Born for Fun

Southport Boats’ first dual console—the 33 DC— is for boaters who value family fun, entertaining and fishing.
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To get Southport Boats’ first dual console—the 33 DC—out into Tampa Bay, Florida, our crew had to lock her out of a community lagoon that sits 1 to 2 feet above sea level. We gently coaxed the boat into a set of overhead slings before using a joystick to hoist her 15 feet up and “fly” her over the spillway.

Once the 33 was hoisted high, I could take an intimate look at her running surfaces. She has full-length waterline chines, as well as a pair of lifting strakes on each side. One strake runs almost full length and the other stops amidships. I also got a closer look at her aggressive entry, Carolina flare and 22-degree transom deadrise—all of which are primo ingredients for a smooth, dry ride in rough water. The view from astern provided a glimpse at the twin 425-hp Yamaha XF425 4-stroke outboards and a pair of Zipwake dynamic trim control units.

It looked as if we were in for a fun afternoon on the water.

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Baitfish skipped across the surface as Southport Boats co-owner Ken Pierce idled the 33 DC down a winding, mangrove-lined canal. Once clear of the no-wake zone, Pierce put the beans to all 850 horses, and the 33 DC leapt onto plane. Fun, indeed. 

Southport Boats launched its first boat in 2003 in Leland, North Carolina. Production moved to Maine in 2011. Pierce and his business partner Mark Levy, who also own the tender builder Carbon Craft, purchased Southport in 2017.

“Our goal in buying Southport was to take it to the next level,” Pierce says, “and the 33 DC is just one step in our vision for the company.”

The 33 DC is the builder’s first toe-dip into the dual console game, aimed mostly at boaters who take family cruises, entertain and occasionally fish. Five hulls have been ordered since the 33 DC’s debut at November’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, an encouraging customer response that has Southport Boats planning larger and smaller dual console models.

“We’ll add more dual console models in the future, so we tooled a new line for their production,” says Kirby. “We’re pretty excited about what we have in the pipeline.”

Maine craftsmanship is everywhere on the 33 DC, from the hand-laid teak decking to the deck hardware’s meticulous bedding and placement. The boat had an upscale feel to her as we cruised past Pine Key at 26 knots, burning 22 gallons per hour. Quick math translates that efficiency to 1.4 miles per gallon. Speedier-minded folks will likely cruise around 38 knots, where fuel burn is about 1 mile per gallon.

A deep-V hull with Carolina flare and full-length chines means big fun in all conditions.

A deep-V hull with Carolina flare and full-length chines means big fun in all conditions.

“The standard setup is twin 300-horsepower Yamaha F300s,” Kirby says. “You can also opt for twin 350-horsepower Yamaha F350s or the XF425s that are on this boat.”

Beyond the speed and efficiency, I noticed how quiet the 33 DC was at the helm. Even with the top portion of the opening windshield and two side windows open, the three of us could converse without having to yell over wind or engine noise.

“We paid a lot of attention to how the hardtop, windows, windshield and hatches were designed,” Kirby says. “We wanted the spaces under the hardtop to be relaxing, even with the engines throttled up.”

As we entered Hillsborough Bay, the Tampa skyline loomed large, and the 22-inch Garmin multifunction display barked an AIS alarm to warn us of an approaching tug. The flush-mounted display was at the center of the dash and helm, which had a low-slung placement that provided excellent forward visibility. The trade-off was the loss of a bit of headroom in the enclosed head that’s forward and under the helm, across from a two-berth stateroom under the port console. It’s a tolerable trade-off; I had just enough room to change my clothes in the head.

Back up top, the bow lounge had a seating area with two forward-facing chaise lounges, a teak table insert and room for four to six people seated upright. I was surprised by the height of the lounge’s sides. Sitting there as we cruised along the river, I felt more secure than I do aboard most dual consoles. I even found the space comfortable enough for relaxing underway at cruising speeds.

The Tampa skyline fades quickly behind twin 425-hp Yamahas.

The Tampa skyline fades quickly behind twin 425-hp Yamahas.

We tied up at a public landing and then stopped for a lunch of grilled oysters and shrimp po’boys at Ulele on the Tampa waterfront, a hip spot with a great view of the water.

Tampa is a city that’s undergoing a renaissance of sorts. The land where the restaurant lies is bordered to the south by the city’s Waterworks Park and to the northwest by Armature Works, a former industrial building that’s been developed to house a wide variety of excellent coffee spots, restaurants and other specialty shops. It’s a remarkable revitalization of an area that used to be crime-ridden and run down. We took a walk around Armature Works, grabbed some iced coffees and then hopped back aboard the boat.

With Bob Marley piping out of the stereo system, which had three independent social zones for entertaining people with different musical tastes, we motored down the river while dodging rowing skulls and rental boats along the way. 

One social zone was in the cockpit, which had upholstered seats that flipped up and out of the way when not in use, or when fishing was underway. Fishing goodies include a transom-mounted livewell and fish box, and a starboard-side dive door for boating large fish, as well as for getting into the water, and on and off the boat easily.

A mini galley faces aft into the cockpit behind the helm chair and includes an optional electric grill, sink with freshwater faucet and a slide-out trash compartment. As we cleared the last Hillsborough River drawbridge, I reached into a slide-out refrigerator/freezer adjacent to the galley for a drink.

LOA : 32'6" / Beam: 10'8" / Draft (engines up): 1'9" / Dry weight: 11,500 lbs. / Fuel: 250 gals. / Water: 30 gals. / Power: (2) 425-hp Yamahas  / Price: $359,000

LOA : 32'6" / Beam: 10'8" / Draft (engines up): 1'9" / Dry weight: 11,500 lbs. / Fuel: 250 gals. / Water: 30 gals. / Power: (2) 425-hp Yamahas  / Price: $359,000

I was on the bridge deck when we opened up the throttles and sped toward home. The bridge deck had an L-shaped lounge adjacent to a Stidd captain’s chair at the helm. Two sliding side windows and twin overhead opening hatches let us fine-tune the level of ventilation. The middle section of the windshield opened in two parts—one moved up and down, while the other folded open and stowed to port.

The deck layout meant that our captain was never out of the conversation, no matter where anyone else moved.

“One of my favorite things about this boat is how in touch I feel with everyone else on the boat,” Pierce says. “My wife likes hanging out in the bow while reading, and sometimes guests are chilling out in the aft cockpit. It’s always easy to be a part of the conversation.”

The port console cabin has twin berths.

The port console cabin has twin berths.

I took the wheel on glassy Tampa Bay and mashed the throttles down, seeing only a slight bow rise before we were on plane. Fully trimmed with three people on board and a full tank of fuel, the 33 DC topped out at 48 knots while burning around 71 gallons per hour—about 0.8 miles per gallon. The fact that Pierce, Kirby and I were having a casual conversation at nearly 50 knots again spoke to the quietness of the design.

A series of hard-over S-turns confirmed the efficacy of those waterline chines I’d seen earlier at the lock. The harder the 33 DC leaned into a turn, the more the chines bit in. The flat seas didn’t provide an opportunity to run in the rough stuff but given my experience in 2- to 3-footers with Southport’s 33 LX, I would expect great rough-water handling with the 33 DC.

The no-see-ums were on the feed as we helplessly scratched and slapped our legs and arms while pulling the 33 DC into the lift at Pierce’s home. The sun began to dip below the horizon and created a beautiful orange-hued vista as we put the cap on a super-fun day on Tampa Bay. I could imagine anyone having just as much fun with the 33 DC most anywhere. Just add water.

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue.