Boat Test: 2024 Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay

Tidewater's 3100 Carolina Bay, the world's largest bay boat, can fish skinny or blue while also offering comfortable cruising.
Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay near a jetty
The 3100 is set up to be a fishing machine. Courtesy Tidewater Boats


As center-consoles have grown exponentially bigger over the past few years, an existential ­question has plagued anglers who like to do it all: How do I fish skinny water on a 30-foot ­center-console? Builders have responded with the hybrid bay-boat concept: big vessels ­capable of fishing in all kinds of water. Perhaps no one’s done it better than Tidewater with its new 3100 Carolina Bay. Tidewater is hailing it as the world’s largest bay boat and, to date, we have not found one that is bigger.

Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay helm
Twin flush-mounted 16-inch MFDs are standard. Courtesy Tidewater Boats

Interior and Accessories

The 3100 is set up to be a fishing machine. It features the requisite large bow-casting ­platform, capable of holding a trolling motor, which all bay-boat enthusiasts demand. The ­platform and the bow seating just aft of it are spacious because Tidewater ­carried the full 10-foot beam far forward. A 20-gallon livewell sits under a hatch in the bow platform for quick access to bait while fishing from there. An additional 30-gallon aquarium livewell is built into the back of the leaning post to serve the cockpit. The comfortable bow lounge forward of the console hides a 100-gallon insulated and macerated fish box. The leaning post also has tackle drawers, and cup holders that double as rod holders. More rod holders are built rocket-launcher-style into the hardtop. They’re mounted slightly lower than the top of the hardtop, so you never have to stand on your tiptoes or use a footstool to grab a rod when the action is going, but any basketball-playing crewmembers might want to keep an eye out for them. More rod holders are flush-mounted in the gunwale topsides all the way to the bow area, so a rod should always be in reach. The cockpit is spacious and clear of obstructions that could impede fighting fish, and the walkways on either side of the console allow for wide passage when moving about the boat.

Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay overhead
The walkways on either side of the console allow for wide passage when moving about the boat. Courtesy Tidewater Boats

Creature comforts? The 3100 Carolina Bay is loaded with them. The bow seating behind the casting platform is recessed below the deck line for passenger safety, featuring backrests that fold out of the way for fishing. One of my favorite features about the seating is that the cushions hold in place with magnets rather than snaps, so they can be quickly removed when the bite is on. Additional fold-up jump seats can be found in the transom. I could stand fully upright in the finished head in the console, complete with a pump-out toilet and an all-important grab ­handle. The aforementioned lounge seat in front of the console has space for two to kick back and relax on the water.

There are two other notable features in the way of creature comforts on the 3100 that deserve special attention. First, Tidewater built electrically actuated fold-out steps into the cockpit gunwales. They are activated by a foot-press button on the topsides, so getting on and off the boat at the dock is never an issue. The second is the shower nozzle built into the starboard side of the T-top, which connects to a 19-gallon freshwater tank. It’s overhead, so you can use it as a shower if needed.

Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay head
The finished head in the console is equipped with a pump-out toilet. Courtesy Tidewater Boats

The helm station is fantastic, with Lebroc helm seats that sport twin, independent flip-up bolsters for the captain and co-captain, and two molded-in footrests. The leaning post provides an additional flip-down footrest. The Yamaha DEC throttles are smooth as silk, and the standard joystick control is within easy reach of the captain. The twin standard flush-mounted 16-inch MFDs are standard; our test model featured Garmin, but Simrad is also available standard. Dome radar is offered as part of the extensive standard-features list as well. Beefy grab handles flank either side for additional comfort and safety.

Several builders offer large bay boats ­capable of going offshore. The two closest in size to the Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay are the Regulator 30X0 ($370,995 with twin Yamaha F300s), which has a 30-foot-7-inch length overall and a 10-foot beam with a max horsepower of 300, and the Solace 30HCS ($443,007 with twin 300 hp Mercury Verados), which has a 29-foot-10-inch length overall and 9-foot-10-inch beam with 600 max horsepower. Both are excellent, highly finished boats, but they don’t have the same large bow-casting platform.

Read Next: Tidewater 2700 Carolina

Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay idling
The cockpit is spacious and clear of obstructions. Courtesy Tidewater Boats


With a pair of the new Yamaha F350 V-6s on the transom, the 3100 Carolina Bay can fly. We recorded a top speed of over 66 mph and experienced great midrange acceleration. (Tidewater reported that when paired with the twin 400 hp Mercury V-10s, the boat exceeded 70 mph.) With its relatively shallow deadrise that tapers to 17 degrees at the transom, which helps it get skinny, the boat did not squat coming out of the hole, so coming onto plane, we never lost sight of the waterline in front of us. The double-stepped hull helps the boat ride with a very level attitude and helps improve fuel economy at speed. Handling and turning at 30 mph felt smooth and effortless. Tidewater installs the Zipwake Interceptor 450-S chine system standard, which automatically adjusts the trim for the conditions.

Overall, if you’re looking for a boat that can fish skinny or blue, or just entertain a crowd on a day cruise, the Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay has you covered.

How We Tested

  • Engines: Twin Yamaha F350 V-6 outboards
  • Drive/Props: Outboard/Saltwater Series II 14 3/4″ x 23″ 3-blade stainless steel
  • Gear Ratio:1.75:1 Fuel Load: 60 gal. Water on Board: 0 gal. Crew Weight: 790 lb.

High Points 

  • Electrically actuated fold-down steps into the cockpit make for easy side-to boarding from the dock.
  • Independent flip-up bolsters and double toe rests at the helm mean the captain and co-captain can ride in comfort.
  • The aft deck lifts up on struts for easy access to the bilge and ship’s systems, and a motion-detector light flips for servicing.
  • Engines mounted on jack plates to adjust for best performance and skinny-water operation.

Low Points

  • A nitpick, but the rocket-launcher rod holders are mounted just below the hardtop height, so you can grab your rods without standing on your tiptoes, but you also might bang your head on them in transit.
  • Twin outboards and optional Power-Poles make it harder to work big gamefish around the transom, which is a common trade-off on all outboard boats.
  • Hybrids have compromises: Fishing the bay, it’s a big boat to maneuver on a trolling motor; fishing offshore, you might miss a true deep-V.  

Pricing and Specs

Price:$289,365 (with test power)
Draft (max):1’7″ (drives up)
Displacement (approx.):7,200 lb.
Transom Deadrise:17 degrees
Bridge Clearance:9’0″
Max Cabin Headroom:6’0″
Fuel Capacity:220 gal.
Max Horsepower:800
Available Power:Twin Mercury or Yamaha outboard motors to 800 hp total

Speed, Efficiency, Operation

Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay performance data
Tidewater 3100 Carolina Bay Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

Tidewater Boats – Lexington, South Carolina;