11 center console boats for all seasons
For boaters of a certain age, their first introduction to a center console powerboat was probably the 16ft Boston whaler in the 1960s. Traditionally, boats were arranged like automobiles: long hood (front deck), windshield, steering controls on a dashboard and then seats for guests.
Breaking the rules, the Boston Whaler placed the controls on a large box amidships, leaving not only room fore and aft, but ample circulation space either side. Anglers have embraced the idea of being able to fight a fish without obstruction around the boat and families have loved the open space. Never mind, with a smoky 50 horsepower Evinrude speedboat, those early whalers could barely hit 40 miles per hour and they would shake your fills in choppy water. The center console was born.
Today, center consoles dominate the boating market, but everything has been greatly improved: construction, speed and comfort on board. These early whalers had room for a few sandwiches and sunscreen inside the console, while some of today’s center consoles have enclosed cabins with air conditioning, shower stalls and full galleys, while retaining the promenade bridges. Even the smaller center consoles have flush heads (toilets) inside the console, making them all-day boats for families.
And while my wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed, thinks “roughing it” means slow room service, she’d happily spend a weekend in the islands on several of them. Guess which one.
So here are 10 interesting center consoles on the market in the Tampa area, ranging from 24 feet to 48 feet (in alphabetical order). Enjoy your time on the water.
If you want to turn heads, this 28-footer from Finland sports racy styling from German performance builder Porsche Brabus. The wheelhouse with double row seats allows navigation in all weathers. Twin 500 horsepower Mercury outboards deliver speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour for the carbon-reinforced hull, and the cockpit features a wet bar with grill and refrigerator. Inside the walk-in console is an electric flush head and sink. To enjoy the time on a sandbar, a sun shade protects the foredeck, supported by carbon fiber rods.
Building on what it started, Whaler is now producing multiple series, but the new 380 Outrage takes it to the next level with a second cockpit above the fiberglass hardtop. Powered by triple or quadruple Mercury outboards for a total of 1,800 horsepower, the top speed of over 60 miles per hour is balanced by amenities, such as an outside summer kitchen and the air conditioning at the helm and in the cabin with a double berth and an enclosed head with a shower. Sufficient storage space is provided for bulky items, such as scuba tanks, and a gyro stabilization system is available. A feature of early Boston Whalers is the unsinkable hull for peace of mind.
From this legendary 1874 Sarasota builder comes a sleek, sleek center console with a reversible helm seat for entertaining wrap-around seating up front, a side door for divers, and a head inside console. Powered by a single 400 horsepower outboard motor, the dash offers room for a full Garmin electronic display. The standard fiberglass hardtop includes side window protection against wind or spray.
The flagship of its fleet, this 45-foot Everglades is unsinkable and powered by 425 horsepower Yamaha quad outboard motors. Two rows of seats are behind the helm, the cockpit has double dive doors, fish boxes in the cockpit and forward, two 50 gallon live bait wells and 40 rod holders. Anglers will appreciate the built-in storage drawers and trays for fishing tackle, as well as the Gemlux carbon fiber stabilizers. An upper helm station on the fiberglass hardtop overlooks the fishing action, complete with all controls and electronics. The cabin is designed for long weekends, with a king-size convertible berth and mini-galley, as well as an enclosed head with shower.
Clearly aimed at a fishing public but with family characteristics, this 23-footer has a 15-gallon livewell and an aft door to take fish on board or enjoy the water from the bathing platform. Seating can accommodate up to 10 guests, including lounges forward, while the console contains an oversized main compartment for all-day outings. Easily trailerable (3,900 pounds), it handles up to a single 300 horsepower outboard motor, but the standard 250 horsepower kicker gives a top speed of 44 miles per hour and fuel-efficient cruising at 32 miles per hour. hour.
