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Safe Boat 21: built shark-tough

During a recent Yamaha engine-testing event I got a chance to drive a 21-foot Safe Boat, a rugged center console built for the anglers of the National Geographic Channel show “Shark Men.”

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I’ve never seen more aggressive non-skid. Rectangular patches of 3M’s Safety-Walk Coarse Tread cover the decks and the tops of the polyethylene foam collar that surrounds the aluminum hull. “They can step up or sideways or any way without having any sort of a slip,” says Kevin Rowlee, sales manager for Bremerton, Wash.-based Safe Boats.
I ran the Safe Boat with “Shark Man” Denny Wagner, who threw it into 40-mph doughnuts to show off its tracking and maneuverability. “You’ll lose your crew before you flip this thing,” he says.
Wagner is a member of Ocearch, a non-profit that catches and releases large marine species, such as the great white shark, for research. The anglers use the Safe Boat, along with a 23-foot Contender, to hook and haul their catches to a 126-foot research vessel for data collection. Previous small boats have failed to survive the hard use in rough conditions.
“We’ve had the ship at anchor and large swells rolling through and have had boats get pinned under the ship, with the transom crushing them,” Wagner says.
Safe Boats builds military, law enforcement and research vessels, but it also offers several models for recreational use, including the center console. “An owner may have one to get to a house on an island, or they are utilized as a tender for a megayacht,” Rowlee says.
With twin Yamaha F115s, the 21 tops out at 44 knots and has a cruise speed of 37 knots. Price is $130,000. Contact: Safe Boats International, (360) 674-7161.

This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue.