Being a long-time Long Islander, I have made the trek to Steiger Craft’s Bellport boat building facilities numerous times over the years, but had not been over there lately. Steiger Craft boats have been popular with Long Island and New York Metro area anglers for four decades and this builder has weathered the many economic storms in our economy over the years with a steady and growing customer base that is expanding to the Tri-State area and beyond, with five Steiger dealers in the Northeast and two on the West Coast. Steiger is a “semi-custom” production builder, turning out about 100 boats per year. Most of their production staff are long-time employees, with an average tenure that ranges from 20 to 30 years, which translates to significant consistency when assembling the line-up that includes a variety of boats from 21 to 31 feet. The 21 DV Miami takes about three weeks to make from start to finish.

In an effort to get the feel for Steiger’s latest 21 DV Miami in greater detail, I met up in early September with Al’s son Connor, who is running a lot of the day-to-day operations at the shop. Connor had significant input on the latest upgrades to this proven 21-foot deep vee hull, which was first introduced into the Steiger Craft lineup back in 2004 and has gone through a number of improvements since its debut. None have been as radical as the facelift that Connor and the Steiger design team have put it through for 2017.

One of the most significant changes of the 2017 edition compared to prior 21 models includes a new dash panel that allows prospective owners to flush-mount a 12-inch multi-functional, big-screen color display (or a pair of 9-inch screens) for their navigating and fish-finding needs. This ability has been a rarity on anyone’s 21-footer to date, so score a competitive advantage for the Steiger team. Other welcome upgrades on the 21 DV Miami include an additional three inches of cockpit depth (now measuring 26 inches aft) accomplished by raising up the side decks and hull sides while still keeping this boat’s self-bailing capabilities intact. Since I am 6 feet, 3 inches in stature, low gunwales were a challenge that I’ve occasionally experienced with other Steiger hulls. The list of improvements on the 21 DV Miami continues with upgraded heavy-duty Roca windshield wipers port and starboard; a redesigned full privacy door to the roomy cabin area with flip-up lid that makes entry and egress easy; 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.
The cockpit of the Steiger 21 DV Miami is very roomy, measuring 70 inches long by 84 inches wide, which translates to almost 41 square feet of operating space. Supported by the aforementioned 26 inches of internal depth, this will help support the angler, wireman and gaffer/tagger when bringing the big ones to boatside. From an ergonomic standpoint, this Steiger also gets high grades for its one-level cockpit and helm design, which allows the operator increased forward visibility, larger front and side windows for increased light in the helm and passenger area, with a higher pilot house profile for added protection from wind and spray, especially for those crew that are standing or seated in the cockpit.

The bottom line with any meaningful boat evaluation is to take it out on the briny and to see what it can do in the real world under actual conditions. In order to make this happen, I hooked up with Connor Steiger and the Fisherman’s Advertising Manager Bob Blessee to run the 21 DV Miami through its paces out of Patchogue on the Great South Bay. With a 10- to 12-knot wind blowing from the northwest on our test day, the sharp forward entry and 21-degree aft deadrise running bottom on this downsized sportfisher had no trouble knifing through the chop and smoothing out the ride at typical 25- to 30-mph cruising speeds.

Connor had been experimenting prior to our sea trial with a pair of Yamaha 3-blade stainless steel props on this platform, which was outfitted with one of Yamaha’s latest next-gen four-strokes, the popular in-line four cylinder F200. The Yamaha techs who conducted their Performance Bulletin test report on the 21 DV Miami back in June had installed a 14.5-inch diameter by 15-inch pitch Reliance S/S prop to get optimum results. Connor had loaded this girl up with a bunch of gear and was ferrying a full crew of adults back and forth to Fire Island over the summer and had opted for the more moderate 14-inch pitch wheel for our test. In theory, this prop would improve hole shots, raise the engine speed by approximately 200 rpm when under a full/heavy load, while also shaving a few mph off of the low-to-mid cruising speed range. When comparing the Yamaha field tests to our own sea trials, this was precisely the case.

