Spend a few long days fishing the ocean or Great Lakes from an open boat, and you’ll long for the comfort of a cabin.
Whether you are anchored for the night or blasting offshore, dampness and wind can chill you to the bone, turning that special fishing trip into a special brand of misery.
Both walkaround-cuddy and pilothouse fishing boats have cabins, but each offers a different approach to comfort. To help you decide which one best suits your boating style, we took a hard look at two marquee models and developed 10 points of comparison.
No name is more closely associated with WA boats than Grady-White. Its Chesapeake 290 is a prime example.
Summer heat can make you hate an enclosed helm. With a WA, you can remove the enclosure for all-around ventilation and usher a cooling headwind to the cockpit.
With no enclosure, wind noise can impair conversations while under way. Yet while fishing, a skipper at the helm can easily talk with anglers in the cockpit or bow, and with crew on the dock.
3. Bridge Protection
Primary protection comes from the wraparound windshield. Yet, to shield the bridge deck, you will need a Bimini top with an enclosure. Even better is a hardtop with an enclosure.
With no bulkheads or window mullions, a WA offers excellent visibility, especially if you peer over the windshield. However, a WA’s clear-vinyl enclosure can be tough to see through after dark.
The Chesapeake 290 has a midcabin berth, as well as a V-berth. There’s also a galley and enclosed head. On walkarounds, however, cabin width is reduced by the intruding exterior walkways, which can also cramp the bridge.
6. Shedding Seas
If you take water over the bow, the walkways channel water into the cockpit. While most big-water boats have self-bailing cockpits, it would be nice to shed the seas before they get aft.
7. Forward Access
A WA features recessed walkways along both cabin sides leading to the bow. Only a center-console offers greater maneuverability.
8. Cockpit Size
The Chesapeake 290’s 56-square-foot cockpit is smaller than the PH cockpit in this comparison. However, the 290 has an integrated motor bracket, while the PH has a bracket bolted to its full transom, creating more cockpit space in a given length.
Without a hardtop, finding a place to mount GPS, VHF and radar antennas can be a challenge. Think about an arch for antennas as well as outriggers.
If you have a Bimini or an enclosure, you will need to remove the curtains and fold down/secure the top before you tow your boat. These items aren’t made to survive at highway speeds. Fold-down Bimini tops let you sneak under low bridges and trees.
If easier access to the bow, more berth space, a good field of view and a cool breeze on the bridge deck are most important to you in a cabin boat for fishing, choose a WA over a PH.
Grady-White Chesapeake 290
Displ. (no power): 7,650 lb.
Transom Deadrise: 20 degrees
Bridge Clearance: 9'9" (w/ hardtop)
Max Cabin Headroom: 6'4"
Fuel Capacity: 206 gal.
Base Price: $203,345 w/twin Yamaha 250s