Bringing a touch of French flair, this Jeanneau center console was designed by Sarasota yacht designer Michael Peters, known for his seaworthy hulls. At 24-foot-4, he has a top speed of over 46 miles per hour with a single 300 horsepower Yamaha and a range of 200 miles at 30 miles per hour. Large platforms on either side of the speedboat make boarding or swimming easy and for time spent at the sandbar, optional sun shades protect the forward and aft cockpits. Perfect for weekend cruising, water skiing, fishing and diving, the console hides a double berth, a mini-kitchen and even a private toilet, allowing you to spend the night.
The Family Sportsman name says it all with fishing features like aerated livewells, a side door for divers and swimmers, and a head in console. Powered by twin outboards of up to 600 horsepower, this 4,800 pound yacht is trailerable and with no timbers in the construction, there is no worry of possible rot. Flexible forward seating converts from lounges to sunpads, while anglers will appreciate the two aerated live bait wells and 22 rod holders. The protective fiberglass hardtop with powder coated brackets is standard, as is the anchor windlass and built-in 94-quart cooler.
This Mississippi builder has carved out a niche with seaworthy fiberglass boats for deep-sea anglers, like MarineMax’s 2302, which – contrary to the current rage – features a single Yamaha outboard from 200 horsepower to simplify maintenance while maintaining speed. Tall, flared hull sides (no wood!) ensure dry cruising with enough fishing features to delight anglers: a bait box, double-insulated fish boxes with drains, rod holders and rod holders. Families will appreciate the private head inside the console with a lockable door, as well as the wraparound boat seats with table.
From this longtime builder of fishing favorites comes the entry-level 24-footer with unexpected luxury touches, like the standard fiberglass hardtop with powder-coated struts and wrap-around tempered-glass windshield . The forward seats have lounge backs and the double-wide helm seat converts to a lean-over position for fishing. The walk-in console sports a private head, while fold-down rear seats and a 45-gallon Yeti cooler provide all-day fun. Standard power is a Yamaha 300 outboard, giving a top speed of nearly 50 miles per hour.
The largest outboard motor boat Tiara has built, this 48-footer features front and rear entertaining areas, plus up to 1,800 horsepower with three Mercury V-outboard motors. 12 for 50 knots. Innovative rotating lounge seats in the cockpit allow for al fresco dining next to the outdoor galley, while additional seating can be found forward. Inside, two private cabins include a double island berth, as well as a bathroom with shower cubicle. Sliding doors protect the cockpit, which is air-conditioned. An innovative sundeck folds out from the cockpit side to increase space and add to the fun of watersports.
From yacht builder Viking comes an entry into the center console wars with twin 900 horsepower Mercury or Yamaha outboards, plus amenities, such as gyro stabilization and a bow thruster. With an appealing heritage for anglers, there are oversized live bait wells and fish boxes below deck to store your catch. Inside, the spacious head includes a shower. With the patented Stepped-V vented hull, the V-33 easily reaches 70 miles per hour.
There are of course many other center console boats on the market. You’ll find more than a few choices at Tampa-area boat dealerships, so check them out, give them a try, and have fun on the water.
Axo by Nautical Ventures, nauticalventures.com(727) 939-8900
Boston Whaler MarineMax, marinemax.com(727) 536-2628
Chris-Craft Viage, viagegroup.com(727) 270-9009
EvergladesTom George Yacht Group, tgyg.com(727) 734-8707
Grady-White quality boats, qualityboats.com(727) 530-1815
Jeanneau Thunder Marine, Thundermarine.com(727) 381-4444
Key West Family Watersports Centers, familyboatingcenters.com(813) 884-1395
MarineMax, marinemax.com, (727) 536-2628
Pursuit Quality Boats, qualityboats.com, (727) 530-1815
Tiara Quality Boats, qualityboats.com, (727) 530-1815
Valhalla Galati Yachts, galatiyachts.com727-334-0151
Chris Caswell is an award-winning writer and the former editor of several yachting magazines. He’s appeared on Oprah as a nautical lifestyle expert and hosted the Marine Voyager series on Speed Channel.