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The Rise of Outboards and Center Consoles

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by olderboater, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    This subject is being brought up after the discussion of Mag Bay and their new center console. There you have former SF people, coming back, but with a center console instead of a SF. One of the reasons I heard from Hatteras people for dropping Cabo was that the small SF market was being taken over by center consoles.

    When I was growing up on a lake in NC, outboards were for small boats and bass boats. A runabout over 20' was going to have an I/O. When it came to the SF world, it was diesel inboards and outboards had only the small boats on the coasts, such as Boston Whaler.

    When you wanted to go bigger and/or faster, the solution whether inland or coastal was to move away from outboards and toward I/O's or inboards. That was largely driven by the limitations of outboards.

    In the recovery from the market collapse, the market share of I/O's has dropped significantly and outboards have gained each year and show no signs of slowing down. Glastron reintroduced many outboards, Bayliner went all outboard, even Sea Ray introduced outboards. One of the companies that recovered quickest was Marine Products Corporation but it wasn't on the strength of Chaparral, rather the power of Robalo and the outboard line. As outboards rose in size to 300 hp, you could easily power any boat up to 30' with outboards for far less than other propulsion systems and this is just mainstream outboards, not even counting Seven Marine's 557.

    So, that brings us to SF and center consoles. Cabo built great SF's but primarily in the 30-50' range. Even Bertram was heavily dependent on their under 50' SF's. But outboard powered center consoles were now available in the 30-40' range.

    There were two factors responsible for major shifts. SF manufacturers were finding a strong market for larger and larger boats and greater profits in building those boats. They were moving away from the small SF boats at the same time CC's were gaining market share.

    A discussion of Center Consoles has to start with Boston Whaler. They're traditional and they have huge market presence. They also follow market trends. Today they have CC's up to 42' and engine options up to Quad 350 hp, so 1400 hp total. They're following companies like SeaVee who now offer up to 43' CC's with specifications of up to 1600 hp. Contender goes to 39'. Jupiter to 38' CC, plus a 41' Express. Yellowfin to 42', with triple or quad outboards to 1650 hp. Intrepid offers a 40' CC, 41' Express. Regulator to 41'. Seahunter to 45'. Scout to 42'. Regulator to 41'. Grady White to 38'. Everglades to 43'. However, the prize goes to the Hydrasports 53' Suenos model with quad 557's or for those not requiring as much speed, quad 350's.

    An exception to the death of small SF's is Hatteras sells a 45' now, basically the old Cabo, they call it an Express with two models, Express and Express sportfish. Clearly the small SF market isn't completely dead as that boat is selling great. However, Hatteras can perhaps get by with what others can't.

    The 30-40' market is all center consoles. They keep moving up. They are clearly the way for fishermen to get into a boat without spending what an Inboard SF costs. Also, they are not just used for fishing, they are used as family boats.

    Center consoles are not my area of greatest knowledge. However, I did purchase one last year for crew use. A 39' Contender with triple Yamaha 300's. I chose 300's over 350's based on what I felt was better dependability. We got the luxury model for all purpose use but it gets a little fishing on occasion. It's a great day boat. Our favorite day boat for our use is a 44' Riva. It is annoying a bit that the crew can outrun us in the Contender as max speed for the contender is 57 knots, but it cruises nicely in the 40's and 30's. And as to fuel, at 33 knots it gets about 1.25 nmpg. Our Riva doesn't get that at idle. At that same speed the Hatteras 45 Express gets 0.4 nmpg and it's top speed with twin 1136 hp is 39 knots.

    I was at first bothered a bit that Mag Bay came out with a CC and not a remake of a Cabo SF. However, now I'm glad they did. Perhaps nearer 50' the old SF makes sense but in the 30-40' range, the market is CC and one thing I learned long ago is the market is pretty smart and makes sense. The market can get what it wants for $80,000-$300,000 in center consoles. It can have a nice ride and great performance and save money. Can't really argue with that.

    Outboards have continued to grow and take market share. Center Consoles are doing the same thing. I'm not saying there is no place for the prior Cabo's or smaller Bertrams. We would still rather be out on our Riva than in a center console. However, the growth will continue. It also won't stop at 40-45'. While the 53' Hydrasports is a novelty now, others will follow. Boston Whaler held back until others proved there's a 40' market but now they have a 42' I predict three years from now they'll have a 50' and most of the others will as well. Center consoles aren't at all new, but their impact is and their movement into larger sizes is and has very much changed the playing field.

