The four boats in this roundup run the gamut from hard-core fishboat to multi-purpose fish/cruiser. If you're shopping for a boat in this size range, one of these should interest you. When it comes to fishing, builders tend to equip their boats, as standard, with enough gear -- fish boxes, rod holders, bait stations, etc., along with a few bells and whistles -- so a buyer can load his/her tackle aboard and go fishing. Each of these boats conforms to that practice: Read the following intros to the boats, then follow up with our Captain's Reports, and you'll see what we mean. Most of the boats come with T-tops or full hardtops, enclosed heads, maybe even an anchor windlass as standard. The days of buying a center console and having to add everything from rod holders to tackle drawers are long gone. (We'd like to see a windlass, anchor, and rode included as standard equipment aboard all but the smallest boats.) However, a few options can make all the difference, especially to a non-fishing member of the family, so check out each of these boats and see what extras you'll want to add to create just the right boat for your needs. You'll find full info on each of these four boats in our Captain's Reports, and please contact BoatTEST.com if you have questions. We'll do our best to answer them.
The Sailfish 290CC is a classic center-console boat for fish-obsessed folks. She comes standard with more rod holders than most of us could fill; two livewells, one in the transom and one in the leaning post; fresh and raw-water washdowns; four in-sole fishboxes; recessed rod stowage port and starboard; a walk-in console with a sink and room for a head -- both a Porta-Potti and an electric marine head with overboard discharge are available. The T-top is also optional, but there are a couple to choose from, with or without a solid enclosure. Each Sailfish 290CC is built to take it, with carbon fiber and Kevlar reinforcement in the hand-laid deck and hull; the basic laminate is comprised of knitted fiberglass fabric, which provides high strength without excess weight. The molded-fiberglass bottom stringers are filled with high-density urethane foam for added stiffness, as is the transom. Sailfish builds its boats on what they call the VDS -- Variable Deadrise Stepped -- hull. It starts with 24 degrees of deadrise at the keel for rough-water comfort, but flattens out in two steps to 22 degrees at the chine for more at-rest stability. Since lots of fishing takes place off-plane, the VDS is a feature for serious anglers to consider.
Mako's 284 CC carries a nameplate synonymous with serious fishing, and we think she does well. She maintains Mako's tradition of building ocean-tough center consoles, with her foam-injected hull supported by a one-piece fiberglass grid system, and a hull-to-deck joint that's both chemically bonded and mechanically fastened. This is traditional, time-proven boatbuilding, and is backed by Mako Assurance, which the builder says is "the best factory warranty in the business." (See the Mako website for full details.) The 284 CC comes standard with a fiberglass hardtop with rocket launcher, electronics box, and spreader lights; a leaning post with bait-prep station and sink; and an enclosed, gelcoat-finished head compartment with 6' (1.83 m) of headroom and a sink -- an electric head with overboard discharge is optional. Mako builds a nice triple-axle trailer for the boat, one that will appeal to peripatetic anglers; folks who trailer might want to remove the T-top for clearance reasons -- Mako will deduct $5,490 from the price of boats delivered topless. Mako offers many twin-outboard packages, from 200-hp Mercury Verados to twin 350 Verados with joystick piloting. We tested the 284 CC with twin 300-hp Verados, and saw 47.3 knots WOT, with a nice cruise in the mid-20-knot range. Our captain found the Mako 284 CC to be "big enough to handle most anything thrown at her but small enough to still be easy to handle," as well as well laid-out and well-built. In short, she's the kind of boat Mako has been building for decades, and worth investigating if you're trolling for a new fishboat.
The World Cat 295CC might be the center console for the non-fisherman, even though the boat's outfitted for angling. She has lockable stowage for six rods, 40 gal. (151 L) of livewell capacity, and over 1,000 quarts of insulated fishboxes/coolers/dry stowage. But she also has plush seating for six people forward of the console. Thanks to her catamaran hulls, the World Cat 295CC's 9'6" (2.9 m) of beam carries way forward, creating lots of area up here -- an optional filler cushion creates a sun pad, giving the 295CC some of the advantages of a big bowrider or deckboat. This is not only a nice place to hang out, but might convince a non-angling spouse, one who doesn't want to learn to rig live baits, to get on board with buying the boat. (The World Cat's stability at rest and smooth ride in a chop, both thanks to the narrow hulls spaced widely apart, will help with that, too.) The helm and companion seats have flip-down armrests and flip-up bolsters; the standard fiberglass hardtop provides shade and protection from the wind (it has a wraparound safety glass windshield with wiper). The console houses a marine head with holding tank and overboard discharge; we'd like to see a sink in here, too. Even a Pro Series anchor windlass is standard, with anchor, chain, and 300' (91.4 m) of rode. Whether you're a fishaholic or are just as happy "angling" on the menu of the local Dock-n-Dine, the World Cat 295CC is worth a look.
Boston Whaler's 280 Outrage rides on a new running surface that incorporates a flat pad at the stern for faster planing and less bow rise during acceleration. On plane, the pad reduces drag and adds WOT speed vs. a standard V-bottom. Our test captain measured 49.6 knots wide-open with a pair of 300-hp Mercury Verado outboards, more than two knots faster than the lighter-weight Mako 284 CC with the same power -- the Mako has a conventional deep-V bottom with 21-degree deadrise. Heavier boats usually pay a price in top speed, but not in this case -- apparently Whaler's new bottom works as planned. (The 280 Outrage is the heaviest boat in this foursome, frequently the case with built-to-last Boston Whalers.) Some of the 280 Outrage's extra mass is due to the boat's high level of standard equipment, including a complete array of fishing gear and a T-top with cockpit and bow floodlights, PFD stowage, and rod holders. You could fish this boat happily with just standard equipment. There's a portable head with pump-out in the console, a swim platform with stainless-steel ladder for days when the fish aren't biting, and a through-the-stem anchor roller to keep the hook stowed out of the way. A windlass is optional, as is a 150-foot (45.7 m), all-chain anchor rode. An upgraded T-top with a tempered-glass windshield and overhead electronics box is also optional. Options like these add weight and will bring the top speed down, but won't affect cruise speed (maybe you'll burn a bit more gas) -- but will add just the right icing to the Outrage 280 cake.
Again, don’t hesitate to drop BoatTEST.com a note if you have a question.