BEST CENTER CONSOLE FOR THE MONEY: Sea Vee 340
The best of anything is, of course subject to opinion. Here, I will present my arguments for the Sea Vee line of center consoles. With unusually little debate the entire crew at Taylored Exotics has come to the same conclusion for an all-a-round winner by taking into account the type of boating done in Miami and the Bahamas. Our Vessel Management Division affords us the opportunity to run a lot of different center consoles in varying conditions so that we can truly understand the pros and cons of each manufacturer. If you are interested only in fair weather boating and are careful about choosing weather conditions then save your money and buy whatever has the options you are looking for. However, if you are anything like us and are looking to cross the Gulf Stream in the winter months there are really only three manufacturers even worth looking at. In order from most popular to rarest they are Yellowfin, Sea Vee and Invincible.
Yellowfin is designed for the hardcore tournament fisherman that needs to get on top of the fish and back in the severest of sea conditions. Their boats have little to offer a family heading to the Bahamas for the weekend, but if you need to get there quickly and safely when a front bears down, Yellowfin gets the job done. I would also add that their distinctive bow flare makes for the nicest looking profile on the water. Keeping in mind that we do not run anything under 34 feet in length, that same profile greatly reduces driver visibility and requires any captain under 6’4” to stand in order safely see over the bow. Although, as previously mentioned, while very safe in angry seas the combination of an aggressively stepped hull and a narrow beam make the boat feel less sturdy than it actually is.
Sea Vee is currently our preferred form of transportation when heading out into the often confused sea located at the southern tip of the notorious Bermuda Triangle on our way to Bahamian water. Fear not, we are not brand loyal fan boys like most boat owners and we always maintain an open mind with every vessel that we sea trial as we constantly look for the next evolutionary design that will allow us to more effectively and efficiently run offshore. Sea Vee’s hulls have changed little over the last decade, only a minor update when four stroke engines started becoming the norm. This update raised the gunnels in the rear section of the boat and ruined the aesthetically pleasing profile afforded to the older shape. The vessel pictured at the top of the page is our current company mule and is originally a 2002 hull with Mercury Optimax 2 stroke engines that we purchased as a project boat in 2012 and spent over a year refurbishing from the waterline up. The most notable characteristics that make this 34 so amazing is the size, shape and thickness of the bow that blows water sideways rather than anywhere near the cockpit, even on windy days. There is seldom a hard hit even in the roughest water, only the distinctive whooshing sound of the water as it is being blasted hundreds of feet on both sides. We also have the same hull with a single Cummins diesel engine that we recently cored to install an underwater camera and we could not believe our eyes when we saw how thick the fiberglass was in the hull. These boats are really heavy and while this helps greatly off shore, the compromise is speed and efficiency. While speed can be fun when running through the bays or during the summer months, our usage also requires crossing in the open ocean during strong winter winds from the North. Safety and comfort are paramount in our rating of any vessel, particularly one that was designed for the worst case scenario as was the center consoles inceptions original purpose. Sea Vee has recently succumbed to market pressure and the ever increasing demand for efficiency has forced them to produce their own version of the stepped hull and to reduce the weight of their newer models. Only time will tell if they will continue to dominate the center console world with this redesign.
Invincible is the relative newcomer in the high end center console world and it has been a huge hit with its innovative modern design suited for both family outings as well as the weekend warrior fisherman. Especially coveted by the younger hip boater their boats profile rivals the good looks of the Yellowfin although the invincible is considerably more subtle. This allows for great vision while maintaining the bow flare that separates your $350,000 center console from the more budget friendly flat water boats. Invincible continues to revolutionize this market segment, and they have just launched a 42 center console with a hull design so efficient it rivals much smaller vessels. There is a spectacular Youtube video link below that shows the new 42 powered by triple Seven Marine 557s topping out at 81.6mph, previously unheard of in a vessel of that size and weight. Without real world experience I refuse to speculate, however a closer look and some off shore seat time are in my near future so that i may see if this will be our next go to boat at the office. From what I understand, they are using a combination of aggressive steps in the hull and a tunnel similar to a catamaran to create less drag and also eliminate the potential for “blow out” in a hard turn as some stepped hull boats are known for.
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