Go To The Homepage
Features
Boat Sense

2017 BOAT BUYER'S GUIDE

It's a good time to be a boater and a prospective boat-buyer with steady and reasonable fuel prices, a plentiful domestic supply of oil and the fall's political hysteria behind us.
By Capt. John N. Raguso

The digital revolution is working its way into the fishing platforms that we use to bend rods both inshore and in the blue water and some of the next-gen standard features found on today's fishing boats are truly amazing when compared to some of yesteryear's rides. Let's get right into this season's review at what's new in the world of outboard-powered fishing boats.

World Cat
I jumped aboard World Cat's new 280CC-X at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat show, and this cat was meant to prowl offshore waters with feline prowess. This center console is the first World Cat craft to carry the "X" designation. The all-new 280CC-X provides the smooth-riding advantage of catamaran style twin-sponson hulls and marries it to bold and aggressive styling, the latest technology, unequaled deck and cockpit space, with new levels of comfort and first-class luxury. World Cat designers and engineers used an all-CAD approach to create an exceptionally stable platform with an all-new hull that provides a smoother, drier, more responsive ride in all types of sea conditions. Styling innovations include a sleek, graceful sheer line leading to a tumblehome aft, a swept-back glass-dash console topped by a surfboard-edge hardtop, plus an aggressive, unique bow with integrated docking lights and through-hull anchor.

CZone's digital switching system, traditionally available only on larger craft, enables full-boat control with touch-screen convenience from one location; no more balky panel switches and fuses or cantankerous circuit breakers. A spacious head offers a full 50 inches of sitting headroom and is accessible through a wide side-hinged door. Two large compartments in the aft deck allow easy access to the ship's mechanical systems and were designed with both customer and dealer input to get it right. When it's time to fish, a total of eight flush mount gunwale rodholders and a 30-gallon recirculating livewell will get the job done. Twin 110-gallon fuel tanks will support canyon range. For more information, visit www.worldcat.com.

Steiger Craft
New for this Long Island based boat builder is the latest iteration of their proven and popular 21 DV Miami cuddy. One of the most significant changes includes a new helm dash panel that accommodates a 12-inch multi-function display (or a pair of 9-inch screens) for your navigating and fish-finding needs. Other welcome upgrades include an additional three inches of cockpit depth (now measuring 26 inches aft) a redesigned full privacy door to the roomy cabin area with flip-up lid that makes for easy entry and egress; a comfy up/down bolster on the upgraded captain's pedestal seat with adjustable kick plate; new-and-improved sliding windows at the helm and passenger positions; plus almost 75 inches of standing headroom under the three-sided pilot house. Standard power is provided by a Yamaha F150 four-stroke, but consider the more punchy F200 if you will carry a large crew and copious gear onboard. Notable standard features include twin Blue Sea waterproof accessory panels, stainless rails, porta-pottie, compass, dual batteries with selector switch, electric trim tabs with helm indicator, hydraulic steering, a port side couch with under-seat storage in the pilot house, opening front and side windows, an aft-facing seat behind the captain's chair with dry storage, anchor locker with hatch, port and starboard windshield wipers, a 42-gallon fishbox in the transom cap with overboard drain, an insulated 55-gallon in-floor fishbox with diaphragm pump-out, a quartet of stainless steel flush-mount rodholders, a solid cabin bulkhead wall, V-berth with cushions, an aluminum outboard bracket with folding boarding ladder, plus pop-up cleats amidships. For more information, visit www.steigercraft.com.

