Is your idea of “fresh” fish a fillet that hits the grill within minutes of being gaffed? Then check out the 275 XSF. This center-console is designed to take your quarry directly from the ocean to your dinner plate before you ever hit the dock, with an option package ($5,286) that includes a Kenyon electric grill in the leaning post, an inverter and shore power.
Don’t worry about tapping out your batteries while you cook, because the inverter will automatically shut down the grill before you drain out too much juice to start an outboard. And as you nibble on Nemo, you’ll have a wide range of seats to choose from. The true hedonist in you, however, will be drawn to the bow. Here, seats on either side have backrests that pop up on stainless-steel posts, allowing you to kick back and enjoy your meal in complete comfort. Naturally these seats have lined stowage below, and the pressure-molded hatches raise with little effort on your part, thanks to gas-assist struts.
Of course, you have to catch the fish before you can grill them. And on the Scout you’ll find this easier than the norm. One major-league difference between this boat and nearly every competitor’s is the ability to work a fish around the outboards with stand-up gear. Instead of using the usual bloated transom designs that incorporate fish boxes and livewells, Scout separates the cockpit from the eggbeaters with a narrow transom gate. It can be collapsed, allowing an angler to step out onto the port or starboard Flexiteek-lined swim platforms. But why bother? That gate is so narrow that you can move aft more than a foot farther than on other boats, and you can reach the back of the outboards with your hand, not to mention the tip of a six-foot stand-up rod. Will water flow around the gate’s seams and into the cockpit when you reverse into the waves? Since it was calm during our test run, I made a point of revving the engines in reverse against a series of two-foot boat wakes, and no moisture made it into the cockpit. When water does hit the deck, it’ll evacuate quickly, thanks to huge aft scuppers that are covered with Polyboard grates.
Wait a sec — if the transom doesn’t have a livewell and fish box built in, where will you stow the baits and the catch? No worries; both corners of the stern have rounded livewells molded in (which are lighted and have baffles to evenly distribute the water flow), and there’s a pair of integrated fish boxes in the cockpit sole.
Not only is water sealed out from astern, but it’s also deterred from coming aboard via the bow. Zero moisture made it over the rub rail during our test, thanks in no small part to the widely flared entry. Of course, no matter how dry a boat may run, there will be conditions in which spray does start flying. Note that there’s a gap between the top of the windshield and the hardtop on the 275 XSF. Scout says Southern anglers love the ventilation, but if you’re a Northerner who plans to head offshore on chilly mornings, you’ll want to have the dealer install some canvas over that gap or risk getting doused.
More about the windshield and hardtop: It’s a slick design, with D-channel pipework integrated with the flat tempered glass and insets in the center-console. The result looks sharp and improves visibility since it eliminates the need for cross-bracing in front of the windshield. You’ll see some competing boats that have picked up on and incorporated similar top designs, such as Boston Whaler’s 280 Outrage ($165,684 with twin 225 hp Mercury Verado outboards — Whaler seals the gap at the top with an electrically actuated vent), and others, like Grady-White’s Canyon 271 ($163,890, with twin Yamaha F250 outboards), which have eliminated cross-bracing but retain round pipes and curved windshields.
The rest of the Scout is built just as stoutly as the T-top. The 275 XSF has a stringer system that’s bonded to the hull with methacrylate, is fully gelcoated and runs the full beam of the boat following the contour of the chines. That means it essentially acts as an underliner, providing fully finished surfaces anywhere you look — under deck hatches, in the integrated fish boxes and even in the bilge. After foam’s been pumped into all of the voids, the deck is nestled into place and affixed to the hull sides and the top of the stringers with more methacrylate. The result is an extremely solid, vibration- and rattle-free ride.
Scout also takes pains to ensure long-term durability. Extra touches include vinyl padding next to the under-gunwale rod racks, so your reels don’t chip or mark the fiberglass inwales; friction-hinges on the console head compartment door, to prevent inadvertent swinging and slamming; diaphragm waste pumps for evacuating the fish boxes; and an electric sliding cover that locks and protects your electronic flat-screen displays at the end of the day. Put these factors together, and you can rest assured that the Scout’s beauty will last for years, no matter how many fish meet their end on that leaning post grill.