Captain's Report by Capt. Dan
The Tahoe Q7i SF is designed for families who want a boat that will allow them to partake in a variety of activities, including fishing, cruising, swimming and tow sports. Measuring 20.5' (6.24 m) in length, the Q7i is the largest of three-model ski-and-fish fleet for 2012, which includes a Q4i (18.5'/5.63 m) and a Q5i (19.5'/5.94 m) model. With a 8' (2.43 m) beam the Q7i will fit into most peoples' garages. At a towing weight of 3,631 lbs. (1,650 kgs.) she can be towed with a medium-sized to large automobile. So, to sum up the mission of this boat it is to be an all-around family watersports boat that can be easily trailered and fit into a garage at an affordable price.
Since the Q7i is supposed to be a ski & fish boat, let's start with fishing and see what kind of amenities she has. The front fishing position features a 54-pound-thrust bow-mounted Minn Kota trolling motor with a wireless foot control that keeps clutter to a minimum. The motor is fitted to a removable mount that is handy if you don’t plan to use electric power on a particular outing. So if you are going to take the kids out tubing, simply stow the Minn Kota in your car. The tradeoff is that the bow-motor’s mounting plate replaces the bow cleat, which is used when anchoring a boat. The builder does it this way because that is what customers have asked for. We don't like anchoring a boat from any part of the boat except the bow, so we'd have the dealer mount a pop-up cleat on the forward gunwale as close to the stem as possible. You'll have to use one of the stowage bins forward for the anchor and line.The Q7i comes standard with a deep-cycle battery to power the electric motor, and optional on-board chargers to keep it and the startling cell conveniently juiced for use.
While some fish and ski models address fishing rod and tackle storage as an afterthought, the Q7 offers rod racks and flush-mounted tackle storage trays specifically for those purposes. We’d like to see a couple of flush mounted rod holders fitted to the tops of the gunwales forward and aft for temporary placement of rods while fishing or trolling, perhaps as an option. Of course the dealer can add these for you in the after market.
If you plan to do much fishing from the Q7i, we recommend the optional Lowrance X50 top-mount fishfinder. In addition to water depth, which is what you get from a digital depth finder unit, a fishfinder offers information on the size, location and number of fish under the boat, as well as any structure and bottom features.
The Q7i features a fishing deck aft that with the addition of a snap-in pad converts in to a sunning lounge. The designated access aft to the deck and the swim platform features a ‘leg up’ from the cockpit via a step that leads to a recessed, skid-resistant walkway along the port side. All the upholstery aboard the Tahoe is treated with a stain resistant top-coating that parents will appreciate the first time a (literal) can of worms is spilled on a seat.
Access to any boat’s engine compartment is important for routine maintenance and repairs, and the aft-hinged hatch over the Q7i’s engine area makes that convenient right from the cockpit. Note how much working room there is around the engine and the starting battery – even with the aft seat stowed in its designated position.
The helm console offers decent leg room with a partial wrap-around to protect legs from wind and spray. The gauges, which include speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, trim gauge, oil pressure and water temperature, are set high enough over the wheel for easy viewing, and the ignition and toggle switches are concentrated in a protected position above and behind same.Both the helm seat and the companion seat are bucket seats that swivel. That makes the companion seat ideal for the spotter when towing.
Tow Sports Features
Amenities for towing are the towing ring on the transom, the swim platform and the three-step ladder. The companion seat swivels for a spotter. There is an AM/FM/stereo as standard along with an MP3 player port and four speakers. The swim platform and three-step swim ladder are pretty much standard on this type of boat. Probably the most important aspect of the Q7i for towing sports is it's hole-shot time.
Storage and Trailer Features
Tahoe designers tuck lots of storage options aboard their 20-plus-footer, including open in-wall storage to starboard of the passenger seat for bulky items that need to remain accessible. A large locker under the cockpit sole is for skis, wakeboards, the boat’s standard paddle, or additional fishing rods, and is accessed through a wide-mouthed hatch located between the console seats. Often wakeboards will fit in the sole storage and it also depends on how many you have. We'd check this compartment with your actual boards. If it is not large enough for all of your gear then consider the optional towing arch with racks. The center section of the bench seat at the aft end of the cockpit hides a large, insulated ice chest.
As testament to the designs’ popularity, there are a number of fish and ski models in the 20-foot-class available in today’s boating market. Some offer a reasonable number of fishing options but most lean toward the easier-to-please cruise-and tow-sports market. Not so this new Tahoe, which boasts a good balance between what it offers families who want to include fishing among their active watersports pursuits – and at "national" price of $32,995 when powered by a MerCruiser 4.3L 190-hp V-6 and including the trailer above.
Standard and Optional Features
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