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Boat Sense


The ideal family fishing boat can go a long way toward building a lifetime of lasting memories, and the latest installment from The Fisherman's 2017 Boat Sense series looks at some family-friendly layouts.
By Capt. John N. Raguso

The majority of Fisherman readers cherish family time, which is one of the core building blocks of our societal structure. Quality family time is special; and I can tell you from firsthand experience with children and grandchildren, family time out on the water is “extra special” and can build a lifetime of lasting memories. For this month’s Boat Sense column, we’re taking a closer look at family-oriented fishing and fun boat layouts that help build those positive lasting memories.

The dual console layout has come a loooooong way from its bowrider roots of the ‘60s and ‘70s. One of the first fishing boat companies to recognize the trend and attraction of the upgraded dual console layout for family fishing and other fun activities was the good folks from offered dual consoles that were slightly ahead of their time. When models featuring a built-in private head and freshwater sink in the portside console emerged, that’s when the game changed for everyone.

The wives and girlfriends of all the hardcore fishermen took immediate notice, and the ultimate family fishing boat layout was born. Since then, most fishing boat manufacturers offer at least one version of a doit-all, dual console family “sport utility vessel,” some offer up to enormous 37-foot models. You can take a small village to the beach and back in a chariot like that powered by triple F350s, in addition to dragging your high school water ski team behind the boat in the process!

If you don’t think that the dual console layout is dominating the new boat market, the next time you go to a boat show, take a closer look. I did a tour of the Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show last November and the New York Boat Show in January, and dual consoles were out in force and seemed to have the most traffic at the various booths. From the local dealers I talked with after the NY show, they were definitely getting a lot of interest from family groups in their dual console models and writing orders. With good reason, dual consoles are perhaps the most diverse boat type, offering the options to fish or simply chill out with family and friends with the comforts and amenities that are unique to the dual console category.

So what makes a dual console so special? I believe that it’s the ability to do anything at any time on a whim and keep all of your family members engaged in the shipboard activities. Anyone who has ever taken their wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, kids, grandkids or friends out on the water knows that there are myriad ways to spend your time.

Entertaining waterborne activities include fishing, skiing, wake boarding, cruising, exploring, clamming, going to the beach, watching the sunset, heading to a waterside bar and grill, or whatever turns you on. Sometimes I like to anchorup in a quiet cove, turn the cell phone off and just listen to the therapeutic sound of the water lapping against the side of the hull as I watch the world passing by. You get the picture, being out on the water in your own boat is waycool providing an adventure with every trip, or the option of slowing down and taking in the beauty of the wide open spaces of our spectacular Northeastern coast.

Quality dual consoles are designed from the get-go with these activities in mind, and the best ones offer a variety of standard features that allow you to switch gears seamlessly from one focus to another. If you are an angler at heart and want to teach your spouse, kids or family friends about the joys of fishing, your ultimate dual console ride should be equipped with at minimum a quartet of gunwale mounted rodholders, a pair of horizontal racks under each covering board, a recirculating livewell, insulated 120-quart+ fishbox, some basic tackle storage and a spot at the dash where you can flush mount a 9- or 10-inch multifunction display for your preferred marine electronics package.

When you are pursuing other activities, those flush gunwale rodholders double as a spot to insert a tray or portable polymer “bait board” to serve food or drinks; the horizontal rod racks stow boat hooks and clam rakes; the insulated livewell and fishbox chill your food and drinks for the day; and the storage drawers keep sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, T-shirts, hoodies and towels out of the sun and spray.

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