The yellow-finned submarine on the end of your line is out of control, stripping 20-pound test line off your 16S International with absolutely no regard for your aching biceps. Suddenly, the fish shoots forward and crosses the boat's bow, leaving you to scramble up front before the line touches the anchor rode and the tuna makes good his escape. To complete this maneuver on most 33' boats, you'd have to hold the rod in one hand, grip a grabrail or outrigger with the other, and mumble a prayer as you try to get from point A to point B without falling into the sea. I'll bet all this takes 20 to 30 seconds, which gives the fish enough leeway to be home free. But Pro-Line's new 33 Walk defies the ordinary with a calf-deep sidedeck ringing the cabin and a sturdy hip-high bowrail around it. You'll be up on the bow in 5 to 10 seconds, and with a bit of luck, 5 to 10 minutes later that tuna will be in the box.
FISHY HEAVEN. Of course, the 33 Walk offers plenty of other angling accessories, too. The one that impressed me most during a full day of offshore fishing was the newly designed tackle station, which is mounted behind the helm. The top is a Starboard plastic cutting board, with an inset sink, fiddle rails, and open corner drains. I could hack up a flat of butterfish in minutes with this station. The front of the unit houses four tackleboxes, and a compartment in the side holds a knife/pliers/rig holder, a downrigger ball holder, and an icebox. Add $1,607 to the boat's price tag to get the Convenience Package, which includes a microwave and coffeemaker (though the coffeemaker needs a different mount-it fell out of the cabinet during our test) and an icebox that turns into an icemaker. How could you improve such a comprehensive tackle station? Put a grabrail around it. Oh, wait a sec, Pro-Line already did.
The Highs: Getting to the bow with a rod in your hand is a piece of cake. All-inclusive tackle station has an all-around grabrail. Dinette table hinges could support a small ox. Slick under-gunwale stowage compartment holds an extra-long washdown hose.** **
The Lows: Watch out for low-flying coffeemakers. Rocket launcher pins are tough to lock a gimbaled rod butt into. The mirrored head door would have a longer life span if it were fiberglass or wood.
Okay, so you've chunked your bait, landed the tuna, and stowed it in one of the insulated, macerated fishboxes in the cockpit sole. It's time to head for the inlet, but first you need to sluice away the fish blood splattered across the deck. Open the hatch in the starboard inwale, and you'll find a self-coiling washdown hose with its own stowage rack. Want to rinse the anchor while you're at it? I walked all the way up the bow pulpit with the hose nozzle in my hand and discovered that unlike most washdowns, this one will reach every square inch of the boat.
Now that the boat's cleaned off, you need to stow your rigs for the run home. Sure, there are two under-gunwale rodholders behind the port inwale stowage hatch, plus the four gunwale-mounted rodholders and five rocket launchers. But I say put your big guns in the hardtop's integrated rodbox over the passenger lounge. It keeps four rigs in place, with a hatch that closes and locks over the reels. One gripe: The rocket launchers have gimbal pins that are welded in place. Welding beads on either side of the pin make it tough to get a gimbaled butt locked in place.
Back on the transom, the hatch over a freshwater sink with a pull-out hot/cold shower nozzle opens on a gas-assisted strut. Under the transom bench seat there's a 40-gallon circular, lighted livewell. Unlike most livewells, this one doesn't splash or even drip while underway; we cruised offshore with three dozen live baits and the pump flowing constantly-the deck stayed dry.
SASHIMI, ANYONE? So you've got your fish, the boat's clean, and you're back in the slip. Surely, you're not going to go home now, when you have this cabin to play in. Because it's a walkaround, the 33 Walk does have less available cabin space than an express boat. But when you go belowdecks you don't notice the loss of space. Part of the spacious feel is due to the mirrored head door, which makes the cabin look larger. But I don't like mirrors because their surfaces can crack when a boat takes a pounding or if someone falls into it. Swap it out for fiberglass or even teak, to match the teak-and-holly sole and teak-trimmed interior (a $4,286 upgrade) on our test boat.
The 33 Walk has a midcabin berth under the helm, a tactic used by Grady-White on its 33 Express ($210,125 with twin 250-hp outboards). But the Grady-White's main cabin seemed larger than the Pro-Line's, no surprise considering that the Grady-White has flush sidedecks. However, I felt the Pro-Line's deep, recessed walkaround was easier to navigate with a rod in hand. There's a big price gap between these boats, but the Grady-White has more standard features, including a hardtop, a genset, air conditioning, teak interior, an entertainment center, and galley appliances. These items alone would add about $30,000 to the Pro-Line's list price.
The 33 Walk's dinette folds into a second guest berth, bringing sleeping capacity up to six when you include the V-berth. Hold on, though, take a closer look at that dinette, especially the table's huge stainless-steel support braces. These hold it upright yet fold down with ease. Who manufactures these table supports? Bending every hinge they tested, Pro-Line's engineers had to search to find folding supports that met their standards. They found just what they needed in Perko's Lock-tite seat back brackets. Stick your head under the table and give 'em a good eye-balling. Yeah, I bet you could dance on that dinette table without damaging the hinges.
WALK THE WALK. Like all other Pro-Lines, the 33 Walk is built with preformed, foam-filled stringers. All exterior vinyl is 32 ounces and UV protected. On many other boats, seat covers and the like are made with thinner 26- or 28-ounce vinyl. But the best construction detail is evident every time you lift a hatch on the 33 Walk. Yes, they're supported by gas-assisted struts. And, of course, they're through-bolted. What you don't expect to see is that the through-bolts and locking nuts are countersunk into the hatch, so both the interior and exterior surfaces are snag-free.
The boat's solid construction shines through when you start running for blue water at 40-plus mph. The lazy two-foot rollers present on test day didn't make much of a challenge for this boat, and I was tying rigs for the entire ride with no problem. At one point we spotted two promising weedlines. To get a better view, I scrambled up the pipework and took up an elevated position on the hardtop. Since I was up there, I decided to check out the hardtop's sturdiness factor. I stomped and I jumped, but the top remained steady. Just like you will, when you use that walkaround to follow a fish 360 degrees around the boat.
LAST WORD. The largest outboard boat with a calf-deep sidedeck.
Displacement (lbs., approx.; w/o engines)......12,000 ****
Transom deadrise.......19 ****
Bridge clearance......6'10" ****
Minimum cockpit depth...........2'2" ****
Max. cabin headroom.....6'4"
Fuel capacity (gal.).........285 ****
Water capacity (gal.).........28 ****
Price (w/standard power).....$138,799 ****
Price (w/test power).....$144,643
Standard power Twin 225-hp Mercury EFI V-6 outboards.
Optional power Twin outboards to 500 hp total.
Test boat power Twin 225-hp Mercury Optimax V-6 outboards with 185 cid, 3.63" bore x 3.00" stroke, swinging 14 ½ " x 21" three-bladed ss props through 1.75:1 reductions.
Standard Equipment (major items) Battery charger; 2 battery switches; 40-gal. lighted livewell; bow pulpit w/anchor roller; cockpit coaming bolsters; compass; integrated swim ladder; freshwater sink w/pull-out hot/cold shower; electric head; 2 insulated, macerated fishboxes; refrigerator; 4 gunwale-mounted rodholders; 4 overhead locking rodracks; shorepower cord; hydraulic steering; tackle station w/4 integrated tackleboxes, knife/pliers/righolder; downrigger ball holder; cutting board; sink; trim tabs; water heater; windlass; windshield wiper.