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The Boats of Summer

Eight new boats to help you enjoy the best boating season

More Boats of summer:

Part II - Beach boats say: 'Go sailing'

Part III - Extreme RIBs for summer adventures

Sweet summer is here. The wind and water beckon. This is the time for the vacation cruise, for fishing, water-skiing and tubing, or simply beach boating and picnicking with the family.

We’ve put together a list of eight new boats for summer, and it is as diverse as the season in terms of styling, propulsion and price. The boats range from a simple 18-foot Maine skiff powered by a modest outboard, to two very serious RIBs with top speeds of 50 mph or more.

In between we’ll take you aboard a 22-foot power cat, a handsome 26-foot diesel-powered Down Easter, a very modern-looking open boat from Italy, a 32-foot cuddy cabin and more.

Power is provided by outboards, inboards, sterndrives, V-drives and jetdrives, in single- and multiple-engine configurations, gas and diesel. Some are pure dayboats and others have overnight accommodations. The price of the boats in our fleet ranges from about $27,000 to $300,000.

The common denominator is getting out on the water and having fun.

West Pointer 18

The West Pointer 18 is a cold-molded skiff with traditional lines built by Six River Marine, a North Yarmouth, Maine, custom builder that does classic yacht restorations, as well as larger boatbuilding projects.

The first West Pointer 18 was built plank-on-frame in 1986 as a school project boat for SixRiver co-owner Chip Miller. He derived the skiff from a traditional Alton Wallace design. The boat has been modified to add more sheer and more vee to the boat’s forefoot. It also is now built using cold-molded, wood-epoxy composite construction.

“We just think it’s a pretty good way to build a boat to begin with, and with this boat the hull comes out light and strong,” says Scott Conrad, the other owner of SixRiver.

“This type of construction lends itself to a boat that is easy to maintain,” says Miller. “The strength-to-weight ratio is among the best out there, and you also get the look and feel of a wooden boat.”

Conrad says the hull design is known for stability and for being easy to push through the water. “It’s really good for fishing,” says Conrad. “It hardly draws any water, and it’s stable.”

Because of current projects, Conrad and Miller estimate it would take about three months to deliver a new West Pointer 18. The base price of $26,950 doesn’t include an outboard or trailer, but does cover the center console, rub rails, spray rails, hardware, wiring and steering. Six River will custom configure the boat from there. The builder is considering a 21-foot version of the West Pointer.

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Twin Vee 22

Anglers and divers have been drawn to the utilitarian catamarans built by Twin Vee for more than a decade, but the Florida builder has made changes to its 22- and 26-foot center console models that should appeal to a wider group of boaters. Upgrades include increased freeboard (raised from 17 inches to 25 inches), redesigned T-top and center console, improved bulkhead design, new color schemes, and a higher level of finish.

“With the changes, I think we’re appealing more to the pleasure-boat center-consolers,” says Twin Vee sales and marketing director Bob Chew.

The popular 22-footer now has a head in the console, which means owners are more likely to bring along spouses and children, he says. And the higher freeboard also means there is more storage in the forward casting platform. “The 22, more than any other model in our line, has [undergone] a transformation,” says Chew.

He says the boat can run at more than 20 mph on one engine while maintaining a proper running attitude. He says 99 percent of 22s are sold with twin 115-hp 4-stroke outboards.

The 22 is fully foam-filled and unsinkable, says Chew, who also lauds the catamaran’s comfortable ride in rough conditions. “You can sit down and run in a cat when you couldn’t in a monohull,” he says. “You can’t get it to pound in a cat.”

Price for a high-freeboard Twin Vee 22 with twin 115-hp 4-strokes and a T-top is about $48,776.

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Back Cove 26

The Back Cove 26 is a new Down East cruiser for boaters who prefer a classic, diesel-powered lobster boat. Like the Back Cove 29 introduced in 2003, the 26 has a spoon bow, reverse transom, single-diesel power, standard bow thruster and a vee-bottom hull.

“The trick with the 26 was to build a boat that has all the same stuff as the 29 but in smaller dimension,” says marketing manager Bentley Collins.

