The mission of the people who founded the concept of the Southport 27 CC was to build a beautiful, seaworthy, no-holds-barred offshore center console for serious anglers without regard to price. The concept was that the sheer beauty, robust construction, and meticulous fit-and-finish would speak for itself and appeal to wealthy anglers who wanted the very best.
*Design by C. Raymond Hunt & Associates.
Ray Hunt has been dead for decades put his understudy, John H. Deknatel, has headed the firm ever since. In fact Deknatel has designed far more boats than Hunt ever did and today is one of the world's leading powerboat designers in his own right. He and his veteran design team generally work on far larger boats and that is one reason why the Southport 27 stands out -- the firm rarely designs boats this small.
*Designed for heavy twin 4-stroke outboards.
Scroll back to the early 2000s. New, 4-stroke outboards had been introduced a few years before and they were heavier than the 2-stroke engines that most center console boats had been designed for. Tooling is expensive and many CC builders tried to make do with what they had or modify an old design. The Southport 27 was designed from the keel up for the new breed of engines.
*Low running angle getting on plane.
Because 4-stroke engines on old designs were slow to get on plane and often mushed up to plane with frightful running angles, the Hunt design team paid careful attention to weight distribution in the boat. As a result weight was distributed so carefully that she gets on plane fast with hardly a rise in the bow.
These days most new boats are generally well-tooled thanks to five-axis routers and several companies that specialize in just making tooling for American boat builders. When these boats were tooled, lots of money was spent on hand sanding and fairing of the tooling. Every fiberglass part has a soft, pleasing radius, something that takes hundreds of hours to achieve. The new company (see below) that now owns Southport has vast experience with composite tooling and knows how the molds must be maintained to keep producing top-quality parts. For example, all of the tooling is stored inside in a temperature-controlled environment when not in use.
Because the founders of the brand came from big boats they understood the importance of having large scuppers to evacuate water quickly from the cockpit. Likewise, Hunt's team also understood the importance of that for an offshore center console. As a result the Southport 27 has two large scuppers in the quarters of the cockpit that each lead to two straight pipes that take water immediately overboard. Additionally, the transom door opens out as it should on all boats in this class for emergency dewatering.
*Marelon thru-hull fittings.
It is a glass reinforced nylon composite. It exceeds standards for use set by the U.L. (Underwriters Laboratory) and the American Boat and Yacht Council (A.B.Y.C.). and since it isn't metal it won't corrode. Marelon fixtures for marine applications have been around for about 15 years and are made exclusively by Forespar. We don't see it used too often, mostly we think, because consumers are afraid that "plastic" valves will break. These thru-hulls are not "plastic" and have a good reputation when properly installed.
This is a process that is becoming widely used in larger, high-quality yachts, but it is not often seen in this size and class except among a few semi-custom builders. Southport is able to get a 70/30 glass-to-resin composition in its hulls which results in a boat lighter and stronger than one made with conventional hand lay-up. In fact, the dry weight of the 27's hull is 4,600 lbs. (2,090 kgs.) which is lighter than about half of the center consoles on the market in this class -- yet the boat is remarkably beefy. This builder claims that its vacuum-infused parts vary less that 1% in weight due to this process.
*Stringer system has wiring and plumbing chases.
The Southport 27's stringers are molded outside the boat and then bonded in with Plexus which has become the industry standard because of its strength. What the builder does, which is so unusual, is to run channels in these stringers fore-and-aft for its wiring and plumbing chases. The compartment for the fuel tank, storage compartments and sole for the head compartment are all part of the elaborate stringer system.
*Transom made of AIREX PXc-385.
As a replacement for wood and plywood in a transom tasked with holding heavy outboard engines with prodigious horsepower, PXc-385 has some advantages. First, it won't rot or soak up water. Second, it is light and compact. PXc-385 is a closed-cell, fiber-reinforced polymer foam with high mechanical properties well-suited as core material for structurally loaded sandwich applications such as a powerboat's transom. It is here that the parent company's experience with composites pays off.
*Console head entrance with a flip-up top.
If you have ever had to frog-walk into the tight compartment in a center console's helm console then you will appreciate the Southport 27's flip-up lid in the overhead that let's even 6'6" gents easily enter the head space. Why haven't more builders thought of that?
