We Compare 4 Dual Consoles - 05/16/2017

Dual consoles are a hybrid: They combine the comfortable forward cockpits of bowriders with the seaworthy hulls and spacious aft cockpits of offshore center consoles, with a bit of cuddy-cabin cruiser tossed in with the larger models. In place of the multiple fishboxes, bait wells and rigging stations of typical center consoles, dual consoles have comfortable seats in both the fore and aft cockpits, with plenty of under-seat and in-sole stowage for gear.

Creature Comforts

Most boats in this size range, including all four in this comparison, come with at least a basic wet bar set-up that can be upgraded with a cooking apparatus (usually a grill) and a refrigerator.

All four of this week's boats have well-equipped equipped head compartments in one console, and rudimentary “living quarters” in the second -- not enough for overnighting, but plenty comfortable for catching a nap during the day, or for time-outting cranky kids.

For Anglers, Too!

Fishermen need not flee the dual console, though: Most come with at least basic angling gear -- a fishbox and rod holders -- as standard, while some have all the bells and whistles of a first-class fishboat (or at least list them as options).

What to Look For. When shopping for a dual console (or any boat, for that matter), serious fishermen look for lockable rod and tackle stowage, plenty of rod holders, insulated fish boxes that drain overboard, and maybe a live well. Many dual consoles, including a couple in this roundup, have all those things. All that's missing is the 360-degree access to the gunwale that a center console provides.

Watersports

Not everyone is into towing baits. Swimming and skin diving enthusiasts want easy access to and from the water, and stowage for gear and tanks. Families want plenty of comfortable seating, an enclosed head, coolers for food and drink and a place to lay out lunch. You'll find all of these features among the boats in this roundup, too -- but maybe not all in the same boat, so you'll have to make a choice. Read on, and check our Captain's Reports.

Contact us at BoatTEST.com if you have questions.

Grady-White's Freedom 335

Grady-White Freedom 335

Grady-White's Freedom 335 is a boat that will please non-anglers as much as fish fanatics. The forward cockpit has a flip-up table on the port side for lunch or cocktail snacks. On the elevated helm deck amidships, rather than a matched pair of swivel buckets, Grady-White installed a bench seat at the helm (wide enough for two) and an L-lounge to port, with another Corian-topped table.

Standard Equipment. This area is shaded by the standard hardtop, so it's ideal for socializing and snacking even if the weather turns sour. Grady-White includes front and side curtains as standard, too.

The aft cockpit has 83 sq. ft. (7.7 sq. m) of open space with the two bench seats stowed. This is room enough for serious fishing, and, the Freedom 335 comes with plenty of gear: live well, two insulated fish/iceboxes (the aft one can be converted to a freezer), rod holders in the gunwale and on the hardtop, and horizontal rod stowage racks under the gunwales.

There's also a wet bar with refrigerator, drawers and trash bin; it can be upgraded with an electric grill. A 5-kW diesel genset is optional; it comes with a separate 12-gal. (45.4 l) fuel tank.

Each Console has Accommodations. The head is to starboard, with a VacuFlush toilet, shower and sink. To port there's a mini-cabin that will sleep two friendly folks. It has a bench seat that converts to a double berth, a hanging locker, drawers and stowage; a flat-screen TV is optional.

Power options are twin or triple Yamaha four--stroke outboards up to 900 hp total. We haven't tested this boat, so don't have performance figures. Grady-White says the Freedom 335 with run in the mid-40-kt range WOT with either twin 350s or triple 300s, cruise around 26 kts. Twin 300s are also available.

Both consoles and the helm area can be air conditioned. Other major options are a bow thruster, Yamaha Helm Master controls and a water heater; we think the water heater should be standard in a boat of this quality.

Power options are twin or triple Yamaha four--stroke outboards up to 900 hp total. We haven't tested this boat, so don't have performance figures. Grady-White says the Freedom 335 with run in the mid-40-kt range WOT with either twin 350s or triple 300s, cruise around 26 kts. Twin 300s are also available.

