Like fast food chains and theater snack bars, today’s builders of center console boats have found that if you give customers the option to supersize, they’ll take it.
Twenty years ago, few could conceive of a 40-foot center console. Yet today, more than a dozen companies offer models of 40 feet or more, most equipped with quadruple outboard engines of at least 350 hp each.
Big center consoles not only offer big seaworthy hulls and plenty of deck space for the crew, but also superb performance with top-end speeds in excess of 60 mph. Part of the attraction lies in the versatility of the center console design when it comes to two different, but extremely popular, boating activities: fishing and entertaining.
To maximize the comfort factor, many big center consoles feature social centers in the forward cockpit. Supersize center consoles are also so beamy that many include an element you’d expect to find only in a cabin boat — namely, a roomy cabin.
An open layout means that you can depart and return to the slip single-handed if necessary. A lone skipper can quickly step forward or aft to handle dock lines, a feat that’s tough to accomplish on a conventional cruiser. The development of low-speed joystick controls for multiple outboards also makes close-quarters maneuvers far less daunting aboard a 40-plus-foot boat, especially for less experienced helmsmen.
Each builder takes a slightly different approach to the design, construction and amenities it includes in its super center console. To give you an idea of what’s available, here are five models that have led the way in the supersize market.
Boston Whaler 420 Outrage
Our 2015 Boat of the Year, the 420 Outrage is the largest Boston Whaler ever built. It stands out at the dock for its stylish hardtop and raked windshield, cabin windows and the four 300 hp Mercury Verados on the transom.(It is available with four 350 hp Mercs.) But where it really shines is underway. Many of the new generation of 35-plus-foot center consoles have issues with excessive bow rise climbing onto plane. But the 420 Outrage has one of the best attitudes of any of the large center consoles we’ve tested. That means the captain’s vision from the helm is never compromised. Underway, the trim tabs adjust automatically, promising a smooth ride no matter the conditions. The joystick at the helm ensures the boat is just as nimble in close quarters.
Boston Whaler furnishes this Outrage with a high degree of fit and finish and amenities. Start up in the bow section: Though it has the requisite rod holders built into the topsides and coaming bolsters around the gunwales, the layout allows for family use way beyond fishing, with a sun pad north of the console with forward-facing recliners and a flip-up section in the middle that creates a stadium-bow lounge also flip up to create recliners. The aft cockpit features flip-down seating on the transom and a flip-up leaning post that doubles as a bait-prep center, with the option to make it a summer kitchen for entertaining. A portside dive door also aids in side-to boarding at the marina.
Want to run to the Bahamas? (Or to any outpost within range?) The 420 has 6 feet 4 inches of headroom belowdecks, with the overhead skylight and lengthy built-in portals providing a wealth of natural light. The brightly appointed interior boasts a convertible double berth, a galley with a faux granite countertop, and a private head and shower. A wood table pops up from the berth to form a dinette for some casual dining belowdecks. A standard 18,000 Btu air-conditioning system keeps it chill.
There are fishy features galore, including a 24-gallon transom livewell, recessed toe rails, insulated fish boxes fore and aft, and 23 rod holders.
The offshore-fishing crowd will love this boat’s 200-square-foot cockpit — especially the transom, with its twin 60-gallon livewells and 45-gallon built-in bait freezer. There are five rod holders on the transom, plus two kingfish rod holders forward. Coaming bolsters and powder-coated toe rails keep anglers comfortable and entrenched while dueling large pelagics. The rigging station, shaded by the extended fiberglass hardtop, sits aft of the helm and sports twin tackle drawers holding a total of 10 slide-out tackle trays. It has twin cutting boards, freshwater and raw-water washdowns, leader-spool holders and knife and tool organizers. The boat has 360-degree fishability, with fishing features carried to the bow including twin lockable rod lockers and a cavernous 225-gallon insulated insole fish box. The hardtop sports seven rocket launchers and can support Taco’s Grand Slam outrigger package.
Our test boat featured the optional second helm station on the hardtop, with one of the safest access points we’ve seen aboard a center console, coming via a hatch just above the workstation. It makes transitioning from finding to fighting fish easy.
The extended center console hides a usable cabin underneath, complete with a galley with faux granite countertops, a fridge and microwave and freshwater sink. A queen-size berth converts to a settee or dinette. The private head encases a pump-out porcelain toilet and a separate shower with a sitting bench. A hot-water heater provides a warm flow from the tap, and a 10,000 Btu air-conditioning unit keeps the crew cool belowdecks.