Invincible
Invincible Boats are some of the hottest fishing machines on the planet right now and for good reason. Naval architect Michael Peters really has his act together and has designed some of the most interesting boats of the last decade, including the U.S. Navy's small fast-attack boats, which uses a similar running bottom to the Invincible 36CC. Peter's Stepped-Vee Ventilated Tunnel (SVVT) hull creates the lowest drag coefficient of any mono hull fishing boat currently in creation. This translates to increased speed and improved fuel economy compared to most competitive stepped hulls, plus a better ride. Simply put, if you need to be the first one to the fishing grounds, and you want to get there in relative comfort, this could be the ride you're looking for. The relatively new 42 Center Cabin marries a true fish-around layout to Invincible's largest hull to date. She is available with both triple and quad outboard (1,600 horsepower max) configurations, with top speeds in excess of 65 mph the norm for the triple outboard setup, with faraway canyon range provided courtesy of her huge 565-gallon fuel capacity. Standard features include an air-conditioned cabin, 7-foot double berth, above and below-deck livewells, generous amounts of dry storage, raw water washdown and AGM sealed batteries. Copious amounts of cockpit space enable you and the crew to take on the largest saltwater gamefish in distant canyons and return to tell the tale. For more information, visit www.invincibleboats.com.

Contender
The latest Contender to hit the bluewater is their 39 FA, which designates that it's 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." 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, making distant canyons a reality on your 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 fabric, 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.

Scout
The new 215 XSF center console is built on Scout's fuel-saving NuV3 hull design. The deck plan offers ample standard amenities for everything from serious fishing to comfortable cruising. This 21-footer boasts a wide 8-1/2-foot beam and plenty of space onboard. A notable standard feature onboard the 215 XSF is the forward seating in the bow, plus a forward sun lounge/coffin box complete with cushion. Other standards include port and starboard swim platforms with ladder; powder coated aluminum leaning post, complete with backrest and 72-quart Igloo cooler; Fusion Bluetooth stereo with four 6-inch speakers; three USB outlets; stainless steel bow rails, rod and cup holders; and an aerated baitwell with high speed pick-up. For more information, visit www.scoutboats.com.

NauticStar
Head out to your favorite inshore or bluewater fishing spots in style and comfort in NauticStar's all-new 2602 Legacy center console. The roomy cockpit on the 2602 Legacy features a triple-wide bench seat aft that conceals the 18-gallon beverage cooler and an oversized insulated 50-gallon fish box. The large step-down head under the console is fiberglass-lined with a sink, mirror and SeaDek flooring. The leaning post is equipped with a four-rod rocket launcher and is beautifully styled and ergonomically correct, with flip-up bolsters and comfortable thick cushions on the seat bottoms. It also includes a large 21-gallon baitwell, a switch panel and conveniently located freshwater washdown. There's a second larger 30-gallon recirculating livewell set in the port transom corner. This Mississippi girl measures 25 feet on the centerline with an 8-1/2-foot beam. She features a 20-degree aft deadrise angle running bottom that tapers to 45 degrees at the entry. The 139-gallon fuel capacity should provide bluewater range and she's rated to carry either twin F200 or single F350 Yamaha four-stroke outboards. Her dry weight is 4,000 pounds, so you can trailer her wherever the fish are biting. For more information, visit www.nauticstarboats.com.

Buddy Davis
Buddy Davis joins the "big center" console market with its newest model, the Buddy Davis 42. From the Carolina bow flare to the "tumble home" stern, these distinct features enable this boat to handle monster seas while riding soft and dry. The new design and creature comforts, like standard diesel generator, air conditioning, triple helm chairs, electric grill and integrated seating, just to name a few, make this boat what it is, a hardcore fishing machine that will keep the family happy. With a center console this big, there's even room "below" for a fully enclosed stand up head with shower and Cherry wood kitchenette. Having a place to catch some sleep and freshen up, give this "open boat" the amenities usually reserved for larger express or sportfish style boats. Every hull is vacuum infused and custom built one at a time ensuring that not only will you be able to make the long run to the Northeast canyons, but you'll be able to make it home, safe and dry! For more information, visit www.davisyachts.com.

