We use the term "deck boat" as if everyone knows exactly what one is. But that isn't the case, especially in 2005, when several wildly different styles have necessitated subcategories. So, like someone new to cards, before you can get into the game you need to know some basics.
All deck boats share a few common traits: spacious seating, easy access, generous storage, shallow draft and quick on-plane stability. The easiest way to pick one from a lineup of bowriders is the bow — the deck boat is much beamier, or wider, throughout. It's like deciphering a diamond from a heart. After that, because of recent innovations, things get all unsorted, like a game of 52-card pickup. We pull out the most interesting styles, one by one.
The Trick Card
Tracker Marine puts fishing at the forefront of its Tahoe 195 OB. The boat is loaded with a livewell, rod holders, trolling motor hookup and fishing chairs. What really goes against the deck-boat grain is the outboard power, which caters to salt-water users.
Princecraft proudly calls its new Ventura 192V a fish 'n' ski boat within the deck boat category. Its seven-foot rod locker is also a ski storage compartment, and the Ventura hull is a deeper, wider V than that found on most deck boats, which should allow for bigger loads and more stability in rough water.
This style flies in the face of the giant fiberglass deck boats. Aluminum models are lighter, easier to trailer and more economical to run, options that were missing when glass dominated this game — a game that is now wide-open.
Tahoe 195 OB
Why it stands out: Check out the cost, for one. A deck boat under 20 feet, made of fiberglass, will be easy to store and trailer with a mid-size tow vehicle. This is among the first models to be as true a fishing boat as it is a deck boat.
Length overall: 19'10"
Dry weight: 2,200 lb.
Weight capacity: 1,650 lb.
Fuel capacity: 45 gal.
MSRP (w/ Mercury 115): $20,495