Grady-White Freedom 335

Grady-White Freedom 335 Interior
Grady-White Freedom 335 Interior
  • LOA: 33'6" (10.21 m) w/o engines
  • Beam: 11'7" (3.53 m)
  • Draft: 2'2" (.66 m)
  • Displacement: 11,900 lbs. (5,398 kg) w/o engines
  • Deadrise at Transom: 20 degrees
  • Fuel Capacity: 293 gal. (1,109 L)
  • Maximum Power: OBs, 900-hp total

The Sailfish 325DC

Sailfish 325DC

The Sailfish 325DC is the smallest boat in this roundup, at 31'6" (9.6 m) LOA without the engines. But the Sailfish 325DC can run with any other boats in this foursome: She has a proven hull, excellent construction, lots of standard equipment and the sea legs to head way offshore, or just to mooch around within easy reach of a sandy beach.

She's set up to be both a day-cruiser and a full-rigged fishboat, and comes standard with almost all the gear required for either role.

Bottom Design

The Sailfish 325DC rides on her builder's VDS (variable deadrise stepped) hull: Unlike a typical deep-V, with a single warping deadrise from stem to transom, the VDS hull changes deadrise in three discrete steps, from 24 degrees at the keel to 22 degrees at the chine.

The sharp centerline sections are intended to produce a smoother ride in rough water; at rest, the flatter deadrise at the chines makes a more stable platform for trolling, casting, or enjoying lunch at anchor. All hulls are a compromise, and this one is no exception.

Construction

Sailfish builds the 320 DC using top-quality materials and techniques. Her hull is reinforced with Kevlar in critical areas, and left to cure in the mold for four days to lock-in the designed shape, according to the builder. Supporting the hull while it cures is critical to maintaining its exact designed shape. Pull the hull early without support, while the laminate is still green, and distortion can occur. Carbon-fiber reinforcement stiffens the deck, according to the builder.

Family-Friendly

It's clear the builder's intention was a true dual-function dual console -- fishing and family fun. Sailfish rigs the 320 DC's cockpit with rod holders, a live well, shower and a retractable ski-tow pylon. A cockpit galley, with sink and fridge, can double as a bait-prep station; a grill is optional. There is an insulated fishbox in the cockpit sole, which will work just as well keeping refreshments cold.

Three fold-down seats provide perches around the cockpit – this is quite unusual, particularly because they are standard. A fourth fold-out seat is optional. There's also a cockpit table. Folding everything up leaves an open area for fishing or other active pursuits.

Power

Sailfish powers the 325DC with twin Mercury or Yamaha outboards to 700 hp, total. A pair of Mercury Verado 300s pushed our test boat to 46.1 kts WOT, cruised her most efficiently at 24.1 kts with a range of 377 n.m. That's enough to head offshore fishing, or cruise far and wide 'longshore.

Sailfish 325DC

Sailfish 325DC Interior
Sailfish 325DC Interior
  • LOA: 31'6" (9.60 m) w/o engine
  • Beam: 10'0'' (3.05 m)
  • Draft: 1'10" (.56 m)
  • Displacement: 10,500 lbs. (4,763 kg)
  • Deadrise at the Transom: 22 - 24 degrees
  • Fuel Capacity: 297 gal. (1,124 L)
  • Maximum Power: OBs, 700-hp total

Boston Whaler's 320 Vantage

Boston Whaler's 320 Vantage

Boston Whaler's 320 Vantage won the National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award in 2015, and even a brief look at this boat shows why. Our test captain did more than look -- he took her for a sea trial and said her handling is "exemplary." She's sure-footed even on hard, high-speed turns; rides smoothly in a chop thanks in part to her narrow entry, and in part to her weight -- she's the heaviest boat in this group -- and when it comes to comfort, weight talks.

Performance

She shows minimal bow rise getting on and coming off plane, so the skipper's sight lines are never blocked -- an excellent safety factor in crowded waters.

With a pair of 350-hp Mercury Verado outboards (max power for the 320 Vantage), our test boat ran 42.7 kts WOT, cruised best at 31.8 kts with a range at that speed of 315 n.m. The 320 Vantage isn't as fast wide-open as the other boats in this group -- that's the downside of weight -- but her cruise speed is highest (based on our tests and manufacturers claimed performance for boats we didn't test).

Best Cruise. When it comes to real-world performance, cruise speed is where it's at -- nobody except wannabe racers and guys with extra-deep pockets run boats wide-open all the time. We'll take a fast, comfortable cruise over top speed any day.

Family-Friendly

The 320 Vantage's port-side console is large, thanks to an offset, rather than centerline, passage into the forward cockpit. The added width allows a double-wide companion seat on deck, and makes room below for a convertible settee that seats several, and sleeps two when converted. There's a skylight overhead, a TV on the bulkhead.