Sailfish
The 236CC is a true multi-mission platform designed for single outboard power and is perfect for either inshore or offshore rod-bending pursuits. Family friendly features include a roomy step-down enclosed head, comfortable deep bow seating, telescoping ski pole and thigh-high freeboard. Rodholders and cup holders abound, along with a pair of 120-quart insulated bow fishboxes with overboard drains, a 30-gallon recirculating livewell set into the transom's port corner, a console seat cooler with 27-quart cooler down under, large in-floor bow storage, handy console footrest locker and an optional console top organizer. The dash panel was designed to accommodate today's big-screen multi-function displays. Owners can specify their choice of Yamaha F200, F250 or F300 four-strokes, or Mercury 250 or 300 super-charged Verados. The Yamaha F200 will give this girl a top speed in the low 40s with a moderate load, but if you are carrying a larger crew, you would be better served opting for a Merc or Yamaha 250. Each of these power choices will hit a top speed in the mid-40s with fuel-efficient cruising speeds from 25 to 35 mph. For twin power fans, Sailfish will still keep the 240CC in the lineup, which is a totally different hull design. For more information, visit www.sailfishboats.com.

Grady-White
With all of their focus on the larger vessels in their family friendly fishing fleet over the past few years, Grady-White has gone back to their roots for 2017, with the introduction of the 235 Freedom dual console - new addition to Grady's popular Freedom lineup of family oriented dual consoles. The Freedom 235 provides a generous helping of "big boat" features, exceptional quality, luxurious seating and an oversized enclosed head. The 235 also features some Grady firsts: built-in swim platform extensions port and starboard, plus convenient stern auxiliary anchor storage when setting the anchors at your favorite beachside hideaway. I checked her out firsthand at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, and Grady's VP of Engineering David Neese spent some quality time explaining this newbie's break-through design. One other Grady-White nuance for 2017 is that stringer systems and transoms for every new Grady are built using high technology, impervious-to-water composite materials; there is no wood. Furthermore the sturdy composite transom on most new Grady-White models is reinforced with a solid aluminum transom angle brace to distribute torque and provide unfailing strength, plus every Grady-White has enough sprayed-in foam flotation to ensure that the boat is unsinkable. For more information, visit www.gradywhite.com.

Henriques
The much awaited reintroduction of the Henriques 50' Sportfisherman has made the big splash. This vessel has been redesigned to accommodate the new generation of fishermen and fisherwomen. The new interior design offers a commodious salon, three staterooms, and two heads to accommodate all your overnight guests.

The Henriques line has always been well-known for their enormous cockpits and the 50'Sportfisherman is no different. It offers two in-deck fish boxes, transom livewell, freezer, rodholders, engine room access, transom door, and plenty of room for a fighting chair to reel in the big ones. The fly bridge is also more spacious, offering a pod style helm and plenty of room to install all the latest high tech electronics. A mezzanine is also available as an option. But most importantly, the fine, beautiful lines of this vessel will allow the owner to achieve top-notch performance. Standard power will come from a pair of C-18 Caterpillars yielding 30 knot cruise and a top end of 36 knots. For more information visit: www.henriquesyachts.com.

Southport Boats
Southport Boats introduced a new model on their popular 33-foot platform, the Southport 33 LX. The most noticeable feature of the new 33 LX is a forward 270-degree wraparound pit seating area on the port side, which creates a comfortable and spacious lounge area in the bow. It is Southport's answer to the sociability of a dual console, while still maintaining the center command station operation, visibility, functionality and fishability of a center console. As a result of this new layout, the boat features more tender-like amenities, including extra refrigeration, a microwave, coffee-maker, plus food and beverage storage and food-preparation areas, all wrapped up in a summer galley.

With the addition of an L-shaped wrap-around lounge in the aft port corner and wet-bar with refrigerator and bottle and glass storage in the leaning post, the aft cockpit rivals the bow area for comfort and social amenities. For hardcore sport fishing enthusiasts, the Southport 33 FE, 33 TE or 33 ST are the logical choices. For more information, visit www.southportboats.com.

Boston Whaler
Boston Whaler's Outrage family of center consoles welcomes its newest member for 2017, the 230 Outrage. I jumped aboard this new sportfisher at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show and one of the most notable aspects of the new 230 is how roomy it feels for its size. The 230 Outrage perfectly balances comfort and capability. It excels as a fishing platform, yet it's also designed to facilitate fun-filled days on the water with family and friends. Amenities include a standard head in the console, an expansive bow area with wraparound forward seating, plus a double-wide bench directly in front of the console that lifts to reveal a large storage compartment underneath. Anglers will appreciate the 230 Outrage's numerous fishing features, including the integrated fiberglass hardtop option. Rodholders are placed strategically throughout the cockpit and the transom features a convenient portside livewell. The 230 Outrage's Converting Leaning Post starts as a standard bench helm seat, but its backrest conceals a handy flip-down workstation. Anglers can select the optional Fishing Leaning Post to gain a convenient 30-gallon livewell. For more information, visit www.bostonwhaler.com.