Collins says some customers are buying Back Coves as a second boat, while others are downsizing from larger vessels.

“These are just fun little boats to get on the water and do your thing and have fun with your family,” he says.

Collins says sailors are particularly drawn to the 26 and use it for day cruising, going out to dinner or cocktail cruises. “They want to be seen in something distinctive that’s not just another white, plastic boat,” says Collins.

The 26 is built by North End Composites using composite construction. Four gelcoat hull colors are available, and deck surfaces are covered with a contrasting nonskid. Helm and companion seats are located on the bridge deck, and there is a step down to the cockpit, which has lazarette storage and optional aft seating.

Below deck, the 26 has a V-berth dinette with filler cushions forward, ash ceilings, teak-and-holly cabin sole, galley to port and a head compartment to starboard. The galley is equipped with a one-burner stove, refrigerator, sink and microwave, and the cabin is finished in hand-varnished American cherry.

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MAS 28

New to the U.S. market, the MAS 28 is an Italian import with European styling and speedy, 45-mph performance.

“In your garage you might have a sedan, an SUV and a sports car,” says North American importer and distributor Kelly Clair. “Well, this is your sports car.”

Clair says the MAS (or “motoscafo anti-sommergibile,” according to several history Web sites) gets its name and original design from the fast anti-submarine torpedo boats of World War I.

“I think that the allure of the boat is that it just says so much about its ownership,” he says. “It’s sophisticated but understated. It’s not an over-the-top production.”

The MAS 28 is suited for coastal waters, the ICW, canals, rivers and lakes, he says.

“Everybody that is on board the MAS is dumbfounded by the amount of attention it receives,” says Clair. “I think people recognize it for having something that you don’t find anywhere else.”

The MAS has high-backed seats, a sporty windshield and a spotlight (the company calls it a “headlight”) on the bow. Several grab rails lead to the anchor locker, forward of the spotlight.

Teak covers the side decks, forward sun lounge area and swim platform. The remote controlled platform slides forward and flush with the stern when not in use. The cockpit sole also is teak; the cabin is finished in oak. The helm and companion seats fold down, and aft bench seating has storage underneath. Other amenities include a lounge in the cabin, stereo system and refrigerator.

Six silver-metallic paint options are available.

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MasterCraft 280 SS/280 SST

MasterCraft has been a leading builder of ski, wakeboard and performance boats since 1968. Now the Tennessee-based company is addressing the needs of towing-sports enthusiasts who live in coastal areas.

“Our saltwater boats aren’t your typical go offshore and go fishing boats,” says marketing director Rob May. “They’re built with water sports in mind.”

The Saltwater Series, introduced for the 2005 model year, comprises three MasterCraft MariStar boats specially equipped for coastal use. The 230 SS, 245 SS and 280 SS have stainless steel components, sacrificial anodes, fully sealed wiring connectors and Crusader Captain’s Choice engines. The freshwater-cooled engines have non-corrosive paint and composite motor mounts, according to the builder.

The 245 and 280 MariStar models have more deadrise than other MasterCraft models, May says, to handle the rougher conditions found in coastal areas.

The 28-foot model is available with a twin-engine setup. Dubbed the 280 SST, the boat hits 50 mph and accelerates from 0 to 36 mph in six seconds when powered by 375-hp Crusader 6.0-liter engines, according to May.

The 280 seats 15 and has a helm seat with a flip-up bolster, removable cockpit table, teak swim platform, and wraparound seating starting from the observer seat on the port side. A freshwater faucet and sink is to starboard in the cockpit. There is a sunpad on top of the engine compartment, located aft thanks to the boat’s V-drive inboard propulsion system, and an enclosed head in the port-side console. A filler cushion is available for the bow seating area, accessed by the walkthrough windshield. There also is a built-in cooler with a drain.

Though a monohull, MariStar boats have a “picklefork” design that creates two points at the bow and therefore a wider beam, similar to a deck boat. With a ladder located between the pickleforks, May says it’s built for easier boarding from the water and improved beaching.

