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2018 BOAT BUYER’S GUIDE - PART 2

With so many new boats on the market this year, we had to break out annual buyer's guide in half. Here’s part 2 of the ultimate guide for what’s new in fishing boats for 2018!
By Capt. John N. Raguso

NAUTICSTAR
Inshore or offshore the new, NauticStar 265 XTS is a beast of a bay boat and the largest in the Extreme Tournament Series family of boats that includes 21-, 22- and 24-foot models. It is the culmination of years of innovation and advanced engineering, with a collection of all the latest bells and whistles. It evolved from customer feedback for the ultimate inshore and coastal fishing vessel. With its large forward and aft decks, ample rod storage, 43-gallon bow fishbox, trio of livewells/baitwells, a 35-quart Yeti cooler and plenty of tackle storage, the 265 XTS is a do-it-all fishing platform. There was a focus by the NauticStar engineering team to make every feature ergonomically correct. The newly designed leaning post features seating with flip-up bolsters and armrests, a 21-gallon baitwell with transparent lid, lighted push button switch panel, and conveniently located freshwater washdown. Back bay or near coastal, inlets or off the beach, the NauticStar 265XTS gets you to the fish fast and lets you angle like a pro when you find them. With an overall length of 26 feet 2 inches supported by an overwide 9-foot beam, there is plenty of cockpit space for you and the crew to do your thing.

For more information, visit www.nauticstarboats.com.

CONTENDER
The latest Contender to hit the bluewater is their 39 FA, which is a center cabin “fish-around” design. Capable of handling up to 1,600 sea ponies on the transom, she is optimized for speed and comfort without sacrificing fishability. The 39 FA has impressive creature comforts and plenty of room for the crew to shelter down below on those long canyon overnighters with a microwave, refrigerator, freshwater sink, TV and spacious vee-berths. It also offers sufficient accommodations and storage to take a weekend off at your favorite beachside hideaway. Powered by triple Yamaha 350-horsepower engines, the Contender 39 FA is an open water speed demon, topping out at over 70 mph. With a standard 500-gallon fuel tank capacity, your boundaries won’t be limited by range, with distant canyons now on your realistic radar screen. You can get there fast, get there dry, get there in comfort and be one of the first to get in the game. The 39 FA is constructed using high-tech, hand-laid fiberglass throughout employing multi-directional fabrics, a foam-cored composite stringer system, foam floatation, an integral dive platform attached to a full transom, with a transom door to allow you to bring the big ones aboard. Unlike some production boat builders, Contender gives each owner the chance to team with their craftsmen in a “hands-on” boat building process. Owners choose each component of the vessel from the power options, to the electronics package, livewell rigging, down to the type of upholstery stitching and more.

For additional information, visit www.contenderoffshore.com.

CAPE CODDER
The Cape Codder 19 was born in 1968 founder Sandy Urquhart wanted to design a boat that incorporated all the elements of the most seaworthy boats at the time. With an 18-degree aft deadrise, lifting strakes and a hard chine, the Cape Codder performed beyond expectations, and Sandy knew the boat would draw demand from those who wanted a stable platform for inshore commercial work and fishing. Urquhart then designed the Cape Codder 24, and it garnered attention from those who needed a larger platform for fishing deeper, rougher waters. Since the late ‘60s Cape Codders have been regarded as quality built, rugged boats suited for the rigors of everyday commercial fishing. They are also held in high regard by many coastal sportfishing anglers. Cape Codder continues to make the 19 with the same quality of the original, also offering the 24 and two skiffs (10 and 14) to round out the Cape Codder line-up. Their focus remains on producing quality, "over built" boats.

For more information, visit www.capecodderboats.com.

CENTURY
Century’s flagship, the 3200 CC, is loaded with performance fishing features designed for both tournament anglers and their fishing families, with plenty of luxury and safety amenities for entertaining. Fishing accessories include an oversized livewell, lockable rod storage and large fishboxes forward and aft. For your guests, the 3200 CC offers an enclosed head, forward-facing bow seating and a standard bow entertainment table that creates a true social center. Notable fishing features include an oversized 62-gallon baitwell, lockable rod storage, tilt-out tackle trays and a pair of 277-quart insulated fishboxes. The wide open fishing deck is surrounded with ample storage, four forward fishboxes and a huge 62-gallon, two-pump baitwell system. The list of amenities continues with six gunwale rodholders, an enclosed electric head, standard entertainment table and Yamaha four-stroke outboard power. For 2018, the 3200 CC has been updated with a side door for easy entrance/exit at dockside, or for bringing those huge gamefish aboard; a new leaning post with more standard features; a diving platform; power bolsters; a standard 65-quart Frigid Rigid fiberglass ice chest under the leaning post, with easy one-finger pull-out; a Raymarine Axiom Pro 12-inch multi-function display and digital controls; plus a key-fob battery switch for convenience.

For more information, visit www.centuryboats.com.

TIDEWATER BOATS
In 2006 Tidewater Boats began with a dream. With decades of accumulated marine craftsmanship and knowledge, the founders set out to create the best boat value for the money. Ten years later Tidewater has developed into one of the fastest growing, most popular saltwater boats in the industry. Born in the midlands of South Carolina, where marine craftsmanship is a way of life and a staple of the economy, Tidewater has always utilized the best materials and skilled labor to produce a boat that is a great value for the investment. Tidewater’s lineup has expanded since their start 10 years ago and for 2018, they offer six styles of coastal sportfishing and family fun craft. Their flagship Adventure series of center consoles features nine boats from 17 to 32 feet. The LXF series of family friendly, luxury-appointed center consoles have four models from 20 to 25 feet. The Bay Max series offers a total of four models from 18 to 24 feet. The hybrid Carolina Bay lineup features a trio of center consoles from 20 to 25 feet. The 196 Explorer dual console is one-of-a-kind for the moment, while the SUV series of single side console craft consists of four boats from 21 to 25 feet. All Tidewater boats are manufactured from 100 percent composite materials and are totally wood-free, backed by a transferrable 10-year structural hull warranty.

For more information, visit www.tidewaterboats.com.

MAKO MARINE
The Mako 414 CC is the largest, most powerful and most comfortable boat in their 50-year boat building history. With top-shelf fit and finish, premium fishing features and state-of-the-art technology, the 414 CC is ready to safely take you and your crew to the horizon and back for an unparalleled adventure to the 100-fathom line and beyond, with the potential to create the fishing trip of a lifetime. This super-sized center console is available in a Standard, Bluewater Family and Sportfish Edition, with each package determining the standard features list and accommodations. The Mako 414 CC is the ultimate offshore fishing and family recreational boat, depending on how you decide to deck her out, and it’s backed by Mako Assurance, one of the best factory warranties in the business. In a nutshell, Mako Assurance is a combination of a limited lifetime structural hull warranty, a 5-year "stem-to-stern" coverage warranty, a 3-year gelcoat coverage warranty, plus provisions for transferring these coverages to a second owner. Some notable standard features on this big Mako include an upper helm station-ready hardtop; huge 80-gallon leaning post baitwell; GEM carbon fiber outriggers; a Rupp flush-mount rodholder package with 20 gunwale rodholders; head and cockpit air conditioning, with a chiller package for onboard freezers; Iris NightRunner infrared camera on the forward hardtop with a helm control pad; Shadow-Caster underwater light package with eight SCM-10 Blue LED lights; Fusion UD750 stereo with eight speakers, 1,600W-amp and subwoofer; and an electric head with overboard discharge. Powered by quad Mercury 350 Verado four-strokes, and sporting a 24-degree aft deadrise deep-vee running bottom, this platform takes you far and fast, fueled by a large 566-gallon tank.

For more information, visit www.makoboats.com.

NORTHCOAST
Jose C. DaPonte, the President and Owner of C&C Marine, has built his life around building quality boats since the early 1970s, specializing in composite boat building and tool making. His production facility is located in Bristol, Rhode Island, only a short ride to the fishing and testing grounds of Rhode Island Sound. NorthCoast Boats is a division of C&C Marine and C&C Fiberglass, Inc. C&C Marine is a premier regional boat builder producing high quality fishing and recreational boats. In 2000, Joe purchased NorthCoast Boats, and a new era in Rhode Island boatbuilding was born. The NorthCoast lineup currently includes a six-pack of center consoles in the following lengths: 18, 19, 20, 23, 24 and 26 and a quartet of cabin boats (21 hard top, 23 hard top, 23 express and 27 hard top). Some are built for cruising, while others are designed for rough water fishing, sporting different running bottoms to fulfill their mission objective. The latest NorthCoast to hit the marinas is the 24 Center Console. Its hull design features a sharp entry forward that tapers back to 22 degrees of deadrise at the transom. Measuring 24-1/2 feet in length with a slightly overwide 9-foot, 1-inch beam amidships, this sturdily built fishing platform tips the scales at a hefty 4,500 pounds dry, so the boat feels solid underfoot when banging into a tight chop. NorthCoast builds their boats tough, with a hand-laid single skin fiberglass hull, foam-cored topsides, foam-cored grid system and no wood anywhere, backed by a 12-year structural hull warranty.

For more information, visit www.northcoastboats.com.

RELEASE BOATS
Gerritt Walsh ran Angler Boats for the better part of three decades. When that operation finally shut its doors, Gerritt started up Release Boats, which is located nearby the old place in Opa-Locka, FL. Release Boats manufacture a 180RX (center console), 196RX, 208RX, the new 238RX, a 301RX and a 301RXS (with split bench forward seating). The 230DC dual console is also a new addition to the fleet for 2018.
The 230DC offers excellent bang for the buck, which has been the hallmark of all of Gerritt Walsh’s boats throughout the years. With a 23-foot LOA and an 8-1/2-foot beam, the 230DC’s 20-degree aft deadrise running bottom is rated for a max of 300 sea ponies, but can be equipped with a 200-horsepower inline four cylinder Yamaha F200. If this were my rig, I would probably go with one of their larger big block 4.2L engines (F225, F250 and F300) to dial in maximum performance on this family fishing platform. She’s got a ton of range with her standard 140-gallon fuel tank, so if the dual console were tasked to perform fishing, beach taxi and family fun activities in the bays or coastal areas, you could probably go for a week without the need to refuel it. Notable standard features on the 230DC include cockpit bolsters, deluxe helm and companion seats, a port side aft-facing seat, bow seating with cushions and backrests, a molded fiberglass head compartment with porta-pottie, in-floor ski storage locker, SeaStar hydraulic steering with tilt helm and a swim platform with boarding ladder.