Carolina Cat
Carolina Cat expanded their feline fleet with the 23CC and 23DC. Both the center console and the dual console layouts are based on the same 22-1/2- by 8-1/2-foot twin sponson hull design. The 23CC has a top speed of 46 mph with twin Yamaha F115s with 3.4-mpg fuel efficiency at cruise that will go a long way on the standard 96-gallon tank. The 23DC offers a different deck layout that is more family friendly, with a top speed of 44 mph. The 23DC takes advantage of its added useable deck space with seating for up to 10. A roomy 150-quart insulated cooler is set beneath each bench seat in the bow and the foredeck offers a forward anchor rode locker and bow pulpit. The 23DC features a large head enclosure with a standard porta-pottie, but a freshwater electric head with holding tank and pump-out/overboard discharge is available as an option. For more information, visit www.carolinacatboats.com.

Maritime Boats
This Maine-based boat builder expanded its coastal fishing boat lineup to include five styles of layouts from 14 to 25 feet. Maritime's 14-, 18- and 20-foot rolled edge skiffs are simple, basic, uncomplicated boats with maximum interior space, self-bailing cockpits and hulls that are fuel efficient and easily propelled with low to moderate horsepower. They are built strong and "unsinkable" and dry-running with a seaworthy ride. Models 21 feet and larger have a large step down area under the console that provides room for storage and an optional porta-pottie or marine head. The Patriot and Voyager Center Cabin models combine all the benefits of a center console with the convenience of a full cabin. You can walk and fish around the side decks of the cabin without tripping over elevated steps. The 21, 23 and 25 Express models have large versatile cockpits ideal for cruising and comfortably accommodating friends and family. Maritime's 23 and 25 Challenger cabin models feature excellent visibility from the well-designed pilot house, a large comfortable V-berth that easily accommodates two adults and has a variety of seating, galley and cockpit configurations to meet your needs. For more information visit www.maritimeboats.com.

Key West
This South Carolina boat builder has solidified its bluewater fleet for 2017 with the introduction of a trio of new Billfish offshore center consoles. The three Billfish models include the 261, 281 and 351 and all share a very fishy center console layout. Standard power on the Billistic 281CC are twin in-line four cylinder F200s, with the Billistic 351 going with twin F300s, but she can handle triples for some blazing bluewater speed. Even though the 261CC is the smallest Billistic in the line-up, she shares all of the premium construction and design of the bigger models, and runs fine with a single 300-horsepower four-stroke. Recent factory tests with the 261CC sporting a pair of Yamaha F200s had her hit a top speed of over 51 mph, with 2.5-mpg fuel efficiency at 27 mph, loafing along at only 3,500 rpm. All Billistic running bottoms are deep-vee, with both the 261 and 281 models sporting a 20-degree aft deadrise and the 351 featuring a radical 24 degrees of deadrise at the transom. All three Billistic center consoles feature a powder coated hardtop, full porcelain head with holding tank, insulated fishboxes, popup cleats and much more. For more information, visit www.keywestboatsinc.com.

Everglades
Everglades introduced another hybrid bay/offshore boat for the new season in the form of the 253cc. This mid-sized sportfisher was designed using the best features of her siblings, the 243cc and the 273cc. The result is a multi-function vessel equally adept at both shallow and deep water fishing. The massive 91-square-foot cockpit boasts multipurpose seating with two aft fold-down seats that convert to a non-skid casting platform and lockable rod storage with cushioned protection located under the forward bow seating. Additional rod and dry storage is found under the port and starboard gunwales. The 69-gallon in-floor insulated fishbox and 26-gallon livewell come into play when it's time to bend the rods. One of the most unique features of the 253cc is the twin Yeti Hopper 20 holders, which are perfect for easy loading and unloading of coolers for drinks and ice. These are in addition to the built-in 87-quart insulated EverCooler located under the forward console seat. Passengers can enjoy the convenience of a step-down head and improved dash storage (including charging ports and a watertight glovebox). Like her sister ships, the Everglades running bottom provides a smooth and dry ride in a high-tech, unsinkable hull. For more information, visit www.evergladesboats.com.

