Location: Beaufort, NC Center console Is it worth trying to save money and build a center console for my skiff or should I just buy one?
The plastic wood now available can be bent and shaped taking compound curves quit readily for a very nice finished job. Originally Posted by jbheels Is it worth trying to save money and build a center console for my skiff or should I just buy one? Commercially available fibreglass centre consoles are very heavy, expensive and impractical. My console is about as small as you could go and still fit a steering drum into it, hydraulic or push-pull steering will need more room. I have an upper storage compartment under the hinged seat and a lower one for extra fuel tank or whatever can get wet.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals.
Coraline build some very flash boats up to eight metres in length, so it was interesting to review the one the builder had made for himself: an unpainted five-metre centre console.
The structure too suits a rugged working life, although this is a standard feature; and it probably needs to be with a five-year hull warranty.
The self draining deck is raised forward to make a casting platform; it houses a large storage space below it and has a socket in it taking a swivel seat.
The driver’s seat leans more towards first class, with plenty of padding although no back rest.
Fishing niceties include a catch tank under the deck aft, rod holders in the coamings, and a removable bait board. Centre consoles can be prone to wetness, and even on summer days that is not usually welcome.
Sailfish powercats were top-five aluminium fishing boats at Australia’s Greatest Boats three years running. With no intentions of trying to cover all bases with a boat full of compromises, the Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King is all fishing. With a hull boasting a 5mm aluminium plate bottom and 4mm sheeting for the sides, the Preda-King is one solid boat.
Maintaining their excellent reputation, Sea Jay has provided a very high-standard of finish. In keeping with solid offshore fishing credentials, the Sea jay 6.8m Preda-King incorporates a large two-person centre console that is simple and uncluttered.
The layout incorporates a large open space with Yamaha's three gauges mounted above the steering wheel, with a six-gang switch panel and engine ignition switch panel mounted on the starboard side of the wheel.
Two storage shelves are mounted underneath the console to hold necessary items out of the weather, and this would also double as a good place to mount a VHF radio or similar for weather protection. The console has a short and tinted windscreen, which didn't provide much protection to the skipper and passenger in the breezy conditions we encountered. The large T-top, on the other hand, does a good job in providing shelter from the hot sun for the two seats behind the helm, and is placed well out of the way to keep deck space clear. Powered by the silky smooth 225hp Yamaha fuel injected four-stroke outboard, the 6.8m Preda-King is certainly no slouch. The F225 was released in 2001 and has proven to be a very reliable engine in the field, with many commercial operators noting thousands of hour's worth of reliable service with only simple routine maintenance. Current F225s come standard with an excellent engine management system utilising three gauges for delivering information on everything from rpm, speed, trim, fuel flow, fuel capacity, economy and more. With a recommended engine rating of 175hp, and a maximum of 235hp, the F225 fits right at the top of the horsepower scale for the Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King. With approximately 180 litres of fuel aboard, three adults and minimal gear, the fitted 19in stainless steel Yamaha propeller proved to be an ideal match.
The SeaStar hydraulic steering on the Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King made the power of the F225 easy to handle, particularly when effortlessly throwing the boat around like a sportscar. With the start of the Queensland winter (23?C!) appearing in the days leading up to our test, the 15 to 20-knot chilly wind coming from the east, along with the big swell rolling offshore were the right ingredients to chop up the bay enough for this hull to show it's pedigree. Although it was too rough to head offshore, the 6.8m Preda-King felt as solid as a rock in the choppy, wind-swept bay and handled the wakes from large cruisers with ease, even when pushed hard.
The one simple aim of the designers of this Sea Jay rig is to provide a very useful fishing boat, and they've done a great job. The transom workstation is very well set up, with a centrally mounted aluminium bait table, 40lt plumbed livebait tank mounted off to the port, and a rear deck door with diver's ladder mounted in the port corner.
The wide sidedecks are also flanked by a deep sidepockets, which run up to and stop parallel with the centre console. Ample rod storage is provided in a number of places, including four holders across the rear of the standard aluminium bait table, three down either side of the super-wide gunnels, and another six across the top of the hardtop. Anchoring is made easy by the centre console configuration, with the split bowrail servicing a big self-draining anchorwell.
The towing weight is approximately 2.25-tonne, which means it can still be towed by a mid-sized 4WD ute such as a Nissan Navara or Holden Colorado, let alone a bigger Nissan Patrol or similar. If it's a big, roomy centre console you're after for heading wide offshore chasing tuna or marlin, then the Sea Jay 6.8m Preda-King could be exactly what you're looking for.
