Thrill Ride



A hard-charg­ing blue­wa­ter sport yacht, Sea Force IX’s cus­tom-built 41.5 cen­ter con­sole is a force to be reck­oned with.

There’s no short­age of big out­board-pow­ered cen­ter con­soles charg­ing around the ocean these days, both as fish­ing boats and megay­acht ten­ders. But in this sea of fa­mil­iar­ity, the 41.5 by Sea Force IX drums the wa­ter to a dif­fer­ent beat.

What makes this boat so dif­fer­ent? The phi­los­o­phy of the man­u­fac­turer based in Pal­metto, Florida, for starters. The typ­i­cal drill for a cen­ter con­sole builder is to be­gin with a small boat and even­tu­ally go larger as ex­pe­ri­ence grows. Sea Force, how­ever, works in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. At 41 feet, the 41.5 is a scaled-down ver­sion of its larger boats.

Sea Force has been mak­ing cus­tom sport­fish­ing con­vert­ible yachts from 70 to 94 feet since 2001; an­other di­vi­sion builds steel and alu­minum yachts and pa­trol boats. The com­pany runs a full-ser­vice yard, too. This soup-to-nuts oper­a­tion is headed by Capt. Ron Rook­stool, whose “been there, done that” rep­u­ta­tion is based on his life’s work cre­at­ing premium ves­sels, one boat at a time.

I stepped aboard the 41.5 at the Buc­ca­neer Yacht Club in Palm Beach Shores, Florida. The plan was to go off­shore for a day of sail­fish­ing; we’d troll lines just south of Lake Worth In­let in about 120 feet of wa­ter. The boat’s cus­tom-yacht pedi­gree was im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent. Fit and fin­ish were ex­em­plary and the hull gleamed un­der its Awl­grip/Awl­craft top coat.

You won’t see any print-through on this boat, even with the dark blue hull, be­cause parts are baked af­ter lay-up to elim­i­nate any possibility of post-cure anom­alies. Built on a jig, com­pos­ite con­struc­tion in­cludes hand-laid mul­ti­di­rec­tional knit­ted lam­i­nates that are vac­uum-bagged to DIAB struc­tural foam. The hull, deck and liner are fu­sion-bonded to the stringer grid and the bulk­heads, then glassed in place with West epoxy. The re­sult is what Sea Force calls its mono­lithic con­struc­tion, a process also used on the com­pany’s larger yachts. It makes for a hefty boat that’s more than ready for blue wa­ter, par­tic­u­larly with its deep-V hull (23 de­grees of tran­som dead­rise).

The 41.5 is the first in a new se­ries of per­for­mance sport yacht cen­ter con­soles that will ex­tend to 55 feet. “It’s for ex­pe­ri­enced yachts­men who want the same fea­tures, com­fort and qual­ity they en­joy aboard their larger ves­sels,” said Todd Al­brecht, the com­pany’s sales and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor. He was on board for the sea trial.

Our test boat was set up for fish­ing and the cock­pit was all busi­ness with a 37-inch reach to the water­line and an av­er­age depth of 28 inches. It was out­fit­ted with 20 rod hold­ers: six in the slen­der fiber­glass coam­ing that was lined with a plush bol­ster, seven at the tran­som rocket launcher and an­other seven in the rocket launcher at the bait sta­tion near the helm. The vac­u­umed-bagged fiber­glass hard­top fea­tures a cutout for the rods at the bait sta­tion. I pre­fer this setup to rods mounted on the hard­top, as it makes it eas­ier for crew to grab the gear when they’re work­ing in the cock­pit. The two rocket launch­ers are teak and coated with West epoxy resin and Awl­grip Clear, which says a lot about the way this com­pany treats each boat it builds.

At the tran­som, our gog­gle-eyes swam freely in an LED-il­lu­mi­nated 55-gal­lon livewell. Fit­tings near the top of the livewell ac­com­mo­date stan­chions for a re­mov­able seat with back­rest. The owner can in­stall that when he wants to shift gears and en­joy a crowd-pleas­ing cruis­ing ves­sel. Tran­som doors flank the livewell and pro­vide ac­cess to the teak-planked swim plat­form with board­ing lad­ders and big 12-inch, pull-up cleats.

The bait sta­tion in­cludes a cut­ting board, fresh­wa­ter sink and an in­su­lated bin that holds 180 pounds of ice pro­vided by the 540-pound­per-day chip­per. Tackle and loose gear stow in com­part­ments on ei­ther side of the bait sta­tion. I like this ar­range­ment more than aft­fac­ing draw­ers, which can open up and spill gear into the cock­pit when a boat is un­der­way.

Be­neath the fiber­glass sole is a pair of mac­er­a­tor-equipped, 100-gal­lon wells for fish and other gear. A cen­ter­line hatch pro­vides ac­cess to the ship’s equip­ment, in­clud­ing through-hull and sea valves for the raw-wa­ter sys­tems, six AMG bat­ter­ies (one for each en­gine, two for house and ship sys­tems, and one for the genset), the fuel man­i­fold and fil­ters for the triple V-8 350-hp Yamaha out­boards, and the 5.6-kW Mase diesel gen­er­a­tor. There’s also ac­cess to three Rule 2000 bilge pumps, a 2,500-gph Hooker livewell pump and a fire-ex­tin­guish­ing sys­tem. Wire and plumb­ing runs are neatly in­stalled, chafe­pro­tected and la­beled.