Major Features That We Like
As one might expect from a boat designed for veteran anglers where cost is not an object very few fishy features have been omitted. The boat has rod holders, livewells, fish boxes, a large bait prep area, etc. However, as we look over the boat we notice some other things that while not exclusive to this model, are nevertheless, good practice. They are--
*Carolina flare in the bow.
First employed on large convertibles and sportfishermen, notably on the Outer Banks, this design detail works just as well on small boats to throw water aside, discourage green water from coming aboard, and keeping spray down.
*29" (63 cm) deep cockpit.
Yes, we like to be close to the water when we bring fish board, but we also like to stay inside the boat when she is rocking and rolling offshore.
*Polyethylene fuel tank.
It is a plastic of sorts and not metal, and that's what's good about it. Water sitting on top of an aluminum tank can cause corrosion. Likewise for an aluminum tank sitting in bilge water or on soft, spongy material that can soak up and hold water and corrode out the bottom of a tank.
*Reverse transom, rounded quarters and tumblehome.
When it comes to sweet lines on the water, the stern of the Southport 27 is hard to beat.The Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine is where the Southport boats are being built now.
The New Owners of Southport
Regularly readers of BoatTEST.com know that we think one of the most important aspects of boat buying is to make sure the owner of the company has integrity and will stand behind the product. For that reason we are happy to report that last year Southport was purchased by Kenway Corp., of Augusta, Maine.Ironically, this company was started in 1947 by Kenneth G. Priest, Sr., to build runabout boats. Soon the company got into fiberglass, building Kenway Boats until 1966, when the business diversified into industrial applications for fiberglass laminations. Forty years later the company had grown to build composite products for a dozen different industries. This diversification -- and absence from the boat business -- gave it the economic stability to weather recessions.But the last few years an irresistible opportunity came knocking in the boat business. In 2007 Kenway Corp. bought Massachusetts-based Maritime Skiff Inc. which builds 18 boat models up to 25'. More recent acquisitions include Bristol Harbor Boats which builds two cc models, as well as to take a stake in Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine. Already the latter is making quite a name for itself and is building a number of large recreational vessels, some one-off, several production powerboats, in addition to doing repair and refurbish work for large vessels of all kinds. It is at Front Street Shipyard that the Southport 27 CC is being built.
The Hull Bottom is Designed For Hard Work
The first time we saw the Southport 27 it was out of the water at a boat show sitting on a metal stand. This was unusual, because most builders drape blue curtains around the bottom of their boats to keep people from crawling under. Fortunately for us we got a guided tour of her bottom by one of the company's principals.Forward the entry is quite sharp (something like 65-degrees deadrise) to cut through waves and keep the boat from pounding in a chop. Amidships she has about a 30-degree deadrise in a continuously variable V-hull which warps back to 22-degrees at the transom.Her lifting strakes are large and sharp. Not only do they provide lift and knock the spray down, but they also provide stiffening, sort of like stringers on the outside of the boat. Her hard chines are broad. Aft, at the transom, she has a rounded keel, not a flat one as seen on some boats in class.
Over the last nine years we have never been asked by any of Southport's various owners to test this attractive, pedigreed vessel. So while she looks good at boat shows and we have the highest regard for her designer we can only say so much about the boat. Her maximum horsepower rating is 500 and we would certainly consider going the max, but we wonder how much slower she will really be with two 200s and the right props? And we note in some of the publicity pictures she is powered by 225-hp twins, so how bad could that performance be? The models we have seen are rigged with Yamaha engines, but if another brand is preferred perhaps the Southport dealer can work something out. (The boat can only be purchased through dealers -- not factory direct.)We're told that after the deck is on that foam is pumped into the voids in the hull. This gives the boat a solid feel -- just pound on the hull and you'll hear a thud. According to the builder its foaming process gives the boat "basic" flotation which means if the boat is swamped some part of it will float above water. We wonder what it would take to make her float level if swamped? But, of course, that is the reason for the large, efficient scupper system and the outward opening transom door.We note that one dealer is selling a new 2012 Southport 27 CC for $175,000 powered with twin Yamaha 250s. That price is dear in this size center console, but on the other hand, with nearly everything done right and with her breath-taking good-looks, for many she will be well worth it. Certainly we would place her in the rarified atmosphere of the top six production brands in the center console field of 75 or so marks on the market.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Standard|
|Washdown: Raw Water||Standard|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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