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CommentsIf your passion is fishing and you are dedicated to the lure and the rod, then a centre console or walkaround boat is the sort of boat that is going to suit you. These are not really boats for family picnics or towing water toys, although they will certainly do the job, but that’s not what they are designed for.
These are blokes’ boats that you take out in all weathers and you don’t mind the wind and spray in your face (well, some of us do!).
Amongst the first things to determine is what sort of fishing boat you require, what size and probably more importantly what size your budget is. One of the growing trends, especially in boats over 6m is the hardtop, which comes in either fully- or semi-enclosed layout.
A variation on the cabin boat theme is the walkaround, a style popularised by the Americans and now much favoured by serious fishers. If a cabin boat isn’t your desire, then there is also plenty to pick from in the centre console market. However, some centre console boats now available are so big that there is space for a cabin, head and even a shower in the console. The boat deck surrounds the console so you can walk all around the boat from stern to bow with ease.
The console is where all the controls are located, including steering, ignition, trim control, radio and other electronic devices, switches etc. With the huge growth in soft baiting, the centre console layout is perfectly targeted towards this style of fishing.
Another thing you need to determine early on is what construction material you favour. There are two main options, fibreglass and aluminium, but then let’s not forget the inflatable RIBs, moulded polyethylene and even glassed-over plywood.
In actual numbers of trailer boats sold over 3m, aluminium reigns supreme and when it comes to non-trailerable cruisers it’s generally all fibreglass. GRP (glass reinforced plastic) boats vary in construction quality, but generally are of a consistent standard. If you want the soft flowing curves of fibreglass, but favour a plate aluminium hull under you, then there are a number of manufacturers offering a combination of fibreglass decks and alloy hulls. Polyethylene boats are becoming increasingly popular in the smaller sizes.

Inflatable RIBs are based on either aluminium or fibreglass hulls, with the tubes – either Hypalon or PVC – attached to the outside. While these boats started as yacht and launch tenders, the market for RIBs has exploded in recent years as manufacturers offer more diverse and larger models. Other important considerations are the size of the boat, what you are going to do with it, where you plan to use it, where you are going to keep it and if it’s a trailerboat, what you have to tow it with.
And of course, where you are going to use the boat and for what purpose are just as important. Anything non-trailerable is a whole different thing, with a variety of options from sports cruisers and sedans to enclosed and open flybridge options.
It seems that just about every alloy boat manufacturer has a centre console in its range, or at least if it doesn’t it will most likely build one for you.
The Haines Hunter Prowler series is designed as an entry level, no-nonsense basic centre console fishing platform, yet without compromising any of the Haines Hunter quality finish and performance. The boats in this series are an ideal choice in centre console fishing boats, and come fully rigged for fishing.
Since starting out in the boat building business in the 1960s, the Haines family name has been synonymous with trailer boats in Australia and New Zealand. While the company produces a huge range of fiberglass bowriders, cruisers and cuddys under the Signature brand, there are only two console boats.
There are seven centre console models in the Robalo range, and all are highly spec’d to suit the fishing enthusiast. The Sportfish and Bay Scout range are also set up with one thing in mind – serious fishing – with the smaller models featuring forward casting decks and a low profile design for ease of bringing in the fish.
The Smuggler Multisport 570 is the perfect fishing and diving companion. Features a centre console and optional hardtop for protection from the elements, with either a pedestal seat or seat with reversible backrest. The Trophy has often been described as one serious fishing machine and it is certainly true. Arguably the first and best known walkaround boat on the market, the Trophy, under the Bayliner branding, virtually introduced the walkaround concept to the mass market way back in the 1980s. With solid performance, unquestionable quality and a tackle box full of features, the Trophy range of walkarounds and centre consoles are designed for today’s demanding fishermen. There are just two models, 1903 and the 2203 in the centre console line up, but four, 2102, 2152, 2302 and 2352 in the walkaround range.
In our next issue we look at some cabin boats, hardtops and larger cruisers that fit nicely into the serious fishing category. This courteous nerve centre console skiff was built by Svein Kopfelt and displayed astatine the 2008 WoodenBoat demonstrate astatine secret Seaport. My boat weighs just on 100kgs with the lightweight plywood centre console and deck, no way I'd have gotten it that light with a pre made console, plus they were all too big.
Narrow enough to stand up and straddle the seat allows me to hold on with my legs whilst holding teh wheel for balance fore and aft.
It was not that he had a hair shirt complex – it was a matter of building as much boat as he needed to suit the job it had to do.
