on that boat really made my decision easy.”
When Kane found his Rampage it was, like many used boats, sorely in need of TLC, although it was in good mechanical condition. “The enclosure had seen better days, the tower showed its age, and the hull was in need of a good compounding and buffing,” he says.
“I had one concern with the boat, though. It had a pair of Volvo 200-hp diesels, which I knew were minimal power for the boat, and I really wanted a 20-knot cruise,” he says. “Still, I was willing in the end to sacrifice speed for reliable and economical power.”
A good survey and sea trial convinced him he didn’t have to. “The boat was able to run at 20 knots with four adults on board.” Kane bought the Rampage for $25,000. “I knew it would need some work, but I thought the end result would be well worth the investment,” he says.
Kane sees the 31 as a family-fun and fishing boat. The cockpit area is large (114 square feet) and wide-open for fishing, and the big transom door is a great feature. “It’s also a nice way to jump in and out of the water, and it’s great for our two dogs,” he says. “I find the boat to be very versatile. It works well as a dayboat and offers enough room to entertain on board.”
Of course, the Rampage also is a great fishing platform. “Since the boat has a 10-degree deadrise at the transom it drifts well in choppy sea conditions,” Kane says. “This was important to me, as most of the fishing I do is off Block Island [R.I.] for stripers.” Also, the boat has an 85-gallon live well in the cockpit sole, unusual on a boat of this size.
Todd Martin, at TMR Boat Works in Warwick, R.I., is overseeing the refit. It started with alterations to the tower, with White Metal Welding in Charlestown, R.I., cutting off the upper section. C&C Marine in Bristol, R.I., is making a fiberglass hardtop. There are a host of other “small fixes” — replacing engine gauges, adding dripless stuffing boxes, installing an air-conditioning system and remounting the electronics.
“The boat came with a decent Raymarine plotter/sounder, 24-mile radar and autopilot, and I’ve decided to keep this equipment,” Kane says. “It should work fine for me.”
If all goes well, Kane will soon walk down the dock at the Wickford Shipyard in North Kingstown, R.I., and take his “new” boat out for the first run of the season — maybe to Cape Cod, Mass., or just around Narragansett Bay.
“When the festivals come to Newport we try to get together with other friends who have boats and raft up,” Kane says. “The Quonset Point Air Show is another event we like to plan with friends. And, of course, Block Island is always the favorite spot.”
Kane looks forward to some offshore fishing this year, too. “I like to get out a few times a week with friends,” he says. “Hopefully this year I’ll be able to make a few canyon runs to chase some tuna. I have outriggers now, so I may as well use them.
“Having done several boat projects, I am especially looking forward to completing this one,” he adds. “I know the Rampage is going to be a great boat.”
Described as having “big-boat features in a modest 31-foot hull,” the Rampage 31 Sportfisherman was a popular model. Its production run from 1985-1993 ended with the introduction of the larger, more up-to-date Rampage 33. The wide beam (nearly 12 feet) gives the 31 Sportfisherman a large cockpit with plenty of room for anglers and features, including an 85-gallon live well in the cockpit sole and a large transom door.
Ample side decks and stainless-steel handrails aid in safe access around the boat, and the open foredeck area includes a sturdy bow pulpit. The helm is to starboard on the bridge deck behind a metal-frame windshield that provides good weather and spray protection in rough seas.
Below deck, the cabin is laid out for casual overnighting and sleeps as many as four in a double V-berth and drop-down bunks. There is an enclosed head with a stand-up shower to starboard, and the galley to port has a two-burner electric stovetop, an under-counter refrigerator and a stainless sink, along with counter and storage space.
Rampage got its start as a powerboat offering from Rhode Island builder Tillotson-Pearson, famed for its Freedom, Alden and J/Boats sailboats. The Rampage 31 was the first in what became a growing fleet of successful designs from 24 to 40 feet that appealed to New England anglers. In 1990, Rampage was purchased by Cruisers Inc., a Wisconsin-based luxury yacht builder, but the brand fell victim to the luxury tax and virtually ceased operations as the decade progressed. The brand’s revival was in full swing by the early 2000s with the introduction of 30- and 38-foot express models and a 45-foot convertible. Rampage Sportfishing Yachts is owned by KCS International — also parent company of Cruisers Yachts — and both brands are built in Oconto, Wis. The Rampage line includes express and convertible models from 30 to 45 feet. Used 31s are easily found, and prices start around $20,000 and reach more than $50,000 for well-equipped, well-kept boats.
LOA: 31 feet, 10 inches
BEAM: 11 feet, 11 inches
DRAFT: 2 feet, 9 inches
WEIGHT: about 12,000 pounds
HULL TYPE: modified-vee
PROPULSION: (original) twin 330-hp gas inboards
TANKAGE: 256 gallons fuel,
50 gallons water
BUILDER: Rampage Sport Fishing Yachts, Oconto, Wis.
Phone: (920) 834-2211.