KEY WEST

263FS

Boating - - CONTENTS - —Lenny Ru­dow

263FS

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.

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