Amity Harbor Marine has been a fixture in western Suffolk’s South Shore neighborhood since the mid-50s. Showing my age a bit, I have been there at least once every decade since the mid-80s to meet up with owner Ben Pulvidente, whose family has owned and operated it for three generations, to conduct various boat tests and product reviews for The Fisherman. This time around, I got the chance to jump aboard a sweet 234 Sea Hunt “Ultra” center console. We put it through its paces on a nasty day on Great South Bay, with the wind blowing hard from the northeast at 15 to 17 knots – a perfect day for a “real world” boat test, but more on that later. Before we start dissecting the 234 Ultra CC, let’s get to know the folks who make it (Sea Hunt) and the folks who sell it (Amity Harbor Marine) a little bit better.
In case you haven’t noticed, Sea Hunt is America’s fastest growing fiberglass fishing boat lineup, with a diverse selection of center consoles, dual consoles, walkarounds, offshore and bay boats ranging from 17 to 29 feet. According to a recent boating industry report I read prior to authoring this review, over the past four years, Sea Hunt has built and registered more 17- to 29-foot fiberglass boats than any competitor in the USA.
The Sea Hunt Boat Company began back in 1995 when an experienced (making boats for other companies) father and son team started building center console fishing boats in a small plant outside of Columbia, SC. A strong local consumer demand for their boats caused expansion of the facilities and product line at a slow but steady pace to insure that the original corporate mission of paying attention to the details with a high level of quality control was never lost or compromised. By 2004, the little boat company that started in a one-room shop expanded to a compact boat building plant that was bursting at the seams. Sea Hunt’s commitment to customer service and dealer support propelled the company to a defining point in their short history – relocation and expansion. In March 2006, Sea Hunt commenced operations in a state-of-the-art 170,000-square-foot facility, adhering to the same values that were responsible for their initial growth and success and the rest, as they say, is history.
AMITY HARBOR MARINE
Ben Pulvidente and his family have owned and operated Amity Harbor Marine since 1956 as a full service marina, which is now going on its third generation. It has the ideal location right on Montauk Highway, only a few blocks east of the southern terminus of Route 110 and is literally right on the water on a protected creek that spills into the Great South Bay. AHM has a fully stocked ships store, a fuel dock, a 75-slip marina with floating docks, plus sales and service for Mercury and Yamaha outboards, in addition to MerCruiser inboards and I/Os and Volvo inboards. They have everything you’ll need for the complete boating experience, including factory trained and certified technicians, an open-end travel lift for boats up to 50 feet in length and 30 tons, barbeques, a picnic area and a gazebo, plus restrooms and showers. There’s a major shopping center only a few blocks away and an assortment of restaurants, all within walking distance. Amity Harbor Marine carries two lines of boats, specifically Sea Hunts from 17 to 29 feet for the fishing folks and Chaparrals from 18 to 42 feet for those who are into comfortable cruising and casual water sports. They’ve won the CSI customer service award for Chaparral four years in a row, so the crew at AHM gives great service after the sale. Located at 30 Merrick Road in Amityville, they are open Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays. If you need a GPS to find them, they’re at 40-40-03N and 73-24-15W.
SEA HUNT 234 ULTRA CC
The Ultra series of center console boats (196, 211, 225 & 234) was created for people who enjoy a variety of diverse water activities. Fishing, skiing, pleasure cruising, tubing, rafting-up…you can do it all with this one. Each Ultra is equipped with many of the proven fishing features from Sea Hunt’s dedicated Triton fishboat series, like livewells, rod racks and insulated fishboxes. Added standard features include a rear bench seat with cushions, wrap-around bolsters, bow cushions and waterproof JBL stereo’s with iPod connectors.
The 234 Ultra CC sports some sexy lines just sitting there at dockside, with a graceful Carolina broken sheer line and that Outer Backs flare in the bow. Jumping onboard, she’s fairly steady at rest, even with two XL passengers leaning to one side or another. The layout of the 234 Ultra CC doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel of the classic center console design, but gives you just about everything you’ll need as standard equipment for a full day out on the water with the family, whether it’s fishing, water taxi service to the beach, skiing and wake-boarding, or just a comfy late afternoon cruise to your favorite watering hole. Starting aft and working forward, the triple-wide bench seat set into the full-height transom will keep water on the outside where it belongs, especially when drifting or at anchor. The portside hatch under the cushioned seating opens to reveal a neat hiding spot for a five-gallon bucket, which is included. The center section of this three-part set-up is the home of a 15-gallon recirculating livewell, with a battery compartment positioned under the starboard hatch. Although a reverse-back twin bench seat is standard, our test boat was equipped with an optional leaning post with 72-quart Igloo cooler down under and a four-rod rocket launcher set-up. This can also be upgraded further to include a built-in tackle center. The working aft cockpit measures 74 inches wide by 41 inches long, which translates to 21 square feet, with 26 inches of cockpit depth for excellent leg support. The boat’s two-piece design (hull and combo liner/deck) doesn’t leave much toe space at the junction of the cockpit sole and the liner’s vertical inwale, but that’s the way it is – the added cockpit depth should help alleviate this challenge when working a big fish to boatside.
