Seaway 18 Sportsman

Seaway's 18 Sportsman is a comfortable, capable center console.

We Say: The Seaway 18 Sportsman is a salty-looking center console utility skiff designed in Maine and built in New Hampshire to handle snotty seas safely, comfortably and economically. It loves to fish, explore, carry groceries to an island cabin, haul firewood for a clambake or crab feast, and generally make itself useful. Its open layout makes it easy to customize and adapt to specific uses. During our sea trial, its sharp forefoot, proud bow and shallow keel carried us through a nasty two- to three-foot chop comfortably on plane at practical speeds of 14 to 18 mph. It just might be the most comfortable, capable 18-footer we've ever run in such choppy conditions. It also boasts efficiency at that cruise speed, with its Yamaha F70 sipping fuel. I recorded better than 5 mpg at a 4,500 rpm clip.

As far as power options go, the F70 is adequate for most needs, but for hauling heavy loads, the Sportsman would be happier with 90 horses pushing it.

Who'd Want One: Boaters seeking timeless good looks, seaworthiness and efficiency.

Another Choice: The Maritime 18 Defiant ($35,000 with an Evinrude 90 E-TEC) is another tough, Yankee-built utility skiff. It's heavier, it has more built-in features, and it needs slightly more horsepower.

Bottom Line: $33,000 with test power; seawayboats.com