For more information on Release Boats, visit www.releaseboats.com.

SEA HUNT
Sea Hunt has a pair of new models for the 2018 model year. The first is the BX25FS, which is the largest of three hull sizes in the BX Bay Boat lineup. The main difference between the BX25FS and her three BX25/22/20BR sisters is the added seating capacity both forward and aft, hence the “FS” designation. Whether you're running the flats hunting stripers or summer flounder, or cruising the back bays and inlet areas chasing down your favorite catch of the day, the Sea Hunt BX series is ready for anything you might come across in your travels. With a shallow 15-inch draft, dual casting platforms, lockable rod storage and aerated livewells, this boat comes fully equipped and ready to fish. The BX25FS’s distinguished Carolina flare, coupled with a sharp bow 50-degree entry angle and 15-degree aft deadrise, provides you with the driest ride possible to go to the extreme when speeding across the flats to catch the tide. Standard features on this newbie include triple jump seats across the aft casting platform that fold down when it’s time to fish and pop-up when it’s time to travel. The forward casting deck area also has a pair of plug-in seat back inserts that are fully functional when travelling from point A to Point B across the bay and pop out for storage when it’s time to sight cast to a school of foraging gamefish. The 220-quart insulated bow storage box, 12-gallon console livewell, 13-gallon aft livewell and 10-gallon freshwater system are all standard, along with a 68-gallon fuel tank to run to your favorite spots from sunup to sundown, accommodating outboards up to 300 horsepower on the transom. The other newbie for Sea Hunt for the 2018 model year is the Ultra 255SE center console.

For more information, visit www.seahuntboats.com.

SEA FOX
This South Carolina boat builder’s bread-and-butter Commander center console lineup has been expanding over the years and currently, with the introduction of the new for 2018 248 Commander, has grown to a total of seven models between 18 and 32 feet in length. The latest addition, the 248 Commander, is exactly in the middle of the lineup card and offers the open water capabilities of the larger boats with the go-anywhere nature, single engine simplicity of the smaller siblings. Built around a deep-vee forefoot that tapers back to a mild 18-degree aft deadrise at the transom, here 8-1/2-foot beam and 3,400-pound dry weight make her relatively easy to power with outboards in the 225- to 250-horsepower range. Outfitted with her max of 300 sea ponies on the transom, this Carolina girl flies to the fishing grounds, hitting a top speed of almost 49 mph and a fuel-efficient 4000- to 4500-rpm cruising range of 33- to 37-mph, getting 2.9- to 2.6-mpg. Her 115-gallon tank lets you fish and frolic all weekend long without the need to refuel. Notable standard features include a T-top with canvas overhead and LED spreader lights, a 30-gallon aquarium style pressurized livewell, a six-pack of stainless steel flush-mount rodholders, LED navigation and courtesy lighting, insulated fish storage in the bow, under the raised forward bench seating, coaming pads and faux teak decking, recessed electric trim tabs, plus a leaning post with removable 72-quart cooler down under.

For more information, visit www.seafoxboats.com.

BLACKFIN
For 2018, the legend of Blackfin sportfishing boats is resurrected under the watchful eye of parent company Monterrey, with the introduction of a quartet of center consoles, the 212CC, the 242CC, the 272CC and the soon-to-be-introduced 332CC. Three of these center consoles were in the water at the recent Ft Lauderdale boat show, and I had the chance to get up close and personal with each one of them. The fit and finish that I could observe both topsides and down below were totally first class and worthy of the rep that the former company founder and owner Carl Herndon had spent three decades meticulously crafting with his splendid offshore fishing machines. Of the three next-gen Blackfins that I inspected down in south Florida, the one that immediately caught my eye was the middle child of the group, the 242CC, which is right up my alley as far as a preference for a trailerable, seaworthy and affordable offshore boat. This one measures 24-1/2-foot LOA, supported by a slightly overwide 8-foot, 10-inch beam, sporting a deep-vee 22-degree aft deadrise running bottom. This boat tips the scales at an impressive 5,400 pounds dry, without power, so if this were going to be my ride, I’d opt for a minimum of twin 150s to give me some two-engine, offshore peace of mind and enough push at the throttle to get her up and running, even with a heavy load. She can handle single or twin outboards up to 400 horsepower, so you have some options, depending on your preferences and budget. The pending arrival of the 332CC should be interesting, given that this big sister is designed around a twin-stepped deep-vee running bottom. These new Blackfins look like the real deal and certainly warrant some additional attention.

For more information, visit www.blackfinboats.com.

For even more boats, be sure to read PART 1 of the 2018 Boat Buyer's Guide!


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