Our boat had rodholders just about everywhere, with four flush-mount units in the gunwales (two per side), an additional quartet of flush rodholders set in the transom cap (again, two per side), the aforementioned four-rod rocket launcher in the leaning post, plus another four-rod rocket launcher in the optional T-Top. With two additional horizontal rodholders installed under each coaming covering board, that brings the total rodholder count up to 20, which should be enough to cover your needs, no matter what type of inshore/offshore combination trip you are planning. The console features a head area that is accessed via a 17-inch wide companionway set on the port side and there’s a dedicated 16 x 8 vertical panel at the dash to mount a large eight-inch or ten-inch multi-function display to handle all of your marine electronics requirements. The standard SeaStar hydraulic helm was attached to a Vision stainless steel steering wheel with power knob, but I would have preferred the tilt helm, which handles different sized operators without a hitch. The good news is that the tilt helm is available as an added-cost option, which I would consider mandatory. Since our boat was not equipped with trim tabs as a standard feature, add the optional Lenco electric tabs to that list too.
Moving toward the bow, the forward console bench seat features an insulated 48-quart cooler down below and will ice a day’s worth of beverages for your inshore or offshore adventures. The raised casting deck features a 90-quart insulated cooler to port and a larger 140-quart insulated cooler to starboard, both with overboard drains. A flush hatch set in the forepeak reveals a vertical anchor locker and cradle underneath, which will stow a 13-pound Danforth type anchor and a few hundred feet of rode neatly out of the way, but ready for immediate deployment.
The day I visited Amity Harbor Marine was just perfect for a boat test, with a stiff northeast wind blowing from 15 to 17 knots and a tight two-foot washboard chop on the Great South Bay. With Josh the Mechanic onboard along with AHM Sales Manager John Noonan, I took the wheel and put the 234 Ultra through its paces, powered by a next-gen 4.2L 250 HP Yamaha V-6 outboard on the transom, complete with electronic shift and fly-by-wire controls.
To say that this boat jumps out of the hole like a scalded rabbit would be an understatement – it’s more like a catapult launch from a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. We consistently were able to get up on plane from a dead stop in less than three seconds, which for a four-stroke power plant, is very impressive. While jumping out of the hole, the Sea Hunt’s unique Vortex hull design (described as a variable deadrise vee bottom with a forward keel and an aft pad) had a very flat running angle all the way (remember, this boat did not have trim tabs). Compare this to many competitive craft that exhibit an unsightly bow rise when attempting this maneuver, along with the usual “blind spot”, which is a danger to safe navigation. She also did 0-to-30 in roughly eight seconds, which is also very impressive and will insure that skiers and wake-boarders will have plenty of fun being towed by this saltwater rocket ship.
With the throttle wide-open, we hit a top speed of 48-mph spinning a Yamaha 17T 15-½-inch diameter three-blade S/S prop, but on the opposite side of the spectrum, she was able to maintain planing attitude at only 2700 rpm, getting 20 mph at 5 gph, for a net of 4 mpg. Now that truly is a revelation and will be appreciated if you ever hit a patch of rough seas and need to drop it way down to dial in a comfy ride. Running up the throttle range, this very efficient hull and power combo hit 24 mph at 3000 rpm at 4 mpg; 29 mph at 3500 rpm at 3.6 mpg; 34 mph at 4000 rpm at 2.9 mpg; 38 mph at 4500 rpm at 2.7 mpg and 42 mph at 5000 rpm at 2.0 mpg. She exhibits minimal leaning into high-speed turns, cuts a mean tight figure-8, has a very flat running attitude throughout the cruising range and exhibits minimal bow rise when jumping out of the hole. The 98-gallon fuel tank will offer most fishing families plenty of operating range, especially when keeping the throttle under 4-grand. At rest, she is very stable and drifts beam to the wind, for maximum coverage when fluke fishing or bottom drifting. Sea Hunt has a real winner here.
Sales Manager John Noonan mentioned that, as equipped with a bunch of options, the MSRP was $67K, with a street price in the $57K-$58K range. Standard features on the 234 Ultra include cockpit bolsters, all seat cushions, a split stainless steel low-profile bow rail, waterproof JBL four-speaker stereo with iPod connecter, a six-pack of pull-up five-inch stainless steel cleats, Yamaha digital gauges, high pressure raw water washdown and much more.