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For a dedicated sportsfisher who doesn't mind the weather, a well set up centre console is hard to beat.
If you are not one of those who revel in the "man against the elements" aspect of boating, then there's probably not a lot to like about a centre console trailer boat. They don't provide any protection from the rain and almost none against the wind. And, unless they've been fitted with a bimini, they don't normally come with much of a recommendation from the anti-sun brigade either.
Add the fact there is nowhere to sit or lie down out of the weather and often not even a huge amount of dry stowage and you can see why they don't have a huge following.
However, if fishing is the main reason you go boating and wind, rain and sun are to be enjoyed rather than endured, then a properly set up centre console might be pretty close to your idea of a perfect boat.
Given that most of us buy a boat as a way of spending more time with our families centre consoles are, understandably, not one of our most popular choices. Check through the product ranges of our leading GRP boat manufacturers. The number of centre consoles on offer is less than the number of digits on my hand (and, yes, thanks for asking, I do have the normal number).
Overseas, particularly in the United States, it is a different story. The sheer numbers of trailer boats in a relatively affluent country of 300 million means there are lots of manufacturers able to specialise in such vessels.
One of those is Scout Boats. Based in the gloriously-named town of Summerville, South Carolina, Scout produces 23 different centre console models. They even manufacture one especially for those who have bought winning lottery tickets. At 12m LOA, the Scout 345XSF is a sportsfishing dream and is available here for a mere half a million dollars.
For those with considerably less to spend on a purpose-built fishing boat, local distributor Orakei Yacht Sales offers the new Scout 222 Sportsfish. It has an LOA of 6.8m, a beam of 2.6m and a price tag ranging from about $95,000 to $110,000 or a little more, depending on options.
It is a price that a small but dedicated number of fishing enthusiasts are prepared to pay. The vessel featured here is the second Scout 222 to arrive in New Zealand and the sixth Scout imported. It is also, according to Orakei Yacht Sales' Jason Snashall, potentially one of their most popular models.
"We had a lot of interest in the Scout 262, which we landed last year," he says. "However, there have certainly been a lot more inquiries for the smaller 222."
The 222 is a pretty special piece of kit. From its "trick" hull to its feature-packed interior this is a boat designed to get fishers to the fish and back again.
Recognising that a good fishing boat needs to be stable at rest as well as nimble while under way, the design team at Scout introduced a couple of design innovations, too.
The first is a convex hull shape they call the NuV3. This features variable degree hull angles designed to give a smooth, dry ride in even choppy water.
The other is their Air-Assist hull. Scout designer Steve Potts says this deliberately combats the problem of static stability, common on small boats, by adding additional longitudinal buoyancy. The result is increased static flotation, decreased time to plane and improved overall handling.
The benefits of these innovations were on show when the Scout 222 was put through its paces by the Propeller magazine test team on a blustery Auckland day recently. Even in the Motuihe Channel's notorious wind against tide chop, the 222 delivered a smooth, comfortable and dry ride, although not necessarily a completely horizontal one.
At rest, the Scout 222 also proved extremely stable, even with three people fishing on one side. Acceleration on to the plane was also quick with an effortless transition and little bow high attitude.
Potts says the hull design has another benefit, too: increased fuel economy. With a Yamaha 150hp 4-stroke on the stern, the 222 delivered 33 knots at 5000rpm while consuming 44.5 litres per hour (or 1.35 litres per nautical mile).
At 4500rpm, the speed was around 27.8 knots with a fuel consumption of 36.7l/h or 1.32 litres per nautical mile. Given tankage of 375 litres and the usual 10 per cent safety margin, that gives a spectacular range of 255 nautical miles (Auckland to Great Barrier and back, twice).
With an open boat and a climate like Auckland's, good dry stowage is vital. The 222 has oodles. For a start, there is the centre console, completely enclosed and large enough to play home to a private head, with full sitting headroom.
Other stowage is found in the bow seat which encloses an insulated fish bin, draining overboard; another seat which doubles as a 90-litre removable chilly bin; another drained locker under the driver's seat (ideal for keeping drinks on ice); an aerated and circulating bait tank: a similar sized compartment able to be used as a bait bin and corner seats in the transom that also have storage beneath.
Scout has managed to squeeze in an enormous number of places to park one's derriere, especially given that this is an "open" fishing boat with an LOA of just 6.8m. In all, there is comfortable seating for eight on board and adding a cushion to the for'ard fishing platform would increase this further.
Even better, the 222's side rails have been cleverly placed so one can comfortably perch on the coamings.
Scout Boats are all fibreglass, with composite stringers and transoms. The company also prides itself on innovative construction methods. The latest of these is their Scout Strata-Mount engine system. A fully factory moulded bracket, it ensures the two main longitudinal grid stringers pass through the transom and are integrated into the engine mount. This allows the "stress" of the engine to be spread over the entire hull rather than being concentrated solely in the transom area.
And, how about this: aft of the driver's seat is a special stainless steel "leaning post". This comes with a handrail, four rod holders and two handily positioned drink holders.
Now that's a well thought out fishing boat.
Scout 222 SF
Deadrise: 20 degrees
Trailerable Weight: About 1750kg
Engine range: 150-250hp
Fuel capacity: 379 litres
Packages from: $95,000
Price As described: $110,000
Want to know more?
Check out Barry Thompson's comprehensive boat test on the Scout 222SF in the February/March issue of Propeller magazine.