Choosing the right type of boat for your needs can seem daunting. Even if you know the style of boat you want, there are still a lot of variables to consider.
That’s where All At Sea come in. We’ve spoken to experts at leading boat manufacturers and put together a series of articles on what to look for before you buy. We’re going to cover a range of boat types, each created to fit a distinct lifestyle, with different criteria to fit varying needs.
Our first boat type is the ever-popular center console powerboat. For these types of boats it really comes down to one thing: hull design. Before deciding which center console is right for you, take a look at what the experts have to say.
Shelley Tubaugh, Grady-White
“The biggest thing is deciding what you’re going to do with the boat. People use center consoles for a lot of different activities. Are you going to be shallow-water fishing, boating on a lake or a river, or running miles offshore? You’ll want a deeper hull for the ocean and a shallower hull for inshore. And the size of the boat may dictate the angle of the deadrise and the draft, so that’s also a consideration.
“You want a hull that’s going to give you maximum comfort and performance based on how you intend to use it. If someone is shopping for a center console, I’d tell them to get a demo ride in a representative environment, so they know how the boat handles in the conditions they are most likely to encounter.”
Dale Martin, Sportsman Boats
“Stepped hulls don’t really give you any benefit until you reach about 50mph so if you don’t plan to run at high speeds for a lot of the time, you don’t need steps. It’s usage first, budget second, and you start looking from there. Unfortunately, most buyers today look at all this stuff on the Internet, and before they know it, they think they have their mind made up before they’ve even seen the boat. You need to talk to the dealers and ask questions, and then take a ride.
“You want a hull that’s going to get on plane quickly and smoothly, and that’s dry. Work the tabs and see how the boat steers and reacts. Run it wide open and put it into some hard turns. I tell people to drive it like a rental car.”
Alan Lang, Scout Boats
“Safety, ultimately, is the most important thing. With safety comes peace of mind and enjoyment. Look for boats with hulls that are hand laid. Any hull that is built with a chopper gun will be nowhere near as strong or as rigid, because the resin to fiberglass ratios are much higher.
“The next most important attribute is to have a hull that cuts smoothly through the rough-water chop. A smooth, dry ride is very important to be able to enjoy your time on the water. Nobody likes a boat that beats them up or gets them wet. Fuel economy and efficient designs are also things to consider.”
Bryan Harris, Everglades
“A center console can be anything from a 15-foot flats boat to a 40-foot offshore boat, so the first thing to ask is what the use of the boat will be. This will determine the kind of boat you want, and, to an extent, what kind of hull it has.
“If you’re looking for a pure offshore boat, then a deep-V is a good choice. What we see a lot of now are people who use their center console for island hopping, watersports and family outings. A variable deadrise hull that offers a little more versatility and stability at slower speeds is a good choice here. Another feature to look for is a reverse chine, which pushes spray down and away at the waterline. This results in a drier ride. Flared hulls may or may not always deflect spray because it’s already airborne.”
John Caballero, SeaVee Boats
“It’s all about the ride, but the tricky part is, it’s subjective. Each boat has its own personality. No one boat can do it all. Some things are more important to me and less important to others.
“When evaluating the ride, look at how the boat transitions from displacement to planing. Does it jump on plane quickly? Does it have excessive bow rise? How does the boat run up-sea and down-sea? Is it wet? Do you have to trim it a lot to get a decent ride? Is it stable at trolling speeds? All are important factors and speak to the balance and center of gravity. Secondary, but still important, are the shape of the hull and the aesthetics. Do you like the sheerline, or does it look weird? Is there the right amount of flare for your taste? Is the hull too pointy? Boating is about passion. You have to love how your boat looks and performs.”
Les Stewart, Jr., Contender Boats
“For offshore center consoles, the first step is to decide if you want a deep-V or a stepped hull. The traditional deep-V is tried and true. The stepped hull is newer, but with advancements in technology, they are becoming pretty popular.
“Stepped hulls drive differently, more like a high-end sports car. Some people want to go very comfortably, and some want to go farther, faster. So, what do you want? Is your goal to run 100 miles offshore, or do you only need to go ten miles to get to the fishing grounds?
“Look at the deadrise. This determines how the boat cuts through water and how stable it is at rest. Offshore hulls are usually deeper, but in general, most center console deadrise aren’t too far off from each other.”
KNOW YOUR CENTER CONSOLE BOATS
Contender Boats: Known for its tournament-proven, semi-custom designs, Contender offers center console models with deep-V and stepped hulls — both with wave-slicing, 24.5-degree deadrises — in sizes from 21 to 39 feet in length.
Everglades Boats: With 11 center console models from 21 to 35 feet, this builder of luxury family fishing boats utilizes variable deadrise hulls with sharp entries and deadrise between 19 and 25 degrees at the transom.
Grady-White Boats: The nine center consoles from Grady-White use variable deadrise hulls that are deeper forward — up to 30 degrees amidships — and shallower at the transom. This means a softer ride at sea coupled with stability while trolling.
Scout Boats: Scout builds center consoles from 17 to 35 feet in length using three distinct hulls designs — variable deadrise, variable deadrise with ‘air-assist’ tunnels and stepped. Maximum deadrise at the transom is around 22.5 degrees.
SeaVee Boats: This Miami-based, semi-custom builder uses a variable deadrise hull — up to 25 degrees at the transom — with a keel pad for a flatter running angle at speed. Its center console models range from 29 to 39 feet in length.
Sportsman Boats: A newer manufacturer founded by industry veterans, Sportsman makes versatile center console boats from 21 to 25 feet in length. Its variable deadrise hulls measure up to 21 degrees at the transom.
Don’t miss the 2nd part of the series – What to look for in a center console boat, we talked with our panel of experts about construction