From the helm, the captain has a terrific view of up to three 16-inch multifunction displays, like the ones flush-mounted on our test boat. With the quadruple F350s for power, we experienced excellent get-up-and-go out of the hole, and the variable deadrise deep-V hull — with a steep 25-degree deadrise at the transom — handled the 6- to 8-footers outside the inlet with aplomb. Even with all the bells and whistles adding weight to this big gun, we still approached speeds nearing 60 mph. The slightly offset steering wheel will prevent shoulder fatigue while handling all those ponies over long distances.
HydraSports Custom 5300 Sueños
The biggest center console currently available is the Hydra-Sports Custom 5300 Sueños, though we recently saw a report of a preproduction 57-foot center console from MTI appearing at the Dubai International Boat Show.
This mega center console represents the culmination of a dream (Sueños means just that in Spanish) for HydraSports Custom owners Elias and Dennis De La Torre.
They achieved it via a complex and labor-intensive construction system known as Compsys, previously employed in military vessels only. In a nutshell, interlocking spans of lightweight ribs, stringers and bulkheads allow HydraSports Custom to dramatically reduce hull thickness and weight while maintaining strength. The 5300 weighs only 2,000 pounds more than the 42.
Powered by four Yamaha F350 outboards, the 5300 Sueños achieved a top speed of 50.1 mph at 5,800 rpm — not bad for the largest available center console in the world, at least for now.
The Regulator 41 center console we tested featured four Yamaha F350 outboards and achieved a top speed of 63.4 mph while riding on a conventional deep-V hull with 24 degrees of deadrise at the transom. On test day, the 41 offered a smooth ride in 8-foot seas as we ran North Carolina’s famed Oregon Inlet.
Within the step-down console, accessible from the port side and abundantly lit with LED lights, are roomy, posh accommodations, including a dinette with a teak table that converts to a berth; a galley with an inductive cooktop, microwave, countertop/sink and fridge set amid wood-veneer cabinetry; and an enclosed head compartment with a porcelain toilet and stand-up shower. Maximum cabin headroom measures an astounding 7½ feet.
The helm on our test boat featured a trio of Raymarine gS165 multifunction displays. Forward vision is outstanding, thanks in part to the 9½ inches of extra elevation on the bridge deck.
The three-across helm seating has wraparound armrests and flip-up bolsters and individual fold-down footrests on the seat base. Behind is a rigging station with sink, fresh water, cutting board and an electric grill. Below are drawers with tackle storage.
Within the transom bulkhead is an 84-gallon fish box. A pair of 40-gallon livewells flank the transom fish box.
Regulator equipped the 41 with a motorized three-level dining table in the bow. Fully retracted, it forms part of the 41’s single-level deck, but at the push of a button it elevates to become the middle section of an expansive lounge pad. It goes higher to form a dining table surrounded by U-shaped seating. The bow seating also converts to a pair of forward-facing lounges with flip-up backrests.
Families will love the 5-foot-wide seat with an angled backrest in front of the console. There are armrests on each side and a fold-down armrest with built-in cup holders in the middle. At the foot is a 240-quart locker. Under the bow deck is a 156-gallon fish box.
Scout 420 LXF
The 420 LXF boasts quad outboards up to 350 hp each. A dual-stepped hull helps boost speed and efficiency. Powered by the four Mercury 350 Verado outboards, the big Scout reached a top speed of 56.8 mph at 6,350 rpm.
To ensure structural strength and keep the 420 LXF as light as possible, Scout uses vacuum-infused epoxy-resin construction. Many hulls of this size need to be painted to hide the print-through, Scout says, but the epoxy resin resists print-through, allowing the 420 LXF to sport a smooth, luxurious finish.
The bridge deck features three-across seats with flip-up bolsters and armrests with an angled footrest below the helm. A three-piece tempered-glass windshield protects the helm deck, which accommodates the three flush-mount Garmin 8215 15-inch multifunction displays. The helm on our test boat also included CZone digital switching and a bow thruster joystick to ease the task of docking this 42-footer.
An aft cockpit measuring 9 feet 4 inches wide lends itself to both fishing and socializing. For anglers, there’s an 80-gallon transom livewell and a pair of 108-gallon fish boxes.
The uniquely designed dive door on the port side cantilevers outward on hydraulics, like a drawbridge, to become a platform measuring 6 feet long by 2 feet 4 inches wide. A transom door in the starboard quarter offers you access to the full-width platform forward of the outboards.
An outdoor galley with an Isotherm drawer-style fridge/freezer/ice maker, Kenyon electric grill and cavernous top-opening cooler keeps the crew happy.
A lounger on the forward console invites guests with angled backrests and fold-down armrests. U-shaped seating in the bow surrounds a motorized teak table, which descends to become (with filler cushions) a sun pad. When it’s time to fish, retract the table completely.
Cruisers will love the step-down console cabin, accessible from a companionway on the port side and featuring 6½ feet of headroom. Lower the beautifully crafted wood dining table to convert the area to a berth.