Bowriders, pontoon boats, cruisers, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats….lots of choice…which is the right choice for my family! Lets get started! Surfing the web…looking at some pretty awesome bowriders and pontoons? What about a center console…..the most sought after multi purpose family boat in North America? That thought not entered your discussion….well maybe it should be on top of your list. Covid 19 has raised the interest in family boating adventures with record sales in 2020 and boat builders sold out status for production for 2021.
Why is the center console one the most sought after family boat in the United States and why is every fiberglass boat builder working overtime to build one? It is the perhaps the most user friendly, easy care, full featured boat family boat available for decades. Today’s center console boats are luxurious, spacious, provide minimal care opportunity and are just plain great in rough water conditions. Okay… but the latest rush has been pontoons and high horsepower pontoons at that! Boaters on the Great Lakes, the east and west coast and the Caribbean have known about and selected the center console as the boat of choice for some time….thousands of them all powered by outboards.
Many long time center console builders names will be recognized. Brands such as Seafox, Boston Whaler, Grady White, Edgewater, Key West boats and Blackfin Boats to name a few. Just what are the advantages of a center console.
- Frequently less expensive than boats of the same size and power in different styles
- Self bailing cockpits…drain themselves…virtually unsinkable….very easy to clean…just hose them out…great with kids as are generally deeper in the cockpit area
- Way less canvas and nasty boat canvas domes to deal with on each boating adventure…less expensive cover replacements…significantly reduced drudgery of taking canvas on and off
- Built to handle the weather…can be left exposed to the elements all the time during boating season with little downside
- built to handle rough water situations….very stable…earned reputation as a dry ride in wind and waves
- very functional sun protection form the multifunction T Top
- All outboard powered for less weight and utilizing the latest high tech outboards
- Many with standard fully enclosed heads, change rooms and sinks
- Walk through transoms and in some models port side doors for ease of access rivalling a pontoon boat
- Extensive use of white or light colour gel coats for maximum sun protection of the hull for reduction in UV radiation damage.
The cottage bowrider…..just what are some of the challenges associated with this type of boating format?
- Fixed seating options like a car…not designed or intended for the persons on boards to change seating positions while underway. Persons in the bow are isolated from the cockpit conversation. Plus side is luxurious comfortable interiors.
- Loads of carpet, upholstery plus canvas to maintain and worry about…not designed to left uncovered. Not a kid friendly or family pet friendly environment. Like a good Lazyboy chair…
- Not fishing friendly…treble hooks and upholstery are not a good match
- Access to the water for water sports via the stern or rear of the boat is or can be limited or cumbersome. That swim platform can be awesome for the kids…
- Easy and controllable access to the dock when attempting to dock can be difficult and unwieldly. Full windshield provide maximum windage protection but limit access during docking and boarding.
- Ease of access for boarding frequently involves climbing upholstery or unsafe high step downs to the cockpit. Grand Pa and Grand Ma not going to like it…make sure to get rear entry if you want to take them for a ride frequently.
What about a pontoon boat…..lots on the lake these day of every size and seems to be high on many wish lists? Princecraft Boats which is Canada’s number one boat pontoon and fishing boat builder can’t build enough of the to meet demand. Right now Princecraft Boats is sold out for pontoons during 2021. A pontoon boat can be the right vehicle for a wonderful memorable day full family day on the water. However there are drawbacks to the pontoon boat as well.
- Lack of comfort and protection in cool, windy and wet situations. Spacious relaxing comfort…depends on your tolerance for weather temperatures and windage.
- Cannot provide the same quality of ride in rough water situations as a bowrider or center console. Can be a harsh ride in marginally conditions. They are a fair weather boat.
- The wake is not desirable for watersports above recreational level. Bowriders or center consoles do provide an improved experience. Tournament level watersports require a dedicated watersports boat like a Heyday brand Boat.
- The same investment level as a bowrider or pontoon.
- Difficult to trailer and can be awkward in boat ramps loading and unloading.
SeaFox 228 Commander 2020
SeaFox 228 Commander 2020
Note the very luxurious bow seating in the SeaFox which rivals that of a tradional bowrider. SeaFox perhaps has the finest bow seating of all center consoles. Added bonus on SeaFox and other center consoles is the change room/head located in the center console which is surprisingly large enough for adults to comfortably get the job done.
As a mater of full disclosure Huntsville Marine is the SeaFox dealer for Ontario. Huntsville Marine also carries center console type boats from Campion as well as bowriders from Monterey and Campion Boats. Pontoons from Princecraft and Manitou. Tom Welsh is the owner/General Manager of Huntsville Marine and has 34 years of boat purchasing experience. Boater’s Chat is one of the most widely read independent boat informational and boat purchasing blog in North America.
Something a little different but very interesting is the SeaFox 226 Traveler. This boat is a new developing hybrid center console/bowrider crossover.
I have included a link to a another web comparison on Center Console boats for and addition view on this topic.