The helm sta­tion is one step up from the cock­pit. Sport­fish con­vert­ible touches in­clude a teak helm pod and an Ed­son teak wheel with Uflex hy­draulic steer­ing (it fea­tures a vari­able-speed, pow­eras­sist pump). There are also dig­i­tal mon­i­tor dis­plays for en­gines and sys­tems. On the test boat, a raised fiber­glass dash hous­ing a pair of

Garmin 7616 MFDs pro­vided nav­i­ga­tion sup­port, while a JL au­dio sys­tem played through­out the yacht. Elec­tronic en­gine con­trols, a Lew­mar DC bow thruster and a Lew­mar wind­lass de­liv­ered prompt, fin­ger­tip re­sponse at the helm. The area is air-con­di­tioned and in­cludes re­frig­er­ated drink hold­ers—an­other item fa­mil­iar to megay­acht own­ers—and three Lle­broc ad­justable seats with footrests.

Dur­ing our run off­shore, the one-piece wrap­around wind­screen of­fered un­ob­structed vis­i­bil­ity. It’s tied into the cor­ner sections with painted alu­minum frame­work and bor­ders that match the top­side fin­ish. The raked alu­minum sup­ports for the hard­top match the hull, too.

At the fore­deck, the sheer has a nice sport­fish con­vert­ible in­flu­ence, and it rises gen­tly to pro­vide 33 inches of depth. If you’re work­ing a fish around the boat, you have a good 18 inches at the nar­row­est sec­tion of the walka­round, and for added safety, there’s a re­cessed grabrail near the bol­ster. Be­neath the coam­ing, an­glers will find stowage for spin­ning and fly rods. Drink hold­ers in a molded arm­rest and an­other pair of grabrails are at the sculpted lounge for­ward of the cabin. I like that the plush seat is re­cessed and low so pas­sen­gers don’t block the helms­man’s view; that’s a de­tail you don’t find on ev­ery cen­ter con­sole in this size range.

As I men­tioned, the 41.5 can serve as a fish­ing boat or a ten­der. “As a ten­der, it has the hard­ware for tow­ing,” said Al­brecht, “and an Awl­grip fin­ish that re­pels en­gine ex­haust from a yacht. That means less clean-up and main­te­nance work for the crew.”

This Sea Force also func­tions as an overnight plat­form with ac­com­mo­da­tions for two in the cabin, where there’s a Mappa burl ta­ble, 24-inch TV, 16,000-Btu air con­di­tion­ing, a Bo­mar ven­ti­lat­ing hatch and an en­closed head and shower. The gal­ley is neat and com­pact with re­frig­er­a­tion, mi­crowave, sink with nickel-plated fix­tures and Staron coun­ter­tops. But the stand­out fea­ture is the ex­quis­ite Hawai­ian koa cab­i­netry and join­ery; its fine grain makes the case that you are on a cus­tom yacht.

The helm con­trols and out­boards oper­ated seam­lessly. While the ocean wasn’t of­fer­ing up vic­tory-at-sea con­di­tions on this day, we were able to run down and up sea, and to drift and charge over what large wakes we could find in the ocean. The boat re­vealed it­self as a tight, quiet and sta­ble plat­form. And be­cause it’s heavy, it rode more like a con­vert­ible than a highly pow­ered cen­ter con­sole. In ad­di­tion, the three Yama­has pro­vided a com­fort­able choice of cruis­ing speeds be­tween 3500 and 5000 rpm (21 to 38 knots re­spec­tively), with good fuel ef­fi­ciency through­out the range.

Be­cause it’s cus­tom, Sea Force can equip the 41.5 for the cus­tomer’s pref­er­ence. If the owner wants to cruise, he can get a wa­ter­maker and a Sea­keeper 5, and even color match the hull to the un­der­side of the hard­top. A cock­pit grill, mez­za­nine seat­ing and joy­stick con­trols are ad­di­tional op­tions. Sea Force builds its fleet one boat at time, and as a re­sult ev­ery model—par­tic­u­larly this 41.5—is sure to please.

Un­for­tu­nately, the sail­fish were not as im­pressed as I was with the 41.5. Todd and I, along with Sea Force’s Chris MacKen­zie, live-baited our gog­gle-eyes for sev­eral hours with­out a bite. Fish­ing hap­pens like that sometimes. The north­ward-flow­ing Gulf Stream was mod­er­ate and we worked a weav­ing pat­tern, go­ing as deep as 200 feet and mov­ing in­shore to 90. But we never found a sail­fish that wanted to take the bait. Even so, the ocean ex­pe­ri­ence was valu­able as it re­vealed the per­for­mance pa­ram­e­ters of the 41.5, demon­strat­ing what the boat is all about: qual­ity.

LOA: 41'8" Beam: 12'0" Draft: 2'8" Displ.: 21,660 lb. Fuel: 505 gal. Wa­ter: 60 gal. Power: 3/350-hp Yamaha V-8 out­board Base Price: $757,000

Triple Lle­broc seats face a clean and modern helm sta­tion with well-done cus­tom de­tails, in­clud­ing the teak pod and Ed­son wheel.

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