    This also isn't the only place outboards are making a move. Several pocket trawlers such as Rosborough now have them. Great Harbour has introduced a 35' Trawler type boat with twin outboards.
  2. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    Great post OB! You're level of knowledge across a broad spectrum is remarkable!! Agree with you on the Hydrosports 53 "Suenos"; a benchmark for luxury center consoles, but with a price tag fast approaching 7 figures, it will likely remain a "dream" for most...

  3. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    Here's a piece I wrote back in 2009 (or there about). Many new offerings since, but these were my observations at the time...

    ***​

    The prices of premium, center console boats is borderline criminal. I believe this was mostly fueled by low interest rate, easy credit loans and the squandering of home equity. It will be interesting to see how many of these bass boats on steroids will survive the squeeze. For those CC builders gouging the public, I wish them a quick and speedy demise...

    1. Jupiter - Although these boats are grossly overpriced, they have come into favor in recent years, sold on the premise of being an extremely strong, overbuilt boat and that's exactly what they are… overbuilt to the tune of 3,000 to 4,000 lbs. heavier than they need to be and overpriced to the tune of $50k to $100k, depending on length. There is no use of hi-performance, lamination technology to make them light or strong, just a heaping mound of resin that adds SO much weight, they now brag about being the best riding boat in their segment, of course failing to mention that it takes huge horsepower and your own personal oil reserve to keep them on plane. Consider yourself lucky to crack the 50 mph mark with a tail wind, down current, light on fuel and vapor escaping from your tanks. While speed isn’t everything, efficiency accounts for something. In that category, Jupiter's are a tug boat with a planning hull. Jupiter prides themselves on fit and finish, but that pride doesn't come through in their mold work. Eye the side of their new 29’, 34’ and 38’ hulls and you’ll see the same imperfections that caught my eye, a very inconsistent, wavey finish. In fact, I’ve seen better finishes from some of the Hialeah, warehouse-based boat builders (that’s not saying much!). You could attribute this to pulling the hull early and not properly supporting it before the superstructure was added, but I think these are just poorly maintained molds to begin with. Again, the sign of a builder with little care in building quality boats. To their credit, the ergonomics of Jupiter’s are among the best in the biz and the ride is exceptional, albeit a little wet compared to others due to weight.

    2. Contender - A boat I never gave much attention to is the Contender. It’s a personal thing, I just don’t care for the lines of the boat and the accommodations & ergonomics are pretty basic. That said, I live in an area with a high concentration of center console boats, Palm Beach. Matter of fact, I live right next to a popular boat ramp and on weekends, I see 100’s of center consoles. A good number of them are Contenders. They are quite popular, but why? They are built much the same way as the Jupiter, but not quite as heavy, without any frills, at a price that leaves money left over for tackle and their mold work is excellent. They are simply a better value for the money, especially for guys that aren’t interested in making a statement, just getting to the fish and getting home.

    3. Everglades - I haven’t spent any time on the water with an Everglades, but I’ve boarded them at boat shows. The sweep of the bow to the waterline, along the chine, makes me suspect these boats would slam in certain seas. Setting this aside, they are beautifully appointed boats with exceptional ergonomics, but way too many components and compartments. The protective, wrap windscreen is welcome, but the cut-outs in their t-tops, aft of the helm, is not. Don’t recall the reason for this, but prefer as much shade as I can get in the sun.

    4. Intrepids - have been extremely popular as tenders over the past decade. As one of the original all foam, no wood boats, they quickly created a market that others have followed. I have no experience with them and have not looked at their specs because these boats remain so pricey, only a superyacht owner can afford them.

    5. Donzi - Another popular CC, due to style, price point (and probably name recognition) is Donzi. For the inland, bay boater, I’m sure it will do just fine. But for those of us that run to the islands, I wouldn’t choose a production boat of this nature. I‘ve seen two of these boats return with broken bits, one with a center console lifted off the deck. I’ve heard this story from others as well.

    6. Fountain - makes a fast center console because they are laid up light, have a ventilated hull and a step bottom. There’s a good selection of these boats in the used market as well. I’m not a fan of Reggie’s boats. I remember them all too well from the 90’s when people had to cut out interior liners to replace leaking gas tanks. I’m sure they’ve learned from past mistakes and taken corrective measures. Or have they?

