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.
“The boat oozes quality. It runs like an animal through the ocean,” Cordes said.
Cordes said most Invincible buyers are fishermen who already have a sportfishing yacht.
“The guy looking for this boat has done this in a big boat but wants to do it in a quicker, simpler fashion,” Cordes said. “This is a top-tier boat, not an entry-level boat.”
• SeaHunter Tournament 45, Broward County Convention Center, booth 2035, about $800,000 loaded.
SeaHunter displayed the hull for this new model at last February’s Miami International Boat Show, but the finished product is making its first appearance here. Like the Invincible, the new SeaHunter is designed to sleep up to four anglers traveling to tournaments or just fun-fishing in the Bahamas. However, company president Ralph Montalvo emphasizes the Tournament 45 is not a walkaround, but a true center-console.
Access to the sleeping cabin is from a side door in the console. Step down and there’s 6 feet, 8 inches of headroom, along with a queen bed, two bunks, a sink, shower, toilet, microwave and TV.
The Tournament 45 is loaded with fishing features, and Montalvo said the hull is a full, padded vee bottom with a stepped transom that creates a safe, smooth ride and top performance.
Powered by quadruple 350-horsepower Yamaha outboards, the boat can cruise comfortably at 45 mph in 3- to 5-foot seas, according to Montalvo.
“The boat is safe in all conditions,” he said. “Our boats don’t sink.”
To prove that point, he dropped one of his boats 20 feet from a crane to the cement parking lot at Plantation Boat Mart a couple of years ago, then sawed it in half. A crowd of about a dozen onlookers then took the aft half for a spin around the Upper Keys without any problems.
• Jupiter 41, C dock 310-314, Bahia Mar Yachting Center, about $750,000 loaded.
Neither a center-console nor a walkaround, the new 41-foot express cruiser, powered by triple 350-horsepower Yamaha outboards, has an enclosed bridge, big windows and a cabin that sleeps five. Capable of 50 mph, it can fish, but is not targeted exclusively at fishermen.
Bob Bissinger, sales and marketing manager for the Palmetto-based company, said the boat was designed for those who want to travel overnight to anchor and island-hop in shallow waters. With the outboards tilted up, he said the boat draws less than 4 feet of water.
“We’ve had a lot of previous Jupiter owners who are moving up — people who want to go further and do more things,” Bissinger said. “A lot of people who have big boats 70 to 80 feet are tired of having a captain and maintenance and fuel and want to scale back for a while.”