The same circumstances, where the trailer would have a chance to knock the boat around, meant a painted finish could have an unhappy life; and the saving of a few thousand dollars was as valuable to him as to anybody else. Sides and bottom are in 4mm aluminium plate, and the wide wrap around coamings, especially where they curve around aft of the anchor well, and side pockets as structural members give great rigidity. The deck is carpeted, which is more or less a necessity for protecting bare feet from sun-heated aluminium. It is mounted on a box that adds to the storage volume; the boat actually has exceptional storage for its size The console ahead of it, that adds some more, is wider than typical, which means the windscreen does a better protection job.
Usually with a boat of this size you are looking for enough power to get 22–23 knots with a normal load at about two-thirds throttle.
Coraline evolution has seen the adoption of wider reversed chines that extend right forward as knuckles. Two or three is the usual number going fishing in this boat, and it has enough stability to allow them to position themselves pretty well wherever they want. Its latest foray into building plate aluminium boats has been welcomed with open arms by those who appreciate the Sea Jay philosophy of a solid boat for a demanding job. A big, open centre console maintaining a maximum beam of 2.49m, the Preda-King incorporates a high bow with flare, flowing sheer line to the stern, solid keel and no-nonsense transom workstation. The hull incorporates a solid, fully-welded aluminium self-draining deck, foam floatation, air chambers and a separate chamber for the fuel tank, which all add up to safety offshore.
In particular, the twin batteries are accessed with minimal fuss in the above-floor locker, while the battery isolator switch and Racor fuel filter protect the engine and systems from harm. To port, the single engine binnacle control falls easily to hand and oodles of space is provided to through-mount the biggest of electronic units on the two tiered dashboard.
This is mounted to provide the skipper with a comfortable seat or leaning post when standing to drive. Personally, I would like to see a much larger clear windscreen for at least some protection in such a big open boat, but I'm sure this is something the factory is addressing and could change to suit the individual customer.
The hardtop also has extra handrails, light mounts and the all-important rod storage up high and out of the way. The F225 provides ample power to push this rig along with ease, and the quietness of the Yamaha today is second to none.
Once the boat is more heavily loaded with fishing gear and full fuel and with the engine run in, this will still be the perfect setup. Any spray thrown up by the wind was soon pushed away by the high bow and we remained totally dry behind the helm. The 2.49m beam provides great stability at rest or trolling, and the deep self-draining cockpit allows great freeboard for a very safe fishing cockpit. The raised bow platform also provides a large storage tank, which can be built as a killtank, and there is another storage cupboard close by.
The high flared bow means the boat has a lot of windage and the length on trailer of 8.5m will need a big yard or shed for storage. The Dunbier multi-roller trailer allowed easy launch and retrieval, and even in high-wind conditions, the 6.8m Preda-King will come on square each time.
Using power such as Yamaha's 225hp four-stroke, and with an option of a twin-engine transom and a fantastic fuel capacity, I can see this boat being used in remote locations such as Fraser Island and Broome, and bringing home its owner safely and with a bag full of fish. Their concept, design and layout are all totally focused on their being serious fishing machines.
As for the style of boat there are a number of clearly defined categories that then can be broken down into small specialist groupings. These account for the majority of all production fibreglass and aluminium trailer boats built in New Zealand and Australia.
These are more targeted towards the serious fisho who wants a boat that can be taken offshore and offers the necessary protection in almost any weather.
Gaining popularity in certain sectors is the fibreglass or aluminium centre console option, which has undergone something of a revival with the growth in RIBs (rigid inflatable boats). The ability to be able to walk around the boat without the restriction of side decks and cabin tops is a real bonus.
Aluminium boats have a reputation for solid construction and hull thicknesses are traditionally 3mm to 5mm and even 6mm or more depending on the boat’s size.
In some cases, especially with high performance boats, exotic lightweight materials such as Kevlar and carbon fibre are also utilised. Fibreglass that’s never cleaned and left to weather will lose its sheen and eventually look decidedly second-hand. They are especially popular as dive and sports boats, but are also gaining acceptance as family boats for both day tripping and overnighting. The America’s Cup did a huge amount to foster the popularity of RIBs in New Zealand.

If it’s a moored boat then make sure you can find a marina berth of a suitable length or a convenient pile mooring. Think of the type of water conditions in the area that you propose to use the boat in, and look only at boats that you feel would be practicable. The choices are vast, although in recent years have been diminishing as the local production cruiser market has taken a huge hit in the GFC.
That’s the beauty of building in alloy – there are no moulds to consider, and so making custom one-offs is not too difficult.