    7. Concept - I've looked closely at the hull and decks on the new Concept center console boats at the shows and can't find a straight line anywhere. Everything is crooked, with waves and inconsistency. They cover up this mess with fancy paint jobs. If the finish is a reflection on the laminate, I don't want to think about hitting a wave the wrong way. Your hull and deck are the foundation. Without a solid, well built base, no amount of paint, fancy bezels or pattern stitched interiors are enough to separate me from my better judgment. But, I regress… they recently built a 44’ center console that is an absolute stand-out in the market. I haven’t ridden in this boat, but I wouldn’t expect any surprises. The design, finish, ergonomics, amenities, rigging… are all present and accounted for. It’s an exceptional boat in the super-size, center console market.

    8. Powerplay - There is the one boat that stands out in my mind as the best center console ever built, however the company discontinued operations in 2005. If you can find one, it will serve you well for a lifetime. They are light, strong, very fast and super solid. The Powerplay 33’ Center Console. These boats were built by one of the most meticulous guys in boat building, using the same race boat methods and procedures that took him to national and world championships. The people that buy these boats are generally go fast guys that had Cigarettes, Apaches, Skaters, etc., but they grew up, slowed down and learned that a well-built boat without all the bells and whistles meant more time on the water. Danny Weinstein, the builder of these boats, employed a number of the original lay-up guys from Apache. They carved the plugs by hand (long before automated CNC routers) and they remain the truest, straightest hulls and decks in the business. The layup and finish is flawless. More importantly, go jump any size wave and I promise you, you won’t have any cracks. Equally, you won’t hear a thing while charging hard offshore. They are solid and quiet. If you can find one - BUY IT!
  4. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Following up on your notes.

    First, can't omit Boston Whaler even though they definitely won't perform comparable to the others. They're a good family boat and they are following the market.

    Also, SeaVee has become a force in the market. Not the fastest but perform well, cater to families well. You can get some well dressed models.

    Can't argue strongly with your Jupiter comments. I do believe they've made improvements but not the quality of the competition.

    Purchased a Contender so some prejudice. One major change is that they do have any frills you wish today. They're putting a good bit of emphasis on their sport boats vs. just tournament boats. We've liked the quality and like that they generally appear busy.

    Everglades is most interesting to me because Dougherty (founder) came from Boston Whaler, developed a new method of coring and then started Everglades. I think of them as a Boston Whaler taken a step further into performance.

    As to Intrepid, I see above I overlooked their 48' model which is a beautiful boat and does offer a tower. I think they do target a lot of yacht owners to be used as tenders so do a lot of customization. Nice boats from what I know. I didn't price them.

    Donzi and Fountain, I have to dismiss. Those two brands have just been kicked around and so many issues and problems from a corporate point of view, I don't want to get close. Of course, Reggie long gone. I'm sure Fountain will out perform the others as would Cigarette and Nor-tech. If after performance and luxury and money no object those would be the way to go.

    Concept is a different breed and one I didn't look at. They're designed a bit more like high performance boats that traditional center consoles.

    Powerplay got my attention but couldn't hold on to it. You speak of discontinued operations in 2005 and seems like they've always been on again, off again. 1 year they'll show at boat shows and the next they won't. Their website domain isn't active but their facebook is. They produced at least two boats in 2016, a 42' for sale and at Marina Delray in Delray Beach and a 42' delivered to Jacksonville. I suspect a couple a year has been about it, working out of a warehouse. They are high performance boats.
  5. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    Powerplay went into receivership, then the name and molds (not all) were purchased by the previous owner of Midnight Express; Tom Mason. A new 42' was added and the original 33' was stretched to 35' (I think!). Your observations on PP's current state is correct. I don't think the updated designs have been as well received.
  6. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Well, looked like Olderboater opened a big can of worms. hehehe The advances in outboard HP, how smooth they now run, and reliability have really allowed the center console market to flourish.

    Jupiter has never been a high volume builder. They do build a strong, good riding boat, but at the sacrifice of speed.

    Boston Whaler- I manage and maintain 3 of them, but have run many small ones, as well as 25,27,32,37 outrages. The owners who buy these center consoles are yacht owners, not fisherman. Of the 4 outrages I mentioned the owners may fish them 0-4 (maximum) times a year. Fisherman don't buy Boston Whalers. The quality is good on Boston Whalers, but where they REALLY excel is packing every ammenity you can think of into them. Seating, heads, fish boxes, sinks, refrigerators, livewells, storage, etc. etc. They really are the do all center console with every type of owner covered. However, they're just too heavy for their hull design and perform average. Many of them, you have to do 26 knots or more just to stay on plane. Also their ride is only average and they like to pound a bit. These appeal to yacht owners who want all the ammenities of an Intrepid without the price.

