Shoot Out: $150,000 Center Consoles

$150,000 Center Consoles

Shoot Out: $150,000 Center Consoles
Do you pick a boat based on cost or length? We're betting the bottom line often means more than the length of the centerline. Let's say you have $150K and an itch for a center console. So you're looking for a boat in the 30' to 32' range. A foot or two doesn't mean much-what matters is performance, construction, and fishability. These four contenders are within $10K of each other, so we aim to find which one gives avid fishermen the most for their money.
Shoot Out: $150,000 Center Consoles
The Basics
LOA: 31'10"
Beam: 10'2"
Draft (max.): 2'10"
Displacement (lbs., approx.; w/o power): 6,500
Fuel capacity (gal.): 296
Water capacity (gal.): 31
Performance: The largest boat in the bunch by a few inches, although comparable in volume and weight. It sits in the top of the class when it comes to seakeeping abilities and lies mid-pack with its 51-mph top speed. It doesn't score high on efficiency, however, making only 1.3 mpg at a 4500 rpm cruise or 37.1 mph. Construction: The infused vinylester resin and fiberglass hull is vacuum bagged with a Penski Board stringer grid. The deck is bolted on and reinforced with Plexus adhesive/sealant. All voids are pumped full of foam. Hatches are resin transfer molded (RTM) for a perfect finish on both sides. Backing plates are aluminum or phenolic composites. Fishability: There's a 28-gallon livewell at the transom and a 66-gallon well next to it for the most bait- hauling capacity of this bunch. However, their location eats into the cockpit and forces you to work around the engines from afar. There are four vertical rodracks in the bow, a 620-quart macerated fishbox, and a Frigid Rigid cooler under the leaning post. Highs & Lows
High: Built to withstand years of mean conditions. Livewell capacity surpasses the rest. Maximum LOA for 150K. Feels great underfoot, with acres of fishing space. Low: Magnetic catch on console door doesn't do the job in heavy seas. Large transom livewells make for a long reach around the outboards.
Shoot Out: $150,000 Center Consoles
The Basics
LOA: 30'6"
Beam: 10'7"
Draft (max.): 2'7"
Displacement (lbs., approx.; w/o power): 6,500
Fuel capacity (gal.): 306
Water capacity (gal.): 32
Performance: Like all Gradys, this boat sports a variable-degree deadrise hull that flattens as you move aft. That, plus its immense 10'7" beam, makes for awesome stability and seakeeping. Few boats feel as competent in dangerously large seas. At a top speed of 48.3 mph, it's not exceptionally fast, nor is it efficient-1.3 mpg at a 4500 rpm cruise of 34.2 mph. Construction: Grady sticks to its tried-and-true traditional system of rot-resistant plywood-cored fiberglass stringers. Its solid glass hull and deck uses vinylester resins. The pipework is so thick you can't wrap a hand around it. Transom gate hinges look like they're from a megayacht, and the finish work is excellent. Fishability: The centered helm station livewell holds 471⁄2 gallons and has a full-column water inlet that eliminates dead spots to keep your baits fresh. The transom houses a huge 304-quart fishbox, but this makes working around the engines awkward. There's a foldaway transom bench seat, and toerails keep you secure in rough weather. Highs & Lows
High: Awesome pipework. Self-adjusting snaps on forward cushions are super smart. Maximum fuel capacity. Console is among the roomiest and nicest you'll find. Low: Speed and efficiency are a tick behind the pack. Livewell standpipe isn't the best way to go. Fishbox keeps anglers too far from the stern.
Shoot Out: $150,000 Center Consoles
The Basics
LOA: 29'6"
Beam: 9'4"
Draft (max.): 2'9"
Displacement (lbs., approx.; w/o power): 6,650
Fuel capacity (gal.): 250
Water capacity (gal.): 37
Performance: Thanks to a svelte hull and a 24-degree deadrise, the Jupiter flies through ugly seas. A small pad in the stern helps the boat ride on top of the waves rather than forcing its way through them. It's fast, too: Just 0.3 mph under the Pursuit. And it's efficient, getting 1.6 mpg at a 4500 rpm cruise, which pushes 39.7 mph. Construction: The stringers are solid glass and the transom is cored with high-density composites. Imron paint provides limitless color choices and low maintenance. Resins are vinylester, and wiring harnesses are custom made for each boat. Every wire is neatly loomed, numbered, color-coded, and sealed off at connections with heat shrink. Fishability: The console can accommodate twin 15" electronics screens. Twin lockable rodboxes in the deck hold eight rigs, a rounded and bait-calming blue 45-gallon livewell is behind the leaning post, and the front of the console has a well-insulated drinkbox. The narrow beam and shorter LOA make for less fishing space than the others. Highs & Lows
High: Clean, open layout maximizes available space. Fast and efficient. Imron looks great. Gobs of well-insulated fish-stowage capacity. Low: Fixed bow seating makes it harder to chase fish. Low-profile bowrail may look good, but it's not as comfortable to hold as a full-height design.
Shoot Out: $150,000 Center Consoles
The Basics
LOA: 31'2"
Beam: 9'6"
Draft (max.): 2'8"
Displacement (lbs., approx.; w/o power): 8,500
Fuel capacity (gal.): 260
Water capacity (gal.): 20
Performance: The sleekest beam-to-length ratio of the fleet lets it eat through bay chop like it doesn't exist. Not surprisingly, its narrow hull combined with hefty displacement (a ton more than the rest) make for a solid feel upon reentry. It posts a startlingly good top speed of 53.4 mph and makes for good economy-cruising at 4500 rpm and 37.1 mph, it got 1.7 mpg. Construction: Vacuum infusion is used to control resin content in the hull and deck to provide strength and save weight. The method is also used for the fiberglass stringers, which are bonded to the hull with Plexus adhesive while the hull is still in the mold. This ensures a perfect match and a finished hull that's straight and true. Finish work lives up to Pursuit's reputation. Fishability: It's a little shy on cockpit room, but it sets lofty standards for tackle systems. There's a four-box tackle center in the transom. The leaning post has three more tackle trays, with bulk tackle stowage drawers, an aft slide-out tackle center, and a bait prep station with molded-in rigging cutouts. It also has a 52-gallon livewell. Highs & Lows
High: No sacrifices made on tackle, rod, or fish stowage. Finish is picture-perfect. Eats up choppy water with glee. One of the best livewells on the water. Low: The transom fishbox hatch conflicts with the transom rodholder. Not as much fishing space as beamier competitors. The Bottom Line
$150K is a fair price for these boats, and you wouldn't go wrong with any one of the four contenders we've lined up here. The Pursuit is fast and gorgeous, the Jupiter handles like a dream, the Edgewater is built bull-tough, and the Grady-White has an awesome layout for fishing. Each of these machines will go down in boating history as cream-of-the-crop $150,000 center consoles. That being said, we have to give the Grady-White 306 Bimini top honors. Brute strength and sheer size obviously play a role, but we also love the smart design and maximized fishing ability.