The head compartment in the starboard console holds not only a VacuFlush marine toilet, but has a sink with Corian countertop, a pull-out shower and a shower seat.

A cockpit utility center can be accessorized to become a bona fide galley, or used as a bait-prep center.

Fishing Features

Unlike some builders, Boston Whaler doesn't include a long list of standard equipment, but lets the buyer decide how to rig the boat. For example, the 320 Vantage comes with basic fishing equipment -- insulated boxes, a live well and rod holders on the hardtop frame -- but a Fishing Package adds more rod holders, a rocket launcher, washdown, etc. A larger livewell with a light is also available. This practice keeps buyers from paying for gear they don't need, and lets them buy just the boat they want.

Most important, the 320 Vantage will “float level” if swamped, and is the only boat among the four compared here that will do that. Although swamping a dual console is not as likely as it might be in a center console, it is nice to have that insurance policy.

Boston Whaler 320 Vantage

Boston Whaler 320 Vantage Interior
Boston Whaler 320 Vantage Interior
  • LOA: 33'6" (10.21 m) w/o engines
  • Beam: 10'4" (3.15 m)
  • Draft: 1'10" (.56 m)
  • Displacement: 13,142 lbs. (5,961 kg)
  • Deadrise at Transom: 21-degrees
  • Fuel Capacity: 285 gal. (1,078 L)
  • Maximum Power: OBs, 700-hp total

World Cat's 320DC

World Cat's 320DC

World Cat's 320DC also has a console cabin that's compact, but adequate for overnighting two people. When converted from its settee persona, the berth is 72" x 54", with easy access/egress for both parties without disturbing the other (at least not much). There's a microwave oven, a TV, a cedar-lined hanging locker and rod stowage in the space, too -- all standard.

The well-equipped head compartment is opposite, in the starboard console; this is becoming the standard layout of dual-console boats.

And what about cooking? The cockpit galley -- World Cat calls it the Entertainment Center -- has the expected sink and stowage, but also a refrigerator and a 1300w electric grill, with an inverter to power it when away from the yellow cord. All of this is standard, too.

She is Big

Because she carries most of her 10'6" beam all the way forward, the World Cat 320 DC has a lot of cockpit room: She'll seat 14 people, according to her builder, on a variety of mostly convertible lounges and seats. An aft bench seat sits atop a cavernous stowage locker, big enough for dive-tanks or the optional 4.3-kW diesel generator. There's a hullside entry door for easy boarding from the dock, a transom door for passage to the swim platform with its ladder.

Lots of Standard Equipment

The 320DC has a fiberglass hardtop as standard; it carries LED spreader and down-facing lights, two overhead hatches and a drop-down TV -- yes, a drop-down TV. The tall windshield with glass side panels and a wide opening center panel, in combo with the hardtop, create almost an enclosed deckhouse.

Reverse-cycle A/C is also standard, and cools the berth and head as well as the helm area. A Lewmar Pro Series electric windlass, with remote switches, and an anchor and rode are also standard. Bottom line is, buyers don't have to add many options to the World Cat 320DC.

Performance

The World Cat 320 DC demands the smallest engines of any of these four boats -- 600 hp max -- thanks to her narrow, low-drag catamaran hulls. We haven't tested her, but World Cat claims a top speed of around 39 knots with twin 300-hp Yamaha outboards, and an economical cruise speed of around 21 knots. Using World Cat's figures, we calculate a cruising range of about 376 n.m. at that speed, using our usual 90% of total fuel capacity. That's a lot of cruising range, plenty for overnight or weekend cruising without a fuel stop.

Stable and Comfortable

Because she is a catamaran she is the most stable platform of the four boats here. That fact, together with her high windscreen and standard hard top may make her the driest boat of the four, as well. Americans have been slower to adopt catamarans as the rest of the world has largely done for certain applications, but this is a boat that should be considered in class.

As always, don’t hesitate to drop BoatTEST.com a note if you have a question about any of these boats.

World Cat 320DC

World Cat 320DC Interior
World Cat 320DC Interior
  • LOA: 32'2" (9.8 m)
  • Beam: 10'6" (3.2 m)
  • Draft: 1'4" (.41 m)
  • Displacement: 12,500 lbs. (5,669 kg)
  • Deadrise at Transom: N/A
  • Fuel Capacity: 279 gal. (1,056 L)
  • Maximum Power: OBs, 600-hp total
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