    Everglades are well built, but heavy and wet from what people tell me.

    Contenders OWNED the center console market in the 1990's. Then came along Yellowfin and Seavee stepped up their game. These 2 probably dominate the center console market now. Contender failed to keep up with hull design and technology. They still build a good boat, but they're no longer the industry leader like they were in the 90's/early 2000's, they're the follower.

    Powerplay is building a good running, well built center console but having issues with getting them built fast enough to meet demand. They have orders, but just aren't ramped up to build them quicker or more at the same time. The people responsible for Powerplay now are Tom Mason (who started the late Midnight Express and got them really successful and then sold the company some years back) and Pat Sullivan of Performance Trading. Both very knowledgable, trustworthy and good people with a passion for boats. Weinstein built a great boat but really failed at the trustworthy part from everything I heard. I believe they've produced 6 now.

    The Best running/riding center console I've ever run was a 39' Seavee non Z model with 3-350hp yamaha's. It rode amazing, got 1 mpg up to 44mph and topped out at 63 mph. It was the perfect combo, jumped right on plane, rode great and got great fuel mileage for it's size with a range of 600 miles. Seavee builds a very good boat all of the way around. Build quality, ride, speed, ammenities (for fishing). Seavee would be my first choice and build all great models. Aside from one model, Seavee's and yellowfins really appeal to fisherman and lack some of the ammenities hard core cruising types might want.

    Yellowfin- they too build really well built, fast and great riding center consoles. However, the faster you go, the better they ride. SO for someone that wants to cruise around at 25-30 mph's, they may not be the boat for them. They are also heavily geared towards fishing.

    Mag Bay- I looked at one at the boat show. It's a well built boat with very good finish work, issue is, nobody here on the east coast wants a 33' center console..... They either want a hardcore center console 38-42' or under 30' as an easy to drag behind a yacht center console. I think something around 39' that's fast with triples would make a lot of sense for them.

    Scout has been popping boats like crazy, and they're great looking boats with lots of ammenities. But, I hear the build quality is a bit lack luster. I have no first hand experience with them except for looking at a few on trailers.

    Donzi and Fountain are no longer players in the market really. Cigarette and Nortech are, but appeal to the go fast crowd. They both have been selling lots of them, I hear Nortech has a 2 year wait.

    Intrepid builds a very good boat. Their build quality, fit and finish, and everything is extremely well engineered, thought out, and built. They're a very good running/riding boat too. But, they usually are too plush to appeal to fisherman. They're spendy for sure, but seem to only appeal to the megayacht or cruising crowd.

    Here's the other issue, putting on too many motors to get top speed. ON most all of the 38-42' Center consoles, the 4th motor only adds 7-8 MPH but REALLY screws up the ride of the boat otherwise. It shifts the longitudal center of gravity further aft, making them stern heavy, since all of these center consoles were really designed with 3 in mind. But then to make matters worse, the outer motors are so far outbound on the transom that you can't use the trim tabs more than 1/2 way to bring the bow down or the outer motors start cavitating and sucking air and then start overheating. So in rough seas if you have to really slow down into the low 20 knots, they're a complete mess usually as you can't fully use the trim tabs to keep the bow down to cut through rough seas.

    Cabo didn't have any issues selling boats. The issue was, once they were moved from Adelanto,CA to New Bern,NC their build efficiency went to hell and they couldn't remain profitable.

    I do see the market for the small SF market as some center console owners are now getting tired of getting rained on and beat to hell running 50 mph everywhere. You see it with the 35' Bertram selling fast and 45' Hatteras EX. People also want a safe place to store all of their gear,on the boat, even if they are renting a house in the Bahamas.
  7. RER

    RER Senior Member

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    There is no doubt that the larger CC is the biggest thing to hit the fish boat market in a long time. Also, I agree that outboard motor technology has made them the gas power source of choice (by a wide margin) over I/O or Inboard.

    After a lifetime on 15-20 knot sportfishers it's absolutely surreal to run a CC at 40 plus knots. Who wouldn't love that? It's all good stuff when you are in a warm weather environment like South Florida, or in the tropics, and where you don't have to run far to fish.

    However, in places like southern California, with potentially long runs to the fishing grounds and the cold (relatively) weather, they are less practical. In a typical season I could count the days I would want to be on a CC on my two hands and still have fingers left over.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
  8. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    It s not just fishing and they haven't taken a dent only in the small SF category. They have wiped out the performance express cruisers at least in SoFl. People who in the past would turn to an express (or a fast express like formulas) for they day boating have ditched them for big center consoles.