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SeaVee 290

The completely redesigned SeaVee 290 is an outboard-powered center console that replaces the Florida builder’s former 290 model.

The two-piece molded boat is beamier than its predecessor, the bait wells were brought above deck, and it has improved levels of fit and finish, according to SeaVee. There also is a stand-up head and shower compartment in the center console, and additional storage below deck and under the gunwales.

SeaVee Boats president Ariel Pared says the shower/changing compartment and generous seating makes the 290 a boat a family can enjoy. “It’s not just an open fisherman,” says Pared. “It can turn into a nighttime cruising boat.”

Though the 290 can accommodate more than just hardcore fishing, it is not decked out with “frilly things,” as Pared says. “It’s a very high-end boat but very easy to maintain,” he says. “Take it out, bring it back in, hose it down and you’re done.”

Widening the boat means the 290 can handle today’s heavier 4-stroke outboards, says Pared. “We tailored this boat mostly around the new Mercury Verado,” he says. SeaVee also increased the running surface and shortened the engine bracket to move the center of gravity forward.

With a pair of 225-hp 6-cylinder Verados, the boat hits a top speed in excess of 55 mph, he says. The 290’s estimated top speed is 60 mph when equipped with 500 hp, its maximum rating.

In addition to top-end speed, Pared says owners can expect a fuel-efficient boat with offshore capabilities. “The boat is designed to handle that type of abuse and that type of situation, and I think it makes [owners] feel good in case they get caught out,” he says. “It’s nice to know you have a boat designed to run in 5- to 6-foot seas.”

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Crownline 316 LS

The bowrider is a classic family dayboat, conjuring up summer images to taking the old family runabout to a favorite swimming spot.

Some bowriders might have a head compartment in the portside console. But the 32-foot Crownline 316 LS is large enough to house a cabin with berth, stereo and microwave in the portside console, and a head compartment with shower, marine head and vanity in the starboard console.

Like smaller bowriders, the 316 can be used for skiing, wakeboarding and tubing, but it also can cruise the coastal areas commonly reserved for its fishing-

focused cousin, the dual console, says Kevin Riem, Crownline vice president and general manager. It is available with Volvo Ocean Series drives for saltwater use, and Riem says the boat is designed for all fresh and coastal waters.

“It’s just a great running boat, and it has some of the sportiest styling in the industry,” says Riem. “It’s basically designed for between eight to 12 people to go out and enjoy the day of boating.”

There is seating for six in the cockpit area — double bucket seats at the helm and companion console as well as an aft bench — and six at the bow.

The 316 has a dual transom entrance, a 6-foot aft sunpad, and an extended swim platform.

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Boston Whaler 320 Outrage Cuddy Cabin

After the introduction of the 320 Outrage center console two years ago, customers requested a cuddy version so they would have a place to stow equipment and retreat from the elements, says Boston Whaler sales and marketing product coordinator Dean Kuti.

The 320 Outrage Cuddy Cabin mixes cruising features with the fishability of the center console. The deck is one level, and the T-top is mounted to the deck at the center console. This places fewer obstacles in the way for negotiating the deck while still offering a cabin.

The 320 Cuddy will compete with walkaround boats, Kuti says, but without a full enclosure at the windshield it won’t have the same weather protection as walkarounds.

The Outrage Cuddy Cabin also has generous seating, he says, which turns it into a nice entertaining platform. There is an L-shaped lounge forward of the center console and to port, helm and companion bolster seats, and a folding bench seat aft. The boat has a top-loading refrigerator/freezer, insulated cooler forward, and 16 drink holders.

The cuddy cabin has a V-berth with cushions and storage, rod storage, cabin lighting, and an opening, screened hatch. The center console contains a shower and head, as well as vertical rod storage. The self-bailing cockpit is outfitted for fishing, with rod holders, stainless steel toe rails, bolstered cockpit coaming, and bait prep station with live well. There also is a pair of 80-gallon in-deck fishboxes.

A hardtop comes standard, and outriggers can be added as an option.