The Century is built using more conventional methods, having a molded-fiberglass stringer system. The hull-to-deck joint is screwed, bolted, and secured with an adhesive/ sealant. Fishboxes are insulated with blown-in foam, as they are with the other boats, except the Whaler. Though quieter than those on the Boston Whaler, the Century's hatches slammed too loud during our drop-shut test.
The Cobia has preformed foam stringers that are laid in place and then glassed in. This usually results in a light, strong structure. And at 4,080 pounds, this boat is no exception. The hull-to-deck joint is secured with an adhesive/sealant and chrome-plated stainless-steel screws dipped in epoxy. It's the only boat here that doesn't use bolts. The hatch on the fishbox slams loud enough to spook fish a mile away. In the cabin, the rope locker's hatch isn't hinged and therefore gets in the way when open.
Wood is still good-at least in the eyes of Grady-White. Like all Gradys, this boat has rot-resistant plywood stringers and frames that are encapsulated with fiberglass. The hull and deck are held together with bolts, screws, and an adhesive/sealant. The fishbox hatch has a gas-assist strut, so there's no slamming. With a 1,100-gph pump, washdown pressure was the best of the bunch.
As with the Cobia, the Pro-Line uses lightweight preformed foam stringers and frames. The hull-to-deck joint is bolted, screwed, and sealed with an adhesive/sealant. Fishbox hatches are well fitted, and they fell shut with a satisfying clunk instead of a slam. Unfortunately, the anchor locker opens into the walkaround recess; one misstep while it's open could rip it off its hinges.
These boats are fast and well built. But if you can't fish from them, what's the point? With its transom seat folded away, the Boston Whaler has an unencumbered fishing space of 36.4 square feet. There's a 5' 9 1/2" reach over the outboard from the cockpit. Although that's a long way when fighting a lively fish, all our boats are only inches apart in this specification. The Whaler's tackle locker has four small boxes. The raw-water washdown, coaming bolsters, and livewell are items Whaler deems optional ($1,804). We don't. Two gunwale-mounted rodholders come standard. There are rodholders under the gunwales and in the cabin. At 8" wide and 6" deep, the sidedecks are navigable with a hot fish on the line. At its lowest point, the bowrail is 1'7"high-just above the American Boat and Yacht Council's standard of 2' from the deck to the top of the rail. The fishboxes are the biggest of our group, large enough for hundred-pound-plus tuna.
The Century's 28 1/2 square feet of cockpit was the smallest of the group. We like that the 42-gallon livewell has a dedicated 800-gph pump and a gasket around the hatch. Twin tackle lockers are housed in the transom, where you'll also find a cutting board and sink. More tackle can be stowed in two trays under the helm seat. Coaming bolsters and four gunwale-mounted rodholders come stock, and there are covered under-gunwale rodracks. The sidedecks are only 6 1/2 " wide and 1" deep, and you have to take two steps up to reach them. Getting to the bow with a fish on the line will be hairy, although the 2'1" bowrail helps.
At 42.9 square feet the Cobia has the most spacious cockpit. The boat comes with coaming bolsters, two cutting boards, four gunwale-mounted rodholders, three under-gunwale rodracks per side, and knife and pliers holders. There's also a pullout transom shower long enough to reach both cutting boards. And a 25-gallon livewell is centered in the transom with a dedicated 800-gph pump. The fishbox is too small to handle pelagic big game. Go forward and you see that this boat defies the normal description of a walkaround. There's a single step up to a 7"-wide, 4 ½ "-deep sidedeck ringed by a 2' bowrail. But the sidedecks end near the front of the cabin, where you need to step up onto the cabin top to continue going around the boat. This gains some headroom below but makes it tough to fish 360 degrees.