On a fine November morning in Carolina Beach, NC, I waited with Scott Harris, VP of Sales and Engineering at McKee Craft, and the rest of the crew sipping warm coffee and waiting for the fog to clear out. It finally lifted after two hours and we set off to test one of two new models from McKee.
The Freedom 24 is the little sister of the tournament class fishing boat they have, the Freedom 28. Pulling into the slip next to the 28, they are literally nose-to-nose in height at the bow and appear identical at first glance. Under close observation, you begin to see some of the differences like the trailerable 8’6” beam. This model comes to you with all the features of the Freedom 28, so you certainly can fish the boat like the best.
She measures 24’0” overall and needs 22” of clearance when going into the shallows. This “unsinkable” model weighs in at 3600 pounds dry and can handle up to 10 people for a long day of fishing. She is designed to carry up to a maximum of 400-hp combined and needs a minimum of 225 horses in a single drive arrangement. She has a high interior freeboard ranging from 26”-36” making it very safe to move around, even in rough wave action. Her sharp bow entry and 24.5 degrees of deadrise will also give you a smoother ride and greater agility.
The Freedom 24 comes loaded with all the needed features for a successful trip. In fact, McKee Craft doesn’t even have an options list. They do have lots of room for the addition of flat panel displays and a riser on the top of the helm for a compass. Her pressure foam filled construction allows McKee to give you a ten year hull warranty. Wrap-around bolsters mean you can fight a fish from the bow to the stern and not have skid marks on your thighs when you finish. Toe kick space is 3 ½” around the entire deck.
The livewell system is a 52-gallon lighted box and the fish boxes are outfitted with macerators. The fresh and saltwater washdowns are on retractable coils so you don’t have to keep stepping over the hoses. The cockpit is lit with a florescent light over the helm, one spot on the front of the T-top and two on the back. Tackle can be stored in a two-drawer tackle box or a center three-drawer area. There are plenty more standard features on this model, too many to try to go through in this article.
Up on the Bow
The anchor locker has locks to hold the anchor in place in the rough stuff. The bow rails are recessed, as well as the pop-up cleats to prevent snagging your lines. In the bow, you have a huge 300-quart insulated box for fish or whatever you want to keep cold.
The helm console has a huge dry storage area that can be fitted with a porta-potti. Tilt hydraulic steering is standard fare on this model as is the T-top with more rod rocket launchers. A lockable electronics box adds space for more gear and is mounted in the T-top.
When we finally were able to test the 24, she proved she could jump up onto plane in just 3.2 seconds, and she was moving past thirty miles per hour in less than 6.9 seconds. At 3000 rpms, she was cruising along just under 17 mph burning about 3 gallons per hour. At full throttle the 24 topped out at around 6200 rpms running 46 miles per hour and burning around 15.6 gph. Scott and I felt like he needed to do some more work with engine position and props, and he mentioned that this boat is capable of better than 50 mph when dialed in.
Underway, she was a pleasure to maneuver in the marina and was eager to attack the rolling surf out of the cut into the Atlantic Ocean. We were running new models of Honda’s 150 E-Spec Four Strokes with 19 pitch props. On our test run she could be set on course and would hold the bearing even if you unwisely let go of the wheel. The 24 cut hard turns and dove through large wakes, never shedding a drop in the cockpit.
The cockpit is designed to shed the water to the sides of the deck and quickly out the scuppers. Several large rollers had us landing quite firmly, but without the bone-jarring crash you might expect from the challenge. Sure, I had to prepare for the landing, but I didn’t hit the floor like I have with some other rides. I figured out that I either was standing too close to the helm or that the position needed some knee room. I crashed my knees into the center console, enough to pay attention the next time around. The only real complaint I could try to come up with was the long step from the front fold-down step to the bow platform, but that really is getting too picky.
If fishability, safety and ride in a complete package is important to you, the new Freedom 24 from McKee Craft should be high on your list of boats to test drive.
McKee Craft Freedom 24 Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the McKee Craft Freedom 24 is 40.3 MPH (64.9 KPH), burning 20.9 gallons per hour (GPH) or 79.11 liters per hour (LPH).
Best cruise for the McKee Craft Freedom 24 is 23.1 MPH (37.2 KPH), and the boat gets 3.08 miles per gallon (MPG) or 1.31 kilometers per liter (KPL), giving the boat a cruising range of 499 miles (803.06 kilometers).
Tested power is 2 x 150-hp Honda 4-stroke (outboards).
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels go to our Test Results section.
Standard and Optional Equipment
McKee Craft Freedom 24 Standard and Optional Equipment
Outlet: 12-Volt Acc
= Standard = Optional
McKee Craft Freedom 24 Warranty
McKee Craft Freedom 24 Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to insure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
All fuel consumption numbers is the total are for all engines in the boat. Speeds are measured with Stalker ProSports radar gun or GPS. Fuel consumption (gallons per hour) measured with Floscan digital fuel-flow meter or by on-board factory-installed diagnostic instruments. Range is based on 90% of published fuel capacity. Sound levels determined using Radio Shack digital decibel meter on A scale. 68 dBA is the level of normal conversation.