EdgeWater
Introduced in 2016, the 248CX Dual Console represents the latest evolution in EdgeWater design and technology and is equipped with a Yamaha F300 four-stroke outboard as standard power. This new crossover design features EdgeWater's most ergonomic and sophisticated deck design for a dual console to date, along with the builder's advanced Single Piece Infusion (SPI) hull construction. She features a redesigned bow seating area with plusher amenities, including forward-facing seat backs with built-in armrests. The forward storage boxes are insulated and have a new separated box design with a remote latch system. The helm provides great sightlines and improved ergonomics for the captain and offers enough dash space to accommodate a large 16-inch multi-function display. The 248CX showcases EdgeWater's all-new, patent-pending port-side Ultra Lounger back-to-back seat with insulated fishbox storage and six different seating configurations. The bait prep station also is a modern design with many different configurations. These new additions create a more spacious cockpit with a full transom-width fold-out seat, while maintaining a large transom baitwell. The transom walkthrough provides easy access for watersports and to bring large gamefish aboard. The Yamaha F300 V-6 four-stroke will provide a top speed approaching 50 mph and 3+ mpg fuel efficiency at 3,500 rpm/28 mph. For more information, visit www.ewboats.com.

Albemarle
Albemarle is sticking with a singular purpose of producing seaworthy cuddy cabin sportfishers. Breaking from historical profiles, the three smallest boats in the fleet, the 25, 27 and the new 29, are all outboard powered express layouts. The four larger Albemarles, the 32 Express, 36 Express, 41 Express and the 41 Convertible are all inboard diesels. Albemarles appeal to experienced crews with their fish-ready features and creature comforts that dominate a long list of "must have" standard features. The new 29 Express offers the ultimate in hardcore fishing amenities in a relatively compact and nimble twin-outboard power package. Serious anglers will appreciate its offshore ability, exceptional handling in rough seas and fuel economy. Featuring a modern helm area with forward-facing seating for three, mezzanine style seating aft, large fishboxes, baitwell, dual tackle centers and a standard transom door, this express comfortably sleeps four. The deep-vee hull is designed to slice through head seas, land softly in the troughs and keep the windshield dry. She is available with either twin F300 or F350 Yamaha four-strokes, and her 320-gallon fuel tank provides canyon range. For more information, visit www.albemarleboats.com.

Parker
The big news for Parker Boats for the 2017 model year is that they will be splashing their first, all-new, fully-loaded 2540 Dual Console. The 2540 DC hull will have an overall length of 30 feet, 2 inches while boasting a 9-1/2-foot beam. Parker's proven 21-degree deep-vee hull design paired with twin Yamaha F200 outboards will provide a top-end speed of 50 mph while cruising comfortably and economically in the 25- to 35-mph range. This new dual console will go a long way in between fill-ups with a generous 163-gallon fuel tank. With the 2540DC, Parker continues to embrace its heritage while combining trend-setting features to maximize the family boating experience. An attractive, rugged hardtop, spacious helm and cockpit with convertible seating arrangements, along with an enclosed head are all configured with the family's comfort in mind. High-end upholstered lounge and sundeck seating offers the best of style, comfort and long-term durability and she can also work efficiently at bending the rods when it's time to fish. Also relatively new for Parker Boats is their 2810 XLD walkaround (featured image.) This 28-footer sports an overall length (with bow pulpit and outboard bracket) of over 35 feet, supported by a 9-1/2-foot beam. She can carry up to 600 sea ponies on the transom and is fueled by a large 232-gallon tank. For more information, visit www.parkerboats.net.


page  1 2 >