Captain’s Report by Capt. Dan Armitage--
In a field that is crowded with lots of choices it sometimes seems that all of the boats are pretty much the same. As we keep saying -- the difference is often in the details. And, in fact, the differences are in things that the naked eye cannot even see.
Probably the Princecraft 170's most distinguishing feature is her thick, harder aluminum construction and double-thickness where it counts, along the chines and the keel. Read the paragraph below to find out all about it.
To us hull design is one of the most important things about a boat and this is where Princecraft shines. First, it's boats are designed on CADs for CAM construction to tight tolerances. Second, we like the boat's 7'11" beam which is from 4" to 5" (10 cm to 12 cm) more than most other boats in class. That together with the 170's reverse chine, makes this boat about as stable as one can be in this size range.
We like the freeboard of the 170 WS which is a bit higher than many other aluminum boats this size. That will help keep water and spray out on snotty days. Further adding to creature comforts is the boat's high, wraparound windshield, something you often don't see on a boat this small.
In 2001 Princecraft was purchased by the Brunswick Corp, the largest boat builder and marine engine maker in the world. That means that there is a sophisticated team behind the brand. It also means that the engine and the boat are made by the same company so there can be no finger-pointing if issues arise.
Princecraft boats have been built for more than half a century specifically to withstand "local conditions." That means Quebec, a place that can have high winds, drenching rains and rock-riddled waters. The hull of the Xpedition 170 WS is constructed using 5052-H36 aluminum, which is thicker than the standard H34 grade used by many aluminum boat manufacturers. The same characteristics that make the stiffer alloy a good choice for boat hulls built to face rocks and rough conditions makes it harder – and more expensive – to work. That is, unless you own your own tooling and presses built for working with the alloy, which Princecraft invested in when they decided H36 added an advantage to their boats.
The hull of the Xpedition is double-plated with H36 aluminum at the bow, along the chines and down the keel. The reverse-chine hull is assembled using rivets, a construction method that can allow the surface to absorb more stress and is easier to repair than welded aluminum. Princecraft double-rivets the seams connecting the hull, sides and transom.
Rivet vs Welded Aluminum Boats?
No, we're not going to get into that debate because both methods have their benefit points. The Brunswick Corp owns aluminum boat companies that make them both ways. Our take away from that is that warranty expense, safety, and other issues between boats made in these different ways is not significantly different, or else the corporation would standardize on one or the other of the best construction method. Suffice it to say that in almost all cases aluminum boats are lighter than fiberglass boats of the same size, and there are more fuel efficient and can go faster -- all things being equal. The 170 WS weighs 1,055 lbs. (479.5 kgs.). Aluminum is also more puncture-resistant than fiberglass and that is important in the north. Both aluminum and fiberglass gelcoat oxidize, but as Princecrafts are specially painted, the boat should look new for years to come with proper maintenance. (Many boaters like the look of oxidized aluminum boats.)
The Xpedition offers lockable storage for up to nine fishing rods with a maximum length of seven feet in a pair of lockers that flank the cockpit (blue-colored areas below) and feature racks and tubes to keep the rods separate and secure.
Flip-up jump seats built into the Xpedition’s aft casting deck offer extra seating and hide storage lockers (rust-colored areas) forward of the boat’s 21 gallon livewell. A second livewell with a 16 gallon capacity is located beneath the front casting deck (purple-colored areas).
Special Livewell System
Princecraft is proud of its livewell system, and that is important, because the livewells are the most complicated systems on a 17' aluminum boat. The company calls its ProFlo Plus livewell system "virtually maintenance free." It has timed aeration and recirculation with two pumps, one used for overflow and the other for continuous circulation. We like this system because it is designed and manufactured in-house.
Princecraft makes no bones about it: the new Xpedition line for 2012 is not the boat for a family which wants to enjoy a wide variety of watersports. It’s more a boat for the avid angler who may want to take the family out fishing from time to time and keep them comfortable in North country conditions that can quickly turn south to get downright nasty. The rig is built to take the rough, open waters and rugged shorelines encountered by walleye, pike, laker and muskie fishermen who face unimproved roads and questionable launch ramps just to get to and from the water. Note we said “rig,” for even the standard trailer is over-built to take a beating, with radial tires to stand up to secondary roads and carry the added weight that fishermen are prone to stow aboard their towed boat. If any if this receives an affirmative response from you and the conditions you face at home, on the road and on the water, it may be well worth your time to investigate the Princecraft Xpedition 170 WS for 2012.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!