With over 60 alloy boat manufacturers in New Zealand alone, plus those in Australia, your choice is huge. With plenty of room to cast lines and reel in the fish, from the agile 170 to the larger and all-new 270. Built in the USA, the GW range of fishing battlewagons includes both centre consoles and walkarounds. The Prowler range comes in two model sizes – the 400 and 525 – and like all boats in the Haines Hunter range, the Prowler comes backed up by Haines Hunter’s legendary seven-year structural warranty. Today, the company builds under a variety of brand names, but all, including the Signature range, are part of the parent company, The Haines Group.
Features in all models are a convertible casting platform, extensive rod storage, a huge livewell and a high quality leaning post and console.
The R222 offers more centreline length, more storage space and more fishing features than previous models. In many ways the 345XSF is a crossover between a walkaround and centre console, offering a full cabin with galley, head and even twin berths.
The Multisport offers complete access to the whole cockpit area, making fishing or gearing up for diving so easy.
In effect the walkaround series is two models with the 2152 being the sterndrive version of the 2102 and the 2352, the sterndrive version of the 2302. It's only a 13ft boat but can be driven quite hard and fast, so this factor was very important. Another useful carpet application is on the basic metal quarter seats located alongside the motor well.
He does not make long passages, and it is only when moving that a centre console’s T-top does any shading. The 6.8m Preda-King is the type of boat that fills you with confidence the moment you push down on the throttles.
However, before you do go down the track of looking at what’s on offer in the centre console and walkaround market, it might pay to read on to get a better understanding of what you might consider before making your purchase. The cabin boat also comes in a number of forms, from what is referred to as the full cabin, where the cabin space allows for two berths of approx.
Like a centre console boat, it is mostly used for fishing and has a full-length primary deck or cockpit but also has a small cabin (cuddy) for berths and a head in the centre of the boat in front of the console. The basic description of a centre console boat is a single- decked open hull boat where the console of the boat is in the centre of the boat. Centre consoles by design are far more popular in the warmer climates, such as North Queensland and don’t have a great following in the deep South such as Invercargill.
Metre for metre an aluminium boat is lighter than a fibreglass boat so has the advantage of requiring less horsepower to achieve a similar performance and is lighter to tow.
A handy hint is  if you buy an unpainted aluminium boat, coat it in Nyalic and that shine will stay on the  boat for a lot longer. Aluminium left to weather not only looks bad, it also causes hidden problems with areas under the cockpit sole, in welded joints and bonded areas. However, there are plenty of fibreglass restoring compounds that will help bring back the shine, by simply  washing and cleaning your boat after every outing – especially in salt water – will extend its life immeasurably. As the colour goes all the way through the material, scratches are not as noticeable as on GRP boats. A boat under 5m is great for inshore sheltered water boating, whereas something over 7m is ideal if you want to go more offshore and chase the big fish out wide.
Standard fishing features include stainless steel rod holders and spacious livewells to keep bait fresh. Boston Whaler built the Outrage for the serious offshore angler, with a high level of performance features, plus cutting-edge fishing features and options aboard, including capacious livewells, in-floor fish boxes and an integrated hard-top and windshield system.
Every boat has a deep-V hull that is designed for blue water boating and comes fully spec’d with everything from tackle boxes to kill tanks. Powered by twin V6 outboards, this is a boat you would take out to the most offshore fishing grounds. Ascribable to many requests of people from all areas of the earthly concern after viewing our web site they.
You could also use foam instead of plywood, but you will have to put cloth on both sides to make it strong and light. I often wonder why owners of aluminium boats with box thwarts do not glue indoor-outdoor carpet on them – into pain perhaps. The same power in a two-stroke would save some money, but fewer and fewer people are opting for two-strokes beyond about 50hp.
This is a popular style in boats designed with a fishing aspect, when workable cockpit space is more important than is somewhere to lie down. Generally on a bad weather day, centre consoles can be cold, wet and windy, but go out on a great sunny, warm day and it’s the total opposite. And that’s where centre console boats really come into their own as casting platforms. Aluminium also has a reputation for being capable of handling more abuse, is stronger and requires less maintenance. However, like fibreglass, if you make a habit of washing the boat down after use with soapy water, then you won’t have a problem.
You will never buy one that fits perfectly or has all the features you want and you will probably spend less money building it yourself too.
They often have lockable cabin doors and full bulkheads and if generously equipped can be used as ‘overnighters’. Painted aluminium is now more popular than unpainted and this does require special care, especially if you scratch the hull. Standard on large engines, its effortless operation adds a noticeable percentage to the day’s enjoyment whatever size motor.
As for strength, well maybe if you run up on some rocks at speed you will only dent the hull and not punch a hole in the bottom, but generally a fibreglass boat will take as much punishment as an aluminium one.
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