    The main reason are the motors and the leap taken in noise, smoke, vibration with the modern 4 strokes
  9. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    The main reason the OB market took off is because that's what the consumer wanted to buy!!!! They thumbed their nose at I/O's and gas inboards. Those in the know , the ones leading the trend like Yellowfin and Contender were ready to pounce. Seavee was all over the place until they fell in line to become part of the new "big three".
    Boston Whaler has been a follower with a too heavy and slower product, but the name sells just not to the hard core sportfisher. Brunswick was slow to get on the OB train as the bean counters kept on pushing I/O and Gas inboard product as they made more margin on these engines. Basically, they got caught asleep at the helm.
    I love how family owned well run CC companies can not only survive but thrive even during the last recession, take Regulator as an example. More power to them in their crusade against the corporate powerhouse boatbuilders.
    40 - 50 Flybridge sportfishers are stuck in the dead zone, the boater dynamic that bought these models completely shifted. Fewer family / boater lifestyle buyers that overnighted every weekend, now it is just a hit and run boater style, with quickness counting more than any other.
    The big question - what is the next powerboat trend? Is it something like Freeman boats or something else, what's on the design sketch boards?
  10. RER

    RER Senior Member

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    ...right on the money.
  11. Danvilletim

    Danvilletim Member

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    After 4 years on a 62 sportfish, we just picked up a 33 hydrasport and I think it's more fun to fish. I love big boats, boat running down from the fly bridge is a pain. And cruising back from the fishing grounds at 45 knots is crazy fun!!!!!!!!

    I think 108 Mangusta with tow Behind hydrasport might be perfect! LOL
  12. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    For a harden diesel stink pot (Crapper), I have to tell you kids about a B W 42 Outrage near me.
    Quad 300 and every option available.

    WOW!!!! (The font does not get any larger)...

    I could never imagined the outboard console would be like this 10 years ago.
  13. ranger42c

    ranger42c Member

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    Maybe largely because outboards can be fully tilted out of the water, not because they're inherently great. And because there weren't as many inboard diesels available in "smaller" boats.

    Our current boating style includes living on board for various short to medium-long periods; we don't fish much. If/when we get tired of overnighting on the boat, I could see a center console as being a way to get on the water. OTOH, many of the newer CC offerings are priced higher than our current boat, so economics probably wouldn't get me past an older "beater" version.

    I'd still prefer a single diesel inboard, though. Lower cost, ease of access for maintenance, and ease of replacement doesn't get me over the gas hump.

    -Chris
  14. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Will your single diesel onboard cruise 30/40kts? :)

    I just saw that Hunt now offers a 32 express with outboards. Nice...
  15. Perlmudder

    Perlmudder Member

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    You guys have forgotten the biggest and most expensive of them all. The MTI-V 57. I would put them in the ranks for the highest quality and craftsmanship out there. Obviously it is not a popular model, but their 42 has done very well. Also I would not exclude Mystics 42' CC, or Nor-Tech with their 390. Even Cigarette is doing very well with the 42' Huntress, and their 39' GTS. Now these are clearly not hardcore fishing boats, however, there is no denying the amount of CC's being sold as luxury coastal cruisers which will never see a fish on board.
  16. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Have you ever seen the access of a single diesel that has been stuffed inside of a center console? It's generally horrible to work on. Also you lose the head, which is a very nice ammenity to have on a center console.

    Gas inboards are a complete maintenance nightmare, and I'm glad there is only 1 boat with them in all of the ones I manage. It's always something with the gas inboards, spark.....fuel issues..... overheating.....etc.
  17. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    SeaVee offered a 39 in outboard, diesel with straight drives, and IPS. I just couldn't see a good argument for going away from the outboards. You also have to sacrifice some usable space.
  18. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Yes, the diesels are stuffed inside the center console and no fun to work on. You lose the head inside the center console. With outboards where they are today, I too don't see a reason to go away from them on a center console unless you're in a remote place where diesel is a lot cheaper than gas and it's a lot easier to get someone to work on a diesel. The 34' Seavee was also offered with either a single or double inboard diesel for a while.

    I do see how inboard diesels would be preferential on a 45' + center console. Getting into maintaining 4 or even 5 outboards would be a royal pain in the rear once they get a few years on them.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    The frequency of servicing outboards can be a bit much as it's typically every 100 hours.
  20. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

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    Gee, That could be every weekend.

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