Southport Island Marine Handy Billy 21

Wild bill.

They Say: The Southport Island Marine Handy Billy 21 is seaworthy, fuel-efficient, and great for exploring.

We Say: Designed by naval architect Harry Bryan, this boat sports head-turning good looks and it cuts through a bay chop cleanly, plus it has space for a family. Its great name comes from William Hand, who designed classic launches (circa 1900) that are too good not to be copied. Construction includes Corecell foam and a fiberglass liner that replaces stick-built stringers. The hull-to-deck joint is glued and mechanically fastened. By placing the fuel tank in the bow, the cockpit remains uncluttered. The Handy Billy 21 comes in your choice of layouts: runabout, center console, or camper. I ran the center console equipped with a 30-hp Tohatsu outboard mounted in the covered well. It ran quiet and delivered 6-mpg economy. A diesel inboard is available, too. I liked the open access to the bow. On the forward side of the console, a bench seat extends across to starboard, covering twin batteries. The console itself has basic gauges and controls. A shelf is perfect for stashing small items and there are two 12-volt receptacles. The leaning post is snug for two, but there's an aft bench. The Handy Billy 21's clean rigging includes anti-chafe lining in the limber holes and stainless-steel cushioned clamps.

Who'd Want One: Anyone who explores coves, creeks, or costs.

Other Choices: Bryan Boat Building's 23'4" Sardine or The Little Boat Shop's 19'6" Redwing Open Launch.

MSRP: As tested - $35,000

Contact: 207.633.6009 www.southportislandmarine.com