As a boating enthusiast, the center console design offers a great mix between practicality and versatility whether you choose to go fishing, snorkeling, skiing, entertaining, dockside restaurant hopping, or take advantage of a bit of it all.
If you are ready, I aim to get you all up to speed on a center console boat and its purpose. This article will then explore the different types of center console boats available and even help you choose your next boat.
Table of Contents
What Is a Center Console Boat?
It is relatively easy to spot a center console boat in a lineup. The first thing to look for is the helm, or operational control center, which ought to be near the center of the boat’s open deck hull.
You will often notice a shade structure affixed over the center console area, which provides sun protection to the captain. These shade structures can be removable or permanently installed.
Center console boats do not have cabin space, so they are much lighter than the typical overnighter. Because of this, the bow of a center console boat rides over waves more efficiently (achieving plane), resulting in higher speeds and better fuel economy.
One of the most prized features of center console boats is enhanced visibility since the captain remains more upright when controlling the boat.
How Are Center Console Boats Used?
The configuration of a center console boat offers a simple yet versatile option to water enthusiasts from the angler to the fun-splashing family.
For serious anglers, a center console configuration allows for 360-degree access to gear and the water.
Families can enjoy a leisurely cruise up to their favorite dockside restaurant on a Saturday evening or release the towing rope for a fun afternoon of watersports.
If you are thinking about purchasing a center console boat, I suggest you make time to explore plenty of different types and models to find the most suitable design for your needs.
Different Types of Center Console Boats
Let’s start with the most family-friendly designs first and get to business the further down the list we sail.
There are 5 common types of center console boats, including:
Perhaps the most family-friendly center console boats you can purchase, a hybrid’s deck space is evenly proportioned, typically offering more passenger and storage capacity and comfortable seating.
As a trustworthy name in the boating industry, NauticStar Boats offers four hybrid center console models ranging from eighteen to twenty-five feet in length.
Their 231 Hybrid Sport model offers a marine sound system, swim deck, seating for up to 10 persons, plenty of live wells space, and gear storage.
According to veteran boater John Sampson, the configuration and design of the hybrid center console boat aim to “[combine] the best elements of bowriders, bay boats, and deck boats.”
2. Flats Boat
A flat boat’s shallow draft provides access to hard-to-navigate locations that other boats cannot navigate. A boat’s draft is the distance from the deepest point of the boat’s underside to the waterline- or, more simply put, how deep the boat sits into the water.
Though access to shallow locations is advantageous to many sports fishers, flats boats cannot pursue a catch in more distant offshore areas.
Powered by a suitable outboard engine, a flats boat is just as great a choice for fishing as it is for some under-the-sun-fun. In addition, it offers excellent inshore versatility whether you enjoy watersports, leisurely cruising, or some summer-time lakeside entertainment.
If you are looking for one of the best-known flats boat in the industry, look no further than the Hewes Redfisher 18. Florida Sportsman discusses more of the critical features of a quality flats boat in this video.
3. Bay Boat
If you are looking for a boat that can handle backwater fishing along with venturing out offshore, then look no further than a multi-purpose bay boat.
It’s all in its name- a bay boat can extend into gulf areas, sounds, bights, though be warned that you should still not venture out into the deep blue with this type of center console- that’s what they have offshore boats for.
Bay boats have a deeper draft than the flats boats we already mentioned. In addition, the v-shape of a bay boat’s hull is usually more defined, which helps cut through the choppier water that exists outside those backwater inshore locations.
Scout Boats company finds that bay boats “use features and characteristics from both larger and smaller boats to achieve a balance of performance, ride quality, and mid-level drafts.”
Measuring at twenty-three feet in length, the Scout 231 XS can carry up to eight persons and achieve high speeds powered by an impressive 300 HP outboard engine.
With plenty of options available, bay boats are high-quality and well-designed boats that will boost your fishing game to the next level.
Here we have the first boat on this list that can handle the chop and turbulence of the deep blue. In addition, the multi-hull design of the catamaran offers excellent stability on the water even at higher speeds.
