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Boat Sense


When the weather turns snotty, these true three-season fishing machines will provide the protection you need to keep on fishing.
By Capt. John N. Raguso

If you are searching for the ultimate in weather protection and creature comforts for you and the crew for your bona fide three-season sportfisher, it’s tough to beat the pilot house model variants. Boat builders like Steiger, Parker, NorthCoast, Defender and others have made their bones designing and producing pilot houses, as have some of the inboard diesel lobster boat builders like Duffy, Dyer, BHM, Wesmac, Beal, etc.

Sticking to the outboard powered models for this review, pilot house style craft are offered in a number of different models that look similar externally, but feature unique and subtle differences that separate them from the pack. Long Island builder Steiger Craft boats in Bellport, NY for example has been evolving their pilot house craft over the years and has a dedicated following that is growing with each passing season as their designs satisfy specific customer demands.

Their pilot house boats are divided into two groups, specifically the open back “Miami” style and the fully enclosed house “Chesapeake” models. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but according to owner Al Steiger, the Miami style three-sided house was created for southern anglers who wanted the weather protection in the front and on the sides, but desired to “open things up” a bit to stay close to the cockpit action, also requesting enhanced air circulation in the enclosed house section during those scorching summer days.

Sliding side windows, pop-open front windows and a drop curtain aft solve all of the weather protection and ventilation problems for this three-season sportfisher that made its debut at the Miami boat show years back, hence its unique name. The level deck transition from cockpit to cabin is also a nice feature and creates enhanced visibility forward at the helm and a higher house section to keep spray off of the crew when working in the cockpit. Steiger Craft’s Chesapeake pilot house models feature the traditional four-sided enclosure, with a locking fiberglass door on the aft cabin bulkhead.

Parker Boats located down in North Carolina also manufactures a fleet of popular pilot house craft ranging in size from 21 to 28 feet in length. All of these employ the traditional four-sided house enclosures and feature full width flush cuddy designs for added room in the helm and v-berth areas, with a modest step-down from the cockpit into the cuddy cabin. The 25- and 28-foot Parker “Sport Cabin” pilot house models feature extra-wide 9.5-foot beams and a 21-degree aft deadrise hull design. Parker also offers a 25 Extended Cabin model that borrows some space from the generous sized cockpit and adds it to the cabin area for additional crew comfort during your three-season angling escapades.

NorthCoast Boats based in Bristol, Rhode Island offers three hard top cabin models in their lineup. Their 21-, 23- and 27-foot models feature open rears with plenty of cockpit space for fishing. The 21-footer’s standard engine bracket provides for a huge cockpit area for fighting fish, along with the safety advantages of a full transom. The full interior hull liner features a molded two-tone non-skid surface. The 23-footer’s cabin is outfitted with a two-tone fiberglass headliner and a molded fiberglass interior v-berth with storage below. The pilot house is a spacious 5 feet with well over 6 feet of headroom. You can opt for transom or platform mounted outboards. Their newest pilot house design, a sleek 27-footer, offers two full size berths, a stand up head area and plenty of storage. This boat is available in a variety of layout options to suit the owner, such as reconfiguring the galley into an efficient tackle station. All three models make the cut as three-season fishing machines.

So there you have it, some really great choices if you are looking to step up to a true three-season fishing machine. All offer numerous options that allow you to tailor your boat to meet your specific fishing needs. And when the weather turns snotty, these boats will provide the protection you need to keep on fishing.

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