Today's anglers want to run faster, harder, and farther than ever before. Lucky for us, boatbuilders have been staying ahead of the curve to give us what we want. A few years ago dedicated center console fishboats longer than 30' were few and far between, but now triple-engined mega-monster center consoles have joined the lineup of most companies and are on the way to becoming commonplace - well, almost. There are plenty of models to choose from, but which one is worth the considerable investment? Which will let you blast past and outfish the competition? Which gives you the most amenities and is built to take the punishment? We picked four popular models, took them apart, fished them, ran them hard, and put them back together to get the answer. So saddle up and let's go dancin'.
Triple Your Pleasure
A row of three outboards strung across the transom of a 30'-something fishboat looks crazy. We all know that singles are more efficient than twins, so won't triples be even worse than twins? We thought so, too, until we started comparing numbers. The oddity first cropped up after testing the Fountain 38 CC. We noticed that through most of the rpm ranges, it had better efficiency than the same hull with a pair of - get this - twin diesel stern drives with less total horsepower. This got us curious, so out came the calculator and a stack of old tests.
What we found was a revelation. The average fuel economy of all the twin outboard boats between 34' and 38' we tested during the last two years was 1.28 mpg at 35 mph. The average for triples was 1.30 mpg. So, astonishing as it may seem, rigging with triples isn't crazy at all.
DEEP IMPACT 36 OPEN 305/627-9394 www.deepimpactpowerboats.com
With triple 250-hp Mercury OptiMax outboards on the transom, this boat shot off to 65.8 mph, riding on its twin-step, 24-degree deadrise hull. Handling is nothing short of sports car-like, with the added benefit of this also being the smoothest running boat of the bunch. Its economy isn't great, however, with a middle-of-the-pack 1.1 mpg at a 4500-rpm, 47.9-mph cruising speed. And throughout its power range, economic results weren't up to snuff.
Deep Impact goes well beyond the norm: All resins are retarded vinylester, which provides extra flexibility and prevents stress cracking. Stringers come all the way up to support the deck. Every piece of hardware, right down to hatch hinges, is backed with aluminum plates. All the fiberglass is vacuum-bagged, and there's a layer of Kevlar in the hull and deck. The hull-to-deck joint is laminated shut. Misters, which shoot a cooling spray of water, are integrated into the T-top. Through-hull lights attract fish from the deep, and hull, upholstery, and motor cowl graphics are custom.
All of the must-haves are included: the T-top w/spreader lights, a livewell, gunwale-mounted rodholders, three integrated fishboxes, fresh- and raw-water washdowns, and a tackle and bait-prep station. But the list of standards is short and you'll have to pay extra for such important items as macerators in the fishboxes or a livewell and tackle center in the leaning post. The most distinctive feature is the fold-down motorwell cover, which turns the motorwell into a small aft deck. This makes it possible to get out behind the transom and work fish around the outboards-an unusual ability in this class of boat.
One of the best built boats on the planet. Detail work and custom graphics can't be beat. A flip-up transom seat provides quick and easy access to all of the valves and pumps. Love those misters on a hot day.
HIGHS & LOWS
Disappointing fuel economy. There's a spring strut on top of the rigging station, which should be upgraded to a gas-assist strut. A lot of gotta-haves are optional.
$246,500 (w/triple 250-hp Mercury OptiMax outboards) Hydraulic trim tabs; hydraulic steering; Ritchie compass; T-top w/spreader lights; livewell; 4 gunwale-mounted rodholders; 3 integrated fishboxes; battery switch; fresh/raw-water washdowns; bait prep station and sink; electric commode.