Much safer than monohull boats, the buoyancy and wide stance of the catamaran is becoming more and more popular amongst anglers and family’s alike.
The Invincible Boat Company designs catamaran builds from thirty-three feet to forty-six feet in length with power options up to a strikingly fast 450 HP outboard.
If all you see is blue, opt for an offshore center console designed to handle whatever the wide-open ocean decides to throw at it.
Offshore boats are typically longer, have higher hull sides, and require more power to compensate for their heavier displacement.
Boston Whaler is undoubtedly a leader in the offshore boating community. Their incredible model lineup features a center console design from twenty-three feet to forty-two feet in length.
Like the 420 Outrage, the larger models even feature a kitchen, bathroom, shower, and luxury cabin space to enhance your fishing trip into a family-fun-filled extended getaway.
Steps To Choose A Great Center Console Boat
- Ask yourself the 5 Ws (Who, Why, Where, When, What). Doing this should help give you enough information to get into the specifics.
- Research various manufacturers and speak with local authorized dealers.
- Choose between mono or multi-hull design.
- Consider the options and accessories available such as fuel capacity, engine power, storage, gear, live wells, entertainment, and cabin space (for extended trips).
- Know your budget and financing options.
- Expand your experience and hone in on your preferences by investing in multiple sea trials
Advantages Of Center Console Boats
Multi-purpose: Although fishing may be your priority when finding a suitable boat, a center console boat can still be enjoyable for hosting your family and friends for a day’s cruise out on the water.
Flexible Deck Space: Because center console boats are an angler’s go-to, manufacturers typically provide foldable seating arrangements for an easy switch between a 360-degree fishing workspace to a relaxed family chill-out environment.
Visibility: The center console boat provides heightened visibility and control due to the higher and upright helm positioning.
Easy Cleaning and Maintenance: If you have just finished a saltwater run, you’ll be happy to know that the flatter deck design is much easier to scrub and rinse off than other boats. In addition, center console boats are relatively easy to maintain, and access to the outboard motor is a sinch.
Speed: While there is no need to max out your boat during each outing, you should be happy to know that center console boats can typically handle relatively high speeds quite well. Be sure never to exceed your boat’s capacity and always utilize all driving safety precautions while out on the water.
Gear & Storage: Originally purposed with the angler in mind, center console boats offer various live wells, equipment storage, and gunnel rod racks. Manufacturers are finding new and innovative ways to create more than ample storage space for when those center consoles need to perform as family entertainers.
Disadvantages Of A Center Console Boat
Cabin Space: Notable manufacturers of larger center console boats with offshore capability are eager to provide you and your family with cabin space with all the necessary amenities for extended trips; however, cabin space is not otherwise typical of center console boats.
Limited Protection From The Sun: Center consoles usually have a shaded canopy affixed over the helm; however, this usually is only big enough to offer the captain and co-captain protection from the overhead sun. You may inquire about additional forward bimini top options with your authorized dealer.
No Go-To During A Rainstorm: During the wet season’s rainy weather, you should expect to boat home in wet clothes because center consoles lack that cabin space you could otherwise retreat to while wading out the storm. Maybe consider carrying rain gear for you and your passengers for more comfort during inclement weather.
When deciding on a type of center console boat, the two most critical considerations ought to be location and use. Be sure you understand your boat’s capacity and always remember safe driving while on the water.
If you have any questions about the various types of center console boats available, please do not hesitate to leave your questions or concerns in the comment section below.
Joseph Fabiano is a writer, nature enthusiast, and stay-at-home father of two wild and free boys. He enjoys starting his day with a good run, hot mug of coffee, and a jump in the Ionian Sea, no matter the weather. Currently based in the Apuglia region of southern Italy, he enjoys discovering the world with his best traveling buddies (his little monkey’s and beautiful wife) at every given opportunity. Every trip, long or far, should be made an adventure according to Joseph as he believes inspiration and creation is right in front of you.