Fea­ture-Packed, Pow­er­ful and Ready, This Cen­ter Con­sole Cuts Seas Down to Size

Sport Fishing - - BOATS -

TTest­ing boats dur­ing the Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Boat Show poses more chal­lenges than usual. When I at­tempted to sea-trial Sea Chaser’s new 27 HFC demo model at this year’s show in Fe­bru­ary, I had to plan around po­ten­tial buy­ers.

Luck­ily, I was able to steal away one af­ter­noon with Pat La­nius, ap­pli­ca­tion en­gi­neer for Suzuki Ma­rine. Built by Carolina Skiff, this boat sported a sin­gle, new Suzuki DF350A out­board, which has twin con­tra-ro­tat­ing pro­pel­lers, among other ad­vanced fea­tures.


A throng of demo boats idled in and out of the show’s tem­po­rary ma­rina on Vir­ginia Key as we de­parted — the heavy traf­fic in­dica­tive of the South­east’s boom­ing salt­wa­ter-boat mar­ket. As La­nius manned the wheel dur­ing the long putt through the no-wake zone, I took the op­por­tu­nity to check out key fea­tures, start­ing with the 40-gal­lon livewell in the lean­ing post abaft the helm seat­ing. There’s also a 30-gal­lon livewell in the port quar­ter for sep­a­rat­ing bait species.

A sink and fresh­wa­ter faucet in the middle of the full tran­som lets you clean up af­ter rig­ging baits, chop­ping up chunks or fil­let­ing the day’s catch. You can spritz off a dirty deck with the un­der­gun­wale re­tractable wash­down hose.

Twin bench seats fold out from the tran­som, but then quickly fold away when you need to clear the aft cock­pit. A lift-up tran­som hatch of­fers ac­cess to rig­ging. An in­su­lated 52-gal­lon fish box un­der the aft deck lets you ice down ta­ble fare.

A tran­som door in the star­board quar­ter leads to a swim plat­form and fold­out board­ing lad­der. A beefy in­ward-open­ing door on the port side eases board­ing or slid­ing a big tuna or sword­fish into the cock­pit.


The 9½-foot beam grants sta­bil­ity while fish­ing. Twenty-five-inch-wide walk­ways aside the con­sole help when you’re rac­ing to keep up with a hooked fish, and coam­ing pads en­cir­cling the in­te­rior cush­ion your legs dur­ing a fight. A level deck through­out should also prove easy for an­glers to tra­verse. The stan­chions for the hard­top at­tach to the top of the con­sole, not the deck, elim­i­nat­ing trip points.

I found ver­sa­tile cab­i­nets for tackle stowage in both back­rest mod­ules for the bow seat­ing, plus more stowage in a fold­out com­part­ment along the star­board in­wale. Four rod hold­ers be­hind the helm seat­ing, four more in the hard­top, and 12 gun­wale rod hold­ers of­fer plenty of ver­ti­cal rod stowage.

A unique seat­ing sys­tem for­ward of the con­sole folds up and out of the way to cre­ate ex­tra fore­deck space. Per­haps less prac­ti­cal from an an­gler’s point of view is the el­e­vated U-shaped bow pod that con­verts to loungers with the ad­di­tion of snap-on pads. A re­mov­able pedestal ta­ble in the middle lets the crew en­joy snacks and drinks on plea­sure cruises. Sea Chaser packed 100 gal­lons of stowage space un­der the pods, and you can step atop them to fight a big fish around the bow or man the an­chor.

The roomy an­chor locker of my tester con­cealed a wind­lass. A star­board-side en­try to the step-down cen­ter con­sole in­te­rior leads to more than 5 feet of head­room and more stowage space, as well as an elec­tric-flush­ing ma­rine toi­let.


The boat show’s no-wake zone fi­nally ended, and we emerged on the other side of the Rick­en­backer Cause­way into the ex­panse of Bis­cayne Bay. I took the wheel to put the 27 HFC through its paces. The helm seats, which fea­ture flip-up bol­sters and fold-down arm­rests, felt sup­port­ive and com­fort­able. There’s a fold-down footrest on the seat­ing mod­ule and an an­gled footrest at the base of the con­sole.

The helm panel mea­sures 37 inches wide — plenty of room to flush-mount a pair 15-inch elec­tron­ics dis­plays. A Suzuki C-10 4-inch color dis­play pro­vided all nec­es­sary en­gine data for test­ing. The Suzuki elec­tronic throt­tle con­trol made shift­ing and ac­cel­er­at­ing fin­ger­tip easy. I could feel the props in­stantly hook up as the 27 HFC burst out of the hole, plan­ing in just 4 sec­onds and reach­ing 30 mph in 8.1 sec­onds.

I wrung out a top speed of 47.2 mph at 6,200 rpm, where the 350 burned 30.2 gph for 1.56 mpg. Throt­tling back, I found that the best mileage oc­curred at 4,000 rpm and 27 mph, where the Suzuki burned 14.1 gph for 2.46 mpg. That equates to a cruis­ing range of well over 400 miles based on the 181-gal­lon fuel ca­pac­ity.

De­spite mild winds, find­ing choppy water was no prob­lem, as the steady pa­rade of boat-show ves­sels churned the sur­face water into a lumpy field of con­fused seas. The Sea Chaser took it in stride, its sin­gle-step hull knif­ing through the wash­ing-ma­chine waves. The 100 per­cent com­pos­ite con­struc­tion felt solid, free of creaks and rat­tles, no mat­ter how hard I pushed it into the chop. Cor­ner­ing at speed was pre­dictable and con­fi­dent, the props re­fus­ing to re­lin­quish their bite, no mat­ter how tightly I turned.

This Sea Chaser shows just how many fea­tures you can in­te­grate into a 27-foot cen­ter con­sole. The 27 HFC presents boat buy­ers who are se­ri­ous about blue­wa­ter an­gling with a highly func­tional fish­ing ma­chine, yet one that can also shine on the oc­ca­sional fun cruise with fam­ily and friends.

The el­e­vated U-shaped pod in the bow con­verts to loungers with the ad­di­tion of snap-on seat­ing up­hol­stery. More than 100 gal­lons of stowage space re­side un­der­neath.

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