Although there can be only one Boat of the Year, we’ve tested plenty of other boats and gear during the past 12 months with clever new ideas that were innovative, cool, or just plain smart. The kind of things that make a boater wonder, “Why doesn’t every builder do this?” These are some of the best we’ve seen. Here’s hoping they show up on other boats soon.
So, keep clicking to view our editor’s choices for 2008 Best Bets.
Ocean Yachts 37 Billfish
Open Deckhouse. Many older South Florida charterboats have no cabin bulkhead aft, and fishing boats from days of yore didn’t have an enclosed salon. This open layout redux is great for a fast passage from cover and comfort to the action. Drive from below, too.
Tiara 3900 Open
Glare Reduction. Just forward of the helm the fiberglass is a glossy gray that transitions to matte gray under the windshield-a perfect mix of good looks and glare reduction.
Regulator 30 Express
Outboard Flushing System. The two outboards are plumbed with hoses to their flushing ports. Flick a switch and freshwater from the boat’s tank rinses out their innards.
Larson 370 Day Cruiser
One-Room Cabin. Most of us don’t cruise or even overnight, so why break up the cabin into small sleeping/eating areas? This boat keeps it wide open for day tripping. No bulkheads to separate master and guest staterooms, and no dinette. Sleeps 2; parties 12.
Integrated Vents. This fiberglass headliner incorporates the air-conditioner ducts, which looks better than metal grates and diffuses the flow of air to eliminate cold spots.
Through-Hull Anchor Chock. Most boats this size have an anchor chock on the foredeck that gets in the way. This one stows the anchor big-ship style through a port in the bow and the windlass gets housed in a locker.
Hull Windows. Sure, they’re becoming common, but most hull windows are surface-mounted add-ons-and look it. These are true “deadlights,” securely fitted into molded rabbets so they won’t leak. They look like an integral part of the hull’s sexy lines.
Regal 5260 Sport Yacht
Ballast System. To make up for a pod drive’s lack of trim, the Optimal Performance System (OPS) uses a self-filling/emptying water ballast tank to adjust the running angle.
Stowage Guide. Open the engine hatch and inside there’s a plaque that reads Storage Plan, telling you where all the loose bits get put away. A well-organized boat is a safe one. Good idea.
Scout 262 XSF
Bow Seating. The bow seats on most center consoles force you to sit facing athwartship, which isn’t comfortable or secure underway. So Scout put in removable backrests-two passengers can sit facing forward and anglers can take them out when fishing.
Sea Ray 230 Fission
iPod Dock. You’ll see more of this in runabouts as builders recognize how we really live. Meant for Gen X through Y types, but rockin’ for some classic Stones as well.
First Production Hybrid. Imagine an electric motor/generator mounted on a diesel engine. It generates DC power to be stored or fed back to the 10-hp electric drive-which can work by itself or boost the diesel’s power.
Sea Vee 390
Sliding Console Door. It’s not the only sliding front-entry door on a center console but it’s the best. It’s pneumatic (air-actuated) so it doesn’t tax the electric system and doesn’t use a screw jack motor, which makes it safer, as it won’t pin someone to the side of the boat.
Larson 238 LXi
Bow Cover. There’s a center zipper so you can access the bow cleat, anchor, what-have-you, without unsnapping the whole cover and putting it back again.
Grady-White Canyon 336
Hose Stowage. The space between the inwale and the toerail is just the right size to hold a precoiled washdown hose. It drops right in and stays in place.
Cruisers Yachts 520 Sport Coupe
Tracked Cockpit Lounge. The aft lounge slides in sections on a circular track so you configure the cockpit for lounging, casual seating, formal dining, and variations in boarding access.