Hydra 46: Center City

The long and the sport of it.

Halfway down the dock, my eyes start bulging; another 10 steps and I'm trailing drool. When I finally reach the Hydra 46 center console, I fall to my knees, spread my arms wide, and belt out a "Hallelujah" to the fishboat gods. I'm right next to it - the world's largest true center console.

To hardcore anglers, there's just no substitute for cockpit acreage, and the Hydra 46 is the highway of fishboats - it just keeps going and going. Sure, there's an enclosed head and a large stowage compartment in the bow. But together they eat up only 10' of the Hydra 46's LOA, and aside from the steering station, every other inch of this boat is fishable. The stern alone offers 180 square feet of fishing space. Even a 46' fishing-dedicated express has much less space, usually between 100 and 120 square feet.

What about other similar center consoles? There just isn't another diesel-powered, stern-drive catamaran center console of this size on the market. Mares makes a 40' inboard catamaran convertible, which (powered by twin 430-bhp Volvo Penta diesels) costs about $75,000 more than the Hydra 46 and has about two-thirds the cockpit space.

Unheard-of accessories reinforce this boat's claim to fame - take, for instance, two massive stowage chests, containing four tackle drawers per side and adjustable tops that convert the boxes into lounges. Four fishboxes in the sole will hold just about anything with fins and a tail, and dual fighting chairs prewired for electric reels sit proud in the cockpit. Tilefish, anyone?

Performance is also an eye-opener. The stern drives allow park-on-a-dime precision maneuvering and the miserly 260-bhp diesels provide plenty of speed with minimal fuel burn. Want to go faster than 44.1 mph? Not a problem - the Hydra 46 can be rigged with almost double the horsepower of our test boat.

No disappointments with construction, either: Kevlar, carbon fiber, infused vinylester resin, and epoxy mean maximum strength and rigidity without excessive weight. The only thing I take issue with are the grabrail bolts going through the head's bulkhead. Even though they're finished off with caps, they could prove to be funnybone-busters. A nitpick? You bet - but it's tough to find something that makes you unhappy when you're standing aboard the world's biggest center console.

LOA.....45'6" Beam.....13'0" Draft.....2'6" Displacement (lbs., approx.)....12,400 Bridge clearance...7'6" Minimum cockpit depth.......2'0" Max. headroom....7'2" Fuel capacity (gal.) ..........300 Water capacity (gal.).....25 Price (w/standard power) ..........$325,000 Price (w/test power) ..........$325,000 STANDARD POWER: Twin 260-bhp Volvo Penta KAMD 44P EDC in-line-6 diesel inboards.OPTIONAL POWER: Twin inboard or stern drive diesels to 960 bhp total; triple or quad outboards to 900 hp; surface-piercing drives to 960 hp. TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 260-bhp Volvo Penta KAMD 44P EDC in-line-6 diesel inboards with 219 cid, 3.62" bore x 3.54" stroke, swinging F5 DuoProp ss propsets through 2.0:1 reductions. STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Electric head; transom door; 4 insulated fishboxes; soft top; 4 gunwale-mounted rodholders; 35-gal. livewell; spreader lights; Sea Star hydraulic steering; battery charger; coaming bolsters; tackle stowage drawers.

LAST WORD. You'll maximize your space, minimize your fuel burn, and land a lot more fish.