With the proliferation of corporate mergers in the marine industry and the wholesale buying up of boat brands, it’s become a rarity to come across a builder that is still family owned and operated. Cutwater Boats of Auburn, Washington, is just such a rarity.
As the Chairman of Fluid Motion LLC, the maker of Cutwater Boats, Dave Livingston is the driving force behind this boat brand. A marine industry veteran with more than 50 years of experience, Livingston holds a variety of patents and is a recipient of the Northwest Marine Trade Association’s Legend Award. “My dad has been building boats since before he could drive. He had his own company, Livingston Dinghies, when he was barely out of his teens,” says John Livingston, Dave’s son and the company president and CEO.
John grew up in the boat business and, like his father, has a good deal of experience in marine engineering and design. The duo started Cutwater in 2011, several years after acquiring Ranger Tugs. With Cutwater, they wanted to combine their knowledge of traditional Northwest design with the technical advances made by some of the East Coast builders they had worked with in the past. The goal: to build a fleet of boats with good performance and the versatility to function as both a fishing platform and family cruiser.
With the C-288 Coupe, Cutwater wants to make waves on both sides of the country, among boaters looking for a pocket-size cruiser that’s capable of doing it all.
The C-288 is an outboard-powered boat that replaces the diesel-powered C-28. According to John, outboard power has become increasingly popular with Cutwater owners, especially those who want to trailer their boats. The new 288 is wider than its predecessor, with a full 10-foot beam, and therefore roomier in the cockpit and the interior. At the same time, it maintains the design heritage of the Northwest. That’s apparent in the high freeboard, proud bow, smooth sheer and prominent cabin and windows.
The cockpit will appeal to anglers with its rod holders and baitwell, but it doubles as a social area with seating for six passengers. The cabin hardtop sports a solar panel to keep batteries topped off and a sport rack to accommodate paddleboards or kayaks. The salon includes forward-facing seats and a full galley with stovetop, microwave, cabinetry and wine cooler. For overnighting, the owners get a master stateroom with private head and shower.
The starboard-side helm comes with a Garmin electronics package featuring chartplotter, autopilot, sonar and radar. And there are electronic throttle controls for the twin 250-hp Yamaha F250 outboards. They’re mounted on a Clear Path engine platform that extends aft to provide unimpeded access to the swim platform.
The outboards power a stepped hull (found on all Cutwater models) with Laminar Flow Interruptors (LIF), a patented design by the Livingstons that improves handling.
Essentially, LIF is a series of “dimples” molded into the forward section of the running surface, between the strakes. “They reduce surface friction with the water in much the same way the dimples on a golf ball reduce air friction in flight. The result is smoother, more positive cornering, and almost no perceptible bow rise when coming on plane,” says John. LIF also improves fuel economy.
The C-288 Coupe is available in two models: the Northwest Edition ($299,937) for cooler climates where air conditioning is not required; and a Luxury model ($314,937) that includes reverse-cycle AC and a lithium-ion battery upgrade for an inverter that powers the system when dock power is unavailable. Both versions come fully equipped, with few items on the options list. It’s a turnkey boat for an active family, designed by a family that’s spent decades on the water.
Displ.: 48,000 lbs.
Fuel: 200 gals.
Water: 41 gals.
Power: (2) F250 Yamahas
This article was originally published in the February 2022 issue.