When I tested the original Bayliner Element, my first thought was that it would make a great bay-boat platform. Clearly, the powers that be at Bayliner felt that way too because they built the promising and eminently affordable Element F18. It’s a center-console that capitalizes on the Element’s stable M-hull design. The M-hull looks almost like a classic cathedral-style hull, only it carries the sponsons farther aft. It also carries the beam forward. The original intent was to enhance form stability to eliminate some of the rock and roll that turns off many first-time boaters. Isn’t stability one of the most desired traits in a coastal fishing platform?
Bayliner made other changes to convert the Element to fishing duty. The most obvious is ditching the dual-console design in favor of a center-console helm that can be manned either standing or sitting. What you might not notice is that Bayliner also raised the cockpit deck 3 inches to create a higher fishing vantage point. Designers also added outboard-draining scuppers to create a self-bailing cockpit — a desired feature both for safety and for hosing down the cockpit after a day of successful fishing.
The center console sports three vertical rod holders per side and has a full windshield adorned with a sturdy grab rail, which is a must for passengers who prefer to stand while underway. There’s a small bench-style seat forward with a padded backrest. There are elevated casting decks in the bow and along the transom with a built-in 27-gallon livewell in the aft deck. There’s the option to add a second livewell under the forward console seat. The bow is pre-rigged to mount a trolling motor, and the dash has room to mount electronics. Additional rod holders can be found in the internal gunwales with stowage for two rods per side.
Our boat featured the optional T-top, which no doubt robbed a mile or two off our top-end speed. Still, on test day we hit 40 mph. Thanks to the efficient M-hull we hopped on plane in less than three seconds, with minimal bow rise, and reached 30 mph in just over nine seconds.
Comparable Model: Sea Chaser 19 Sea Skiff