One of the best things about the inimitable center-console design is the 360-degree fishing it offers, among other likeable characteristics. But throw in some snotty weather, such as rain, wind, and cold, and you’ll often be left running for port, putting a harsh on your fishing mellow. Beneteau Power provided its own solution to that problem when it launched the pilothouse-equipped 29-foot Barracuda 9 a couple of years ago. Now the company is bringing the 9’s smaller brother, the 24-foot Barracuda 7, to town. Let’s check it out.
The idea behind the Barracuda design is to provide center-console fishability with the comfort and convenience of a fully enclosed pilothouse. Sure, a pilothouse on a boat this size might seem like overkill in some boating locales that enjoy friendly year-round weather, but think of places such as New England and the Pacific Northwest, where the beginnings and ends of fishing seasons can be damp, cold, and downright brutal. The Beneteau 7 adds to your fishing season by keeping you out, when others might just stay home.
The pilothouse itself is open and airy, with lots of uninterrupted glass panels that provide amazing visibility. The aft window is a slider, as are the two port and starboard glass doors. An impressively large opening hatch brings in the sky above. All of these features make this pilothouse highly convertible. Open everything up to keep it cool and comfy when it's warm outside, then shut it all down when the weather goes south. The helm dash is expansive, but unfortunately a glaring white color. The Barracuda 9 I tested two years ago had a black dash to cut down on glare, so I'm not sure why it was omitted on the 7. I really liked the helm chair/leaning post combo, and the adjacent bench seat was comfy and situated at just the right height.
Down below is a double berth that's situated in the bow. An enclosed head with manual toilet and a small wash basin are situated just inside the companionway. I like the large opening ports Beneteau included down here to help let both light and air in. Dealers can even install reverse-cycle air conditioning/heating for the cabin and pilothouse. A properly sized portable generator can provide juice for that luxury through the 30-amp shore power system.
On deck, the Barracuda 7 is very “shippy” all-around. Beefy aluminum cleats and hawse pipes, dual pilothouse wipers with washers, teak cockpit decking and gunwale trim, rugged aluminum hatches, and sturdy stainless-steel handholds just about everywhere make this boat feel more like a trawler than a fishing boat. There’s plenty of stowage in three lockers situated under the aft deck, although there are no fish lockers to be found. A livewell is situated under the transom walk-through, and a sink/counter combo behind the pilothouse will make for a good bait prep station. Seating is adequate both forward and aft, with a long bench at the stern, and another shorter bench up forward, in front of the pilothouse.
Unlike its big brother, the Barracuda 7 hull does not include Air Step, Beneteau’s stepped hull design that vents air under the hull for better performance. A 150-horsepower, four-stroke, Yamaha F150 outboard is standard on the Barracuda 7, but our test boat was equipped with the optional 200-horsepower Yamaha F200. Both motors should provide spirited and responsive performance, but our test motor was unfortunately either over-propped or mounted a tad too low on the transom. Performance suffered as a result, as it took an agonizing amount of time to get the boat up on a plane. In fairness to Beneteau, we did test this boat—one of the first three in the United States—before its official launch. I requested to retest the boat’s performance once the engine gremlins have been worked out and will post a follow-up, as soon as it’s available. Otherwise, once up to speed, the boat cut through a chop nicely and tracking was excellent in turns.
|Fuel capacity||53 gal.|
|Water capacity||26 gal.|
Among the things I didn’t necessarily like were the extremely narrow side decks and limited rod stowage. While I admit I’m a big-framed guy, even lankier members of our test crew had to shuffle sideways to get past the pilothouse as they tried to move from the bow to the stern, especially as is required during docking and—more importantly—fishing maneuvers. Additionally, I found only four deck-mounted rod holders; it would be nice to see some more space for stowing rods, given this boat’s fishing theme. The promotional literature does show a rocket launcher option for rod stowage on the transom, but our test boat didn’t have it. That said, there's certainly lots of space on the pilothouse for your own rod stowage solutions.
So who should the Barracuda 7 appeal to? Any angler who wants a rugged fishing machine with the ability to keep its occupants comfortable and dry. But boaters looking to day trip or enjoy weekend cruising with short, overnight marina stays should also check out this unique new boat, too.
Other Choices: For a larger version of the same boat, have a look at the Beneteau Barracuda 9.
See all listings for Beneteau Barracuda powerboats.
Fore more information, visit Beneteau Powerboats.