6 new boat design trends
What's happening to our favourite cottage rides
The overachiever [centre-console]
Once the sole domain of deep-sea anglers, open-deck centre-console boats are becoming the go-to general-purpose configuration for cottagers. According to Gordon Bay Marine’s Jim Parent, 13- to 15-foot side- and centre-consoles are replacing aluminum boats on some cottage lakes. “People are choosing the ease of steering wheels over tillers,” he says. Some centre-console vessels are also self-draining. “You can leave them at the dock for a month and not worry about them.”
The surging popularity of centre-consoles has a lot to do with their user-friendliness. With the helm positioned amidships, they offer the driver better visibility with fewer blind spots and so permit easier docking. What’s more, the uncluttered deck layout means passengers can get on and off and move around more easily.
The biggest change in centre-console boats has been increased comfort, including forward seating ahead of the console, plush upholstery to replace wood benches, and larger windscreens. Parent says many 17- and 18-foot centre-consoles come with a bimini top for sun protection. Some of his water-access cottagers order custom, clear plastic panels to shelter the bow area in rough water or bad weather.
Deep-V and modified-V hulls have helped smooth the uncomfortably jarring ride of flatter tri-hull or cathedral hulls seen in early centre-console designs such as the Boston Whaler. Now, modified, sculpted versions enable the boat to reach a plane more quickly, so it can be fitted with a lower-horsepower engine that is more fuel efficient.
“There’s nothing better than a centre-console boat on a nice warm day,” says Mark Payne, of Payne Marine in Pointe au Baril, Ont. “But they’re not so great when it’s cold and rainy. On Georgian Bay, we see people buying them as a second boat—something for general running around as the weather permits.” Unfortunately, the open, easily accessible deck space comes at a price: Centre-console boats aren’t ideal for carting awkward and bulky gear and construction materials. It’s challenging to balance weight distribution, by loading gear on either side of the console, and still enable passengers to move around the boat unobstructed.
This article was originally published on January 6, 2011