WE SAY A day of casting for stripers with three anglers aboard the 263FS proved that the builder didn’t sacrifice fishability to add family features to this model, yet we found plenty of lounging space and creature comforts aboard. The bow provides a perfect example: Rather than add removable backrests for the bow seats — which offer dubious comfort, get in the way when fishing, and are bulky and difficult to stow — Key West molds in curved seat backs that protrude from the inwales. We discovered that the bow seats were among the comfiest we’ve ever plopped down in, yet they interrupted our fishing efforts a little more than other seat-back options might.
All the angling prerequisites are present and accounted for, ranging from a pair of livewells in the transom to copious flushmounted gunwale rod holders and rocket launchers (there are 22 holders in total). More about those rocket launchers: Grab a couple of the ones mounted on the hardtop and try doing a few chin-ups. You’ll find the pipework and hardtop are rocksolid, which is indicative of the way the entire boat is built. The molded stringer grid is pumped full of foam, Coremat adds stiffness in the decks and hull sides, and biaxial glass reinforces critical areas.
The side gunwale door is an unusual find on a boat of this size, and rather than go all the way down to deck level, it swings open about halfway down. Flip it open to find an integrated telescopic reboarding ladder inside.
WHO’D WANT ONE
Anglers who place a premium on comfort.
ANOTHER CHOICE Scout’s 255 LXF is another center console fishing boat that’s family-friendly ($130,621 with twin 150s).
BOTTOM LINE $123,125; keywestboatsinc.com
· LOA: 26'3" · BEAM: 9'3" · DRAFT: 1'6" · DISPLACEMENT: 4,600 lb. · WATER CAPACITY: 12 gal. · FUEL CAPACITY: 175. gal.
HOW WE TESTED
ENGINE: TWIN 175 HP YAMAHA F175 OUTBOARDS PROP: 14.25" X 18" 3-BLADE STAINLESS STEEL GEAR RATIO: 1.86:1 FUEL LOAD: 855 GAL. CREW WEIGHT: 550 LB.