Under ideal conditions, the Yamaha engineers were able to tweak a top speed of 44.2 mph at 5950 rpm, with two onboard, one battery and 60 gallons of fuel in the tank. They achieved 27.2 mph at 4000 revs using 8.4 gph, for a net of 3.24 mpg; and 32.1 mph at 4,500 rpm drinking 9.8-gph, for a bottom line of 3.28 mpg. In contrast, our test boat was loaded with three big adults, two batteries, more than 500 pounds of gear and about 90 gallons of fuel. We were able to hit a top speed of 40.5 mph on the GPS at 6000 rpm, with optimum cruise at 4200 revs, where the 21DV Miami cruised at 25 mph while consuming 7.5 gph, for a net of 3.33 mpg. Ironically, this actually topped the “optimum” results that the factory folks had achieved under ideal conditions. There are always trade-offs when swapping out props and it appears that Connor had made a wise choice in downsizing to the 14-inch pitch wheel to accommodate more likely “real world” usage conditions for the average owner.

The huge 124-gallon fuel tank is yet another nuance that separates the Steiger Craft from the competitive pack, enabling this sportfisher to go a L-O-N-G way between fill-ups, especially when outfitted with the fuel-efficient Yamaha F200 that produces in excess of 3 mpg throughout most of its cruising range. Since Steiger Craft is a Yamaha OEM power partner, the standard powerplant on the 21 DV Miami is the time-proven 2.7 liter F150, with the 2.8 liter F200 and big brother 4.2 liter F225 and F250 V-6s as optional choices. If this were my rig, I would start off with the F200 as the base engine, since this seems to be a perfect pairing based on our sea trial, with considerations given to the F225 or F250 based on the planned mission usage. If you have a large family or ferry a big crew to your favorite fishing spots, the larger V-6s will give you just a bit more performance headroom and cruising/top-end speed, albeit with a commensurate reduction in fuel economy. The 124-gallon fuel tank gives you a lot of flexibility when searching for the right power.

This is yet another area where the Steiger Craft 21 DV Miami shines when compared to many of its pilot house competitors. Her long list of standard features gives it a turnkey feeling right from the get-go, with desirable optional features that will allow you to uniquely personalize your ride. The base price of $60,000 includes a Yamaha F150 four-stroke; auto bilge pump; twin Blue Sea waterproof accessory panels; stainless rails; Porta-potti; 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; sinker shelves on either side in the cockpit; 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; opening cabin hatch and twin portholes; V-berth with cushions; an aluminum outboard bracket with folding boarding ladder; plus pop-up cleats amidships. Attractive options include a recirculating livewell upgrade for the 42-gallon transom fishbox; windlass; cockpit bolster pads; a drop-down transom bench seat; raw water washdown; a five-rod overhead rocket launcher; spreader lights; Yamaha engine upgrades (F200, F225, F250); and your choice of hull color from eight possibilities.

Steiger Craft boats are solidly built and the 21 DV Miami is no exception. All fiberglass reinforcements are 100 percent hand-laid using proven materials like 24/15 fabmat, 24-ounce woven roving and uni-directional biaxial fiberglass reinforcements. The hull and deck of the 21 DV Miami are solid fiberglass, as is the cockpit sole, which is bonded to the grid support system and then foam-filled. The transom consists of multiple layers of fiberglass sandwiched around a pair of 3/4-inch marine plywood layers. The 21 DV Miami is offered with a fully enclosed transom and bracket layout only. According to Connor, this configuration spreads the outboard engine load and torque across a wider area of the vertical transom for enhanced support and longevity compared to the open/notch transom design.

One of the best features of all Steiger Craft boats is the transferable limited lifetime hull warranty. As Al Steiger told me a long time ago, “I can make this offer with confidence, because in nearly 40 years of building boats, we’ve never had to replace a hull.”

Length- 21 feet (not counting bracket)
Beam- 8 feet, 6 inches
Weight- 4,100 lbs dry (4,700 lbs with outboard)
Deadrise Aft- 21 degrees
Draft- 15 inches (engine drive up)
Fuel Capacity- 124 gallons
Standard Engine- Yamaha F150, in-line, four cylinder, four-stroke
Max Horsepower- 250 horsepower (single outboard)