The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show has long been dubbed “the big boat show” for its vast offering of luxurious new and brokerage yachts in the 80- to 200-foot range. But this year’s show, running Thursday through Monday at six sites, probably will be remembered for debuting a different kind of “big boat” — large, luxurious, center-console, outboard-powered craft more than 40 feet long produced in Florida and aimed at hard-core offshore fishermen.
“People love the deck space on a center-console boat,” said John Caballero, marketing director for SeaVee Boats, which is headquartered in Miami. “You can carry more people, more gear. People can’t get enough of it.”
The new center-console models on display at this week’s show run as fast as some offshore race boats while providing a comfortable ride, overnight accommodations and all the fishing accessories anglers expect, such as rod-holders, live bait wells, tackle storage and large fish boxes. At prices well into the six figures, none are considered entry-level boats. Many are purchased by yacht owners as a second boat capable of quicker, easier deployment with no need for a hired captain.
“A niche market,” said Ralph Montalvo, president of SeaHunter Boats in Miami. “We’re selling a boat that the clientele is wealthy individuals that can buy boats with cash or get financing. Most people have several other boats.”
Here’s a sampling of the new, larger, mostly fish-centric boats premiering at the show:
• SeaVee 430 Fish Around, Broward County Convention Center, booth 2023, about $494,000 (base price).
Described by Caballero as a “43-foot center-console with a beautiful house around it,” this new model offers anglers an unobstructed, walk-around fish-fighting platform plus a comfortable, air-conditioned sleeping cabin with a galley and head. The deep-vee hull is powered by triple or quadruple 350-horsepower Yamaha outboards to reach speeds of 50 to 60 mph, or with twin inboard diesel Volvo IPS 600 engines for longer range.
“The apex sportfisherman without getting into a big rig,” Caballero said.
The company also will debut its SeaVee Z high-performance line of 39-foot center-console, outboard-powered fishing boats — its first foray into stepped hull designs.
Stepped hulls have a transverse notch or step on the bottom aimed at achieving higher speeds and more fuel efficiency with less drag in the water than traditional deep-vees. But some stepped hulls present stability and handling issues that cause a boat to hook or otherwise lose control if the skipper turns too sharply.
The design of the SeaVee Z, Caballero said, solves those problems while still providing a soft ride.
“We wanted to give our customers a choice,” he said.
• Invincible 42 Walkaround, Broward County Convention Center, booth 2004, about $650,000 depending on options.
The largest model and first walk-around cuddy-cabin design produced by this 7-year-old Miami boat company has a patented hull that sales and marketing director Bill Cordes says feels and behaves like a traditional deep-vee but has the speed and efficiency of a stepped hull. Aimed at anglers who run long distances to fish offshore — like from Miami to the Bahamas — the boat sleeps four, drafts about two feet and tops out at 65mph with triple Yamaha 350-horsepower outboards.