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What to look for in: A Man’s Center Console

The best center console features.

June 28, 2009
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1. Coffin fishbox with extra livewell. Box is good for leaning on to help keep you in place when it’s rough.

2. Cockpit sole is one level. No step up to bow area. Waist-high gunwales.

3. Small foredeck, just big enough for an anchor locker. Short anchor pulpit makes rode handling faster and easier when changing spots. No windlass, which fouls lines and takes up deck space. Use your arms for hauling, it’s good for you.

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4. Coaming bolsters all the way around.

5. Low-profile recessed bowrail.

6. Toe rail or toe recess all around.

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7. Pull-up cleats. Fixed ones tangle lines.

8. Rodracks in console sides. Now that the head is gone.

9. Big electronics flat. No curvy dash or funky angles. Just flat fiberglass for flush mounting.

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10. Deckboxes large enough for a 300-pound tuna.

11. Rocket launchers.

12. Chart tube.

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13. All fishbox, baitbox, and livewell hatches insulated.

14. Minimum 50-gallon livewell, rounded and lit, with two pumps.

15. Rigging station with cutting board, knife/pliers/rig holders, leader holders, bait reefer or chill box, and multiple tackle stowage drawers.

16. Lockable rod stowage, rod/gaff/mop racks, under gunwale.

17. Downrigger-ball holders.

18. Transom door.

19. One big engine in a small well, leaving room on each side. More engines take up too much room.

20. Raw-water high-pressure washdown. No freshwater washdown. Use the extra tankage space for more fuel.

21. Dedicated space for chum and cast-net buckets.

22. Big scuppers quickly clear off lots of water and fish parts when washing down.

23. Rodholders.

24. Prewired for electric reels/downriggers.

Thanks a lot for pussifying my fishboat. What are you going to do next, dose my beer with estrogen? Going back to its emergence in 1964 with the Aquasport 22-2, the center console was intended for fishing. Period.

But just as 4x4s morphed from tough CJ-3 Jeeps into Cadillac Escalades, the center console has become the family minivan for the water. You might as well be wearing pink Topsiders for all the street cred it gets you.

The change was bound to happen, because the boat’s potential is obvious. Add some seating and lots of cushions, and it’s perfect for a fireworks-display cruise, runs to waterside fern bars, and keeping the kiddies dry and secure with its high freeboard. You can pull skis, tow toys, and boards. A center console is seaworthy for offshore yet can be beached for a clambake. It’s easy to dock because the skipper has instant access to all the cleats without having to climb or open hatches and doors. Self-bailing cockpits don’t rely on bilge pumps, and cleanups are quick and easy. Lovely. But I want my damn open Jeep and for-anglers-only, fish-guts-on-the-deck center console back!

So in an attempt to pump some testosterone into these girly boats, here are our suggestions on how to bring them back to their roots. Use them as a guide the next time your wife says it’s okay for you to buy a boat.

Please No Girly…

• Head in the console. Putting one in anything under 24′ makes the console too big, robbing deck space. • Forward console seat that takes up space and is uncomfortable offshore. • Oversized swim platforms.

• Bow seating area with drink holders, and definitely no table.

• Bench seat against the transom.

• Swoopy Eurotransoms. Square them off and leave open to maximize access around the stern and reduce reachover.

• Wood trim-anywhere.

• Pretty pastel green, blue, or yellow hull colors. Dings and chips less obvious in white.

• Backrest on leaning post, or worse, bucket seats. They get in the way.

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